At last year’s Best Aussie Vans contest, the Regent Cruiser impressed all the judges with a well designed and beautifully appointed interior. So, when the company suggested we have a look at the even more luxurious Monarch slide-out, we agreed straight away.
Regent RV has been manufacturing upmarket caravans in Melbourne for more than 30 years and has a solid reputation for going the extra mile in build quality and innovation. It moved to a CNC-produced plywood frame a few years back when it saw Australian buyers were demanding more modern technology to cope with long-distance travel and a harsh climate.
As a long-term player in the local market, Regent knows the features discerning buyers want, and the Monarch delivers on those expectations. First impressions play a big part in the buying experience, and the Monarch is sure to win friends. Even before the slide-out is deployed, the upmarket appeal is evident, but the extra room the moving bedroom creates is beyond expectation.
As mentioned above, Regent steps outside the norm of most Melbourne builders with a CNC-formed plywood frame. This finger-jointed structure is less susceptible to water damage and has precisely fitted insulation panels for improved temperature control in hot and cold weather. Regent lists a benefit of the ply walls as allowing the structure to expand and contract as temperatures change without damaging the rest of the build.
Cladding is the traditional-looking raised profile aluminium sheeting in white with black trim. Optional XPS composite panelling would impart a more modern appeal but loses out with a weight penalty, and the big Monarch with a 7m (23ft) internal length needs all the weight-saving it can muster. Black checkerplate covers the lower sections on the sides and at the front.
Like all vans in the range, the Monarch is built on a DuraGal Austrail RV chassis that is laser-cut for consistency and robot-welded for strength and precise alignment. The 6in A-frame extends back to the spring hangers, and the 6in chassis has 6in risers. The review van employs a tandem AL-KO Rocker Roller load-sharing leaf spring suspension but if you want something a bit more dirt oriented there’s an optional All-Terrain Pack with an independent Cruisemaster XT system, DO35 hitch and a three-arm rear bar for the spare.
Fifteen-inch alloy wheels are shod with 235x75 light truck tyres, and braking is from AL-KO 12in drums. Attention to detail underneath can be lacking in many caravans, but there’s nothing shoddy or forgotten in the way the electrical and plumbing is completed on the Monarch. Two 95L water tanks have metal guards, while the battery is located in a box on the chassis to offer more storage space inside.
A 23ft van is big by contemporary standards, and even behind the chunky Nissan Patrol it looked impressively majestic. There’s no brashness of a gaudy offroader, but the Monarch shows that a well -proportioned cruising van can still make a statement. The mainly white walls have a simple arrow decal emblazed with the Monarch brand, and I noted a proudly displayed logo of the company’s 'Best Build Quality' from our Best Aussie Vans event.
Storage is generous with both a front boot and a full-width tunnel up front ahead of the entry door. An alloy panel covers the front window, and the review van had a Cruisemaster DO35 hitch as an option replacing the standard ball. Other features here include twin 9kg gas bottles with a high mount regulator but no stone guard, plus a handy tray for hoses. ESC is standard.
Along the side are a picnic table, plenty of LED lighting, external speakers and the usual exterior points for 12V and a TV. Raised profile sheeting continues at the rear end where a single spare sits on a bar, and a rear camera helps with parking and keeping an eye on following traffic.
A Thule electric step snaps down to ease entry through a rearward opening security door to the impressive and convivial interior.
HOME ON WHEELS
Regent positions itself at the premium end of the caravan market and with the Monarch 23 selling at $10 short of $100K, you would expect it to look the part. It does that in style, and the extra room of the relatively long van plus the bedroom slide-out will make the big Regent a popular choice for those looking for extended travel or holidays.
Just forward of the entry is a roomy club lounge sumptuously clad in black leather, and with views all around once the front cover is raised over the front window.
One thing the van isn’t short of is storage. Overhead cupboards abound, and the lounge has space below for seldom-used items.
Rearward is the kitchen and bedroom, while the generously proportioned ensuite extends across the back.
In what I’m sure will be a popular design feature, the rear section of the van can be closed off with dividers and a sliding curtain offers a welcome level of privacy.
Light and air flood the cabin, and the 1.85m ceiling height gives a roomy impression. Options for colour palettes are extensive with 28 cabinet choices, another 28 for benchtops and a dark or light timber look for flooring. The review van looked fresh but enduring with modern touches like LED mood lights at floor level and CNC square-finish cabinets.
