Specced out to the 9’s with an eye-catching interior and exterior; will Opal Caravans’ newest releases be as sought after as the precious stone itself?

By Anthony Kilner

Melbourne icon Opal Caravans has been in the manufacturing game since 1975, clocking just over 40 years in the business. This family run operation prides itself on building quality products, designed to stand the test of time.  I visited the Opal factory to have a chat with Tony Morihovitis, Managing Director of Opal who talked about the history of the company. During our chat, Tony pointed out a customer’s van sitting in the yard that was in for a few repairs and a tidy up. The impressive part of this was the van in question was one of the original vans built by Opal and was still in amazing condition for its age.

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Scaling back from the show scene, Tony and the crew have been focusing on building fewer caravans these days and enjoying the building process instead. A strong emphasis on care and quality of the build is and admirable thing to see. Tony is still hands on, and watching the team at work you can see they enjoy what they do. There were plenty of smiles as Tony walked me through the factory. Tony was excited and gesticulating animatedly as he pointed us towards the Opal Melbourne Showroom to check out the all-new body styling on two of his new 2017 range of vans. There was a flashy silver off-roader on the floor and a stylish looking on-roader which is the one we have reviewed for this yarn. Both vans look smart and showcase a very new style for the company that the Opal family are understandably proud of it.

OUTSIDE
While we are on the subject of the new body styling, let’s start the ball rolling there. The body is manufactured from an aluminium composite panel providing full insulation and is very durable. Double glazed windows feature around the body, contrasting against white body and red checker plate front and skirts. Opal has gone for black trim on the lockers, awning and even the door to make the details of this van stand out. External speakers are black and the two external lights and picnic table also have black surrounds. Add some rugged tear styled graphics and it’s a look designed to stand out in the crowd and catch the passing eye.

Looks aren’t everything though, there has to be a solid foundation for a van to work and the 6-inch Duragal chassis complete with a 2-inch raiser provides the goods here. Bolted to the chassis is a tandem load sharing leaf spring suspension system for on-road comfort with electrics brakes and some 205/70R15 tyres on alloy rims – that coincidently, are black and chrome.

Around the body you can find extras such as an external shower, twin 9kg gas bottles, a Manutec jockey wheel and AL-KO coupling.  Underneath the van are twin 95-litre water tanks with gauges inside the cabin. There is a spare wheel mounted on a rear bar and of course LED lighting is used around the body.

Up on the roof a 150w solar panel helps charge the battery system, while the new slimline Heron AC/Heating system dominates the roof space. There are hatches for light and ventilation which are needed if you are like me and tend to burn the toast while touring! An added bonus is the under bed locker for storage and a full width gal boot that houses the solar control, battery and electrical system, including the Break Safe unit. There are a lot of features that come standard on this van that make it good value for money.

INSIDE
If the outside was pretty flash then the interior should match it, right? Well the good news is that it does. The door is mounted towards the rear of the van between the ensuite running across the back and the kitchen dinette. For a modest 19ft, the ensuite is surprisingly spacious and very well dressed. Housing a swivel toilet and an impressive amount of storage in a wall cabinet across the back. Opal has moved the one-piece shower forward slightly to allow for further storage between the shower unit and the back wall.

There is no noticeable loss of space in the shower, which would suit a larger person such as myself comfortably enough. The ensuite also holds a Destination RV 3.5kg top-loading washing machine which is a handy size for touring. A stylish square ceramic sink and large vanity mirror with ample LED lighting caps off the room.

Moving towards the middle of the Opal, on the passenger side is a Durahide leather L-shaped dinette, with storage above and below the seating. This space offers plenty of room for two or more people to utilise easily and comfortably. Opposite the seating area is the kitchen. From right to left as you look at the kitchen is a large two-door fridge freezer with a microwave housed above, next to a handy slide-out pantry unit. There that is a fan-forced oven with grill and cook top, and it’s the first fan forced oven I have seen inside a van – this addition will be pretty amazing for the chefs amongst us I reckon.

Moving further left is a decent sized sink complete with a cover to create extra bench space. The compromise for a larger ensuite is limited bench space in the kitchen however the sink cover and the closeness of the long dinette table help alleviate this concern. At the end of this cabinetry between the kitchen and the bedroom, is a large LED TV which can be viewed from the bed or dining room as required.

The bedroom sits at the front of the van, supporting an island style queen sized bed. Wardrobes are fitted either side of the bed with additional storage available in the cupboards above. A wall mounted fan will help move air around the van during the warmer months or just that extra bit of ventilation in the bedroom.

This van comes with multitudes of storage and a vast range of goodies for fun touring. Oh and I should mention that the interior sports a healthy dose of black and white – this could be a Collingwood fan’s ultimate touring dream.

VERDICT
I really liked the look and feel of this new style of Opal and not just because I am a Pies supporter, it’s a fresh look and one that is neat in black and white. The Opal is also available in silver and that looks pretty smart too.

The MK1 186 sat behind the Cruiser really well and with a Tare weight of 2166kg it was easy to tow. Even at max with 2566kgs a lot of vehicles could legally tow the Opal around comfortably.

I did enjoy the fit and finish of the Opal and it was up there with fitted extras including reversing camera, fan forced oven and more. It’s a highly spec’d van for the bucks!

SPECIFICATIONS
Body length: 5.7m (18ft 6in)
Body width: 2.4m (7ft 9in)
Tare weight: 2166kg
ATM: 2566kg
Price as tested: $59,990 ex Melbourne

CONS 

  • Bench space is at a little light on
  • There wasn’t much to really pick on

PROS 

  • All-new smooth body finish
  • Lights in the main cupboards
  • List of extras fitted
  • Storage in ensuite
  • Swisho look to the interior
  • Plenty of 12v chargers for phones and the like
  • On-road handling

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