Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT Review

MCD writer Claire Smith reviews the 3-berth Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT.

With its air of understated elegance, the Dethleffs Nomad range has been a favourite for European travellers since 1954. It has become a fast favourite for Kiwis too since the caravans became available here in 2015.

The range has evolved significantly over the past few years, and 2022 sees another round of excellent upgrades for the Kiwi market. In this review, we take a closer look at the Nomad 520 ELT, a spacious two- to three-person model that offers a little extra width than is usual for this body length. In fact, it’s possibly the shortest wide-body caravan in New Zealand.

Layout

The 520 ELT combines a spacious rear bathroom with a luxurious lounge located in the middle of the vehicle, a generous kitchen unit, and twin single beds in the front, which can be converted into a bed wider than a California king. The bathroom with separate shower extends across the entire 2.5-metre width of the vehicle’s rear, making it exceptionally roomy.

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT
The layout combines a central U-shaped lounge and a full-width rear bathroom.

Dining and cooking

Located in the centre of the caravan, the dinette offers comfort and practicality with a U-shaped settee (including a removable ‘foot stool’ at one end) wrapped around a free-standing table. Like all Nomad caravans, the seats have plenty of storage provision beneath the squabs. And if you need space for an extra sleeper, simply remove the table and the seats offer a comfy and roomy extra bed. A TV bracket, complete with a 24-inch smart TV, is located in the bedroom behind the dinette and can be swivelled around for dinnertime viewing.   

The kitchen is opposite the dinette and includes a practical three-burner hob and sink within the benchtop. The prep space is surprisingly large – larger than most other single axle caravans. The addition of covers over the hob and sink help create even more workspace and, of course, the kitchen table is within reach for those times when you need to spread out a bit more. Sitting beneath the bench are three nice and deep soft-closing drawers, a cupboard, and a slide out spice/bottle pantry. Three overhead lockers provide extra storage space for all those kitchen necessities, and a handy shelf with hanging hooks will be useful for keeping condiments and tea towels at hand.

Worth noting is the considered use of lighting around the kitchen workspace, with spotlights over the bench, an illuminated splashback, and strip lighting beneath. The addition of a window behind the bench allows natural light also, as well as good ventilation. 

Alongside the benchtop is a generously sized 142-litre fridge with a 15-litre freezer compartment. 

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT
The cupboards and drawers in the kitchen are all soft closing.
Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT
The handy slide-out pantry for bottles and jars.

Sleeping

Twin single beds are not for everyone, but they do offer plenty of benefits in the context of a compact design. For a start, the beds are extra wide and long which means each person gets plenty of room with no partner disturbance. They’re easy to get in and out of, easy to make, allow for the provision of additional overhead lockers, and they can double as seating – all of which makes for a very efficient use of space. Dethleffs Nomad caravans all feature Swiss-made mattresses with temperature regulating, 7-zone EvoPoreHRC. In other words, they’re good and thick with excellent support.

But if single beds are just not your thing, don’t despair. Two can become one. Simply slide out the slatted base that’s hidden in the drawer unit, insert the middle mattress section (stored beneath one of the beds), and you have yourself a very roomy and comfy California king size bed. 

The bedroom can be closed off from the dinette which means one traveller can retire early, turn off the bedroom light, and get a few hours of extra sleep if needed. 

There is a good selection of storage in the bedroom, with nine overhead lockers, a single drawer unit between the beds, and a large wardrobe between the bedroom and kitchen. And for the bigger, bulkier items, there is plenty of storage provided beneath the beds.

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT
The twin single beds convert to a spacious California king.

Bathroom

As mentioned earlier, the bathroom runs the full width of the caravan. And here’s where those extra 20-odd centimetres really pay off by providing a sense of ‘breathing space’ and room to move. To the left is the full-length enclosed shower with a slide-shower head, overhead lighting, a drop-down towel rail and soap/shampoo caddy. On the opposite side is the Thetford C220 toilet, and in-between is a premium vanity unit. There is oodles of storage with overhead mirrored cabinets, cupboards and shelves below the vanity, and a generously sized cupboard big enough to house towels, extra toiletries, and cleaning equipment etc. 


The bathroom closes off from the living area with a sliding door which includes a towel rail, plus there are extra hooks for hanging up clothes while you shower.

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT
The bathroom includes a separate enclosed shower.
Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT
Shelves and cupboards galore in the bathroom.

Lighting & heating

Dethleffs have refined the art of creating comfort and ambience in their caravans. All models in the Nomad range feature indirect LED lighting to create a warm, ambient atmosphere and provide good lighting in the top cupboards. 

Relocatable reading lights and a USB charger are located in the living and bedroom areas and LED strip lighting runs under the front edge of the kitchen bench to shine light on the drawer contents – very handy.

The 520 ELT includes Alde central heating for impeccably easy warmth on those chilly nights. That’s enhanced by the XPS insulation which makes the caravan more efficient to heat and maintain warmth. The bonus of XPS is that its special ‘closed-cell’ construction prevents water from entering if there’s any accidental damage to an external panel. 

Exterior

Dethleffs caravans bring together sophisticated styling with intelligent design. The overall look is crisp, clean, and timeless. 

Exterior hatches allow easy access to the under-bed storage and, for additional storage, there’s a large locker up front (which also holds up to two 9kg gas bottles). And for those relaxing summer barbecues, an exterior gas port is provided. 

Although they’re manufactured in Germany, New Zealand’s exclusive dealer, Central RV, customises its Dethleffs range with a suite of upgrades to meet our unique terrain and climate. These include ATC trailer control, an upgraded AL-KO heavy-duty chassis and suspension, alloy wheels with heavy-duty tyres, and XPS insulation. Combined with Dethleffs’ impressive standard features such as a stabiliser coupling, premium AAA self-adjusting brakes, and a GRP glass fibre composite roof for extra protection against branches and hail, the caravans are second to none for safety, build quality and comfort. 

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT
Dethleffs caravans look crisp, clean and timeless.

Extras

In addition to some of the extras mentioned earlier (such as the smart TV, Alde heating and XPS insulation), for the Nomad 520 ELT includes a KiwiSat 60cm automatic satellite dish, a LifePo4 lithium battery with Bluetooth monitoring and built-in battery management system, a LifePo4 230v smart charger, and a LifePo4 MPPT solar regulator. For added safety, a fire extinguisher, CO monitor, and LPG detector are also included.

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Summary

There’s a good reason why Dethleffs caravans are so popular in New Zealand. They’re well designed, practical, and built to last. And because our New Zealand dealer is mindful of the unique wants and needs of his customers, they tick many of the boxes for Kiwi travellers.

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT floorplan

Pros

  • At 2500mm, the 520 ELT is roomy for two
  • The important items such as the fridge, beds, and shower are all nice and big
  • The bathroom is full width with storage galore

Cons

  • None worth noting

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT Specifications

Make & Model

Dethleffs Nomad 520 ELT

Axles

Single

Berths

3

Body length

6300mm

Body width

2500mm

External height

2650mm

Water: fresh/grey

160L fresh/ 145L grey

Gas tanks

1 x 9kg (room for 2 bottles)

GVW

2000kg

Tare

1600kg

Payload

400kg

Price as reviewed: $94,900

For more information, visit centralrv.co.nz

Looking for motorhomes or caravans for sale in NZ? Browse our latest listings here

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