Review: 2018 Autohaus RV

By: Ewan McDonald , Photography by: Ewan McDonald


Kiwi couples looking to downsize their leisure vehicle could consider the 2018 AutoHaus RV made by Leisure Line in Hamilton

Country RV in Mt Maunganui is their largest dealer, so it’s no surprise that owner Rob Axton worked closely with Leisure Line during the design and manufacture, providing ideas based on his customers’ feedback.

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The AutoHaus is built on the latest Ford Transit high-roof van

Rob walked MCD through the two-berth van before we took it on the road to—where else?—nearby beaches with clearly marked freedom camping sites overlooking broad white sands, surf breaks, and infinite Pacific views.

The AutoHaus is popular with a particular group who are very knowledgeable about motorhomes, he says.

"Most of the people who buy these vehicles are older. They want something dual-purpose—a van they can use for the odd day out, picnics, or supporting them in their hobby, whether that’s hiking or cycling or just visiting New Zealand.

"Some of them have downsized from a much bigger unit but they’ve been used to the luxuries. And they’re very insistent that they want a Kiwi-built motorhome."

Vehicle

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Being dual-purpose gives the AutoHaus added value

The AutoHaus is built on the latest Ford Transit high-roof van, powered by a two-litre turbo diesel. As Rob points out, "It comes with all the bells and whistles that you’d get in a saloon car."

Safety features include a rear-view camera, cruise control, hill-start assist, roll stability, and traction control. ‘Toys’ include an eight-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity.

The wheels have been upgraded with a smart set of alloys and there are stylish, wave-patterned graphics. The passenger seat swivels; the driver’s doesn’t.

Controls

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Up front, you’ll appreciate the modern, responsive drive experience

"One of the interesting things that is completely customer-driven in this van is the minimal amount of techno-gadgetry," Rob says. "Everything is turned on and off by a switch, which is what our customers tell us they like."

The control panel above the habitation door is basic and simple to operate, running the Whale blown-air heating with thermostat and water heating running off gas or 240 volts; water level gauges for the built-in fresh and grey tanks, individual switches for the all-LED lighting.

What he calls "this fandango-looking thing" is the built-in Redarc battery charging system for the rooftop 100-watt solar panel, 240-volt smart charger, and a good-sized house battery.

Kitchen

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Owners can choose from three layout options in the lounge

The smallish but functional bench conceals a stove with two gas hobs and the hot-cold water sink.

There’s a 12-volt rangehood and 110-litre fridge ("it’s a good capacity, not a wheel-arch version"), a microwave, and a surprising amount of storage.

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The design is compact but very practical

The push-button door catches are something the customers say they want. "They like to push a button in so they know their doors and cupboards are secure."

Bathroom

Tucked behind the driver’s seat and opposite the large, sliding habitation door, the cubicle houses the shower, Thetford cassette toilet, and vanity.

Lounge/bathroom

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Owners can choose from three layout options in the lounge

There are three layout options. The U-shaped Lounge allows a daytime rear lounge to be converted into a transverse double bed with a table; the Café Seating option offers a daytime dinette converting to two single beds; and the Single Beds option is a traditional layout with the two settees converting to single beds. 

Rob explains, "It’s a unique layout. We’ve got a purpose-built dinette that will fold down into a single bed at night. You’ve also got another single bed with access out through the back doors.

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The purpose-built dinette folds down to a second bed

"You can also turn the whole thing into a great big double bed by sliding out a self-supporting section underneath the settee. Most people use this van as two singles in our experience."

Sizeable cupboards run the length of the lounge in the high-level van. "We can put shelving in them if people want.

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The AutoHaus is ideal for weekend getaways

"Another thing that is completely customer-driven is the blinds and flyscreens on all windows. Once you’ve had them, you wouldn’t want a van without them. We’ve recessed them into the walls to give a nice, minimalist sort of a look."

Entertainment

The 19-inch TV sits on a swivel arm. It comes with a DVD and free-to-air decoder and can be upgraded to a 22-inch screen. Bonus to other vans in this category, there’s a fully automatic satellite dish on the roof. The cab is home to a stereo, CD, Bluetooth, and USB connections.

So what doesn’t this van have? Well, an awning, but Rob explains, "People have different requirements for what they want out of their awning, and there are a variety of products available, so we talk to them and advise what we feel is the best one for their needs.

"One of the beauties of the Leisure Line range is that we can, to a reasonable degree, customise the vehicle to a buyer’s particular needs."

If you like the sound of the AutoHaus, here’s the good news. The lead time for purchasers is around five to six weeks, depending on the Transit’s availability. Laughs Rob, "If you’re quick, you’ve still got a chance to get in for summer."

First drive

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The passenger seat conveniently swivels

Early summer day. Clear blue sky. The Mount. You’ve gotta head for the beach, right? I eased the AutoHaus out of Country RV’s yard and immediately ran into a downtown traffic jam. That’s where you appreciate the feel of driving a modern, responsive, safety-enhanced vehicle.

Out of town, the power of the turbo diesel and smoothness of the auto transmission underscored the enjoyment. Ford claims eight litres per 100km for urban running and 7.2 litres per 100km for the open road, which makes for economical holidaying.

I wanted to check out the area’s freedom camping sites, and I was impressed. It wasn’t hard to find beautifully placed spots on the water’s edge or on the dunes above the ocean.

Parks are set aside for self-contained motorhomes in a number of public carparks. Okay, the rules are strict but they are clearly spelt out.

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During the week, the AutoHaus can be used about town

I took advantage of one at Papamoa, and within minutes was in a conversation with the caravan-owner next door. She and her husband were thinking about their next move and liked the look of the AutoHaus. Later that afternoon I handed the keys back to Rob. 

"You might owe me commission for a sale," I told him.

For more information, call 0800 288 860 or visit countrycaravans.co.nz.

2018 Autohaus RV Specifications

Vehicle make and model 

2018 Autohaus RV

Engine 2198cc turbo diesel, 114kW
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Berths 2
Approx. overall length  5980mm
Approx. overall height  2370mm
Tanks

81L grey
88L fresh

Power 

Gas 12v/240v, 100w solar panel,
100ah battery

Gas 2 x 4kg
GVM 3940kg
Optional inclusions Choice of furnishings, rollout awning, 22" TV upgrade, solar upgrade

Price (as reviewed): $117,990

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