It’s not too much of an exaggeration to suggest that when New Age appeared on the local caravan scene eleven years ago, they revolutionised the market. Their very modern apartment styling was in stark contrast to the homely timber finish the rest of the industry offered and it wasn’t long before the look was cloned almost across the board.
Square edges, contrasting colours and glossy finishes gave New Age caravan interiors a punch impact, a lighter and more vibrant ambience, and almost every builder now has this option in their line.
In only eleven years New Age has grown into one of our most significant builders and has worked hard at keeping their range of eight different models fresh and appealing. The three Oz Classics are premium blacktop tourers, measuring between eighteen and twenty-three feet and our test van is the smallest version with roller-rocker leaf spring suspension. From first impressions it was clear that a raft of quality appointments and design elements continue the company’s innovative approach.
When the Walkinshaw Performance Group acquired New Age last year, it might have seemed a strange mix, as Walkinshaw is best known for producing Holden Special Vehicles and running a Supercar racing team. But they brought skills in automotive development to caravan design, which are seen in the distinctive moulded rear end where the spare is neatly recessed into the body. Underneath, their expertise in chassis design is evident in the new process of bending the steel to form a single entity of A-frame and chassis, rather than welding the join.
Surprisingly, the brand has only recently adopted smooth finish Alucobond exterior panels as an option but, along with a new logo and external graphics, it gives the van an even crisper look. The colour scheme on the test van features a chunky black stripe over bright white wall panels with a lower section of black Raven Coat.
As well as looking smart, the exterior has been sorted to make the most of every square inch of space for storage or features. A large aluminium box on the A-frame houses two 9kg gas bottles and has a decent amount of room for tools, mats and the jockey wheel when moving. A metal stone guard for the tap is an unusual but useful feature for an on-road van and Al-Ko Electronic Stability Control-ESC is standard.
As we move back along the near side, we discover a full-width boot, a picnic table, an entertainment hatch with TV mount and cables, external power point and a waterproof Fusion sound system. LEDs overhead light up the night and a full-length awning shades the afternoon sun. On the driver side is an outside shower and more lighting.
Underneath is the tandem leaf spring suspension riding on 16″ alloy wheels and all-terrain tyres. The Walkinshaw engineered chassis has hole-punched cross members to save weight and one of the neatest routings of electric and water leads you will find in a van. Two 110L water tanks are well guarded, there’s a grey water tank as well and the water pump is housed in its own protective enclosure.
You have to like the Techno electric step that flashes down at the push of a button and rides high out of harm’s way when not in use. Once inside you see straight away that New Age hasn’t rested on their reputation for contemporary internals. There’s still the inner city design imperative but with the ante upped several notches over their original offerings. Nearly everywhere you look there’s a special touch, an upgraded accessory and an enviable “wow factor”. You might expect that in a van touted as upmarket and luxury, but plenty of builders make the claim. New Age walks the walk.
Still sceptical? Then how about the black composite sink, tap and drainer, Thetford hybrid hob with induction and gas hotplates, a duplex oven, a monster 216L fridge, divider curtain at the bedroom and bathroom design features straight out of an Italian architectural brochure.
Gloss black features on joinery, upholstery, oven, cooktop, fridge and the bedspread and contrasts against white walls and ceiling. Maybe it’s not universally appealing, but it certainly grabs your attention and, because it is so well finished, it succeeds.
Layout places the bedroom away from the door at the front, a central living room and the ensuite at the back. Bench space is sparse as in all vans of this size with a full ensuite, but the dinette table is handy for more involved cooking and there’s a pull-out bench extension near the sink for some extra room. It all seems to work well ergonomically with easy access to the fridge. Except maybe for the high microwave, the placement of which caravan reviewers have been lamenting for at least ten years without a response from builders. Someone is going to be burned.
Storage options include pot drawers in the kitchen, and high cupboards at the sidewalls of the bedroom, which is a good idea and extra cabinets in every available space in the ensuite.
Rich leather upholstery with double stitching at the dinette looks excellent, and the big window makes the most of the views. A couple could get comfortable here, especially with the extensions that allow feet-up relaxing, so you can read a book or enjoy the electronics, a 28” smart television on a bracket and a second Fusion sound system in the panel above should fill in the rainy days.
Down in the ensuite, modern flair and quality fittings continue. The black basin and tapware and showerhead maintain the colour theme, and a ceramic bowl with soft-close lid are a cut above and I liked the way the granite bench contours around the toilet for extra room, while still optimising storage.
Part of the package is a single 100ah lithium battery and a 150w solar panel, so you have off-grid options for as long as you like because a lithium battery will give nearly twice the running time of a gel battery. The battery is topped up through a BMPro lithium charger, and both power and water capacity is monitored by a BMPro Odyssey touch screen control panel at the entry door.
Our review of the Oz Classic took us across town through busy Melbourne traffic and out into the hills of East Gippsland. Weighing in at 2620kg, the van is hefty for an eighteen-footer so you will need a powerful vehicle when it’s full to a 3220kg maximum weight. Our 100 series Landcruiser handled it well, as will most mid-range 4wd utes. Balance was right, and it tracked smoothly over all road surfaces.
As tested the Oz Classic 18 is $83,250, which is excellent value for the superior quality and style, especially considering the array of standard features.
Couples looking for something special in a van designed for blacktop touring will do well to have a look at the Oz Classic range. The standout new graphics will soon make the New Age fleet a familiar sight on our road, and the timeless interior gives a welcome feeling that will last for years.
- Snappy styling inside and out
- Quality appliances and fittings
- Tows smoothly and is well balanced
- You would have to be really picky to find anything
Find Out More
Manufacturer: New Age
Model: Oz Classic 18’ series 4
Overall length: 7.87m
Internal body length: 5.49m
Travel height: 3.03m
Tare weight: 2620kg
Ball weight: 170kg
Carrying capacity: 600kg
Carrying capacity with full fluids: 361kg
Price as tested: $83,250
New Age Caravans, 29 Shirley Way, Epping 3076
Ph: 03 93051714