Caravans Australia is going to great lengths to ensure there’s no cutting corners when it comes to quality build and design.
By MICHAEL GREALY
Beautiful Lake Macquarie north of Sydney is a great place for a holiday and that’s where I found Legacy Caravans’ stylish Envy 630 touring caravan.
It’s a caravan that says ‘home away from home’ and it’s likely to raise a green eye or two from other travellers or campers.
The Legacy range is manufactured at Campbellfield north of Melbourne – it’s only two years old and its parent company is Caravans Australia which also distributes the popular UK-made Bailey caravans. Later this year will begin manufacturing Regent caravans, having acquired the iconic Aussie brand.
Adrian Van Geelen, group managing director of Caravans Australia, told me: “We have a limited Legacy model range because we are focusing on quality and reproducing that quality on our assembly line. It’s quality for the price conscious.”
What strikes you about the inside of the Envy 630 is the comfort and features of this 6.25 metre long interior (20 foot six inches in the old money) caravan.
From the queen size island bed with innerspring mattress, with neat bedside dressing tables, to the full ensuite with separate shower, toilet and top loading washing machine at the rear, it has the finish of a small apartment – and a quality one at that.
You can choose soft leather or high quality fabrics for your furnishings and either a shiny white interior, or a finish of traditional timbers, all with a distinctly Australian colour palate.
There’s plenty of shade inside at the comfortable dinette with tri-fold table. Sitting there, you can run your eye across the overhead cupboards, large windows and slide out pantry and an entertainment system that includes a power-boosted TV antenna, stereo, radio/CD with multiple internal speakers.
Again the high level of finish stands out – Caravans Australia led the way in using hard-wearing laser-glaze bench tops now standard in most vans. Underneath, there’s solid timber furniture frames made from Tasmanian maple. It’s from sustainable plantations, so gets the green tick too.
Heading out, the Envy 630 has either a centre door or rear door leading to a rollout protective awning, where you can sit at a picnic table and enjoy your surroundings wherever you stop.
External features include two 95 litre water tanks, battery pack and provision for solar panels.
As the saying goes, it’s what’s inside that counts and the team at Caravans Australia is only too happy to sit you down and spend some time telling you about the bits you can’t see.
They happily admit to being fastidious about the framework and aluminium clad, having their own self-imposed standards they believe set a benchmark for the industry.
Aluminium stretches when it heats up and needs room to move. For the Envy and other vans coming out of the Campbellfield factory, they set a separation standard of just 300mm, compared to the 400mm
It all sounds very technical, but in the long term it’s about avoiding nasty gaps, stretching and warping.
Caravans Australia manufacture their own steel chassis using Australian steel and it is 2.8mm thick – compared to the industry minimum (– and often standard) 2.2mm. In fact some imported caravans are now using steel as thin as 1.5mm – enough to make you want to take a slide rule with you when you go caravan shopping.
The A frame on the Envy is even thicker, a full 3mm thick.
The steel is supa-gal treated with a full hot dip galvanise treatment available in the Melbourne factory for an extra $2000 – a good investment if you’re spending a lot of time by the beach.
Of course all the extra steel adds to more weight to be towed, however for a 19ft van it only adds up to an extra 50 or so
kilograms, so hardly a concern when you consider the extra durability for a purchase this big that you want to last.
The wheels are 15 inch alloys with light truck tyres. Once again the company flies the flag when it comes to talking suspension, claiming none of the imported vans can match the Australian-built axles and springs.
There are two independent suspension upgrade packs available, the first ‘Simplicity pack’ costing an extra $2500, while a deluxe MacPherson strut system is available for $5,500.
The beauty of this is it virtually takes a $50-55k luxury ensuite van into the same league as an off-roader that would set you back $70,000 or more with the same mod cons.
Although a close read of Warranty shows a rather prominent exclusion clause if you take the Envy off-roading, so you might be on your own if bits start falling off – the quality of the build not withstanding!
Ask any experienced old-hand about towing and they will tell you that long-term success is much like a marriage – it’s all about how the two vehicles come together.
You need a caravan to suit your car and the caravan design is also crucial to how well it tows. Where you put the fridge, the solar panels or any other weighty extras can make a big difference once you build up speed on the freeway. Just like a marriage, the last thing you want is a case of the dreaded “wobbles”.
One of the great features of the Envy is there’s flexibility when you order about where things go, including, most importantly, the axles.
Caravans Australia prides itself on getting the weight distribution right, ensuring the premium ball weight and towing efficiency.
Part of the sales experience is they will look at the towing vehicle you intend to use to ensure that it is compatible with the build and weight distribution of the van.As Adrian Van Geelen explained, “It’s just another advantage we have as an Australian manufacturer.
“Those importing chassis from overseas, with the exception of the larger lightweight caravan manufacturers the likes of Bailey building on an Alko chassis, don’t have that flexibility. It’s an important safety issue.”
The Legacy range uses state of the art production techniques, proven technology and materials that give a value for money result.
The Envy 630 is available at dealers in New South Wales and Victoria – Macquarie Caravans, a couple of minutes from Lake Macquarie on the Pacific Highway at Belmont North, and Caravans West on the Princes Highway at Springvale in Victoria.
Now a large Australian manufacturer, backed by an even bigger UK parent company, you have the confidence of getting a product built for Australian conditions with the latest technology from overseas. You can also feel fairly confident the company will be around for the long haul should you need to make a claim during the warranty period or get a part down the track..
Aristotle defined envy as the pain caused by the good fortune of others.
Legacy’s Envy 630 could be the good fortune you’re seeking if you’re after a quality caravan at a competitive price that won’t break the bank.