From the moment the gates opened at 9am, this year’s event had an air of excitement, a feeling of energy released. Beside me in the queue, a fellow RVer commented “That’s different; a motorhome in grey, black and yellow, not the usual boring white box.” It was true. It set the tone for the show.
Fine and sunny as we moved through the gates, it continued that way throughout the weekend. Weatherwise, everyone was happy. Right beside the entrance, the grey, black and yellow SunLiner Habitat 4 was different, and it wasn’t just the bright colour scheme. In SunLiner’s words, “The Habitat 4 is a long-range, multi-terrain touring RV designed for the serious freedom camper.”
With extra ground clearance, robust bumpers and externally mounted ‘jerry cans’ for water storage, it certainly looked the part. For me, the interesting parts of the show unfolded as a series of three trifectas. A triple trifecta if you like. First up, were the three luxury German caravans on the Auto Leisure & Marine (ALM) stand; a Fendt Tendenza 650 SFD, a Knaus Sudwind 650 PBX and Tabbert Vivaldi 685 DF 2.5.
In Europe, they are brand leaders offering a level of style and comfort that is hard to match. All three are tandem axle models and, at 2500mm wide, feel very spacious inside. All are two-person caravans; all have luxurious fit-outs and are exceptionally well-appointed. Their differences lie in the detail.
Next of the trifectas were the van conversions; the LDV Maxus, the Ci Motorhomes Kyros Duo Elite, and the Jayco Optima. Each has a different base vehicle. As the name suggests, the LDV Maxus is built into a long-wheelbase hiroof LDV panel van. Jayco has chosen the Mercedes Sprinter for its 6600mm MS 22-2 campervan and Ci Motorhomes has used a Fiat 6360mm wheelbase Ducato van for the Kyros Duo Elite.
All have similar layouts upfront with a small dinette incorporating the cab seats swivelled to face the table and a kitchen opposite the washroom amidships. The smaller Maxus has a fixed double bed that lies across the van, while the two larger vans have a fore and aft settee berth on each side.
With its high standard, LDV factorybuilt fit-out, comprehensive specification and starting price of $82,990, the Maxus will provoke a lot of interest in the marketplace. The middleweight Kyros comes in at about $120,000 with the Mercedes-based Jayco topping the field at $143,000. Third in the trifecta are three Aussiebuilt caravans that are new to the New Zealand market; Roma Caravans (SotaRV), Next Generation (InsideOut RV) and Royal Flair (Levin RV Centre).
SotaRV sought out Roma caravans because of their good reputation in the Australian market, their excellent build quality, attractive interiors and the company’s history of family ownership. Three models were on display; the Razorback Sport with its distinctive, easyto-see orange flashes and high-clearance chassis. The Elegance – the name says it all – and the Sovereign Sport.
InsideOut RV displayed examples of the Melbourne-built Next Generation caravans with their clean, fresh interiors and 6-inch galvanised steel chassis. InsideOut’s point of difference is the tailor-made service on offer. Customer input offers a degree of personal customisation of the caravans, which is a welcome but unusual option in these days of mass production.
Situated close to the entrance, Royal Flair’s points of difference were there for all to see. The 5000mm Piazza with the foldout ‘Skydeck’, complete with safety rail and roof, caught the eye of nearly everyone who attended the show. Alongside was the Raptor with the ‘quad deck’ variation of the rear-deck theme offering an alternative way of carrying bikes and quads.
The audience liked what they saw and responded in the best way possible – by placing orders. In fact, that audience response was enjoyed by most of the RV exhibitors at the show. Orders placed means happy customers and happy dealers. The mark of another highly successful NZMCA show in Hamilton.