As a well-established family run company, Nova Caravans is known for doing things with pride and no shortage of flair, so I was keen to investigate one of their more high-end models for myself. So when I journeyed out of Melbourne to the Hoppers Crossing dealership of May West Caravans, it was with high expectations that the new 21’ Vita would be something special.
Any qualms I might have had were dispelled as I walked around the van and had a quick look inside. It’s beautifully presented and has quality and style oozing out of every angle. With no pretentions as a tough looking off-roader, the Vita is unashamedly a blacktop cruiser destined for refined surrounds, not dry and dusty desert landscapes.
Nova Caravans have been turning out classy vans for eleven years, and demand has been such that after relocating a number of times to ever larger factories, in 2014 they moved into “Metrolink House”- a purpose built facility with the most advanced level of technology. Now employing a staff of over 80 they are amongst Australia’s leading builders with production now exceeding ten vans a week.
After hitching the Vita to company sales manager Daniel’s Jeep Cherokee, we threaded our way through thick traffic and onto the back roads around Werribee before finding a secret farmland location for photography. While not deemed an offroad van the Vita’s leaf spring suspension handled the farm tracks with ease.
Weighing in at an unloaded mass of 2459kg puts the 21’ version of the Vita outside the limits of the popular Prado in practical terms, but caused no issues for the higher tow capacity of the Jeep. Similar 3500kg rated utes and such should handle the van easily as it pulled smoothly with no swaying or lurching even over some rougher gravel roads.
In the picturesque farmland setting the Vita looked a treat and its size was emphasised behind the relatively short wheelbase of the Jeep. Side panels are covered in an optional carbon fibre wrap against glimmering silver with a black panel lower down, and all highlighted with a swooping orange flash.
An incredibly durable ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) panel covering the front of the van gives the Nova an exclusive and stylish look and is both UV and impact resistant. A monster front boot houses the batteries and chargers, a well-labelled fuse panel and plenty of room for chairs and mats.
The 6” A-frame houses a tap, two 9kg gas bottles and a central wind-up jack and connects to the tow vehicle via a 3500kg Al-Ko ball hitch. Further back the meranti framed body sits on a 100mm Preston Supergal chassis with 100m risers running on tandem axles and nice looking 15” alloy wheels shod with 205/70 road tyres.
Setting up the van took only a few minutes and Daniel and I were soon settled into the elegant club lounge, taking in the serenity and having a close look at the finish inside. It’s as impressive as you might expect.
May West Caravans has been a family run concern for two generations and has seen seismic change in the industry over that time. The business took the decision to concentrate on the Nova product a few years back based on the belief in the quality and backup offered. With an Australia-wide network of service centres and a three-year guarantee on the body and furnishings, Nova offers customers welcome peace of mind. The usual 12 months applies on electrical and other components.
Daniel also demonstrated one very useful aspect of owning a Nova on his smartphone. The Nova website has instructional videos on such tasks as hooking up the water supply, operating the fridge, toilet and awning as well as how to read all the gauges for electricity and water.
For those unfamiliar with how a modern caravan is built there are also two videos outlining the Nova construction method, and on top of that, there are also factory tours available for an up close and personal look.
The Vita range comes in a variety of standard layouts, of which the test van’s 21-1R design is the most popular, and it’s easy to see why as it will suit a lot of couples who like the bright and airy looks and feel. But if it isn’t your cup of tea, then custom layout, using Auto CAD, can be arranged, even going to the extent of fitting an alloy chassis if weight is an issue.
If following the common trend of a front bedroom, central living space and rear ensuite doesn’t sound all that revolutionary, the quality of finish and variety of standard features easily compensates. I didn’t have to go far for the first touch of luxury. The spacious club lounge on which we were resting is finished in leather and suede, which not only looks fantastic, is also very comfortable.
White gloss benchtops and walls are offset by an upmarket platinum finish on the overhead cupboards and gloss Ashwood on the bench doors. I liked the colour choice, and they should stay fashionable for years to come but you can mix and match a vast array of tones on doors, splashbacks, benchtops, upholstery and flooring.
Computer controlled machinery cuts the lightweight ply cabinetry to a perfect finish, while hardware looks upmarket and durable. Self-closing drawers and convex shaped doors on the overhead cupboards add an extra feeling of quality.
Pelmets and sliding curtains cover NCE double glazed windows for an even more homely impression, while the touch control LED roof lighting can be set to various powers of white and blue light as the mood takes you.
Cooks will appreciate the Swift 500 series stove with full oven, grill and cooktop with the backup of a microwave when 240v power is available. Rounding out the kitchen equipment are a Thetford 186L three-way fridge, twin stainless steel sink with drain and stylish mixer, a 12v rangehood and plenty of storage.
Bathrooms are often the make-or-break feature when choosing a van so the Nova team have continued the sleek design in a well laid out ensuite that should suit most customers. Front and centre is a floating glass basin set in a roomy bench with loads of storage and overhead cupboards set back far enough not to impinge on taller folk bending forward. A top load washing and Thetford toilet are located over on the driver’s side, and the single-piece, moulded shower recess with a full-length mirror door is set in the opposite corner.
A large Star hatch with screens and blockouts over the queen bed augments the flow of air and light from side and front windows.
Adding to the value proposition for the Vita is an impressive list of standard features including an RV Wi-Fi hub, roof mounted Ibis 3 air conditioner, twin 95L water tanks, reversing camera, Al-Ko stability control, 24” television, wind-up aerial and a CD/DVD player with radio. Free camping is enabled by a 120w solar panel powering a pair of 120ah batteries through a regulator and DC-to-DC charger.
Anyone keen on a touring van with a homely ambience for relaxing at the end of the day, and a comprehensive array of equipment to help make life more enjoyable will do well to consider a Nova Vita. It gives the ability to spend time free camping in some of the accessible locations or to set up in your favourite van park for weeks at a time.
Manufacturer: Nova Caravans
Model: Vita 216-1R
Overall length: 8.97m
Body length: 6.98m
Travel height: 2.86m
Tare weight: 2459kg
Ball weight: 268kg
Price from: $79,000
Find Out More
May West Caravans
336-344 Old Geelong Rd, Hoppers Crossing, Vic.
Ph. 03 9369 3300