Avida Topaz Caravan review

Avida Topaz C7652 Review

Australian built caravans like the Avida Topaz have gained something of a niche in New Zealand in recent years. There are some good reasons for that, says MCD reviewer Malcolm Street.

Compared to New Zealand built caravans and the European equivalents, Aussie vans have quite distinctive layouts, and in some cases, some differing construction techniques.

Avida caravans and motorhomes are sold in New Zealand by Hamilton based dealership, Auto Leisure Marine. The dealer has the full Avida range available, including one of the latest designs, the Topaz C7652.

With an external body length of 7652mm, the Topaz is no small van. Undoubtedly one of its main attractions is the 3740mm offside slide-out which adds considerably to the interior area. In addition to that, the slide-out also allows a departure from the layout that’s very common in Australia – a front island bed, full width rear bathroom arrangement with kitchen and lounge/dining in between.

Layout

This Topaz has a forward habitation door with a U-shaped lounge across the front. It’s a welcome sight, and very tempting to sit in straight away. Although the first thing to do is open the slide-out which is operated using the touchpanel above the doorway. A handy thing to know if you are more used to a separate switch being located on a wall somewhere. It’s incredible the amount of difference the fully deployed slide-out makes to the general living space. Just as a footnote here, to get to the rear bathroom, the slide-out does at least have to be partially open.

Filling the nearside wall area and part of the slide-out on the opposite side are the kitchen facilities, leaving most of the rear mid area for an east-west island bed and associated cupboard and drawers. Across the rear of the van, the full width bathroom offers all the expected features.

Avida Topaz Caravan review
The offside slide-out makes an incredible difference to the interior space

Upfront dining

With windows all round, the U-shaped Ultra Leather upholstered lounge is designed with comfort in mind. It’s asymmetrical in shape and will seat two easily and four at a pinch if you are prepared to be friendly. The table with its Zwaardvis pedestal has the happy combination of being very stable, yet easily able to move around, both up and down and from side to side. Overhead lockers are fitted above the windows and a useful touch is the shelf space under the front window. Both a magazine pouch and 230V power point are fitted into the offside corner, as is the hot water switch but that’s less than a handy location if you don’t happen to be seated. There are no USB charger points in this area.

Avida Topaz Caravan review
The inviting front club lounge

Kitchen

It’s a little unusual in this sort of layout but the Avida Topaz has a split kitchen. The nearside bench fit out includes a four-burner hob and grill, along with a stainless steel sink and drainer, the latter being on the small side. General storage is okay with two overhead lockers, two drawers and a double cupboard. In addition, there’s a couple of cupboards that can be used as either kitchen or bedroom storage. Being designed as a one-piece cabinet, the kitchen bench runs back into the bedroom area, which means if nothing else, you’ve got extra benchtop prep space.

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On the opposite side, is the 188-litre Thetford three-way fridge and Samsung microwave oven. Somewhat unusually, the microwave oven is more or less at a user-friendly height and there’s air space underneath which means the shelf below slides out and can be used as extra kitchen prep space when needed. That’s also a convenience factor because of the wheel arch below.

Both the microwave oven and shelf are neatly hidden behind a roller shutter door when not being used. Fitting in between the fridge and microwave oven area is a double wire basket pantry – there’s no shortage of space for stashing food items and cooking utensils.

Avida Topaz Caravan review
The benchtop work space is excellent
Avida Topaz Caravan review
Excellent kitchen storage includes large drawers and wire basket pantries

Bedroom

Measuring 1900mm x 1530mm, the island bed is slightly longer than the average caravan bed, which is good for taller people. Each bed occupant gets a reading light, bedside shelves and an overhead locker, but only the left side has USB charger points. Butting up against the bathroom wall as the bed almost does, it’s a bit of a squeeze down that side.

Cupboard and drawer capacity is quite generous, with two wardrobes and four large drawers, so there’s no shortage of hanger space, nor somewhere for the socks and smalls.

