Review: Nova Metrolink

With the addition of the new Z-Series pack, the entry level Nova Metrolink is well and truly ready to free-camp.

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When is an entry level caravan not an entry level caravan? The Nova Metrolink might provide a few clues. You see, it sits in the lower end of this award-winning manufacturer’s range, but with clean lines and a smooth interior finish, it presents as anything but entry level.

Nova MetrolinkIn recent months, Nova has given its caravans an aesthetic overhaul and some further options for customers. The Metrolink, with new decals, Nova Pro-Al Sandwich panel walls (as fitted to our review van, the Metrolink 19-1R), and the new Z-Series pack, it cuts quite a figure on the road.

THE Z-SERIES PACK

The Z-Series pack is an optional upgrade available for the Nova Metrolink, Bravo and Family Escape models. 

It includes Al-Ko Enduro Cross Country independent suspension, rather than the standard leaf springs on beam axles, a grey water tank, and a couple of black external speakers.

It also gives the van larger alloy wheels, a 300mm extension to the A-frame – which improves the van’s manoeuvrability – a 6in G&S chassis with 2in raiser, a pull-out entry step, black awning arms, and a checkerplate storage box on the A-frame containing two 9kg gas cylinders and an offside slide-out tray. This tray is suitable for a 2kVA generator.

Nova MetrolinkLet’s face it: if you see much free-camping in your travelling future, the Z-Series pack would be worth fitting at the factory, rather than trying to retrofit many of these items, especially the suspension and grey water tank, yourself.

I was impressed with this van’s performance under tow. Behind my MU-X, the Nova Metrolink 19-1R was like a well-trained dog, always keeping to heel. I towed it without a weight distribution hitch and at no stage did the van feel unstable or poorly balanced. It’s fitted with Al-Ko ESC as standard, by the way, powered via a red Anderson plug rather than through the 12-pin.

Our review van weighed 2245kg Tare, which seemed reasonable for its size, especially taking into account that this weight included the Z-Series pack and some other options. Its 2845kg ATM gave the van a payload capacity of 600kg, which after accounting for the water weight in the dual 80L tanks, the gas in the cylinders, etc., provides at least 422kg to cover a BYO generator, luggage and provisions. Plenty.

Nova MetrolinkIn terms of construction, the Metrolink features Nova’s Pro-Al sandwich panel walls and one-piece fibreglass roof – it certainly appears fit for its intended purpose. All wiring is run internally – there is no wiring running through a framed wall.

I’d personally prefer to see some protection fitted to the grey water plumbing, but I recognise that this is not a hardcore offroad caravan.

The coupling fitted to our review van was the Cruisemaster DO35; however, Al-Ko’s 3.5-tonne offroad pin coupling is standard fitment for Z-Series Metrolinks.

NOVA METROLINK FITOUT

It’s getting harder and harder to fault the cabinetry workmanship of the more-reputable caravan manufacturers, Nova included. The Metrolink’s interior fitout is up there with the best of them, though one small detail bugged me: the black silastic used to seal the cabin exit holes for the sink’s drain and the gas line for the four-burner cooktop.

Nova MetrolinkThat aside, this is a lovely, spacious interior. It seems that in this layout, Nova has emphasised kitchen bench and dinette space over bathroom space – a good move. The bathroom isn’t overly cramped, by the way. In fact, it manages to include a fully moulded fibreglass shower, a cassette toilet, a central vanity and even a washing machine.

The kitchen bench provides lots of food-prep space, more so when you include the hinged lid over the recessed cooktop/griller. No oven is fitted, but I prefer the storage space. Need to cook a roast? That’s what the campfire is for.

A 184L Thetford three-way fridge/freezer is fitted opposite the entrance, with a microwave neatly recessed into the cabinetry above.

Nova MetrolinkWhile our review van had a cafe-style dinette, an L-shaped lounge with table is standard fitment. In some cafe dinettes, the lounge cushions are downright painful to remove in order to access the storage underneath. Not the case here. The 105Ah deep-cycle house battery is kept beneath the forward lounge, under a removable ply hatch.

