Avida RV adds a compact B-class sure to appeal to many buyers…
By Malcolm Street
For several years Avida has had a steady range of motorhomes, with the emphasis on improving the breed rather than introducing new models. Recently, however, a new model rolled out of the factory doors: The Leura – presumably named after the town in the Blue Mountains.
It’s quite a small looking motorhome, partly due to its B-class low profile style but also because of its 6.71 m (22 ft) length. Indeed, looking at the window locations – a large one on either side – did make me wonder how everything is fitted in!
Avida has used the familiar Fiat Ducato cab-chassis as the base vehicle. In the case of the test vehicle it’s the Multijet 180 with the 3.0-litre 132 kW turbo-diesel, which is an option over the standard Multijet 130 with the 2.3-litre 96 kW engine. It’s built on a steel sub-chassis with fibreglass composite walls, moulded fibreglass ends and an out-of-sight aluminium frame inside the body panels. Apart from the gas bottle storage and toilet cassette lockers there is just one other external locker, which accesses the under-lounge storage area as well. A Fiamma F45 awning neatly covers the kerb-side wall area.
With a tare weight of just 3106 kg, the 3.0 litre Ducato-powered Leura is certainly a spritely performer. I gave it a little run up through the Bells Line of Road to Lithgow, then back along the Great Western Highway to Emu Plains. Even though there were plenty of hills and dales the Leura confidently maintained posted road speeds without a problem.
Undoubtedly the key feature of the Leura is its elevating bed. It sits in front of the full-width rear bathroom and above the sideways facing lounges. That allows for a kitchen bench to fill the wall behind the driver's seat and a small cabinet behind the passenger seats. One of the striking features inside is the striped pattern of the lounge upholstery that is (optionally) coordinated with the cab seats.
Like any good Ducato conversion the cab seats swivel around, but they just act as extra seats rather than integrating in with the other seating. That is not necessarily a bad thing as with this design, once the bed is lowered for one person, the lounges cannot be used for seating but the swivelled cab seats certainly can. A feature of the sideways lounges is that they are 1.5 m (5 ft) long and so offer plenty of seating space. Both seat backs are L-shaped at one end, which does solve the problem of seat backs moving around when travelling but does make them rather awkward to stow out of the way to fully lowering the bed (Avida advises this has since be resigned - Ed).
With the table, the Zwaardvis mounting is offset to the kerb side, but is quite flexible in its swivelled positions. As noted above, the under-seat area on the kerb side can be used for storage and accessed either from inside or out, but the driver’s side area is taken up by the water heater and in the test Leura, by the Saphir split-system airconditioner. Between the driver’s-side lounge and the bathroom wall a half-height cabinet is fitted, with the space above occupied by a flat screen TV. This isn’t a bad location given it can be seen from either the lounge or swivelled cab seats, and as long as the pillows are on the kerb side, the lowered bed as well. On the opposite side, in the space between the seat and the bathroom, a full height wardrobe is fitted.
Compact would be a good word to describe the Leura’s kitchen, with the bench being just long enough to have a stainless steel sink and drainer plus a sideways fitted two-burner cooktop. Under the bench resides a Dometic 106-litre 3-way fridge plus two drawers and a cupboard. Above is an overhead locker, complete with an extra shelf, alongside the microwave oven. A nice useful touch is the narrow shelf below the overhead locker. Under the bench-top lip in front of the sink, in the Avida style, are switches for lights, hot water, airconditioning and the elevating bed. As I said, all very compact.
Between the entry door and passenger seat the space has been filled with a cupboard: the lower area occupied by the house battery and charger and the upper being general storage. The downside of this cupboard is that it blocks the swivelled passenger seat, but the upside is it provides storage space.
In the rear, the full-width bathroom almost seems disproportionally large compared to the rest of the Leura. It’s terrific if a large bathroom is on your wish list, especially in a smaller vehicle. The bathroom has a kerb-side shower cubicle; a Thetford cassette toilet opposite and a mid-positioned vanity, which is almost a stand alone unit featuring a two door cupboard below the basin and a wall mirror above. Additional storage is provided by a locker above the loo and there’s a towel rail on the rear wall.
Lowering the bed is quite simply done by operating the switch. Just how far it’s lowered depends on how lazy you are, as not removing the lounge seat-backs means you’ll require a small ladder or box of some sort for easy bed access. But with a little more work and the seat backs stowed on the floor, under the bed, it’s easy. Your choice!
Size wise, at 1.96 m x 1.5 m (6 ft 5 in x 4 ft 11 in) the bed measures up well and is quite comfortable to sleep on. Slightly awkward, however, are the bed reading lights: The person at the rear gets one on the kerb-side wardrobe, the person at the front gets one on the driver’s-side microwave cabinet, at the opposite end of the bed. It might sound strange but it does give you the option of sleeping with your head at either end. However, I’m sure pelmet mounted LEDs could not be too difficult to fit at either/both ends if desired.
What I think
One of the most attractive features of the Leura is its price. Another is the roomy lounge/dining area the elevating bed creates and a third is its compact dimensions. I suspect though for some, however, the smallish kitchen and smallish fridge are going to be an issue. It does of course depend very much on your cooking style and how you travel. From some points of view the Leura might be more regarded as a weekend escape machine rather than a long term tourer. However viewed though, it’s certainly a good addition to the existing Avida lineup!
- Small motorhome with all facilities
- Good size bed
- Spacious lounge/dining area
- Big bathroom
- Good water capacities
- Zwaardvis table fitting
- Smallish kitchen
- Smallish fridge
- Limited external storage
- Bed reading light positions
- No 12 V charger points