Words & images Anthony Kilner

This special edition La Dolce Vita van is a flagship for Nova, hosting a range of new products and innovation in design and build quality that will see the Nova range of vans benefit from the work involved.

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Once you get past the bright Ferrari red body there’s a lot to see of this van both inside and out. What stood out for me was the overall build quality of the van. Nova is heavily involved in setting building standards for the industry and is working with the CIA (Vic) to develop training schemes for the new National Caravan Industry Training College. It’s a big, long-term commitment from Nova; however, it’s one the company is keen to fulfil.

Obviously with this caravan being at the pinnacle to show what Nova can incorporate it’s at the top of the price range too. Still, let’s go through the features and see if you leave seeing red, or gold.

Exterior Design

The La Dolce Vita is built on a solid Supagal Preston chassis manufactured for durability and engineered to be as light as possible. The A-frame has been extended 300mm to allow for the black checker plate storage box on the front. This box houses twin 9kg gas bottles, and it also has some spare storage space and includes an exterior mounted jerry can holder on each side.

Fittings around the chassis, starting from the A-frame, include an AL-KO 50mm ball coupling, eight-inch AL-KO jockey wheel and wiring for the AL-KO ESC system, reversing camera, Break Safe unit and the 12-pin plug. There are four wide-footed drop-down legs and a rear bumper with spare wheel. Underneath are two shielded 95-litre water tanks that feed a tap on the A-frame as well as the van’s interior appliances. Just on the underneath there’s also provision for a drop step to be added as an option, to make access into the van easier if needed.

Other mechanicals on the chassis included a seven-leaf roller-rocker suspension system, 10-inch electric brakes, CORE 16-inch black alloy rims shod with 245/75R16 AT rubber and mud flaps to prevent damage from stones being flicked up.

Body-wise the sides are manufactured from a limited edition Ferrari Red aluminium cladding with black checker plate skirts and black wheel spats. Adding to this very bold look are carbon fibre painted strips between the windows. The Dometic windows are tinted with black surrounds and offer plenty of ventilation inside the van. A new-style Camec black door has also been fitted.

All the hatches and the picnic table around the body are black; as is the 8300 awning and its arms. This creates a real contrast against the red bodywork. The front is ASA moulded plastic and includes a skylight which features a black surround – did I mention that black features heavily on this van? The back of the van is 3mm thick composite aluminium in black with red ASA moulded plastic tail-light housings… and again this creates a style that is quite different.

Extras around the body include a slide-out Euro-styled glass-hooded barbecue. There is a light fitted on the van’s body above the barbecue for night-time cooking. On the back sides of the van are two storage boxes – one tall (passenger side) and the other more square (on the driver’s side). There are 240-volt and 12-volt plugs, a USB port and an aerial plug for a TV. Two speakers and two awning lights are fitted, along with grab handles front and rear. All the lighting is LED, inside and out.

Up on the roof are a series of hatches, a power hatch for the ensuite and a Winegard Sensar aerial system. To charge the dual 105Ah battery system located in the front galvanised boot there are two 150W solar panels. The electricals also include a Projecta 35Ah battery charger.

I like the exterior of the Nova’s overall look and feel, with its very practical layout and proven mechanical package. Once you absorb the colour scheme,
it’s a good thing.

Interior Design

If you think the exterior is ‘out there’… then step up through the door, mounted towards the rear of the van, utilising the black checker plate step complete with LED strip lighting. ‘Wow’ is a word that immediately comes to mind.

The eyes are greeted with gloss white, matt white and matt black cupboards; and even the fridge doors are black. Add to that black trim and solid red splashbacks. ‘Classy’ is another word that comes to mind.

A linen cupboard sits on the ensuite wall to the right of the doorway (with four matt black doors) and while it’s a clever use of space, the black doors stand out against the white walls.

The ensuite runs across the back of the van and features a large shower with a full-mirrored door – which I think is a ‘first’ for me. Nova has also added three large mirrored doors to the wall-mounted vanity unit and has contrasted the mirror effects with red splashbacks on the wall above the benchtop and on the wall behind the Thetford swivel toilet. This looks great and contrasts well with the black vanity unit and wall-mounted cupboards.

