Avida Emerald: Review
Don’t let the compact size of the Avida Emerald fool you, this economical van hasn’t lost any of today’s caravanning essentials.
To date, Avida’s caravans have all had tandem-axles, so I was keen to check out the new single-axle Avida Emerald. I got my first look at the Sydney caravan show in April and, while I was sitting in it, I listened to the comments of several showgoers also looking through it. A couple of people found the lack of a second axle a bit disconcerting, but another keen couple was very interested that they could get a front bedroom, full-width rear bathroom layout in a van that was just 5.47m (17ft 11in) long with a Tare weight of just 1734kg.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
A look under the Emerald reveals a hot-dipped galvanised chassis with 150x50mm (6x2in) rectangular hollow section (RHS) rails and 100x50mm (4x2in) RHS drawbar rails. The cross members are punched-hole C-section, designed to maximise strength while keeping the weight down, and there are fewer than the usual number here. That all rides on single-axle Al-Ko leaf spring suspension with a beam axle and 15in alloy wheels.
Above the chassis is a one-piece, 49mm sandwich panel floor with protective aluminium lining on the underside for rigidity. Similar to the floor, both the walls (35mm) and roof (45mm) are one piece and also made using sandwich panel construction.
Dometic acrylic windows are fitted all around the van, and the entry has a Camec security door, with a standard Dometic awning fitted on the nearside. Good-sized tunnel boots are fitted at both ends.
Inside the Emerald is a front island bed, a kitchen bench along the offside, a cafe-style dinette beside the entry door along the nearside wall and a bathroom across the rear. I know some people don’t like having the entry door right by the bed but, personally, I don’t mind it and, in this instance, it’s a real space saver and makes this layout work in a practical way.
Avida uses vinyl plywood for the internal cabinetry – it’s all square angles and there are few curves to be seen here. Extruded aluminium is used for the overhead lockers to give more strength to the air space cabinetry and all the drawers in the van are fitted with metal runners.
You have to expect a smaller than average kitchen bench in a van of this length and, indeed, the size of the kitchen is determined by the side-by-side dimensions of the four-burner cooktop and grill, the stainless steel sink and the Dometic 190L fridge (with a microwave above). Really, the only available benchtop working space is the glass lid of the cooktop.
To maximise the general storage space, three overhead lockers (one with a shelf), three drawers and one two-door cupboard have been fitted. The top drawer under the sink is notable due to its unusual shape, designed to fit around the drainage pipes.
Similarly to the kitchen bench, the dinette has been designed to fit the space available, so the two lounge seats have just a small folding table between them. Two people can fit at the table but will need to sit offset from each other to maximise legroom. Reading lights are fitted on both sides and there are magazine pouches on the bathroom wall and behind the front seat by the entry door. Floor lockers are fitted to both seats to make use of the under-seat area, with lockers overhead. Avida also offers an L-shaped lounge as an alternative, which may suit some travellers better.
THE WRAP UP
There are a few compromises, of course, but the end result is a practical caravan which does not require an overly large tow vehicle – a benefit for those looking for a more economical way to travel around Australia.
HITS AND MISSES
- Lighter weight van with everything you need for travel
- Good-sized tunnel boots
- Relatively good internal storage
- 12V/5V USB charger outlets
- Light and bright interior
- Small kitchen
- Small dinette table
- Single powerpoints
- Location of mains circuit breaker and 12V fuses
AVIDA EMERALD SPECS
Weights and measures
- Overall length 7.2m (23ft 7in)
- External body length 5.47m (17ft 11in)
- External body width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
- Travel height 2.97m (9ft 9in)
- Internal height 2.02m (6ft 7in)
- Tare 1734kg
- ATM 2200kg
- Ball weight 142kg
- Frame n/a
- Cladding Fibreglass composite panel
- Chassis Hot-dipped galvanised
- Suspension Single-axle leaf spring
- Brakes 12in electric
- Wheels 15in alloy
- Water 2x120L
- Battery 1x100Ah
- Solar Optional
- Air-conditioner Aircommand Ibis
- Gas 2x9kg
- Sway Control No
- Cooking Thetford Minigrill with four burners
- Fridge Dometic RM8555 190L
- Microwave Camec
- Toilet Thetford cassette
- Shower Separate cubicle
- Lighting 12V LED
- Hot water Truma 14L gas/electric
Price as shown
- $55,490 (on-road, NSW)
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The full test appears in Caravan World #551 July 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!