Marvel’s Sea Breeze is well named. The Marvel brand is part of the Sunseeker RV group based in Warana on the Sunshine Coast, a few sandhills away from the Pacific Ocean and home of the regular easterly that tempers the summer heat.
We have been after a Marvel to review for a while, and the offer of an extended review of the van to coincide with our tour of the New England High Country region of New South Wales was too good to pass up.
Marvel was born a few years ago when Sunseeker owner, Chris Michel realised there was a gap in the RV market for a value-packed caravan built without compromising on quality. The Sunseeker team has years of caravan experience, and they set to designing a brand that offered various levels of offroad ability with sensible liveability for enjoyable times on the road. Five models within the Marvel brand provide multiple levels of driving capability, starting with the Sea Breeze with its leafspring, roller-rocker suspension.
The six different Sea Breeze layouts span from a basic 18ft version through to a more opulent club lounge 22ft 6in version, so our 19ft review van sat in the middle. As such, it fits the most popular size for touring couples, fulfilling the Goldilocks principle of being not too small and not too big, but just right.
Weight is an essential issue in a touring caravan, especially for those who want to tow with mid-range vehicles. For this reason, the 2150kg tare of the 19ft Marvel makes a lot of sense, while still delivering enough living space for couples to be comfortable.
Starting underneath, we see a Supagal chassis from 3mm Bluescope steel. The Supagal treatment is considered superior to Duragal as it zinc plates both the internal and external sections of the box section rather than just the outside. Using pre-treated steel saves up to 70kg compared to hot dipping the frame after it has been welded together and as long as the welds are well painted during construction, then the chassis should last a lifetime.
The Sea Breeze has a 6in A-frame leading back to a 4in chassis stitch-welded to 2in risers. The welds are neat and complete, and the crew has done an excellent job of getting wiring and plumbing up, out of the way.
With a rating of 2900kg, the simple tandem axle, leaf suspension gives the van a payload of just over 700kg, which should be more than enough for most couples.
The frame is Meranti timber, and the furniture is cut on a CNC machine for a close-fitting appearance. Acrylic splashbacks and laminated cupboard fronts add to the modern appeal, and the dark grey on lower cupboards and glossy white elsewhere were easy to live with for our two weeks on the road.
Up top, a single sheet of fibreglass keeps the weather outside while underfloor is an expanse of marine ply covered in a single flow of premium lino.
The move to composite external panels a few years ago has been almost universally adopted by the local caravan industry. While it has become ubiquitous across most brands, there’s no denying the attraction over the dated look of rolled aluminium. There’s a weight penalty with the composite, but the payoff is also in the resistance to damage and ease of minor repairs.
Our review van was a mid-grey with black checkerplate, and again that's a common caravan theme, especially ones with a dirt road mission. It's a safe choice I guess, and let's face it, most new cars are either white or grey, so there’s likely to be a match. Black 15in alloy wheels look the part and are shod with mid-profile 235/75 all-terrain tyres.
Although the van looks like it should ride relatively low, the impression was deceiving. We needed a tow ball riser for the Isuzu D-Max to lift the front end to a level position.
The A-frame has a 50mm ball connection and the standard fare of twin 9kg gas bottles and a centre-mount jockey wheel. The tap has an aluminium guard against stones, and a small tray between the frames can store some of the hoses or mats we all carry around.
The forward section of the van has a tapered entrance without a window — good, it can’t leak — and a sensible through boot for general storage. Further back is a security door and a picnic table with points for power and a TV overhead. The designers have made use of space under the ensuite cupboard for a second external hatch that will be big enough for a couple of folding chairs down the back on the driver side.
With the front entry right alongside the bedroom, perhaps the 19ft Marvel compromises a bit of privacy for usable space, but it's a comprimise I’d happily choose to get the extra benchtop. In any case, you could probably run a curtain across if you wanted to.
