Caravan review: Olympic Marathon 18' Family Bunk - Caravan World Australia

Caravan review: Olympic Marathon 18' Family Bunk

Written by: Malcolm Street

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The Olympic Marathon triple bunk caravan lacks a bathroom, but the trade off is a lighter, shorter and more affordable offering for families on a budget.

Caravans in Australia have become more sophisticated over the past couple of decades, with more and more ‘accessories’ now regarded as standard items. In addition, rough road and offroad caravans have become more common. Apart from anything else, those factors lead to an increase in both weight and price. 

Currently, there’s a good selection of family caravans in various lengths, layouts and prices in the Australian caravan market. Still, the cost of the vans, particularly in the current economic climate, is stretching the family budget in many cases.

Olympic Caravans is a long-term player in the Australian market, building caravans for more than three decades and RV Connection at St Marys is Olympic’s Sydney dealer. The manufacturer offers several vans ranges, with the Marathon considered the flagship. 

That’s interesting, given the Marathon C180-1 that I was offered for this review doesn’t have a bathroom, which is usually a feature of premier model vans. Older readers will undoubtedly remember when most caravans did not have a toilet or shower and just about everybody used caravan parks. Those times have changed, of course, and most caravans and motorhomes have some ablution facilities. 

Generally speaking, bathrooms — either in the full-width style or combo ‘wet’ variety — are space hogs. Not having one means a van with more interior area or a van with all the expected facilities but shorter and lighter. 

Towing matters

Marathon’s C180-1 certainly fits that category. It’s a triple bunk van with an external length of 5.94m (19ft 6in) and an ATM of 2500kg. The payload is 450kg and is better than it looks because there’s only one freshwater tank of 86L instead of the usual two required for a shower van. 

That’s a good prospect for any number of tow vehicles, including the ubiquitous dual cab utes. Indeed, the Isuzu D-MAX tradie’s ute I was using coped without any trouble, not only in the power and torque department, but the van was quite a smooth towing prospect. An option on this van is a reversing camera, something that’s becoming more common. 

Internals

The layout works for all family members with a north-south island bed up front, an offside kitchen, a nearside L-shaped lounge, and triple bunks across the rear. Without the bulk of the bathroom, it’s a surprisingly open layout. The window space is good, including the bunk beds with a window each. An option in this van is the two-tone colour scheme used on the cabinets.

The internal fittings include a Dometic Ibis 4 air conditioner, radio/CD player and 24in TV. It’s mounted at the end of the kitchen bench to be easily seen from the bed and slightly less from the dining seat.

Family rest

Across the rear, the triple bunks are an option; double bunks are the standard item. Measuring 1.88m x 0.74m (6ft 2in x 2ft 5in), the bunks occupy most of the rear wall, leaving just enough space in the corner by the door for a full-height cupboard with shelving space, drawers and a floor locker. Each bed has a reading light, charger point and the previously mentioned window, however this is at the opposite end of the bed. A slight problem if you like your head near the window. 

At the front of the van, the 1.88m x 1.53m (6ft 2in x 5ft) queen RV bed sits neatly between two bedside cabinets, incorporating the expected wardrobe and bedside drawer space. There are mirrors on both wardrobes on the inside of the doors. Two items of note are the pillow cubbies and the shelf behind the bed, all handy for night-time items. With the bed at full length, the walk-around space at the base of the bed is a bit tight.

Lifting the posture slat bed base gives access to the under-bed storage area, partly sectioned to provide easy access via a floor locker door when the bed is down, and is a good size to store a portable toilet or shoes. Being a family van, there’s a curtain that will close off the forward area from the rear.

Mealtime

The generous amount of storage space in the usual form of drawers, cupboards and overhead lockers is notable in the kitchen area. Clamshell-style catches are used on all the doors and drawers. Metal struts keep the overhead locker doors open. Nothing is lacking in the kitchen facilities: a four-burner hob, grill and oven alongside a stainless-steel sink/drainer. 

Alongside the kitchen bench, the Dometic 188L three-way fridge and NCE microwave oven are both well-sized for family use. 

Across the walkway, the post-formed tabletop matches the kitchen benchtops. Mounted on two poles, the table is sturdy and can’t be repositioned easily. Like most family vans, the seating capacity of the dinette doesn’t quite match the sleeping capacity and an extra folding chair or stool would be good. 

Energy sources

The electrics are relatively simple in keeping with the rest of the van. Either a 150W solar panel or a Projecta 15A seven-stage mains charger charges the 110Ah AGM battery. The Projecta remote is located in an overhead locker above the kitchen bench along with other electrical controls. Mains power points are in all the appropriate places, and all the beds also have device charger points – a nice touch. 

Since this van is designed chiefly for caravan park use, there’s one 9kg gas cylinder on the drawbar and the Suburban 17.7L hot water system is 240V only. There is the option to add a gas/electric hot water system. This upgrade includes a second water tank and 9kg gas bottle. 

Infrastructure

To keep down the weight a bit, Olympic has opted for a SupaGal chassis with 100mm x 50mm (4in x 2in) main rails and drawbar. There’s a 50mm (2in) raiser under the suspension mounts and similarly sized RHS is used for the cross-section pieces. There’s nothing fancy about the suspension, it’s AL-KO roller rocker. The 15in alloy wheels have 10in electric brakes. Given the lone 86-litre freshwater tank, there’s a distinct lack of pipework under the van, so the sub-chassis area looks very clean indeed. 

Traditional methods are used for body construction. A meranti timber frame hides under the aluminium composite panel work. That’s an option, the standard van versions have ribbed aluminium cladding. The external features include an Aussie Traveller security door, NCE double-glazed acrylic windows, a picnic table, external speakers and a Dometic awning. External storage consists of the front boot, which does contain the battery and charger, but there’s plenty of space for other items. Being a family van, the Fiamma bike rack mounted on the rear wall above the spare wheel is a great addition. Another addition on the back wall is the external shower. 

The bottom line

Olympic’s Marathon might not have all the bells and whistles, particularly an on-board bathroom, but for those likely to stay in caravan parks, it mostly ticks any number of boxes. Not having a bathroom does mean a lighter, shorter and affordable van that doesn’t require a heavyweight tow vehicle. 

OLYMPIC MARATHON 18' FAMILY BUNK RATINGS

VALUE FOR MONEY
Designed for a family budget

TOWABILITY 
Doesn’t require a large tow vehicle

SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Ideal for caravan park travel

BUILD QUALITY 
Most things opened and closed as they should 

LIVEABILITY
It is a bit crowded for a family, but then outdoor living is very much part of caravanning

SELF SUFFICIENCY
Limited but that’s the intention

CUSTOMER CARE
Olympic offers a two-year warranty with components subject to individual OEMs

INNOVATION
Nothing really radical but a van that gets the weight down is to be commended

X-FACTOR
There’s a little of back to the future with this design but it’s not a negative point 

OLYMPIC MARATHON 18' FAMILY BUNK SPECS

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

Body length  5.94m (19ft 6in)
Overall length 8m (26ft 3in)
Width  2.44m (8ft)
Height  2.79m (9ft 2in)
Tare  2050kg
ATM  2500kg
Payload  450kg (calculated)
Ball weight  165kg
Ball weight at tare  8% (calculated)

         

EXTERNAL

Frame  Meranti timber
Cladding  Aluminium composite
Chassis  SupaGal
Suspension  Roller rocker tandem axle
Coupling  Ball
Brakes  10in AL-KO electric
Wheels  15in alloy
Water  1 x 86L
Battery  1 x 110Ah
Solar  1 x 150W
Air-conditioner  Dometic Ibis 4
Gas  1 x 9kg
Sway control Optional


INTERNAL

Cooking  Swift 500 four-burner hob, grill and oven
(Standard cooktop is a Swift three gas, one electric hob with grill and oven)
Fridge  Dometic RUA 6408X 188Lthree-way
Bathroom  No
Hot water Suburban 17.7L 240V only

 

Olympic Marathon 18' Family Bunk price from $58,490

OPTIONS FITTED 

  • Reversing camera
  • Aluminium composite cladding
  • Full height acrylic splashback
  • Fiamma bike rack
  • External shower
  • Two-tone cabinet colours

Olympic Marathon 18' Family Bunk price as shown $64,990

MORE INFORMATION

RV Connection
97C Glossop Street
St Marys NSW 2760
P: 02 9623 0400

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