Motorhome review: Avida Esperance

By: Lawrence Schäffler


Avida Esperance Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance Both the 72 and 79 series rid on the same rear-wheel-drive Iveco 50C17 chassis. Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance The over-cab bed is easily accessed via a ladder. Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance The four-berth setup features an island bed in the main bedroom. Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance The 190L fridge/freezer is built into the slide-out. Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance A fold-out table will come in handy in the good weather. Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance Manoeuvring can be tricky - best to employ your better half when parking. Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance Our 7.9m C7994 SL features a rear bedroom with an east-west island bed and a central bathroom. Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance The kitchen has plenty of room for tackling challenging recipes. Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance Avida Esperance
Avida Esperance The Esperance's nicest feature. Avida Esperance

The Australian-built Avida Esperance is well-known on our shores as a well-engineered, spacious motorhome that offers buyers a lot of options and features. The latest arrival has a different layout from any of those already in New Zealand — and the change may find a receptive audience.

The Esperance range offers buyers multiple options to tweak things to individual preferences. For a start, the basic vehicle comes in two lengths — the 72 and 79 series (7.2 metres and 7.9 metres respectively) — and within each of the series, layout options/extras abound.

Both ride on the same rear-wheel drive Iveco 50C17 chassis — a popular model in the motorhome fraternity because of its gentle but powerful (170hp) three-litre, four-cylinder engine that sweeps the Esperance's bulk along without any discernable effort.

Depending on which model you select, it delivers all that power through a manual or automatic six-speed transmission to a dual-wheel rear axle. With its exemplary power steering, it's an easy vehicle to drive, particularly with the automatic transmission, and with the 100-litre tank, fuel stops will be infrequent.

Having said that, the Esperance is a fairly imposing motorhome (7.936 metres long, 2.495 metres wide, and 3.150 metres high), with a 4.350-metre wheelbase. It weighs a shade under 4.5 tonnes. Buyers will relish the interior space and elegant accommodation — but you'll need to be comfortable manoeuvring its bulk into tight spaces. The large side mirrors, rear window, and reversing camera will help.

Our test model was the C7994 SL — the bigger (7.936 metres) of the two models. It differs from its sisters in its layout — a rear bedroom with an east-west island bed and a central bathroom. All other Esperance owners here have selected the layout with the bathroom in the rear, behind the bedroom. This new model also features a separate vanity/basin opposite the shower/toilet. In the standard layout, the vanity's incorporated into the rear bathroom.

I can't decide which I prefer. There's not much to differentiate them, though I would lean toward this new model because there's a good separation between bathroom and bedroom.

Avida _Esperance _9

Slide-out

Avida's build quality is excellent — tight, rattle-free, solid. The Esperance is equipped with all the comforts you'll need for extended all-weather New Zealand touring — air-conditioning, central heating, two four-kilogram gas bottles, a satellite dish, a 190-litre fridge/freezer, a 100-litre water tank, an inverter, and two 100-amp-hour batteries. Two roof-mounted solar panels will ensure they're always poised to deliver their charge. There is also a purpose-designed locker to accommodate a small generator.

But the Esperance's nicest feature, of course, is its slide-out lounge/dinette — a push-button switch that converts the area into a luxurious space for relaxing and dining. It's a particularly effective feature because it brings the two cab seats into the dinner equation very effectively.

The dinette's table is adjustable on two axes, and its position relative to the U-shaped settee (and the cab's two swivel seats), can be tweaked to perfection. In short, it will easily accommodate guests for dinner parties. The stereo's speakers built into the slide out, perfectly positioned, so 'Meals with Mozart' are definitely on the cards.

Another advantage of the slide-out is the space it creates for the chef. The kitchen is immediately opposite, and with the lounge extended, there is plenty of room for exploring challenging recipes. The kitchen is fitted with a four-burner cooker (three gas, one electric), and an oven/grill below. I like the splash guard mounted next to the cooker — a practical touch that will help to keep the bulkhead grease-free.

A 190-litre fridge/freezer is opposite, built into the slide-out. Again, with the slide-out extended, there's plenty of room to investigate the fridge's interior without having to test your limbo-dancing skills.

Sleeping

The Esperance has a four-berth setup. In the main bedroom, the island bed facilitates straightening the sheets/duvet, and the TV (on a swivel mount on the opposite bulkhead) is easily visible for bedtime movies.

I also like the fact the bed tilts up, providing access to the vast 'garage' locker below. The main access to the locker is from the outside, but if the weather's lousy you'll welcome the ability to retrieve something from inside.

Avida _Esperance _2

The second bed is an over-cab model (again, very spacious) and it's equipped with a ladder for easy access. It's also fitted with a safety net to prevent young children (or inebriated guests) from plummeting to the floor. Like the rear bed, this over-cab base tilts up to facilitate access between cab and lounge — you won't bump your head.

Having a separate vanity provides for a generous bathroom, and I like the raised floor and lip for the shower cubicle — it helps to restrict the water to the shower, rather than drenching the toilet floor. The pull-out plastic curtain (spring-loaded) that separates the shower from the toilet is a clever, space-saving device, and, unlike folding acrylic doors, it doesn't rattle as you drive.

When the weather permits, you'll want to make use of the Esperance's al fresco dining attributes. In addition to the large, pull-out Dometic awning, there's a nifty fold-out serving table for holding essentials such as wine. If you're into sharing moonlight movies with the neighbours, you can also mount the TV into the recess created by that table — the mount and wiring connections are ready and waiting.

The verdict

I can't think of anything you'd need to add to the Esperance to turn it into your dream tourer. It has space, quality, elegance, and plenty of practical features. Just watch out for low-hanging branches and, if necessary, ask your partner to help you guide the motorhome into a cosy spot. Celebrate the successful park with a high-five and a glass of classy wine.

Pros

  • Easy-drive Iveco — no-fuss power
  • The slide-out — great space

Cons

  • Size — take care when manoeuvring

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