An immediate benefit of the extra room inside is a large kitchen that covers both sides of the central living space. On the driver's side is a stainless steel sink with draining board and the 186L Thetford fridge/freezer. Under the bench, I found large drawers, a slide-out pantry and a sensibly located microwave. Opposite is the bonus second kitchen bench with Swift 500 oven, grill and four-burner cooktop as well as even more drawers and overhead cupboards.
CLASSY SLEEPING QUARTERS
After checking there’s enough room at the side of the van, it only takes about 20 seconds at the push of a switch at the electrical cabinet to deploy the sliding bed the 800mm or so out into space on the driver’s side. This opens the bedroom to generous proportions even when you close the curtains. But hang on a second, there’s more button-pushing if you have enough energy because the next trick is to raise the 32in LED television from its neat passenger-side cabinet.
The queen bed has an innerspring mattress with Pillowtop, and there are four storage drawers below as well as air struts to extra storage space. Access is smooth to the side of the bed and also to the gloss white overhead cupboards that contrast nicely against the matt black leather bedhead.
As well as the newer 7m (23ft) Monarch version on show here, Regent also boast a 6.8m (22ft 6in) version with a central lounge slide, but for me the van reviewed wins in usability and layout. The more private bedroom and the well-positioned club lounge add to the larger model’s ergonomics and ambience.
A lot of builders describe their ensuites as spacious, and I probably fall into the trap of going along with that. But the amenities in the Monarch have more room than most, as can be seen with the inclusion of a 300mm-wide floor-to-ceiling cupboard forward of the shower cubicle. That's an extra 300mm of room to move, and that makes a big difference if the bathroom size is essential.
As well as a moulded shower you get a decent sized vanity, big mirror, a washing machine and more mood lighting at floor level.
Perhaps with the presumption that many owners of a Monarch will spend most of their time in caravan parks, the off-grid power setup is limited to a single 150W solar panel and a single 105Ah AGM battery. There’s an option for a second battery box and an extra battery, so it’s an easy fix if you want to be more independent. A BMPRO Plus35 charger and management system is mounted in an overhead kitchen cupboard alongside a BMPRO Trek display for monitoring power and water condition, and all the wiring is neatly installed.
Our review of the big Regent was undertaken in conjunction with our test of the Nissan Patrol in issue 599, so we had a good range of conditions to explore across the hills north of Melbourne and along stretches of motorway.
The V8 petrol Patrol handled the nearly 3t weight with ease, happily maintaining freeway speeds and with loads of power up hills. There was no harshness or banging from the van with a well-balanced feel on the road. It behaved perfectly over all conditions with no wandering or wallowing across all the speed ranges and through a variety of corners and road conditions.
Regent vans are sold through GreenRV in Queensland and Greater Southern RV in South Australia and the company has repair agents nationwide. While there are options to upgrade, the default warranty is 12 months, which seems unrealistic for a top-end product. Regent has dedicated warranty staff to prioritise any issues.
The $99,990 price reflects the Monarch’s place in the upper end of the market. But at that price, it will suit couples looking for a beautifully finished and more substantial-than-average long distance tourer. It’s a van you could easily spend extended holidays aboard, luxuriating in the generous room and ample comfort.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 9.19m (30ft 1in)
External body length 7.39m
Internal body length 7m (23ft)
External body width 2.49m
Travel height 3.09m (10ft 1in)
Internal height 1.9m (6.2ft)
Nameplate tare 2944kg
Nameplate ATM 3500kg
Ball weight 224kg
Frame CNC plywood
Chassis Austrail Dura-gel
Suspension AL-KO Rocker Roller
Brakes 12in electric
Water 2 x 95L
Battery 1 x 105Ah
Solar 1 x 150Ah
Air conditioner Ibis 4
Gas Bottles 2 x 9kg
Sway control AL-KO ESC
Cooking Oven, gas and electric
Fridge Thetford N614-E 186L
Microwave Swift 23L
Toilet Thetford ceramic cassette
Shower Large one-piece fibreglass
Hot water Swift gas and electric systems
PRICE AS SHOWN
Camec 4kg front load washing machine — standard is a 2.5kg top loader
Green RV, Qld
P: (07) 5356 5000
Great Southern RV, SA
P: (08) 7231 0226