Nova Terra Sportz Diesel: 2014 Review

Michael Browning — 18 September 2014

The rollout of new technology in both caravans and tow vehicles has made it easier for travellers to cut their traditional umbilical cord – the 240V power lead – and go bush for longer, as is embodied in the Nova Terra Sportz Diesel model.

Design and Construction

With multiple water tanks, solar panels and banks of deep-cycle batteries have already taken us well down that remote track and are now as commonplace and fashionable as checkerplate. But banishing the gas cylinders has been a step too far for most caravan manufacturers... until recently.

But Nova wants adventurous caravanners to take its Terra Sportz seriously, so when a New South Wales customer asked the company to build a diesel-only caravan based on the 16ft 6in (5.03m) single-axle 16679-9 variant, general manager Paul Golding and his team welcomed the opportunity to get acquainted with this increasingly popular technology.

It’s not the lightest solution for caravan construction, with the walls weighing around three times more per square metre than the conventional timber-framed and ribbed aluminium alternative found on other Nova on-road touring vans, but it’s strong and gives you the feeling that it’s built to last many adventures.

Interior Layout

Inside the Nova Terra, looks sleek and stylish, if a little minimalistic at first, with the obvious question being ‘how do I cook toast?’, it sports a smart Webasto Diesel Cooker X 100, with just two burners beneath its flush-fitting glass ceramic top and a conviniently shaped dinette. And the absence of an oven could be covered by having a microwave fitted, or by using a portable barbecue, but that wasn’t this customer’s choice.

It wasn’t just about the cooker. Taking full advantage of the alternative diesel path, Nova also equipped the van with a combined diesel-fuelled Webasto Dual Top Evo integrated hot water service and central heating unit.
Located under the lift-up queen-size bed, the system’s 11L-capacity, 20kg boiler occupies nearly one quarter of the available storage space, but it can be located in other parts of the caravan, depending on its layout.
Apart from the space-saving and practicality of using the same fuel source as the majority of tow vehicles that will haul the Terra Sportz offroad, the advantages of the all-diesel system is its flame-free safety, simple installation and repair without having to call on a licensed gas fitter, and the ability to reduce the number of dust-ingesting vent holes that are required by law in a caravan with gas appliances.

Nova took advantage of this by fitting a solid, vent-free door in the customer’s diesel-powered Terra Sportz, eliminating one of the major sources of dust invasion – the lower door vent.
Nova’s standard Terra Sportz pressure hatch (located above the bed in the forward section of the van’s roof) allows the interior to be pressurised on unsealed roads, minimising dust entry from other body vents.

The Verdict

It is a strong, well-built caravan designed to take sustained offroad punishment. Yet, despite its compact overall dimensions, its layout makes it an inviting place to spend quality time well off the beaten track.
Even with its additional cost, the availability of diesel cooking, hot water and central heating on the options list will enhance the appeal of the Terra Sportz to adventurous long-term travellers.
Even if you forego the new diesel option and opt for conventional gas appliances, the 16ft 6in Terra Sportz deserves your serious consideration when shopping for a van to enjoy well off the bitumen.

I liked...

  • Overall packaging
  • Tough construction
  • Great underbody protection
  • Diesel innovation

I would have liked...

  • Roof-mounted air conditioner
  • More solar power
  • Jerry can holders 

The full test appeared in Caravan World #530, September 2014. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!


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