Review: ALM Avida Birdsville

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


Bill Savidan finds a motorhome with generous interior space that isn’t designed for cramming with ‘stuff’… giving you space to breathe and unwind

In various manifestations Avida have been building RVs in Australia since 1965. Started by Bruce Binns and his wife Ruth, the company remains in the hands of the original owners.

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Birdsville are the top selling motorhome in the Avida range

Since 2001 Avida RVs have been manufactured at their plant on a four-hectare site in Western Sydney where they employ around 250 staff producing some 600 RVs each year.

Birdsvilles have been one of Avida’s bestselling motorhomes for a few years now. Their different layouts, sizes and rugged build have appealed to motorhome buyers in both New Zealand and Australia. Birdvilles are also the top selling range for New Zealand’s North Island Avida agents, ALM Group in Hamilton.

The 7424SL is produced as a low profile (prefixed ‘B’), and the bed-over-the-cab model (prefixed ‘C’). It is the C7424SL that is being reviewed here.

The outstanding feature of this motorhome is the slide-out on the driver’s side. The wall section, around 3200mm long, contains the dining alcove and the double bed and it moves them outwards around 600mm, turning the interior from a corridor into a dance floor. It is surprising how much space this extra width creates.

Mounted on the popular easy-to-drive Fiat cab chassis with the larger 180HP turbo diesel motor, it makes light work of the body load it carries, driving the rear wheels through Fiat’s six-speed AMT auto gearbox. It can be driven on a car licence (class 1), but it does need the more stringent Certificate of Fitness (COF) each six months.

Exterior

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This motorhome’s outstanding feature is the slide-out on the driver’s side

An electric step eases the way in and out. The door itself is in two parts. Together they form a solid security door. Park the outside door on its stay-open latch and the inside part becomes an intruder-proof insect screen while still allowing balmy evening air to circulate through.

Outside there are four hatches above floor level and two below behind the curved metal skirt. One is for two 4kg LPG cylinders and one houses electronic gear. The rest are available for general use.

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Glass louvre windows are favoured by many Birdsville buyers

Many Birdsville buyers have shunned the awning-hung double glazed acrylic windows in favour of the two and three-blade glass louvre windows installed here, citing better ventilation control in wet and windy conditions. They also say they feel more secure from unwanted breaking and entering.

Sleeping over

Climb the access ladder to the bed over the cab and you are rewarded with a lie down on one of the biggest beds in RV land. The foam mattress over sprung slats is comfortable and there is a heap of headroom. But eventually you have to get down... methinks it’s for the young at heart.

Time to eat

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The leather-upholstered cushions are well shaped and very supportive

The table seats four, and once converted it sleeps two (the table forms the bed base). The leather-upholstered cushions are well shaped and the backrest is nicely raked, offering good comfort levels for both dining and travelling (the forward-facing seats have seatbelts).

There are access flaps to storage spaces under the dinette but the overhead lockers are quite small. Both the dinette and bedroom windows are fitted with privacy roller blinds.

Chef's favourite

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The kitchen benchtop blends into the vanity creating a large workspace

Sizewise this kitchen would be bigger than that of downtown city apartments. It has a full size stove with a separate grill and a ‘3+1’ hobs cooktop alongside a domestic sink. There is a filter water tap as well as a faucet and an extractor fan above the hobs.

If the cook is getting serious there is a 700mm long bench extension that folds down across the entryway.

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This kitchen is bigger than most in downtown city apartments

Beside the oven are cupboards and drawers and two huge lockers over the bench. There is also a rubbish bin, a cutlery drawer, a microwave and a small pull-out pantry. A home for everything and room to spare.

Bedroom

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Tucked into the slide out the bed is a cosy place to read or watch TV

There is no separate bedroom and no provision is made to close off the bed from the kitchen/dining area. So if you need privacy, the washroom is your only refuge. That said, having the bed in such a large open space invokes a lovely sense of freedom.

The head of the bed is tucked into the slide-out, making it a cosy place to sit up and read or watch TV. Your comfort is assured with quality layered memory foam mattress over a sprung wooden slat base. There is a hanging locker one side of the bed and a magazine rack on the other. Storage is well catered for with space under the bed and more in the two deep lockers overhead.

While the bed meets the definition of an island bed, i.e. the bed clothes drop down both sides and across the foot, it is not an easy matter to walk down its bathroom side.

Opposite the foot of the bed are more cabinets. The TV set occupies the middle overhead locker and below is a cabinet of useful drawers and cupboards. Overhead is a roof-mounted heat pump to keep you warm or cool as required but you need grid power to enjoy it.

Bathroom

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A large, functional bathroom

Behind the sliding door at the rear of the motorhome is a large functional bathroom. On the right is a vanity unit, ahead is the toilet, and to the left the shower.

The hand basin sits on the vanity top, leaving lots of room alongside for all those bathroom necessities. The left side of the vanity top is a hinged lid providing access to a large laundry bin. Should you choose, it can house an optional washing machine. Above the toilet are three lockers. Positioned out of the way beside the shower the Thetford swivel seat toilet has ample room around it.

Working on the theory that bigger is better, Avida has installed an excellent shower into the Birdsville. With bottle and soap shelves moulded into a corner, a fan hatch and drying rail above, the roomy rectangular stall has all the necessities for a good shower.

Construction

The Avida RV floor, walls and roof panels are built from foam sandwich construction panels. Panels such as these are widely used in the RV industry, and now that plastic inserts have replaced wood these panels have proved to be remarkably durable.

Avida claim their body construction strength and durability is second to none. To them the floor is the key, supporting the walls that are fixed to the top of the floor, not screwed to the floor edges.

The roof sits on the top of the walls so that stress loads are shared and the body and roof become stronger. The structure is strong, lightweight and has aluminium underfloor protection. All new Birdsville motorhomes are sold certified self-contained.

Stand by me

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The cab blends with the body courtesy of some fine fibreglass detail

Avida stand behind their product, offering a three-year nationwide factory-backed warranty and a five-year structural guarantee, two years free roadside assistance and a free first service, all supported by a very large Avida service network.

All Avida motorhomes and caravans comply with Australian Design Rules and their motorhomes are Second Stage of Manufacture Compliant. Avida’s New Zealand motorhomes are also compliant with the NZ self-containment regulations.

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The slide-out contains the dining alcove and double bed

Birdsville motorhomes with slide-outs offer a different perspective on motorhoming. The slide-out produces a significant amount of extra floor space. The interesting part is how that extra space is used. Avida don’t try to cram more items into the space. To them the space itself is the benefit. And their customers agree. 

ALM Avida Birdsville Specifications

Vehicle make/model Fiat Ducato cab/chassis
Engine 2.3 litre turbo diesel Euro 6
Transmission Six-speed AMT automatic
Berths Six
Approx overall length 7390mm
Approx overall width 2320mm
Approx overall height 3125mm
Interior hght  1973mm
Tanks 124L fresh, 124L grey
Gas LPG 2 x 4kg bottle
GVM kgs 4400
Tare kgs 3620
Payload kgs 570

Price as reviewed: $190,000 as reviewed

Pluses

  • The slide-out. All that extra room.
  • The two-piece door, with a security grade insect screen.
  • Some would disagree, but I like the louvre windows.

 

Minuses

  • A wider walkway down the bathroom side of the island bed would be good.

 

If you would like to inspect the Avida Birdsville C7424SL or find out more about it or any of the other Avida RVs, contact the sales team at Auto Leisure and Marine (ALM) on (07) 850 5512 or visit almgroup.co.nz.

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