Caravan Reviews Reviews

Affordable gem: Opal Tourer MK1 196

With their new slick-looking tourer going for under 70Gs, Opal Caravans proves that cheap doesn’t always mean low quality.

Opal Caravans Melbourne has recently moved to a bigger yard and showroom, with some of the latest 2018 stock rolling into the yard. Kicking off with their latest tourer, the MK1 196, Opal is moving towards a bigger and brighter 2018.

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Exterior

The Opal Tourer makes a big statement on the outside with maroon composite panelling front and rear and chequer plate all around the body, almost as high as the front boot, including the wheel spats. It’s a big chunk of shiny aluminium that could play havoc with reflections. The contrasting white body with black and white trimming and funky decals adds up to a rather striking appearance. But there’s more to this tourer than meets the eye.

A four-inch G&S-engineered DuraGal chassis provides the backbone for the Opal. On the A-frame is an aluminium floor, AL-KO coupling, twin 9kg gas bottles, Manutec jockey wheel and a tap. There’s no shield on the tap, which, for a semi-off roader, would have been a good idea.

The axles in this model have been upgraded and rated at 1600kg with 15-inch alloy rims and 235/75R15 all-terrain (A/T) tyres. 10-inch electrical brakes sort the stopping while an eight-leaf tandem load-sharing suspension system handles the off-road work.

Underneath the van are two 95-litre water tanks with shields and provision for a grey water tank as an option. A gas bayonet is fitted underneath the front tunnel boot plus there are four drop-down stabilising legs and some pretty tidy plumbing work.

Features around the body include a picnic table, an exterior shower mounted off the rear wall at a good useable height, and a reversing camera. There are also two awning lights, two extra exterior lights, plus a colour-coded Dometic awning and twin exterior speakers and grab handles.

Up on the roof is a Gree reverse-cycle unit, a 160W solar panel, hatches to the bedroom, dining area, shower and toilet, and a Winegard antenna.

A full-width tunnel boot allows for long items while the front gal-lined boot houses a Camec breakaway unit, BP40 battery management unit, solar controller and 12V seven-stage Projecta Intelli-Charge unit. These are all mounted neatly on the driver’s side of the boot.

There’s a lot of gear on this van to make it handle dirt road touring easily, and the mechanicals for the dollars are well worth it.

 

Interior

A drop step makes for easy entrance into the back end of the Opal. It features a pretty standard layout in that the ensuite is across the rear and the kitchen is located across the middle on the driver’s side; opposite is the café dinette and at the front of the van is the bedroom.

The bedroom features a queen-size bed with a comfy pillow-top mattress. There is a neat little storage shelf behind the head of the bed that matches the rest of the benchtops throughout the van. With plenty of cupboards, under-bed storage and hanging space, there’s more than enough room to house all your gear. There’s also a storage area in the wardrobe for books and the like, as well as 12V and 240V power sockets that can be easily accessed. A Sirocco fan is mounted above the window on the driver’s side of the van for when you need some extra airflow.

I liked the colour choices with matching cabinet trim around the mirrored wardrobe doors and contrasting brown tones in the pelmets throughout the van. It’s a smart colour scheme that keeps things light and modern.

Moving into the dinette, the same brown leatherette trim is used on the seating and the foot rests. A tri-fold table is practical for one or two people and a large window offers plenty of light. There is also plenty of overhead storage as well as under-seat storage with drawers opening into the foot well.

As for the kitchen, there’s a reasonable amount of gear fitted and plenty of cupboards above and below the benchtop. I should also mention that Opal has mounted some curved colour contrasting bulkheads on the roof with lights in the kitchen and dinette, which lends an interesting look.

Near the entrance door is an under-bench slide-out pantry. Next is a recessed Thetford 3&1 grill and under that is an NCE microwave that is mounted quite low, while above the stove is an NCE rangehood. Although I wasn’t a fan of the low-mounted microwave, buyers are able to opt for other mounting options.

There’s enough bench/prep space, and a good-size sink with a water filtration system – speaking of water, it’s pumped around the van via a SHURFLO 12V pump.

At the far end of the bench, almost in the bedroom, is an NCE stereo system mounted in the overhead cupboard and on the wall is an NCE 24-inch TV on a swivel mount, making it easy to watch from both the dinette and the bedroom.

Between the dinette and the ensuite is a 184-litre Thetford auto-sensing fridge that will fit plenty of fare for two people. There are two pot drawers underneath the fridge and more storage above it.

You will find more storage in the ensuite across the back of the van, including longer storage spaces between the shower and the back wall. There are cupboards and drawers to fill, as well as a Thetford swivel toilet, NCE 3kg washing machine, ceramic basin and a large vanity mirror. The shower is big enough that you won’t be banging your elbows every few seconds, so that’s always a plus. Suburban supplies the hot water for it and the rest of the van.

All-in-all, the interior is pleasant and bright, well-laid out, and perfectly suitable for two people. I was also impressed by the quality of fit and finish, and the gear fitted as standard in this van means that very few options need to be added on.