Elddis Encore 254 review

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer


Elddis Encore 254 review Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review Every Elddis motorhome comes with a bike rack as standard Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review Elddis motorhomes make the most of compact spaces Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review High quality appliances is a given Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review The microwave is integrated into the kitchenette's upper storage cubbies Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review The Elddis Encore 254 features an east-west island bed at the rear Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review Cabinetry is top-notch, offering plenty of storage space Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review This clever foldaway seat also features a seat belt for an extra passenger Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review The Elddis Encore features a comfortably dimenioned bathroom amidship Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review Elddis Encore 254 review
Elddis Encore 254 review Elddis Encore 254 review

MCD checks out the new Elddis Encore 254

After more than 40 years in the caravan and motorhome market, Barry Avery and Mike Irvine, and their wives Jan and Kerry, were looking for new opportunities in 2014.

Having been a loyal reseller of locally made products for many years, the RV Leisure Centre team was looking to add a European product to their model mix.

The process has been a lengthy one, but finally this month, the fruit of the RV Leisure Centre’s labours has arrived in the shape of the first new Elddis Encore motorhome. It’s the beginning of a new era, both for the Nelson-based distributor and for Elddis, 18,460km away in the town of Consett, County Durham, England.

DOING THE HOMEWORK

But, firstly yes, you’re right. RV Leisure Centre has been distributing Elddis-manufactured caravans for a while now, boasting a full range of Xplore, Avante, Affinity, Crusader, and Buccaneer caravans produced by the British brand. Like the motorhomes Barry and Mike are now bringing in, the caravans are designed to be tough and comfortable in equal measure.

"When we originally looked to bring in a European model, we really did our homework," Barry says.

"We did a lot of research about the product we wanted. We googled caravan owners’ clubs and read forums about all the positive feedback, the gripes, and the interesting features various manufacturers were known for.

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"I created a database with all this opinion contained in it, the end result being that we wanted to know about the product that seemed to have the least issues and the best feedback. Hands down, that was Elddis."

It wasn’t a straightforward process, though, because the Kiwi company broke the mould. With a strong domestic market in the UK, Elddis had never considered exporting their caravans or motorhomes before.

In fact, when Barry, Jan, and Mike turned up for a factory tour, the head of the company took some convincing that the trio had travelled to the other side of the world just to meet with Elddis and didn’t have a laundry list of other manufacturers to visit.

HOLDING PATTERN

While they loved the caravans, the team knew the picture wouldn’t be complete for both parties without Elddis’ revered motorhome range in the frame. Unfortunately, at that time, Peugeot France was more cautious.

"Back then, there was no established service network for Peugeot’s commercial vehicles in Australasia, so as far as supplying us with their Peugeot chassis motorhomes, Elddis’ hands were tied," Barry continues.

"This was disappointing for us on one level, although we still became the manufacturer’s agent for their caravan lines down here, which has quickly grown into a very successful component of our product offering."

In fact, thanks to Elddis’ ‘one world’ certification process with all its products, the various caravan models are delivered to RV Leisure Centre with few domestic modifications required. The only items the Nelson team amend are the electrical sockets and the fitment of the satellite dish and gas bottle.

Then, late last year, there was a breakthrough on the motorhome front. With local automotive distributor Sime Darby’s investment in a more substantial service network for its French brands—complete with appropriate diagnostic equipment and specialist mechanical staff training now in place—Peugeot France ticked the box that allowed Elddis to commence sending its extensive motorhome lineup our way. The first units are arriving now and they’re already generating a huge amount of interest, mixing exceptional build quality with an impressive standard specification.

TIME FOR AN ENCORE

The model on these pages is from the range-topping Encore lineup, of which there are three four-berth variants as well as a solo two-berth iteration. The Elddis Encore 254 features an east-west rear queen bed, with kitchen and bathroom (wetroom) facilities amidship, and dual convertible sofas nestled in behind the driver’s cab. In addition to doubling as extra bedding, the sofa immediately inside the entry door also features a clever hideaway extra seat with a seatbelt.

As well as a Euro 6-compliant 130hp Peugeot turbo diesel engine, every Encore features dual-leaf spring rear suspension for better carrying weight (despite the motorhome weighing less than 3500kg), and a multi-programmable central and water heating system accessed via integrated touchscreen.

Also standard is a Smart Energy fridge/freezer, an 800W microwave, plenty of chrome-trimmed cabinetry (all with Elddis’ ‘No-Rattle’ guarantee), an Eco Camel Orbit water-saver shower head, a 19" flat-panel TV with DVD, Freeview and Sky compatibility, 160W solar panels with a 30amp solar controller, and a factory-specified ‘Winter Pack’, which includes tank heaters, waste pipe insulation, and fridge vent covers.

All Elddis motorhomes can be driven on a Class 1 car licence and require a three-year renewable Warrant of Fitness, rather than a Certificate of Fitness. While a tow bar can be ordered as an option, every Encore model sold by RV Leisure Centre features a bike rack as standard.

In addition to the Encore, RV Leisure Centre will be distributing the 5.9m-long Elddis Accordo two- and three-berth models, which will retail for $125,000 plus ORCs, and the intermediate level Elddis Autoquest range, which extends in size from two- to six-berth variations and starts at $137,995.

IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR BOEING…

Speaking of strength, one of the reasons why Elddis has been winning numerous motorhome awards recently is down to a new high-tech manufacturing process known as SoLID.

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As Mike explains, SoLID construction is an incredibly strong bonding system that replaces most of the usual screws and bolts one associates with motorhome construction. Instead, laser-cut dovetail jointed wall and roof panels are cemented together with a bonding substance used by Boeing in its Dreamliner aircraft, as well as in Formula One race car engineering. Elddis tested the system for more than two years before putting it into practice and has been using it for the last three years.

"This specialised bonding system means Elddis can give every customer a 10-year water ingress and 10-year body integrity guarantee, which is obviously a backup agreement we extend to Kiwi customers too," Mike says.

"The factory in Consett is just out of this world. They build around 6000 recreational vehicles per year and almost everything is done in-house; it gives you absolute faith in the product.

"While we’ve secured a handful of motorhomes this year, next year we’ll be offering much broader availability, so interested buyers should have a chat to us about their requirements."

Verdict

It has taken a fair effort on the part of the RV Leisure Centre team, but the addition of Elddis motorhomes to the local market promises good things for buyers looking to stretch their dollar on a well-built vehicle boasting plenty of standard features.

"We have a very strong relationship and contractual arrangement with Elddis, and we’re definitely in it for the long run," Barry says.

"We’ve worked hard to get Elddis motorhomes in front of our customers, and we believe we’ve got a lineup of models that will appeal to all sorts of buyers." 

For further information, visit rvleisurecentre.co.nz.

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