Roma Karisma, Caravan
Roma has gained its reputation by building strong, functional caravans. Its Karisma series brings a new touch of Euro elegance to Australia’s longest-lived caravan manufacturer.
Michael Browning and his team have reviewed the newest addition to the Roma family, the Karisma 19ft 6in.
Roma has also moved with the times in the body construction of its latest models. The Karisma range eschews traditional ribbed aluminium cladding over a meranti frame in favour of a new bonded aluminium, ply, foam and PVC structure for the walls, with a one-piece fibreglass roof and moulded fibreglass front and rear panels.
The smooth matt silver aluminium walls are stronger and more hail resistant than their ribbed cladding counterparts, and combined with the sculptured body ends, they give the Karisma a modern, distinctive look. However, conventional wall construction, both on the Karisma and other Roma models, remains available for customers who find the new look too challenging.
"We are not learning how to build caravans," said Mark. "We passed that test a long time ago. We are building quality caravans to meet travelling people’s needs – not just for them to take to caravan parks!"
With most Roma caravans, those needs include long-term touring. And in a big country, many people are travelling for five or six days through all types of weather and on a variety of roads, just to get to their destination.
The new 19ft 6in (5.95m) Karisma reviewed here is a good example of the touring vans that Roma does well.
Weighing in at 2350kg Tare, but with a 600kg payload, solid 3500kg-capacity axles, 12in brakes and load-sharing and robust Roller-Rocker tandem leaf suspension, it’s designed to carry all the things you might need on an extended holiday or long service leave trip on all sorts of main roads, while staying well within design and safety limits.
The shiny off-white of the curved poplar-faced upper cabinetry is mirrored by the similar glossy finish applied to the lower drawers, cupboards, benchtops and dinette table. It contrasts very tastefully with the heavily grained, light-toned timber used in supporting areas, as well as the hard-wearing vinyl insulated flooring.
The dinette is very comfortable, with its plush Belgian soft-touch fabric upholstery. It makes it easy to imagine that you are in a smart European home rather than in a caravan.
The Karisma 19ft 6in has three distinct zones: bedroom, central cooking/living, and rear ensuite. The LED lights surrounding the large roof hatches are a nice touch as they shed a gentle, flat light throughout the interior.
One thing no one will argue over is the storage space on offer. There are large drawers and lockers everywhere, all featuring quality push-button latches to keep them shuts on bumpy roads. There is also serious space under the lift-up island bed for bulky items.
The rear ensuite is compact but the space is well used, with a Thetford cassette toilet and top-loading washing machine at one end, a central vanity in the middle, and fibreglass shower cubicle on the other. No complaints here. If you want a bigger bathroom, buy one of the larger Karismas!
The Roma Karisma should be on the shopping list of every traveller looking for a well-built and well-priced long-term touring caravan.
Roma’s reputation for building quality caravans is well founded and the Karisma breaks new ground for this respected maker with its new aluminium sandwich wall construction and increased use of Italian lightweight furniture and fashion décor.
- Build integrity
- Quality fittings and furnishing
- Suitability for long-term touring
I would have liked
- A bit more kitchen bench space
- More stone protection for the front body, A-frame tap and PVC pipes
- Pressure hatch to keep dust out on unmade roads