I really like the oversize windows on each side of the bed as well as the long one at the diner. They bounce loads of light around the bright interior and gave beautiful views of the dizzying gorges of New England. The diner's grey lounges are automotive quality leather over dual-density foam, and they were as comfortable as they promised to be. Footrests extend the lounge, and there's a 24in TV mounted on the wall in the bedroom if you get sick of the view.
The kitchen takes up the living area’s passenger-side wall with a 220L three-way fridge further back between dinette and ensuite. It’s good to see a full oven and the extra bench space where the cupboard kicks out at the ensuite bulkhead. The microwave is a bit high from a safety point of view for my liking, but it's par for the course these days.
The ensuite spreads across the rear end, and it’s a shrewd size — again not too big and not too small — with enough room to move and no waste of space. Storage is excellent with two large linen cupboards and more cabinets over the vanity. A 3kg washing machine hides under the vanity countertop, and there's generous ventilation with fans in the shower and main room as well as a window over the toilet.
In standard format, the Marvel comes with a 150W solar panel and a 100Ah battery, so, with twin 95L water tanks, there’s enough power and water on tap for limited off-grid camping. Of course, if the weather plays along, the battery should stay charged indefinitely with frugal use of the lights and TV.
The giant 220L three-way fridge will sustain you for a week or so, and the two gas bottles would typically last a couple of months including cooking.
We were grateful to have a good run in the Marvel and get a good feel for what it would be like to live with. Our tow vehicle was a new Isuzu D-Max, and apart from the tow ball issue, it was faultless and had more than enough power to tackle the big hills heading from Brisbane up to Stanthorpe.
I have to say the Marvel was a breeze as well. In over 2000km of everything from 110km/h motorways to dirty, dusty gravel tracks in the Oxley Wild River National Park, the Marvel never complained. It towed smoothly without any banging or lurching and stopped cleanly when needed. More importantly, it was a welcome retreat from the blazing sun during the day and a comfortable place to enjoy the memorable sunsets on the banks of the Copeton Dam.
From all I have seen in dealing with the company I’m convinced the team at Sunseeker/Marvel are dedicated to customer service as a priority. They have a dedicated staff member to deal with issues and an easy online portal for claims. Structural warranty is for two years, but appliances and chassis are covered by those suppliers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
As tested the van is $62,538, which holds up very well in today's market, especially when you consider the level of finish and equipment — there isn't much in the way of extras you would need for a lap or extended holidays in your favourite sites, only maybe another battery and solar panel if you intend to hide out for lengthy stays.
We gave the Marvel a pretty good workout over our couple of weeks travelling through Queensland and northern NSW, and it handled all conditions beautifully. It’s easy to tow and has all the comforts you will need. It dealt with dirt road travel with ease and pulled perfectly on the blacktop. The Marvel 19 will suit couples who like the simplicity of a mid-size van but with enough room and comfort for a life on the road.
The Marvel is a well-built and well-priced van with better than average appliances and fittings. Aimed at touring couples who plan to spend extended time on board, the 19 footer is ready to go.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 7.92m (25ft 9in)
External body length 5.84m 19ft)
External width 2.48m (8ft 2in)
Travel height 2.9m (9ft 5in)
Internal height 2m (6ft 5in)
Payload 749kg (calculated)
Ball weight 230kg
Cladding Auminium Composite
Chassis Supagal — Australian Steel
Suspension Roller-rocker leafspring
Coupling AL-KO 50mm Ball
Brakes 10in Drum
Wheels 235/75/R15 Alloy
Water 190L (2 x 95L tanks)
Battery 100A Deep Cycle
Solar 150W panel
Air conditioner Dometic Ibis 4 Reverse Cycle
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Optional
Cooking Stove top with 3 gas and 1 electric element, full oven and separate grill.
Fridge 220L Dometic 3 way fridge/freezer
Bathroom Separate shower and toilet, vanity unit and mirrored cupboards.
Washing machine 3kg top loader
Hot water 278L Swift gas/electric with stainless holding tank
Options fitted Nil
price as shown
290 Nicklin Way Warana
Ph: (07) 54911888