REVIEW: NOVA PRIDE
The Nova Pride caravan has a modern interior and a purposeful stance.
Upon entering a caravan for the very first time, it sometimes takes a while for distinctive features to catch your eye. On other, altogether rarer occasions, you step through a caravan’s door and immediately think: "Wow!" Recently, stepping into Nova’s brand new Pride caravan – the first one to leave its Melbourne factory – was a case of the latter.
Nova Caravans’ general manager, Paul Golding, is well aware of the importance of first impressions, and is proud of what Nova has achieved in the Pride. "At the end of the day, the features in any caravan are pretty much the same as the features you’ll find in any number of other caravans," he says, "but you won’t get the look and feel we’ve created in the Pride anywhere else."
But before we get into the specifics behind that ‘wow factor’, let’s take a look at the general package. Our review van has a queen berth with full bathroom, the latter including a washing machine. The Pride is available in around half-a-dozen basic floorplans in varying lengths, but Paul says the model itself is open to a wide degree of customisation, within reason: "If someone wants, for example, a longer than usual format, then we can accommodate that."
The Pride also comes with quite a lengthy list of standard inclusions, but once again, there is plenty of scope to tweak things to your liking.
Paul says the Pride slips into the Nova range between the more basic Vita and the up-spec Stellar (reviewed in CW’s February 2009 issue), so it effectively serves as a mid-range Nova option.
The Pride’s exterior is smart and modern, with a purposeful stance thanks to its sloped and vacuum moulded ASA (acrylate styrene acrylonitrile) front section, and its relatively high clearance at the rear. Apart from that front section, the Pride is finished with traditional aluminium cladding, but the graphics are understated and up to the minute, and there are plenty of nice touches, like the moulded fibreglass taillight surround, the LED taillights, the reversing camera, the loop steel bumper with alloy checkerplate wrap, and the 15in alloy rims. Those tinted NEC windows offer an aesthetically pleasing contrast with the bright, white body of the van, too.
The van rides on a 6in Supagal chassis from Preston Chassis, with the tandem axles riding on basic leaf spring, roller rocker suspension. As with just about any aspect of the Pride, the suspension can be upgraded if desired. Four 10in electric brakes keep things under control, while the entire plot rolls on chunky Dunlop SP Road Gripper tyres.T
There’s no shortage of features, even before you’ve stepped inside. That chip-resistant front section features a lockable pushbutton catch on the boot, which opens to reveal a sizeable gal-lined storage space and the heart of the van’s portable power. Here you’ll find the fuse box, two deep cycle batteries, a 30A Smart Charge system and a Break Safe system.
The drawbar features an Al-Ko coupling, a tap and a couple of 9kg gas cylinders. Working our way down the nearside, at the front of this test van we had a slide-out Swift barbecue. It’s a compact package, and pulls out of its storage compartment before swivelling through 90 degrees. There’s also a drop-down picnic table, external power and antenna points, two external lights, two external Axis speakers and a Bargman illuminated grab handle. A Dometic A&E 8300 awning extends along the length of this Pride, which Nova pitches as a 22ft (internal cabin length) van.
A pull-out alloy step helps you into the van, revealing a forward bedroom, mid-kitchen/dinette and rear bathroom layout. The interior is truly striking – and far from ‘traditional’. There’s plenty of colour, from the red/grey fabrics to the steel blue blockout curtains, capped off with two-tone cabinetry – darker ("spice walnut resilience") polyply cupboards and drawers, dark timber pelmets and door frames, and lighter overhead lockers. A Gerflor ‘bamboo-style’ vinyl flooring, off-white textured walls and a bright white ceiling emphasise its generally bright and light feel.
There’s certainly a lot going on in here, and it could well be too much for conservative tastes, but I suspect that the funky, modern feel will push many people’s buttons. I love it: it’s different and edgy, but still homely and inviting.
"You could say the look and feel of this van is its biggest standout feature," says Paul. "That unique flavour is something Nova’s had since day one. It’s a little bit ‘out there’ in terms of the two-tone furniture, but really the ethos we’ve employed here isn’t any different to how people approach interior design in their own homes, with feature walls and so on."
PRESENTATION AND FEATURES
There are lots of nice touches, such as the curved sweep of polyply that extends out over the kitchen on the ceiling and houses three halogen downlights; the curved offside overhead lockers over the dinette; the padded magazine pouch and coat hooks on your right as you enter the van; and the feature racks either side of the bedroom. The Nikpol satin-nickel pushbutton handles on the cupboards and lockers look great and work well, and there’s a generous 6ft 4in (1.93m) ceiling height.
This van certainly doesn’t skimp on appliances, either. It has Dometic air-conditioning, a Samsung microwave, a Kenwood entertainment system and Kenwood speakers – two over the dinette and two over the bed. A Lemair top-loading washing machine adds to the luxury in the bathroom, while – in this demo van at least – you don’t even have to wind out the Winegard antenna: it’s a fully motorised Winegard Sensar unit, and can be raised/lowered and rotated at the press of a button.
COOKING AND DINING
The nearside kitchen features a Swift cooktop and grill (no oven) and a large, 225L RM4805 Dometic AES three-way fridge/freezer. There’s a stack of cupboard space, especially under the deep dish sink, and there are two pull-out wire baskets along with a slide-out pantry at the forward end. The Sierra Quarry laminate benchtops offer plenty of food preparation space, while a full splashback runs the length of the kitchen.
The dinette fabric features a very contemporary design, which makes it something of a focal point as you step into the van. With plenty of storage underneath, the Comfort Rest seating, with supportive Dacron padding, will comfortably accommodate four, while the accompanying table is big enough for everyone to enjoy a meal without jostling elbows.
BEDROOM AND BATHROOM
The bedroom is a wonderful space. Those massive, double-glazed side NCE windows let the light flood in, and together with the front Camec window and the large Four Season hatch overhead, form a great place to lounge around during those luxurious mid-week sleep-ins. Hey, you’re on holidays…
The queen-size bed is easy to access, too: there’s decent room either side and around the foot of the bed, and there’s a stack of storage space here across a variety of hanging wardrobes, drawers and overhead lockers.
That leaves the bathroom which, while not overly spacious, still offers a private space with all the mod-cons, including full-size ceramic Thetford loo, shower cubicle, ceramic basin and – under a hinged section of benchtop – that Lemair washing machine.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Nova Caravans certainly appears to be going from strength to strength, and with caravans like this, it’s easy to see why. There’s evident pride in Nova’s products, plus the know-how of a management team with decades of shared industry experience. The end result is a range of stylish, practical and thoughtfully laid out caravans.
At $68,761 as shown, I believe that this Nova Pride, equipped with a long list of luxuries, represents excellent value (a basic 17ft Pride starts from $45,351). The interior design is a breath of fresh air, and if it strikes a chord, you can be sure there’s plenty of substance behind the style.
Nova Caravans, 109 Freight Drive, Somerton, Vic 3062. For more information, including your nearest dealer, contact Nova Caravans on (03) 8339 0700, or visit www.novacaravans.com.au
Words Rod Chapman, as featured in Caravan World issue 465, May 2009. On sale April 14.