I don’t know about you, but the first time I try something new, I’m a mix of apprehension and excitement. I love new adventures, but a slight fear of the unknown buzzes under the surface. There’s nothing like adrenaline to keep life interesting! Needless to say, as the newest CW recruit, heading out on my first review for the magazine along with my experienced editor Laura, was a tad nerve-shaking. Wanting to impress the boss in the office is one thing, but not making yourself look like a fool out in the field is another. Nevertheless, I put on my big girl boots (and my lucky red beret) and headed out to meet Laura and photographer Stu at the Melbourne 4x4 Training and Proving Ground at Mount Cottrell, Vic. It was time to meet the Nova Metrolink 19-1R from May West Caravans in Hoppers Crossing, to see if it was up to the task, and to prove that I most certainly was.
With no time to waste, it was time for Laura and I to take this baby out for a spin. Our trusty tow tug for the day was a LandCruiser 76 Series wagon with a tow capacity of 3500kg, more than enough required grunt for the Metrolink’s Tare weight of 1962kg and maximum loaded ATM of 2362kg.
This is, by its nature, an on-road van, yes, however, its performance on the gravelly roads of the Proving Ground gave us a solid indication this was a high-achiever, with no qualms about taking on slightly rougher surfaces.
It would be a bit of a stretch to call the Nova Metrolink a ‘head-turner’, but it’s definitely attractive, highlighted by orange and black stripes, and Nova’s signature orange sun logo. It’s a solid van with a traditional build and ribbed aluminium cladding along with black aluminium checkerplate.
A full-width tunnel boot offers the required storage for your bits and pieces; in our case, camp chairs and an extra fold up table for that evening’s ‘wine time’. The tandem-axle Metrolink has a solid Preston chassis, with leaf spring suspension and is fitted with 15in wheels. AL-KO’s electronic stability control features, and you’ll find two water tanks located forward of the axle. A peek underneath the Metrolink revealed good clearance, with no low-hanging objects to cause any concern.
I did notice a piece of metal about six inches long welded on to the chassis rail on the right side, above the mud flap. It wasn’t immediately obvious what it was for, but thought it could present a potential catch hazard as it extruded from the side of the chassis, sticking further out than anything else on the van.
A walk around to the back of the van revealed the spare was fixed at an easily accessible height, which is important when you’re vertically challenged like me. There’s also a Dometic awning for shelter and shade if you need it. When it comes to build quality, Nova Caravans definitely knows its stuff and was last month given an official stamp of approval at the Caravan Trade & Industries Association of Victoria Hall of Fame Industry Awards, winning the 2017 CTIAV Business Award for Caravan and RV Manufacturer of the Year.
Over in the kitchen, there’s a Thetford Mk III mini grill and combo four-burner cooktop, although you might have to give the roast a miss as there’s no oven – not unusual in a budget van. As my culinary skills aren’t amazing, this didn’t concern me (I prefer to let my prowess on the dancefloor win me my friends), but I was glad to see an NCE microwave. I would have preferred it to be a little lower, though. I’m prone to clumsiness and, as mentioned, on the short side, so I had visions of me scalding my face on hot soup.
However, food prep is easy in the Metrolink with plenty of bench space, and there was more than enough room for our cheese, chocolate, and Laura’s pickle supply in the Thetford 184L fridge.
The design of the Metrolink means access to the sleeping quarters up front is easy, and there’s plenty of space around the bed, too. The caravan-queen-size bed is flanked by the necessary wardrobes on either side, along with bedside drawers, and ledges with a powerpoint, essential for charging your phone overnight and keeping it handy.
But, of course, the true test of a caravan’s livability is to spend a night in one. Laura and her husband Ash camped out in the Metrolink and I was keen to hear what their verdict was. For the most part, they were “seriously impressed.”
“My only minor quip would be the length of the bed,” Laura said. “With a husband who is 6ft 3in, I may be more sensitive to bed lengths than others but, while I was supremely comfortable all night long, my tall husband was again left with his feet hanging off the end of the bed.
“The bed frame appeared to be extendable, which would have solved this problem, however, no mattress bolster was supplied.”
The design is simple but effective in the full-width bathroom, with the monochromatic black and white finishes throughout making it feel clean and fresh. Across from the Thetford cassette toilet is the standard fibreglass shower unit which was a comfortable size, and a good-sized horizontal mirror above the modern basin. There is space for a top-loading washing machine but this isn’t standard in the 19-1R model. All up, this felt like a great-sized bathroom, and with some budget vans not even including a bathroom, this was a big plus.
With all of the work done, it was time to relax and enjoy the perks of the job. Relaxing by an open fire with a glass of red and the necessary accompaniment of cheese and bikkies, I thought to myself, “this isn’t a bad way to finish off a day at the office”. It looks like CW is stuck with me!
THE BOTTOM LINE
For it’s low price tag, the Nova Metrolink is an impressive caravan and a serious all-rounder. It handles like a champ, is solidly built, and it has all of the features you need for a comfortable holiday, with a simple yet stylish finish.
It may not take the prize for the biggest, most spacious van around, but that’s not its bag. The well-designed interior has enough living room and plenty of storage, making this an easy van to spend a substantial amount of travel time in. There’s no surprises with the Nova Metrolink, but really, it doesn’t matter – reliability and function beat bells and whistles in this case.
HITS AND MISSES
- Well-designed layout creates
- good space
- Plenty of storage through with sturdy cupboards
- Simple yet stylish internal design
- Bed length is a little short for taller folks
- Microwave is located a bit high
Weights and measures
- Overall length 8.04m (26ft 3in)
- External body length 6.3m (20ft 6in)
- External body width 2.40m (7ft 8in)
- Travel height 2.86m (9ft 3in)
- Internal height 1.95m (6ft 3in)
- Tare 1962kg
- ATM 2362kg
- Payload 400kg
- Ball weight 152kg
Price as shown
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #566. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!