When you first step inside a caravan, you’ll know within an instant whether it has that ‘wow’ factor – and my first rapport with Elite’s Atlantic certainly got off on the right footing. It’s a roomy and majestic tandem-axle family van with a full ensuite, the latter equipped with both a separate loo and shower. The list of creature comforts goes on and on, but it’s readily apparent that this van isn’t simply chock-full of flashy appliances and that some clever thinking has gone into it on all sorts of levels.
If you’re not familiar with the name Elite, it’s actually owned by the three partners behind Melbourne’s Caravan Super Centre (CSC) – a massive retail, service, repairs and parts business established in Campbellfield, Melbourne, mid last year. Now CSC is a dealer for a range of manufacturers including Colorado, Evolution, New Age and Illusion, but it also custom builds a range of new vans itself under the name Elite. As a bespoke manufacturer, CSC can tailor its vans to suit just about every requirement – nutting out the details is all a part of the early stages of the purchase process.
PLEASED TO MEET YOU
The people behind CSC have a wealth of industry experience, and that’s evident the moment you lay eyes on the Elite Atlantic. Even from a distance, it looks every inch the snazzy high-class roller. The white shell is traditional aluminium cladding but it’s adorned with tasteful black moulded trim over the wheels (sharp-looking 15in alloys), as well as extensive checkerplate.
Down the nearside are myriad hatches and accessories. First we have a slide-out Sovereign barbecue – who wants to cook a snag indoors when the sun is shining? Then, after the solid Doric door, we have a recess housing an articulated arm so you can mount your TV outside for easy viewing in the shade of the massive Sunburst Eclipse awning. Then we’ve got a large drop-down picnic table, followed by a hatch for access to the storage underneath the van’s bed (and to the battery). Last, right up the back of the nearside, we have a point where you can set up an external shower – perfect for washing yourself down after a swim at the beach.
All this (and more!) rides on a 6in DuraGal chassis, with leaf spring roller-rocker suspension and 10in electric brakes all round.
While the Atlantic’s exterior is pleasing to the eye, it’s only when you stick your head inside that you’ll be hit with that aforementioned ‘wow’ factor – and in no uncertain terms.
The front half of the van is a wonderfully open space – a number of large tinted Dometic windows (with pull-up, block-out blinds) and a hatch flood it in natural light. The ceiling is high, allowing my 188cm (6ft 2in) frame to pass with ease beneath the centrally-mounted Ibis reverse-cycle air-conditioner.
The raised and forward club lounge is simply brilliant – supple leather upholstery, room for six adults at a pinch and a broad central table. It’s tailor made for entertaining, and the table drops down to convert it to a sizeable bed. The space beneath hasn’t gone to waste either – a sturdy stainless steel three-drawer storage unit, which slides smoothly out of a front offside hatch, provides room for all manner of gear.
The Atlantic’s cabinetry is particularly well done, with timber edging, beautiful brushed alloy handles and lined cupboards and drawers.
The warm wood tones and smart LED downlights combine with the mustard dinette and dark granite-look benchtops to create an inviting yet thoroughly modern ambience – I’d be more than happy to curl up in here with a good book, or, in a more convivial moment, get the kids or a few neighbours around for a raucous board game.
The angled kitchen is attractive and very practical – everything is within arm’s reach, and there’s a good amount of food preparation space, even when discounting the dinette table. This particular van had all the mod cons: microwave, cooktop, griller, oven, three-way fridge/freezer, full splashback and, as indeed is the case throughout this van in general, ample storage space.
For entertainment there’s a Kenwood DVD/CD/MP3 system and a flatscreen TV, although curiously in this van there were only two internal speakers, over the dinette – once again, a small matter that could be remedied at the design stage.
Stepping through the kitchen into the bedroom I noted a fairly sharp corner on the bulkhead separating the two. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something I’d want a rounded edge on, especially if kids are running amok.
The bedroom – partitioned off by a concertina door – is a wonderful space bathed in natural light, and the east-west bed layout means it’s a room with a view (instead of looking back up the length of your van). There’s a frame extender for the queen-size bed, but with it out you don’t have much clearance – an unavoidable consequence of the east-west layout – and with the offside wheel arch intruding you’ll have to watch your step.
The bathroom will bring a touch of class to your holiday rambles. You get a loo, a full corner shower, and a massive mirror and vanity between the two. There’s even a leather magazine pouch above the loo (matching the one as you step through the van’s door, near the dinette).
THE BOTTOM LINE
This particular Elite Atlantic, as shown, attracts a price of $84,000 (on-road, ex-Melbourne). There’s no CSC dealer network, so you’ll need to get on down to Campbellfield to check it out for yourself, although I know you won’t be disappointed.
This van isn’t cheap, but then it has a whole lot to offer, both inside and out, and in that respect it’s not ‘expensive’ either. If the ‘wow’ factor is high on your priority list, an Elite Atlantic could well be the luxury cruiser for you.
Elite Caravans/Caravan Super Centre, 1872-1874 Sydney Road, Campbellfield, Vic 3061, 1300 104 090, www.caravansupercentre.com.au.
WORDS Rod Chapman
PICS Ellen Dewar
Source: Caravan World June 2010