Nova MetrolinkThe bedroom, meanwhile, features a north-south queen-size bed, wardrobes either side, overhead lockers, and corner cabinets at the foot of the bed on both sides. Each wardrobe has a bedside niche for your reading glasses, etc., with a 240V point. I reckon a 12V point in each would be a good idea, too.

Because of the tunnel boot fitted to the front of the van, there is no room for lower wardrobe cupboards; however, there is a bedside drawer either side.

Of course, there is storage space beneath the bed – just lift the bed base on its gas struts. Again, the tunnel boot takes up some of this space, but the remaining space is unencumbered, save for the Brake Safe unit that’s mounted out of the way.

A flatscreen TV on a swivel arm is mounted at the end of the bed, on the offside, and viewable from either the bed or the dinette. With the cafe dinette, though, anyone seated in the forward seat might struggle to watch the telly.

An upper cupboard is fitted with the required 12V and antenna points for the TV – a wind-up AntennaTek aerial is standard.

Nova MetrolinkKeeping an eye on the van’s water and 12V levels is a BMPRO Trek digital display in an overhead panel in the entrance. At the push of a button, this device also switches off all 12V power to the van. 

A sound system, meanwhile, is mounted in a cupboard above the dinette. The system is connected to two internal speakers and two external speakers.

Other features include a reverse-cycle air-conditioner, a 160W solar panel with regulator… and I rather liked the square LED lights in a wooden panel above the kitchen.

The Metrolink is available in five different layouts and sizes, starting with the single-axle 166-1R. In size, our 19-1R is second only to the ‘Home & Away’ 196-8C.

GORV’S VERDICT

Earlier, I wrote that the Nova Metrolink was Nova’s entry level range; however, this is not a cheap-and-cheerful rig. Its price puts it in the middle of the market.

Nova MetrolinkCouples in search of a comfortable, pleasure-to-tow caravan with a spacious, sensible layout would do well to have a look at the Nova Metrolink 19-1R.

The Z-Series is a worthwhile addition to the range, too. After all, you never know when you might want to camp in that perfect riverside spot at the end of that corrugated gravel track.

THE SCORE

FIT AND FINISH –

LAYOUT –

INNOVATION –

HITS & MISSES

  • Addition of the Z-Series pack
  • Spacious, liveable layout
  • Towing performance
  • Silastic used to seal drains/gas lines at cabin exit points was a little unbecoming
  • I’d like a 12V point in each bedside niche, and perhaps one at the dinette

COMPLETE SPECS

Overall length: 8.34m 

External body length: 6.3m

External width: – 2.48m (incl awning)

Internal height: 1.95m

Travel height: 2.87m

Tare: 2245kg

GTM: 2682kg

ATM: 2845kg

Unladen ball weight: 163kg

Group axle capacity: 2750kg

Frame: Nova Pro-Al sandwich panel walls (sides); front and rear is meranti-framed with Durabond composite aluminium

Cladding: Nova Pro-Al sandwich panel; one-piece fibreglass roof

Coupling: Al-Ko 3.5-tonne offroad pin coupling (DO35 as reviewed)

Chassis:G&S 6in RHS with 2in raiser; 6in extended A-frame

Suspension: Al-Ko Enduro Cross Country independent coil

Brakes: Electric

Wheels: 15in alloy

Fresh water: 2x80L

Grey water: Yes – included in Z-Series pack

Awning: Roll-out

Battery: 1x105Ah deep-cycle with BMPRO BatteryPlus charger

Solar: 160W

Air-conditioner: Belaire 3500 reverse-cycle

Gas: 2x9kg

Sway control: Al-Ko ESC

Cooking: Thetford four-burner MiniGrill with griller

Refrigeration: Thetford 184L three-way

Microwave: Yes

Toilet: Cassette

Shower: Variable height, separate cubicle

Washing machine: Top-loader

Lighting: 12V LED

Hot water: Swift gas/electric

Z-Series pack

Reversing camera

External gas bayonet

Cafe-style dinette with ‘Vegas’ leather upholstery

$68,430 (tow-away from May West Caravans, Vic)

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