White panels are used on the other walls and a white ‘marble look’ benchtop adds to the classy eye appeal. The ceramic basin is an elongated oval and the white Dometic front-loading washing machine adds a splash of extra white contrast to the room. This is a great-looking space.

The open kitchen and living area is centrally located in the van and features a large club-style dinette that will comfortably seat up to four. The black leatherette-trimmed seat includes new red double stitching with wider headrests for each end of the seat, and longer footrests. The telescoping table is easy to use and very practical. Above the seats there are plenty of cupboards. Under the seats you can also find some extra storage space.

The kitchen is quite light and bright. It starts at the ensuite wall and runs to the front of the van at the bedroom. A 186-litre Dometic three-way fridge with black panels contrasts well with the white walls and black storage cupboards (of which there are bucketloads). Between the fridge and the kitchen bench is a floor-to-ceiling slide-out storage
unit that is great for accessing all the grub
needed while touring.

The kitchen bench with its post-formed marble look is a practical size for food prep. It includes a flashy new induction/gas combo cooktop by Thetford. Underneath the kitchen bench is a new Thetford duplex oven and grill which fits in very neatly. Above the kitchen bench is a Sphere microwave and Sphere rangehood; and plenty of storage space to boot.

The red splashbacks really stand out in the kitchen and add a huge touch of class to the interior. For washing up and drying, Nova has added a dual sink with a large and small bowl and a flick mixer for ease of use. Hot water is plumbed throughout the van and supplied by a Suburban gas/electric system.

A queen-size bed dominates the bedroom at the front of the van. I liked the brightness of this space… and the skylight above the bed is great.

There is plenty of storage under the bed and in a range of cupboards mounted overhead. On either side of the bed are wardrobes, which include separate cubicles that are accessed from the bed and provide power points plus storage space for books and the like. This reduces the size of the hanging space; however, it’s a practical trade-off. These wardrobes also include slide-out drawers and cupboards that go to the floor.

Other storage cupboards are fitted in the corners of the room between the kitchen and dinette walls. As much space as possible has been used for storage inside, allowing for comfortable touring in all weather conditions.

Extras inside the van include an Ibis reverse-cycle aircon unit, entertainment system with two speakers and a 24-inch smart TV. A Drifter management system monitors the water and battery levels and internal Wi-Fi is included (which is becoming the norm in high-end vans these days).

Overall, I really liked the classy and contrasting look of this van. It’s practical and well laid out… and I think anyone looking at this van will love it.

Anyone who buys a La Dolce Vita in bright Ferrari red is making a bold statement. This van looks pretty cool, it stands out in a crowd (which makes it easy to find after a night out), and it’s jam-packed with equipment to make touring life easy and fun.

I liked the red and black interior, especially for photography purposes; although I’ve not found black to be a great colour for touring. I wouldn’t let that stop anyone buying this unit though. I owned a black Charger once, and I just got used to keeping it clean on a weekly basis so it always looked its best.

I liked the skylight above the bed – and would have loved it to open – but it does give a great view of the sky at night, which is always something to be enjoyed.

The van towed well and was very smooth over the multitude of speed humps we encountered on this trip. Mechanically,
it’s a solid package.

 

Specifications
Body length: 7.28m (23ft, 9in)
Body width: 2.4m (7ft, 9in)
Tare weight: 2699kg
ATM: 3099kg
Price as tested: $95,990 plus freight and dealer charges

PROS

  • Flashy interior
  • Red splashbacks
  • Equipment level
  • The bold exterior look
  • Mirrored ensuite
  • Storage space

CONS

  • Sticking screen on one roof hatch
  • A couple of exterior hatched needed adjustment
  • Hanging space in the wardrobe

Verdict

Yep, this van is up there in price at nearly 96 big ones. The reason is the overall level of equipment and the very new features such as the induction/gas combo cooktop. Nova is always looking to push the boundaries with the latest gear and knows how to put it together in a way that should go the distance – La Dolce Vita!

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