The Manta Ray makes its intentions as an offroad tourer evident immediately, with impressive clearance, a generous smattering of charcoal checkerplate, and chunky Mickey Thompson MTZ tyres riding on black alloys. The foundation of the trailer is a 4in DuraGal chassis and drawbar with strengthening strap.
A Hitchmaster DO35 drop-on coupling makes hitching up a breeze on any angle, while offering plenty of articulation for offroad work. It is well-matched to Cruisemaster independent coil suspension with dual shock absorbers per wheel.
A large checkerplate storage box rides on the drawbar, ideal for a generator and a compact portable solar panel kit. It is flanked by twin gas cylinders, jerry can holders, substantial handles and a mesh drawbar tray. Other features include a removable jockey wheel, 12-pin electrical harness, additional Anderson plug for a portable solar panel and a mains water connection.
Sliding from the fully-lined tunnel boot is a quality Sovereign stainless steel barbecue with roasting hood, which connects to a gas bayonet nearby. Still on the nearside, you’ll also find a fold-down picnic table, large awning, 240V/12V/aerial outlets, dual marine speakers and a couple of LED lights. Other external features include a reversing camera, rear bumper bar with spare wheel and an external shower.
The Manta Ray Deluxe uses some of the latest furnishings to create a space not unlike a chic inner city apartment. The hessian-look textured vinyl floor, ash wood formica benchtops and washboard-textured splashbacks work exceptionally well with the interior colour palette of white, grey and charcoal.
Space saving is evident in some areas, most notably the kitchen, with the provision of a trendy round sink but no draining area. Bench space is confined to an area above the fridge and the glass cooktop lid, if not in use. There is no skimping on cooking appliances though, with a four-burner gas stove, mini grill, rangehood, microwave and the external barbecue
The attractive leather café dinette and tri-fold table overlooks a large window. A queen island bed with slatted based is tucked into the nose of the van and surrounded by wardrobes, bedside drawers, tables and more open storage.
The impressive styling continues into the ensuite with an above-counter washbasin, flick-mixer tap and washboard-textured splashback.
The one-piece fibreglass shower has a 12V exhaust fan with a second unit over the cassette toilet.
Most electrical appliances throughout are powered by a single 100A battery, plumbed to a 240V 35A multi-stage battery charger, ensuring quick top-ups. When away from mains power, an 80W roof-mounted solar panel and controller adds some charge when the sun comes out to play. A digital monitor shows the state of charge, instantaneous current draw and the water tank levels. Al-Ko electronic stability control provides an additional safety aid over and above the mandatory breakaway system.
Interior lighting is generous, with plenty of LED downlights in addition to the bedside reading lamps and there is a good spread of both 12V and 240V sockets throughout
With an ATM at 2400kg, it has an extra 100kg payload than the average single-axle van and just manages to slip into the popular Toyota Prado towing range although it is, arguably, better suited to larger 4WDs.
Our test route stretched north-east of Melbourne into the eastern verge of the Kinglake National Park on a day that could best be described as awful, with high winds and constant showers buffering the van throughout the afternoon. The Manta Ray Deluxe tracked well behind our Discovery 4 along a good mix of bitumen highway, twisty back roads, and a short unsealed section.
The New Age Manta Ray Deluxe 16 is an impressive package for such a compact van. It has all the offroad artillery to explore well off the beaten track and a host of comforts that will only add to the enjoyment level. The interior styling is impressive although in some areas it impacts on functionality.
At $61,990 as tested, it is well worth a look if you are keen to explore the more remote outback posts without foregoing any home comforts.
- Tough external look
- Offroad clearance
- Modern interior finishes
- Electric steps
I WOULD HAVE LIKED...
- A better shower door arrangement
- More enclosed internal storage