Review: New Age Road Owl 18E

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


NZMCD writer Bill Savidan is impressed by the precision and attention to detail of the New Age Road Owl 18E caravan

New Age Caravans first hit the road in 2008. In 2010, they built 240 caravans, and by the end of 2012, they were building 800 units a year.

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The RO 18E is a well-built caravan suited for New Zealand conditions

Since moving into their new factory in Epping, a suburb of Melbourne, in 2013, production has increased steadily and now they manufacture 35 different layouts spread over nine model ranges.

Dan Monk, owner of Auckland Motorhomes, gained the exclusive New Zealand agency 12 months ago. He has been surprised by the ready customer acceptance of the New Age range by New Zealand buyers.

"They really like the build quality," Dan says. "New Age spends money on research and development in both design and manufacture and it shows in the finished product."

First impressions

After a regular diet of UK- and Euro-built product, I thought, inside and out, the Road Owl 18E single axle caravan was quite plain.

Everything was there where it was needed, but on the basis of function, not form. It’s an Australian caravan designed and built for an Australian audience, built for a different market with different expectations.

Foundations

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Connections available under the awning for both TV and music

The galvanised 100mm steel chassis/A frame is fitted with a standard 50mm ball/cup hitch and an electronic brake-way cable and control box.

There is a comprehensive electronic connection system between caravan and tow wagon: a standard six-pin plug for lights; a red Anderson plug for the AL-KO ESC safety system; and a grey Anderson plug for charging the house batteries.

A galvanised cradle welded to the A frame houses one 9kg LPG bottle. Beside the cradle is a fresh water tap. Around the corner, driver’s side is a connection for mains pressure water. This system bypasses the water pump and on-board tanks feeding pressurised water directly to the caravan taps.

A charcoal-coloured checker plate protects the lower half of the front panels. The top half sports a New Age logo instead of a front window. The absence of openings in the front panels minimises the chance of dust and water leaks in this part of the caravan.

Hatches each side of the caravan at the front access a tunnel locker large enough for an outdoor table, golf clubs, fishing gear, and a barbecue among other things, and there is an LPG bayonet fitting right there to power up the barbecue. On each corner, there is an Ezi Lift stabiliser leg, which is robust and quicker to deploy than the traditional wind-down variety.

And talking ‘easy’, the pull-out step eases the way in and out. Just note as you pass through the door that it is one of the new Milenco two-piece doors.

The inner door is a super strong mesh screen that foils entry for both villains and insects.

Rubber on the road

The twin axle suspension system is tried and true—straight axles with connected leaf springs riding on smart 15-inch alloy wheels with mud flaps bringing up the rear. Mounted at the back is the alloy spare wheel.

Alongside it, behind a protective cover of checker plate, is a diesel tank for the heater. It is a small tank but it is claimed it provides fuel for 50 hours of heating.

Just behind the dual wheels below the skirt is a small rectangular steel stub. This is the lifting point for a jack with a fitting that slips over the stub. It is a safe, secure system that eliminates the need to go under the caravan. 

Outdoor entertainment is catered for with a pair of external speakers mounted under the awning, plus both 230-volt and 12-volt outlets and a TV aerial plug.

A practical layout

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The open plan layout allows room to around the dinette, kitchen, and island bed

Inside, the RO 18E feels crisp and fresh with its white walls and ceiling and charcoal dinette cushions. Adding colour contrasts—customers have the option of choosing interior colours for the cabinetry and upholstery—will achieve an ‘up to the minute’ style. The open plan layout has ablutions across the rear, the dinette opposite the kitchen in the middle, and the queen-size island bed at the front.

Upon entering, the bedroom is to the left. It has a generous queen-sized island bed with a quality inner-sprung mattress as its focal point.

There is an overhead locker, hanging locker, a small side table, reading light, drawer, and cupboard on each side of the bed. Also, there is a 230-volt power point over each side table with a 12-volt power socket and a small shelf beneath to rest your mobile phone while it charges.

