Mr Versatility

$47,950 - 57,950 AUD

There are very few of us who can lay claim to having been around since 1928, and fewer still who can say they are in better shape than ever.


Roma Caravans happens to be one of those few. Founded by Victorio Palmarini in an age when the modern conveniences of today’s caravans would have been inconceivable, Roma is still in the family hands of son Tony and grandsons Brendan and Mark. Roma tends to build to plans that can be tailored to suit individual customer’s needs.


Building to pre-existing plans might sound restrictive, but Roma has so many layouts for each model, I doubt many people would fail to fi nd a model that suits. And Roma is capable of some very impressive custom builds – take a look at the triple-axle Roma Therapy (the website has links).


Roma builds in Melbourne and has a national dealer network (except for Tassie). I can vouch that the Melbourne dealership has a hardworking sales team, and Brendan is certainly one of the friendliest dealers you’ll meet.


The van I reviewed was the Sov’reign, a 17ft 6in dual-axle number with some very interesting ratings.




Perhaps the best things about this van aren’t actually visible (well, except on the trailer plate). The Sov’reign has an ATM of 2380kg, a tare of 1780kg and a ball weight rating of 140kg. The relatively low tare and proportionally very low ball weight mean the possibilities open right up for which tow vehicle you can choose.


If you decide not to use the full 600kg payload capacity, you could tow with a Holden Berlina LPG, for example. Or, you can pack the van to the rafters and go with a conventional 4WD. Having 600kg available to you also means you can pack everything you need and still have plenty of capacity left over to fill the water tanks.


The low tow ball weight also gives you flexibility in what you can pack in the tow vehicle, as the tow ball won’t be sucking up all of the car’s load carrying capacity (LandCruisers can be shockers for this).


There are good things about this van that can be seen too. The fibreglass front and rear complementing the ribbed sides make the van stand out from the usual crowd of aluminium-panelled vans. The front stoneguarding is quite low, as is the chequerplate trim, so I’m not sure how effective they would be. It looks good, though, and if you plan on sticking to conventional roads, it won’t be much of an issue.


You may only get a standard-sized front boot, but the recessed tunnel boot more than compensates for this, and makes this van ideal for those who carry a lot of outdoor gear. A nice touch is the inclusion of a fold-down picnic table, as is providing safety wheel nuts.


There were a couple of niggles with the finish – underneath the van a number of screws protruded through, and the join between two sections of chequerplate was a little rough.




Frame body: Fibreglass front and back
Chassis: Duragal
Frame construction: Meranti timber
Window: Galaxy
Insulation: Styrofoam roof and walls
Corner jacks: Drop down
Waste water common outlet: Yes
Water tanks: 2 x 80L
Water tank covers: Galvanised sheet
Coupling: Fixed 50mm ball
Suspension: Leaf spring
Clearance: Standard
Brakes: Electric
Wheels: 14in mags
Tyres: 8P light truck
Awning Type & Model: Dometic 8300
Boot(s): Galvanised front boot
Gas cylinder size/s: 2 x 9kg
Hot water: Suburban gas/electric
Battery: 120Ah
Battery charger: Yes
Inverter: No
Solar panels: No
Solar provision: Yes
Entrance door/flyscreen: Camec tri-lock
Tap on A-Frame: Yes




For a 17ft 6in van, you get a very complete package that manages to hide away a bathroom with shower, toilet and sink. The bathroom is an all-in-one unit tucked in the corner of the van.


It’s almost made from a single piece of fibreglass, so it will withstand the forces of travel reasonably well. The kitchen is at the rear and very sensibly incorporates a sink-cover to maximise bench space. You almost don’t need it, though, as ample bench space is provided opposite the dinette.


You could do some serious Iron Chef work in here. The post-formed bench tops look good as well as being easy to clean.


There is an ample amount of cupboard space provided, including my favourite pot drawer and slide-out pantry.


The pantry is a real winner as it’s nice and wide, unlike the skinny little numbers you sometimes see. In a nice decorative touch, the cupboards have opaque glass fronts above the dinette.


The cupboards are built simply and conventionally, which unfortunately also means the interior edges aren’t finished off. Still, the sanding done on them was pretty good.


I quite liked the dinette as it felt like there were acres of space around it. This space is created by a clever tri-fold table that collapses away. This is fantastic for performing otherwise awkward passing manoeuvres around your partner as you move about the van (if you enjoy performing those awkward passing manoeuvres, you can always leave the table down).


Under the table is some handy shelving. Roma’s plans are good in this respect, as cupboards and shelves seem to be built into every available cranny.


The dinette seats haven’t been forgotten in this regard, and neither has the bed, with all of them having conveniently accessible drawers/cupboards built in to their bases. I don’t know about you, but I hate having to lift something while fishing around for what I’m looking for!


The bedroom is nice and airy, complete with wardrobes and bedside tables. Reading lights are provided, as they are in the dinette as well. There is a 120Ah battery to power up the van, and the van is pre-wired for the addition of solar panels if you want extra juice. Thoughtful electrics are also demonstrated by using an 8mm wire to the fridge, ensuring it’s always cool.




Fridge: Three-way Dometic 120L
Television: No
Antenna: Yes, Winegard
Music system: No
Cooking equipment: Swift four-burner (three gas, one electric) and grill
Microwave: Daewoo stainless steel
Heating: Carrier air-con
Cooling: Carrier air-con
Rangehood: 12V
Lighting: 12V
Smoke alarms: Yes
Gas leakage detector: No
Cupboard finishes: Timber ply, glass
Latches: Gripper
Lounge configuration: Café
Seating capacity: Four
Upholstery: Fabric
Sink: Stainless steel

Berths: Two
Bed size(s): Queen 5ft x 6ft 2in
Mattress: Queen therapeutic
Under bed storage: Yes
Privacy screens: No
Bathroom configuration: Combined shower/toilet
Privacy door: Yes
Toilet: Thetford
Toilet roll holder: No
Shower head: Water saver
Washing machine: No
Clothes dryer: No
Towel racks: No




If you’re after a van that doesn’t need a big 4WD to tow but still has all the amenities, the Sov’reign is a good van at the right price. However, it does have its work cut out for it, as it sells at a price point that has lots of competition.




Exterior: 3/5
Interior: 4/5
Layout: 4/5
Kitchen: 4/5
Value for money: 3/5
Overall: 4/5




Make and model: Roma Sov’reign
Chassis number: GN5701
External body length: 18ft
External Width: 7ft 8in
VIN Tare Weight: 1780kg
VIN GTM: 2240kg
VIN ATM: 2380kg
Ball Weight: 140kg




Contact person: Brendan Palmarini & Derrick Coombes
Company name: Roma Caravans
Address: 1870b Hume Hwy, Campbellfield VIC
Phone: (03) 9357 7440


Thanks to: Apollo Gardens Caravan Park for providing the photo shoot location.
284–290 Hume Highway, Craigieburn VIC 3064
Toll free: 1800 886 352
Phone: (03) 9305 5656
Fax: (03) 9305 5335
Email: [email protected]


Please Note: Prices were correct at time of review