Picture this: the kids have flown the nest and it’s time for you and your partner to hit the road full-time. The open road beckons as it never has before. But you’re going to need a caravan. Something large and luxurious is in order. And this may just be the van for you: the Nova Caravans Bravo 216-9R Signature Series.
One of the largest caravans in the Bravo range, the 216-9R that we looked at was fitted with Nova’s Z Series pack. Essentially, this pack is a cost-effective way to upgrade a Nova caravan with semi-offroad touring credentials.
Further, the ‘Signature Series’ is also about value: in Signature format, a Nova caravan gets about $5000 worth of additional equipment without it affecting the standard price.
But why is this van worth your time or consideration? Let’s step inside…
NOVA CARAVANS BRAVO LAYOUT
The layout of this Nova Caravans Bravo isn’t unique, per se; however, it is very appealing. With its split bathroom and rear club lounge, the 216-9R Nova Bravo is particularly spacious. The forward bedroom is fitted with wardrobes, each with a niche complete with a 240V powerpoint. But where are the 12V points? In fact, USB charging points are integrated with the reading light fittings – a feature that’s becoming more and more popular.
Instead of the more-popular 12V Sirocco fans, the Bravo uses the new fans from NCE which oscillate on their mounting plates and feature a built-in light – time will tell if they overtake the Siroccos in popularity. Naturally, there is a bracket and the appropriate fittings for a TV at the end of the bed.
While the bedroom is undeniably classy, what I appreciated the most was the sense of privacy afforded by the split bathroom. This bathroom setup, with the Thetford cassette toilet and washbasin on the offside and the fibreglass shower cubicle on the nearside, provides a bit of distance – and two doors – between the bedroom and the van’s living quarters.
Those living quarters, by the way, are very stylish. I personally love the wood-look laminate used for the bench tops and kitchen splashback. I also appreciate that there’s a bit of usable bench space to the rear of the stainless steel sink (with separate filtered tap for drinking water). There’s a generous amount of storage space, including a slide-out pantry under the bench.
On the nearside, you’ll find a small bench, with a front-loader washing machine hiding below. In the cabinetry above, Nova has centralised the switches for the gas-electric hot water service and the reverse-cycle air-conditioner, the Pioneer sound system, and the RV Wi-Fi system that’s included in the Bravo.
This lounge, by the way, is very comfortable. It’s large enough to easily seat four adults and it’s surrounded by multi-directional lights (with built-in USB points) and overhead lockers.
The only minor drawback if that the you can’t open the rear-corner overhead locker doors at the same time as the closest side locker doors. But I’m picking nits here – the fitout of the Bravo is very good and it’s hard to fault the quality of the cabinetry.
The 216.9R Nova Caravans Bravo benefits from Nova’s sandwich panel wall construction method known as Pro-Al. Each panel is comprised of an outer skin of aluminium, a core of structural foam, and an inner layer of ply. Unlike conventional composite aluminium construction that includes a frame, there are no mid-wall joins with this construction type. The roof, meanwhile, is a one-piece fibreglass sandwich panel.
Because these walls don’t contain ‘hollow’ spaces, all 12V and 240V wiring runs internally, This wiring has been expertly hidden behind the cabinetry; however, it can still be accessed by removing certain panels, if necessary.
The van rides on a G&S chassis comprised of a 6in chassis and A-frame (which has been extended by 300mm as part of the Z Series pack). The main members, though, are topped with a 2in chassis raiser, so there are no wheel arch intrusions on the inside.
Fresh water storage is handled by two 95L fresh water tanks, mounted either side of the tandem axle set, while there’s a grey water tank mounted at the rear – the PVC dump outlet is quite well protected, too.
There’s a fantastic amount of storage on offer. A checkerplate box sits on the A-frame, with an offside slide-out tray to suit a 2kVA generator. The dual 9kg gas cylinders are within the box, accessible via a lid on the nearside. Meanwhile, you’ll find a conventional gal-lined front boot behind the box, as well as a tunnel boot behind that. There is yet another large storage compartment at the rear of the van, underneath the dinette.
There’s also a roll-out Dometic awning, a fold-down picnic table, a reversing camera and more. Nova Caravans fits all of its vans with Al-Ko Electronic Stability Control, and the Bravo is no different – it’s a fantastic piece of equipment for peace of mind.
Now, the 216-9R Nova Caravans Bravo is a large, fully-featured caravan, and all of that comes at a cost in terms of weight. At Tare, it weighs 2823kg, with an unladen ball weight of 234kg. The ATM is 3423kg, giving it a payload capacity of 600kg – a good thing, too, considering all the storage space on offer.
Two people would be very comfortable inside the 216-9R tandem-axle Nova Caravans Bravo. The manufacturer has left almost no stone unturned in fitting it out for convenient, sensible blacktop caravanning (with some dirt country roads thrown into the mix).
FIT AND FINISH –
HITS & MISSES
Overall length: 9.51m
External body length: 7.59m
External width: 2.48m
Internal height: 2m
Travel height: 3.05m
Unladen ball weight: 234kg
Group axle capacity: 3200kg
Construction: One-piece Nova Pro-Al walls with one-piece fibreglass sandwich panel roof
Chassis: 6in A-frame; 6in main chassis with 2in raiser
Suspension: Al-Ko Cross Country independent coil
Brakes: 12in electric
Fresh water: 2x95L
Grey water: Yes
Battery: 2x105Ah deep-cycle with DC-DC charger
Sway control: Al-Ko ESC
Cooking: Thetford four-burner cooktop with griller and oven
Refrigeration: 175L Thetford compressor
Bathroom: Rear ensuite with separate shower
Washing machine: Destination RV front-loader
Lighting: 12V LED
Hot water: Gas/electric
Entertainment: 24in smart TV with Bluetooth; Pioneer sound system
Z Series pack