Fledgling Aura Caravans was only launched in September 2015 but is fast becoming a bright light in the RV industry.
Based in Campbellfield, Vic, Aura was established by Ishan Fernando and Ralph Barnabas, and there is an interesting tale attached to it. A few years ago, Barnabas was looking for someone to refurbish the interior of his ‘dilapidated’ 1981 motorhome and Fernando was recommended. Barnabas was impressed with Fernando workmanship and, as fate would have it, Fernando wanted to start his own caravan building business but needed a partner. Enter Barnabas.
Roll on to 2017, and Aura Caravans has made a big impression on the local industry in a short time.
CW recently tested Aura’s 6.83m (22ft 5in) on-road tourer, the Strada – which, if you’ll excuse the pun, has a certain glow about it. It starts with the glimmering all-white aluminium composite cladding and continues with the graphite-coloured acrylic cabinetry inside. Barnabas says the Strada range sits midfield in the Aura fleet, between the budget-priced Titanium models and the high-end Earth series.
The Strada under review was customised for a Victorian couple who were initially attracted to it while holidaying in WA. And they have commissioned a unique internal layout that I reckon oozes pragmatism.
As you enter the van, a plush four-seater leather-look cafe-style dinette with tri-fold table wraps around most of the rear wall and alongside a section of the offside wall. There’s plenty of storage here, with no less than 10 overhead lockers (one housing the electrical suite). There are also two storage compartments under the dinette seating and two storage boxes under the table.
I liked the owners’ lateral thinking on the split ensuite configuration. The offside Thetford cassette toilet and chic vanity with ceramic basin is classy, while the nearside fibreglass shower cubicle with frosted glass door is similarly up-to-the-minute. Having the bathroom in close proximity to the bedroom means if there’s a call of nature in the dead of night, you don’t have to ‘walk the plank’ to the opposite end of the caravan.
The stylish angled kitchen takes up a decent chunk of the nearside wall and it’s fitted with all the requisite mod-cons – Thetford four-burner cooktop, grill and oven, Camec rangehood, and a 25L NCE microwave which I think is positioned a little high to be 100 per cent safe.
The galley also comprises a good-sized stainless steel sink with drainer board, a flashy splashback, and a Finch RV entertainment system. It’s the kitchen benchtop that wins the day, though, with a cleverly devised slide-out bench underneath that increases meal preparation space.
Meanwhile, the spacious front bedroom is complete with a caravan-queen-size bed with bolstered innerspring mattress, padded bedhead, panoramic Aussie Traveller double-glazed acrylic windows either side, and cut outs for personal items such as jewellery and mobile phones. It would be remiss not to mention the excellent hanging space in the robes, and the small slide-out benches in the dressers to hold your coffee.
There’s plenty to talk about on the outside of this van, too. The Strada has more than sufficient underpinnings for on-road travel, including a sturdy Preston chassis, 15in all-terrain tyres and AL-KO rocker roller leaf spring tandem suspension. The AL-KO presence also includes electronic stability control as standard and a 50mm ball coupling. The caravan park set is kept satisfied with adequate battery (1x105Ah) and water (2x80L) capacities. However, the van’s 150W roof-mounted solar panel is only an option. But I liked the fact the battery, attached to the chassis and located behind the wheels on the offside, has checkerplate protection.
During the review, our photographer Stu and videographer Anna set up just down the road from Woodlands Historic Park in Greenvale, Vic. The park offers a sight of the topography European settlers witnessed in the 1840s, and I also know it to be the home to the ‘Living Legends’ – retired luminaries of the equine industry.
I towed the Strada, which has a Tare weight of 2540kg and an ATM of 3040kg, with a Holden Colorado LTZ 4X4. There were a couple of things that impressed me about this set-up – a super smooth ride, and the effortless way both tow vehicle and caravan handled the steep declines and inclines.
The Strada boasts plenty of structural integrity, highlighted by its frame construction (bolted together sides/front/rear) with 300mm centres – plus curved roof rafters that provide an aerodynamic look and a one-piece fibreglass roof that eliminates leaking.
I also appreciated the high attention to detail, including all furniture and overhead cupboards being glued, screwed and stapled, while the 12mm ply flooring is adhered with silicone and screwed.
The front of the van is protected by 950mm-high checkerplate and a window protector, but a stone shield could be added to defend the twin 9kg gas cylinders on the A-frame. I also think a toolbox would complement the external storage provided by a full-width tunnel boot and a rear hatch. I should note there is 600mm-high checkerplate adorning the rear and sides of the Strada.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Strada is a luxurious touring caravan that is purpose-built for adventuring while keeping its wheels firmly planted to the bitumen. Its impressive build quality and quality of finish combined with lots of creature comforts, guarantees bang for your buck. The test van had an enticing price tag of $77,000, which included a few optional items that came along for the ride. I can envisage the Strada becoming an on-road flagbearer for Aura Caravans.
HITS AND MISSES
- Distinctive interior design
- External good looks
- High attention to detail
- Attractively priced
- Could do with a stone shield
- Solar is optional only
- Height of microwave
- No entry step
Weights and measures
- Overall length 8.7m (28ft 7in)
- External body length 6.83m (22ft 5in)
- External body width 2.33m (7ft 8in)
- Travel height 2.95m (9ft 8in)
- Internal height 2.03m (6ft 8in)
- Tare 2540kg
- ATM 3040kg
- Payload 500kg
- Ball weight 180kg
Price as shown
$77,000 (on-road, Vic)
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #565. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!