Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer


Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review The Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT measures in at 8.7m in length Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review
Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review DeLuxe Group is the sole South Island agent for Dethleffs caravans Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review
Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review A generous U-shaped dinette occupies space at the front of the Nomad 650 RQT Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review
Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review A larger kitchen was high on the priority list for the caravan's Kiwi distributors Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review
Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review The large east-west island bed feels like it occupies its own private space Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review
Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review The Nomad 650 has a generous wardrobe and space for a flat-screen TV Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review
Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review
Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review
Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT review

MCD checks out the Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT

There’s something absolutely priceless about having a direct line to the factory. For a distributor, especially in a far-flung corner of the world such as the one we Kiwis inhabit, the benefits of a solid working relationship with the people who put the vehicles you’re selling together, are many and varied.

Add to that the idea of a large-scale, globally recognised manufacturer willing to sit down and discuss design feature details specific to the market requirements of a nation 18,000km away, and you know you’re working with an exceptional company.

Mind you, Dethleffs—the globally recognised manufacturer at the centre of this analogy—clearly thinks equally highly of the distributors tucked away in our part of the world—Blenheim-based DeLuxe Group and Central RV in Taupo.

But before we get to what the DeLuxe Group’s Greg and Gary Smith have managed to achieve of late, first a little history.

FROM BEDFORD TO BESPOKE

While today the DeLuxe Group counts a variety of well-known brands among its product portfolio on both the caravan and motorhome sides of the business, back in 1978, the company first came in contact with smaller scale campervans through the rental market.

Already well known as a regional bus operator, the DeLuxe Group’s initial rental fleet consisted of three converted Bedford CF vans. Modest beginnings, but the vans were continually busy and gave Greg and Gary an insight into the growing potential of the motorhome scene (still small when compared with the domestic caravan market at the time).

"By the mid-1990s, we’d been importing Japanese buses for the domestic market for a while. The bulk of the vehicles we were bringing in would go to corporate buyers, but we always had this steady stream of private customers wanting buses to convert into motorhomes," Gary says.

"It got to the point where we never needed to look for a buyer for these vehicles; there was a ready-made market. In fact, the first motorhome we bought in order to on-sell, was off a guy who had built his own conversion from a bus we sold him in the first place!"

The distribution business grew, with the DeLuxe Group forming a solid relationship with Apollo Motorhomes early on. Gary cites symmetries between the two companies—both originally being family businesses—as a key foundation of that relationship. Today, Greg’s daughter Laura and Gary’s son Brett are heavily involved in the management of the DeLuxe Group.

DETHLEFFS DOES

Fast-forward to today and the DeLuxe Group also counts successful distributor relationships with the ever-popular Bailey caravans and the internationally-recognised Winnebago and Pilote motorhome brands under its banner. It is also the South Island distributor for German-engineered Dethleffs caravans.

And it’s here that the DeLuxe Group has managed to add something quite unique to its catalogue.

Gary, with the help and advice from Brent Thurlow from Central RV, was able to go directly to the Dethleffs designers and work with them in order to execute a handful of key changes to the popular midrange Nomad model caravan, specifically with New Zealand buyers in mind.

"Dethleffs sat down with us and were very open to discussing exactly what we wanted," Gary says.

Nomad -2

"This was a unique experience for Brent and me, as generally, regardless of how good your relationship with a particular manufacturer might be, what you see is what you order.

"We’ve been fortunate enough to partner with a selection of caravan and motorhome builders that offer a wide variety of floorplans and model options, but designing from the ground up in this way was a very satisfying way of working."

A NEW BLUEPRINT

What did Brent and Gary want from the process? For a start, they asked for larger kitchen and bathroom areas.

Gary says that by and large, German caravanners head straight for campgrounds rather than go freedom camping, so they tend to rely more on on-site cooking and washing facilities rather than what’s on board their caravan.

This factor becomes apparent in the size of the kitchen versus that of the living space. "With the opportunity for Kiwis to head further off the main drag in a shorter space of time, it makes sense that the floor space dedicated to the kitchen and bathroom areas be given more priority," he says.

The Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT also features an upgraded chassis rating, boasting 700kg carrying weight on its heavy-duty AL-KO chassis and allowing for more equipment on board for longer trips away.

Elsewhere, it’s business as usual with the Dethleffs Nomad, which exhibits the smooth, stylised exterior lines, roof rail accents, integrated awning attachment channels, and flush locker covers synonymous with this brand. Double-glazed windows with built-in flyscreens and skylights are standard, letting plenty of light into the reconfigured interior.

There’s an east-west island bed at one end and plenty of sitting room at the other, thanks to the U-shaped dinette, bisected by an impressively-dimensioned kitchen. Moving up to the 7.3m external body length of the Nomad 650 means the benchtop is enormous, containing separate gas hobs and sink unit, with a gas oven and high-quality, soft close drawers underneath.

A pull-out pantry and further cubby space overhead completes the picture in the food prep area, while opposite is a generous wardrobe, space for a flat-screen TV and the Nomad 650’s standard Truma gas heater.

A nicely-sized en-suite bathroom sits across the rear of the caravan and comes complete with swivel cassette toilet, separate shower, and generous vanity.

SCANDINAVIAN SPECIAL?

So, is the Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT a model just for us? Actually, not quite. It turns out the ideas mulled over here have struck something of a chord in Scandinavia, where the local distributor has also shown an interest in the model’s antipodean dimensions.

"Dethleffs will continue to supply us and Brent with the Nomad 650 RQT floorplan on an individual order basis. It has taken other territories, such as Scandinavia, to show significant interest for them to put it into full production," Gary continues. "The reality is that the Dethleffs factory is working 12 months ahead. They are a huge manufacturer and, despite having a buoyant market here, we’re a small percentage of their global output.

"In saying that, the fact they are willing to sit down with us and work out a floorplan that suits our local buyers and they trust that we know the market to a degree we’re confident of the model’s success here, speaks even greater of them as a company."

VERDICT

It’s not an off-the-shelf design, but it is certainly designed with a Kiwi appetite for off-the-grid holiday adventures in mind. Also, despite being a bespoke model, the Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT still features the German manufacturer’s signature attention to detail as well as the backup and knowledge of a trusted local distributor.

This Euro caravan’s Kiwi connection certainly makes it well worth investigating.

For further information, call DeLuxe Group on 03 578 3310, Central RV on 07 378 0620, or visit deluxegroup.co.nz.  

Keep up to date with news by signing up to nzmcd.co.nz's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook