Say goodbye to cheap motels
Review: Paddy McCann
The AvidaBirdville is the lowest priced motorhome in the company’s 2014 range, so could well be in the sights of many first-time buyers. As a five-time motorhome owner, including three C class models, I reckon the more living space you have is everything. The Birdsville (C7344) layout as tested is a four berth with two single beds down the back plus a double bed over the cab, a layout I believe to be the most versatile. There’s a dedicated space up front for dining and the single beds double as lounges during the day, with wide opening windows all round that deliver good ventilation and views.
On the day we tested this vehicle, it was 38 degrees yet with the windows allowed a slight cross-flow and it was surprisingly comfortable. This is perhaps testimony to the extremely robust shell. While the Birdsville has been built to a budget, Avida has cut no corners with the body which has a steel frame, insulated with a foam core, covered by a thick fibreglass outer. There’s a metal skin under the floor (rather than painted ply) and a full rubber overlay on the roof strong enough to walk on and offers water no opportunity for entry.
Like many C and B class motorhomes manufactured today, the AvidaBirdsville sits on the purpose built Fiat Ducato wide track Al-Ko cab chassis. The new Euro 5 compliant Ducato uses less dieseland has lower emissions, making it best in its class for eco-friendliness. Waste oil is also minimised because service intervals are far apart, meaning more time on the road without the need to interrupt your journey for a service stop.
If you are used to driving a truck-based motorhome or you are a first time buyer, you are going to love the Fiat. It has a powerful three litre engine with surprisingly easy handling and the auto transmission makes it very easy to drive. Even a timid driver like my beautiful wife (who refuses to drive some motorhomes) happily drove the Ducato, which almost had me wanting to buy it on the spot!
Standard features include air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth and a great stereowith an auxiliary input, so you can plug and play your own music. It also has ABS, central locking, airbags for the driver and front passenger and electric windows. The eco-friendly Ducato delivers about the best fuel economy you can get from a motorhome, as low as tenlitres per hundred kilometres travelled. To put this in perspective, that is better economy than most four wheel drives – and that’s without towing a caravan!
One small quibble – I did find the driving seat a little high. I’m 5’11 and with the seat at its lowest position I found I was looking through the top third of the windscreen. I soon adjusted to this and the overall visibility is excellent, but if you are taller it might be an issue. On the flip side, both front seats swivel to become part of the living quarters which is brilliant and the level floor between cab and living quarters makes it effortless to walk through.
The best indoors
Creating usable storage space is a challenge for every motorhome manufacturer and the Avida design team have done an outstanding job. There are lockers above each of the beds to store a mountain of folded clothes, a generous wardrobe for hanging items and even more space under the beds. Under bed storage can be easily accessed from inside the vehicle thanks to gas struts under each mattress, or externally accessed via large locker doors on the exterior of the vehicle.
In the galley-style kitchen, there are even more cupboards above and below the food prep space and additional lockers above the dining area. Finally, you can access some deep book nooks from the bed which can store all those bedside table items.
In a space as compact as the Birdsville C7344, which includes two full length single beds, something has to give and in this case it is the food prep bench space that has been somewhat condensed. That’s not to say it is not cleverly designed; fold down lids on both the sink and cook top fit flush with the bench to make a very decent space provided you are not cooking and washing up at the same time. There is also a handy bench extender that folds up over the stair well and you can always enlist the dining table for an extra prep space if needed.
For cooking, there is a versatile three hob cooker (two gas hobs and one electric) and a full grill under the bench for toasting tasty treats on the go. There is also a compact microwave when you are plugged into 240 power so you are covered whatever your cooking preference.
The Dometic refrigerator at 150litres is a reasonable size for touring. The fridge also boasts a fully automatic three way energy selector which cycles between 240 mains power, gas and 12volts if no other source is available. After your meal, you will like the good-sized sink and the single lever mixer tap for a quick clean up. Another nice touch, the soap and sponge storage is integrated into the back of the sink.
The full-length single beds are great for adults with comfortable good-quality mattresses. Older travellers will love the ease of exit via the wide centre isle. Up top, the luton bed in the Birdsville is also quite spacious with a nice bubble of headroom allowing someone not so tall to sit up in bed. Speaking of little ones, every luton bed is a kid magnet so there is a safety net to keep children safe from falling which can be tucked away when not in use.
Avida has created a space-saving bathroom design which places the toilet and vanity behind retractable screens while showering. It is very clever and much better than a combo setup where everything has a tendency to get wet. We were pleasantly surprised by the high level of finish for the vanity too. It really looks great and there are very usable cupboards both above and below the sink. In the top cupboard, there is a handy 240v socket so you can stow a shaver or a hair dryer neatly and have it plugged in ready to go.
The AvidaBirdsville is an entry level priced motorhome from Australia’s biggest motorhome manufacturer that is jam packed with value. You get four seat belts, four decent beds and an incredible amount of storage. Of course the C7344 is only one of eight different layouts so if you don’t like the single bed variant, you’d be hard pressed not to find a layout to suit. The light and airy layout will appeal not just to retirees but to families with two children who also want to hit the road in style and comfort. For my money, I’d say goodbye to bad sleeps in cheap motels and say hello to a Birdsville.
Warranty: Five years
Price: From $137, 200 on road in NSW
More details and specs at avidarv.com.au
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