SWEETSPOT

Roma’s 2013 Punto is sure to please cou­ples in the mar­ket for a smaller, fully-fea­tured car­a­van.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - News&reviews 2013 Roma Punto - Michael Browning

Roma Car­a­vans is one of the stal­warts of the Aus­tralian car­a­van in­dus­try and one of its true sur­vivors, its ori­gins stretch­ing back to 1928. But that doesn’t mean it is stuck in the past. Far from it.

While the Camp­bell­field, Vic, man­u­fac­turer was well-known for large, cus­tom-built car­a­vans that ap­pealed to ex­pe­ri­enced trav­ellers, the com­pany planned a raft of changes for its 2013 range to meet the de­mands of more bud­get-con­scious buy­ers. This single-axle Punto is a good ex­am­ple of this di­rec­tion.

TAKE A PUNTO

CAD/CAM de­sign and lighter, stronger Euro­pean-ply laser-cut in­te­rior fur­ni­ture are among the fea­tures that made their way into the 2013 Roma range. This Punto, which was an en­try-level model in the range, doesn’t have these fea­tures, but it was a sig­nif­i­cant and af­ford­able model that re­flected the think­ing of this ex­pe­ri­enced man­u­fac­turer.

The Punto is a fully-fea­tured RV, with even the small­est 5.03m (16ft 6in in­ter­nal length) model that we tested equipped with a full en­suite, a north-south car­a­van-queen-sized bed with a proper mat­tress, the choice of a cafe or L-shaped lounge/dinette, a deep-cy­cle bat­tery, roof-mounted so­lar panel, TV and sound sys­tem, dual wa­ter tanks and a full-sized Dometic awning.

All this would have cost you $51,990 back in 2013, which placed the Punto smack in the mid­dle of the car­a­van in­dus­try’s sweet spot. Just as im­por­tant for many buy­ers, its 1880kg Tare weight (and ATM of 2180kg) means that it can be safely and com­fort­ably hauled around the coun­try by an av­er­age mid-sized 4WD, or even a large fam­ily sedan.

Our tow ve­hi­cle for this test was a Nis­san Y61 Pa­trol ST diesel with op­tional five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and is typ­i­cal of what some buy­ers might use for a long-term tour­ing hol­i­day. De­spite its 3L com­mon rail, in­ter­cooled, four-cylin­der, tur­bod­iesel en­gine de­vel­op­ing a mod­est 118kw and 380Nm of torque (be­tween 2000 and 2400rpm), the Y61 felt sur­pris­ingly spritely tow­ing the Punto to our sea­side pho­to­graphic lo­ca­tion and con­sis­tently needed check­ing to avoid cruis­ing above the 100km/h limit.

Per­haps the Punto’s aero­dy­namic roofline, which rises above the bed and peaks mid-van, had

some­thing to do with this, and on a long trip it is cer­tain to be re­flected in lower fuel us­age.

The Pa­trol also steered the Punto con­fi­dently when the route be­came nar­row and twist­ing, giv­ing us con­fi­dence that the com­bi­na­tion was pre­pared for any­thing the road might throw at it.

The 2013 Punto has one-piece front, rear and roof sec­tions, which sim­plify con­struc­tion and of­fer the ad­di­tional ben­e­fit of bet­ter in­su­la­tion. Frame con­struc­tion is mer­anti tim­ber, while the ribbed alu­minium exterior wall cladding has the proven ben­e­fits of light weight and easy re­pair.

The LED ex­ter­nal light­ing is a mod­ern touch which is now al­most univer­sal across the car­a­van in­dus­try.

Look un­der­neath the Punto and you’ll find the 100mm Dura­gal ‘Road­run­ner’ chas­sis, leaf springs for the beam axle and 10in elec­tric brakes.

Stan­dard wheels are six-bolt, six-spoke 15in al­loys shod with 235/75-15 Light Truck tyres. Other fea­tures in­clude both a mains pres­sure in­let and a tap on the van’s A-frame, as well as a wall-mounted, drop-down pic­nic ta­ble.

The large front boot be­hind the dual, A-framem­o­unted 9kg gas cylin­ders is use­fully deep and as well as hous­ing the Punto’s stan­dard 100W deep­cy­cle bat­tery, 30A bat­tery charger and a pow­er­point, it in­cludes a light. A 120W roof-mounted so­lar panel helps keep the bat­tery charged, too.

Be­hind the front boot, on the near­side of the van, is a tun­nel boot ideal for stor­ing fold­ing chairs and other things you need to ac­cess dur­ing a road­side stop, while be­low is a bay­o­net for at­tach­ing an ex­ter­nal bar­be­cue.

Black check­er­plate stone-pro­tec­tion is fit­ted along the lower sides of the van, but it does not ex­tend far up the Punto’s nose.

The cen­tre-en­try door with its built-in drop step re­cess gives ex­cel­lent ac­cess to the van’s in­te­rior, where you will find the Punto’s north-south is­land bed to the left, the gal­ley/dinette to the right and, be­yond that at the rear, the sep­a­rate shower/toi­let en­suite.

BED­ROOM AND BE­YOND

Large dou­ble-glazed Dometic win­dows at the front of the van sur­round the bed, cre­at­ing a light, airy feel in­side, mak­ing the van seem roomier than its 16ft 6in in­ter­nal length. With their wide open­ings, the win­dows of­fer plenty of ven­ti­la­tion on hot nights.

This feel­ing of spa­cious­ness was en­hanced by our test Punto’s light-toned tim­ber fin­ish that ex­tends to the floor­ing.

There is plenty of clothes stor­age, with hang­ing wardrobes ei­ther side of the bed and a cup­board be­low them, and lock­ers above the bed­head, while the bed also lifts up for stor­age of other items, such as your linen.

The rec­tan­gu­lar kitchen, with its four-burner Swift cook­top, of­fers good bench space, par­tic­u­larly with the sink in­sert in place, and the shape of the cup­board fur­ni­ture gives it a dis­tinc­tive, up­mar­ket look. How­ever, I found the stan­dard Dae­woo mi­crowave to be set quite high – a prob­lem for shorter peo­ple – while the van’s stan­dard 110L Dometic three-way fridge-freezer seems to me to be on the small side for a car­a­van of this size.

On the plus side, there is a good wa­ter sup­ply, with the Punto com­ing with twin 84L tanks as stan­dard.

The leather-trimmed cafe-style dinette op­po­site the kitchen pro­vides com­fort­able seating for four and an al­ter­na­tive L-shaped lounge was also an op­tion.

With its wind-up Wine­gard an­tenna, the LCD TV can be viewed from the bed or the rear­most seats of the dinette, but couch pota­toes would be bet­ter with the L-shaped dinette for the best view of their

Roma El­e­gance II 19ft 2011 • $47,500 • NSW • 0427 614 886 Roma Pinto 16ft 6in 2012 • $39,000 • QLD • 0428 716 749 Roma El­e­gance 21ft 6in 1999 • $24,000 • VIC • 0418 588 190

Clock­wise from top left: Ex­ter­nal fea­tures in­clude large win­dows, a full-sized awning and pic­nic ta­ble; the spa­cious off­side kitchen with four-burner cook­top; the near­side leather-trimmed dinette will com­fort­ably seat four peo­ple; the mi­crowave with au­dio

Above: The rear full-width en­suite.

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