Rory White

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Take one look at that price tag and you'll realise the Nova has its work cut out to justify itself. But Hymer has form in this area – its vans have a good reputation for build quality and specification, and the German company has made some thoughtful tweaks for the British market.

Pitching and setting up

A neat, thoughtfully laid-out A-frame sits at the front of the Nova's Al-Ko chassis. Its twin seven-pin electrics are bound together for convenience, and its faring has an anti-slip surface where you can stand securely to clean the van. It's this attention to detail that makes you sit up and take notice of the Nova.

There's a buttonless handbrake and grab handles at the four corners. In addition, Hymer has fitted a grab bar that extends across the width of the van at the rear, making it easier to grab wherever you are at the back.

Hymer is proud of the strength and durability of its 30mm-thick sidewalls of plywood interior and aluminium exterior surfaces sandwiching polyurethane foam. While it's hard to prove that this is superior to other designs, the Nova's construction should make winter touring really cosy. The in-board tank will help, too, because your water supply won't freeze.

More plus points come in the shape of exterior mains points for power in the awning, plus 12V, aerial and satellite sockets on the same side for watching TV in the awning. This is quite a heavy van though, so bear that in mind when it comes to manhandling it onto a pitch.

Lounge

Although Continental caravanners tend to spend much of their time outside the van, the Nova 540 makes concessions to British tastes with its large lounge. And when you're inside, you might want to watch a spot of telly. There's one place for the TV: in a casing between the foot of the bed and a forward-facing hatch. It's attached top and bottom to tubes that allow it to rotate 360 degrees for comfortable viewing from the bed or lounge. The lead and aerial cables run through the top tube to sockets in the overhead cupboard. As well as being practical, this has tremendous showroom appeal.

As you'd expect, the lounge is really comfy. It feels spacious too, and has classy LED lighting running under the overhead lockers. No curtains though. Instead, the Nova has widths of decorative material that merely cover the narrow portions of wall between windows. They tidy the lounge's appearance but are superfluous. However, points are regained for the blinds, which pull from the bottom upwards giving you more control over light and privacy.

Kitchen

Cooks are well catered for in this Hymer. There's ample workspace, well-planned storage options and a healthy list of standard equipment.

Regarding work surface, the Hymer provides plenty to the left of the sink. However, this is compromised if you need to wash up cutlery while preparing a meal, because the removable drainer covers the whole worktop. What's worse is it has no dedicated storage place, which is an unusual oversight. Still, cooks can use the large workspace on the nearside of the van or the hob's glass lid.

Especially for the UK market, Hymer has added a separate oven and grill, which is complemented by a three-burner hob and electric hot plate if you forget to replace the gas. You also get a microwave oven, extractor fan and 90-litre Dometic 8-series fridge as standard. There's also a useful strip light, which houses the 240V socket.

The various storage options in the Nova's kitchen are usefully divided into sections. For example, there are shelves in the three overhead lockers, and beneath them are small shelves. The lockers open on chunky brass hinges and, like everything in this van, are solidly built. Between the hob and the sink are two drawers and a cupboard, containing a flush-fitting cutlery drawer, but these are narrow. More space for food storage is in the nearside locker.

Washroom

Although the washroom is small, it's likely that buyers will use it for more than brushing their teeth. So, the shower is important. There's a separate shower cubicle, but its door is a fiddly three-piece Remis arrangement that feels lightweight and fragile.

Hymer has thoughtfully included a sliding tambour door on the under-sink cupboard that you can open without blocking the path around the bed. There's also a hand-towel ring, twin mirrors and a 240V socket for a hair dryer. Still, the best bit of design is the storage arrangement above the basin. A metal track fitted between the mirrors extends from the vanity to the ceiling and supports two storage bowls. These can be set at any height you wish in this simple but ingenious system. A rubber guard keeps the washroom door from bashing against the vanity.

Beds

The fixed beds are of the greatest importance in luxury vans such as this one. The Hymer has a sprung Mobilia-Komfort mattress that passes the comfort test with distinction. It's easily large enough for six footers, too, although it does shave a corner off at the head end, which is rather unusual.

Once in bed, you'll get a great view of the TV because the casing that holds it is at just the right height. There are two windows, one to the side and one at the rear, providing natural light. A solid-wood sliding door only serves to reinforce the feeling of quality – it even has a draft excluder, which stops the door from slamming into place. It's this combination of exceptional workmanship and practicality that Hymer owners cite as a reason to buy.

In the front dinette, the slats are made of beech and slide from underneath the seat cushions to meet in the middle. It means the bed is relatively simple to make up and feels as though it will stand the test of time well, too.

Storage

The lids on the Hymer's sofa bases lift on strong gas struts, easing access to the storage areas underneath, but the offside box is taken up almost completely by the in-board water tank and boiler.

At the rear, both bed bases can be raised on similarly strong gas struts, revealing enormous storage spaces. The Nova's wardrobe is large, but we think it could do with being a bit taller. Still, two deep drawers below it make accessing your folded clothes that much easier.

There are one or two unusual storage solutions in the Hymer. The shaped locker above the TV stand is clever, as are the shelves squeezed in below the lockers. There's even a magazine rack on the back of the TV casing, although this is more useful for small bits and bobs.

In summary, unless you're the sort of holidaymaker that thinks 'travelling light' is something to do with physics, you'll have plenty of storage space.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1507kg
Payload293kg
MTPLM1800kg
Interior length5.68m
Shipping length7.67m
Width2.3m
Height2.77m
Awning size1010cm

Verdict

In keeping with this German marque's reputation, the Nova has a better specification than most of its rivals, and a quality of build that you are unlikely to find anywhere else. Ultimately, the same question keeps coming up: is the Nova worth all that extra cash? We believe that if you can afford it, and are buying the van outright, then the Hymer is worth raiding your bank balance for.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Solid materials and construction
  • Comprehensive specification
  • Clever design touches.

Cons

  • It's quite heavy
  • Fiddly, three-piece shower door
  • Price.
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