Review: New Age Road Owl RO16ER

By: John Bristow, Photography by: John Bristow


When buying your first caravan, bigger isn’t necessarily better. John Bristow looks at the compact new Road Owl from New Age Caravans and finds more than meets the eye.

If you are new to the world of caravanning, you might want to put ideas of a mobile mansion on the back burner, as there is plenty of merit to starting with something small and manageable – the Road Owl RO16ER, for example. The Road Owl is the entry level offering from New Age Caravans, distributed by Auckland Motorhomes (AMH) in Drury.

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New Zealand road-ready

Manufactured in Australia, New Age tick many boxes for Kiwi caravanners, given that our conditions and theirs are comparable in many respects. New Age Caravans have been leading the way in Australian caravan design since 2004 and today are recognised as being among the best rated caravans in Australia.

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Part of that recognition comes about through New Age Caravans’ commitment to quality, and not just in the obvious places. If, for example, you were to prise away the rubber seal on the RO16ER’s bodywork, you’d find Sika-coated screw fittings and fastenings for additional water-proofing. 

Exterior offerings

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An ‘easy up’ awning and ‘easy out’ step

Built on a single axle, the RO16ER is designed for first-time caravanners to offer ease of handling – a key consideration for those new to caravan towing. But New Age Caravans went a little further to ensure the RO16ER is such an excellent option for first-timers, equipping it with an electronic stability control system as standard.

Much like the electronic stability control found on a modern tow vehicle, the AL-KO ESC system consists of a sensor mounted to the underside of the caravan. When the sensor detects critical sideways movement – a swerve, or wind shear – it activates the caravan’s braking system to stabilise it and ensure control is retained.

The advantages of such a system are significant, and to have ESC fitted as standard rather than as an option demonstrates New Age Caravan’s commitment to delivering the very best to its customers. I admit to being a little puzzled by the rippled look of the RO16ER’s body.

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Welcome aboard and/or welcome home

Dan Monk, AMH’s managing director, explains that while many would feel corrugated bodies don’t look as sleek or as modern as the flush ones, they are stronger and more resistant to the elements in general.

The appearance is clearly a subjective thing: a compact corrugated caravan looks quite smart, in my opinion. On a bigger canvas – say a 20-foot plus ‘van – yes, the rippled body is going to appear dated, but for something the size of the RO16ER, it not only appears perfectly natural, it also looks stylish.

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Ready-to-roll 15-inch All Terrain tyres

Underneath, a fully galvanised full chassis, four-point corner stabilisers, multi-leaf spring suspension, and 15-inch wheels make for a solid platform to carry a well-appointed caravan perfect for New Zealand roads.

Bold and bright inside

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A fresh look for the holidays

Heading inside, the décor offers a fresh, crisp, and contemporary look. It’s clean and airy and makes you feel you are in a much larger space then you are actually in. Indeed, it feels more spacious than some larger vans, with their brooding dark timbers and log cabin-inspired interiors.

The New Age interiors are not so bright as to require sunglasses, but even on a cloudy and overcast day, will provide an uplifting sense of being on holiday, even if you are weather-bound. And with a range of colour options available, buyers can customise their interior design to suit individual tastes.

Cleverly, while the RO16ER is a compact design, there is a cohesiveness to it which reflects the feeling of home, and the various elements that make up the interior add to this. Let’s take a closer look at some of these…

Bathroom

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The raised basin adds a touch of class

The bathroom would take pride of place in any contemporary apartment. It is the one area which can be closed off from the rest of the caravan, although in some respects, that is a bit of a shame because of the elegance of the bathroom’s design.

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... and the Thetford keeps things cool

To the far right is a swivel-head Thetford cassette toilet, while on the left is the shower. With a luxury flexi-type showerhead, the shower box is deep enough to provide a ‘shub’ (shower/tub comb). It’s also fitted with an extractor fan and skylight to enhance the light and airy sense found throughout. 

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Let there be light... even in the shower

The vanity spans the width of the caravan and is home to shelving, towel rails and a wealth of storage space. It also supports a strikingly elegant raised basin which would not look out of place in a high-end hotel.

Living/Dining

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A table for two – or perhaps three

Moving into the main body, there is an L-shaped dinette – upholstered in this instance in a durable mocha fabric – providing seating for three. There is under-seat and overhead storage with plenty of natural light thanks to the strategically positioned window, even with the outdoor awning extended.

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The compact kitchen has everything you need 

And directly opposite the window is the kitchen. Again, this area is compact by necessity, but equipped with all that a modern chef could ask for. Fixtures include a top-of-the-line fan-forced oven with four-hob cooker, overhead Camec rangehood, a 164-litre Thetford three-way fridge and an overhead microwave.

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Kitchen essentials for keeping it hot...

The sink and preparation areas nestle between the appliances, and once again, there is an abundance of storage options with quality German fittings. Worth noting is that the Road Owl brand is MDF-free.

All panels throughout are built from high-grade ply, cut on precision computer-aided CNC machinery to ensure meticulous straight edges, improved damage-resistance, and greater permanence.

Bedroom

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Sweet dreams are made of this

There is a clean delineation between the kitchen/dining area and the bed space, which accommodates a queen-sized bed, the base of which is on gas struts to enable ample storage underneath. 

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Quality fittings throughout, with audio control for outside under the awning

In addition to the matching wardrobes, overhead cubbies and book storage shelves, the sleeping area boasts a feature alcove as a point of interest and a practical extension
of space. Other noteworthy features include a diesel heating system, 150-watt solar panel and a 22-inch Smart TV.

Summary

Priced at $71,500 including on-road costs – that also gives you a three-year structural warranty for peace of mind – the RO16ER is an excellent introduction to the world of caravanning. What’s more, with the option of several Comfort and Adventurer pack upgrades available, you may find it’s all the caravan you will ever need.

Road Owl RO16ER specifications

Caravan make and model

New Age Road Owl RO16ER with Comfort Pack

Berths

2

Axle/Suspension

Single axle/galvanised chassis

Travel length

7082mm

Body length

6750mm
Width 2500mm

Overall height

3030mm

Tanks. Fresh water

1 x 110L

LPG

1 x 9kg

Tare

1720 – 1780kg

GVW

2050kg

Payload

400kg 

Find out more at aucklandmotorhomes.co.nz

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