Lifting the foot of the bed (gas strut assisted) reveals a storage space suitable for bulky items. Being an open plan layout, no provision is made to close the bedroom off. However, as this is a two-person caravan, this is not an issue for most buyers.

Kitchen

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The comprehensive kitchen would put many of those in larger RVs to shame

The cook takes centre stage with a large kitchen bench with loads of room for both preparing and serving meals. And there is lots of storage, too, under and over the kitchen bench and above the dinette. In fact, there are many much larger RVs with smaller kitchens than this one. It is well equipped.

The Thetford Caprice MIII oven is the latest Fan-forced model. The microwave, range-hood, and Thetford (N514E.3F Tropical) 164-litre fridge are all good-quality kitchen appliances.

The dinette looks bigger than it is. Although the seat cushions appear long enough for two each side of the table, the wheel-arch and lockers below the foldout table displace the legroom reducing the dinette to a two-seater.

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The comfortable dinette for two has a fold-out table-top

The seat cushions are firm and well-shaped offering good support. On the sidewall above the table are a small window and a pair of reading lights. An AM/FM radio is fitted into one of the overhead lockers with its speakers mounted on each side in of the central ceiling hatch.

Bathroom

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The stylish rectangular handbasin sets the scene in the bathroom

It is a bonus in a small caravan to find a bathroom that has sufficient room for the three main ablution activities: toilet, handbasin, and shower, with each having their own space.

Centrepiece is a smart rectangular handbasin with its single lever faucet set on top of the curved vanity bench top.

There are ample cupboards and shelves for toiletries and other personal items. High above the Thetford swivel toilet is a small opening window for ventilation.

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The one-piece shower stall is a first-class quality moulding

To the right is the shower stall. It has an impressive one-piece acrylic moulding that comprises the shower walls and tray. Closing off the front is a solid alloy framed frosted acrylic door with a positive latch. But it is not all looks and no substance.

It has a water-saving shower handpiece, a fan vent in the ceiling, and excellent head and elbowroom. When needed, a sliding door closes the bathroom off from the bedroom.

Tech talk

Having a reliable house battery/battery management system is the key to happy freedom camping. Life’s pleasures seem to disappear once the house battery goes flat. New Age has taken serious steps to avoid this happening.

On the RO 18E, they install BMPro’s BatteryPlus35PM battery management system along with their Trek monitoring and display. This advanced battery management system is designed to keep the RV owner up to date with their house batteries’ vital signs.

It is compatible with solar panels and regulators, in this case, working with a Losclar 30amp solar charge controller and a 150-watt solar panel all managing the 100amp/hr house battery.

In Australia, most New Age caravans sales include an air conditioner but no heater. Kiwi buyers want heaters but rarely fit air con so the Webasto 2kW diesel heater comes included in the standard kit. It is tucked into a corner under the island bed with the control panel wall mounted beside the dinette.

Verdict

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Across the rear the alloy spare wheel and the 50-hour capacity diesel tank

After completing my review, my initial impression that it was ‘quite plain’ had all but disappeared. I was impressed by New Age’s attention to detail. The cabinetry is accurately CNC cut, the hinges are press-fitted, the doors are flush fitted, and once installed, the cabinet ends are supported with bulkheads.

The end result is solid, long-lasting furniture. This same attention to detail applies to the electrics, the plumbing, and the overall appearance. Once I’d looked past the differences, I could see a particularly good caravan.

The Road Owl 18 Ensuite (RO 18E), as reviewed, retails for $73,500 including GST and on-road costs.

New Age Road Owl 18E specifications

Caravan make and model

New Age Road Owl 18 E
Berths 2
Axles Twin
Approx. overall length 7237mm
Approx. overall height  (excluding air con) 3020mm 
Tanks 110L fresh, 110L grey
Gas 1 x 9kg
GVW 2400kg 

New Age Road Owl 18E price (as reviewed): $73,500 (incl. ORC)

For further information, contact the Auckland Motorhome sales team on 09 294 6500 or visit aucklandmotorhomes.co.nz.

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