RV manufacturers sometimes put TVs in odd places, mostly to do with convenient location rather than viewer comfort. In this case though, Avida has mounted it on the wall beside the bedroom wardrobe where it can be seen easily from the bed and when swung out, the front lounge.


Avida Topaz Caravan review
The island bed is longer than usual

Bathroom

A full-width bathroom should give users room to move and this one certainly does. The nearside shower cubicle has a door opening wide enough to get in and out with ease and room to turn around. There’s a decent amount of elbow space around the Thetford cassette toilet and the vanity cabinet with pedestal wash basin, cupboard space and large wall mirror also has enough room for a top loading washing machine in the corner. Bathroom ventilation is supplied by a window above the loo and a fan hatch above the shower.

Avida Topaz Caravan review
The bathroom offers good storage capacity
Avida Topaz Caravan review
There’s plenty of room in the shower

Construction

Sandwich panel construction is used throughout the Topaz. Fibreglass composite panels are used with a polyurethane frame and high density polystyrene for insulation. All the components – walls, roof and floor are one piece to minimise the risk of leaks.

External storage is well catered for by both a front boot and a front tunnel storage with access from both sides. The two 9kg gas cylinders have a dedicated bin at the front nearside.

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Supporting the body is a hot dipped galvanized chassis with 150mm x 50mm drawbar and chassis rails. Both the fresh and grey water tanks are mounted behind the suspension, as is the spare wheel, right at the rear; it’s also easy to get to.

This being what Avida calls its Multi Terrain model, the suspension is designed for rough road travel. Quite distinctive, it’s Cruisemaster’s CRS with coil springs and two shock absorbers per wheel. Up front, the coupling is also a Cruisemaster item, a DO35 pin hitch which certainly does its job properly but is a slight challenge at hitching up time – a good reversing camera is always a useful item.

Avida Topaz Caravan review
A big van, and very spacious for taller travellers

On the road

The Topaz is a well equipped van but it’s also a somewhat heavy one. Having a tare mass of 2834kg and an ATM of 3500kg puts it in heavy duty tow vehicle territory. If fully loaded, it’s heavier than the likes of a Ford Ranger or Nissan Navara can comfortably tow, even though both have
a 3500kg maximum tow rating but also have a Gross Combined Mass of 6000kg.

For this review my tow vehicle was a new model Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Sahara. I was particularly keen on this vehicle because I had not had the opportunity of trying out Toyota’s new 3.3 litre twin turbo diesel V6 before and I wanted to see how it performed with a heavy caravan on the back. Quite well as it turned out; the hilly terrain I opted for a test drive through was not challenging, and the towing combination was a pleasure to drive.

Warranties

The caravan comes with a three-year factory warranty on the chassis (built by Avida), body, furniture and fittings plus a five-year structural warranty. All the appliances and components like the hob, fridge and air conditioner are covered by the individual manufacturers’ warranties. In addition, Avida offers a two-year roadside assistance package. As with any warranty, it’s a good idea to read the fine print, particularly anything that refers to servicing and offroad use.

Summary

Anyone desiring a van with plenty of internal living area should certainly have a look at the Topaz. It’s built very much in the Avida style with a high level of appointment and a contemporary construction style. Hitching up will need a large tow vehicle but that’s to be expected with a van that’s certainly designed with off the beaten track travel in mind.

Avida Topaz Caravan review
The Avida Topaz C7652 Multi Terrain Floorplan

Avida Topaz C7652 Multi Terrain Specifications

Chassis

Hot dipped galvanised 150mm x 50mm (6in x 2in)

Suspension

Cruisemaster CRS coil springs, dual shock absorbers

Overall length

8.815m (28ft 11in)

Width

2.495m (8ft 2in)

Height

3.02m (9ft 11in)

Water: Fresh/Grey

125L/125L

ATM

3500kg

Tare

2834kg

Payload

666kg

Price as reviewed: $153,00

For more information, visit avidahamilton.co.nz.

Looking for motorhomes or caravans for sale in NZ? Browse our latest listings here.

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