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Dec/Jan's iMotorhome Magazine is Out

Don't miss the last issue of iMotorhome Magazine for 2020! It's almost Christmas and that means a combined December/January issue. We farewell 2020 with a test of the wild new Conqueror 4x4 from Suncamper, plus spend a lot of time driving an Iveco Daily 70C around Sydney and report our impressions. Project Polly gets not one but two tyre pressure monitoring systems; we look at LPG and CO-gas leak detectors, and explain what CB radio aerial-gain is all about and why it matters. Also, we reveal the incredible virtual worlds you can explore on a smart indoor bike trainer while working off those Covid kilos. All that and much more is waiting for you now, so follow the links to download your copy or read it online! Download it, read it online or grab your copy via the free iMotorhome Magazine App, just be sure you don't miss the December/January issue of iMotorhome Magazine! #SuncamperMotorhomes #SuncamperSherwood #SuncamperConqueror #IvecoDaily #CBAerials #GasDetectors #ProjectPolly #TMPS #ARB #GripSport #DIY #RVFriendlyTowns

November's iMotorhome Magazine is Out!

Grab November's iMotorhome Magazine now! This month we feature Wirraway’s range of bespoke coachbuilt motorhomes, look at the enigmatic Knaus brand from Germany and bring you a tiny electric Nissan camper from the UK. Project Polly gets a rugged, Australian-built bike rack and we check out a new Panasonic portable oven, while Warren shows us his clever DIY bed makeover. A different Richard takes us e-bike rail-trail touring, there are RV Friendly Towns and, of course, reader letters and news. Follow the links to download your copy or read it online, now! Download it, read it online or grab your copy via the free iMotorhome Magazine App, just be sure you don't miss the October issue of iMotorhome Magazine! #WirrawayMotorHomes #Wirraway #Knaus #SussexCampervans #NissaneNV200 #ProjectPolly #GripSport #Panasonic #DIY #RVFriendlyTowns

October's iMotorhome Magazine is Out!

The wait is over: Grab your copy of iMotorhome Magazine now! This month we review Latitude Motorhomes' luxurious and popular Element 27. We also take a close look at Westfalia's innovative Captain Cook Classic Sprinter van. Mrs iMotorhome makes cheese while we adventure in Project Polly; we look into lithium batteries and consider if they're worth it, and also compare diesel and LPG heaters. Plus, our DIY guru Colin says goodbye and signs off with one last job on his Horizon Waratah. Follow the links to download your copy or read it online, now! Download it, read it online or grab your copy via the free iMotorhome Magazine App, just be sure you don't miss the October issue of iMotorhome Magazine! #LatitudeMotorhomes #Element27 #Westfalia #CaptainCookClassic #ProjectPolly #LithiumBatteries #DieselHeaters #LPGHeaters #DIY #RVFriendlyTowns

Project Polly DIY - New Hot Water System

Time for a new hot water system! However, we couldn't buy a replacement American-made, 23-litre LPG-only Suburban unit due to them being withdrawn from sale over potential carbon monoxide leaks. Fortunately, the team at Suncamper Motorhomes was able to install an Australian designed and made, 20-litre Swift LPG/electric unit, with minimal modifications. Incidentally, Suncamper Motorhomes (in Sydney's north) does general campervan and motorhome repairs and modifications at reasonable rates. Call them on 1300 416-854 if your RV is in need of some TLC and tell 'em iMotorhome Magazine sent you. Safe travels! #SuncamperMotorhomes #ProjectPolly #SuburbanHWS #SwiftHWS

September's iMotorhome Magazine is Out!

Spring has sprung and so has the September issue of iMotorhome Magazine... This month we take a close look at the impressive Sunliner Navian N601 Limited Edition, plus the latest and much-anticipated version of Volkswagen's iconic Transporter, the T6.1. We also ponder the exotic 4X4 camper conversions of Germany’s GheoCab, replace Project Polly’s cantankerous hot water system, show how to install a town water connection and much more. Follow the links to download your copy or read it online, now! Download it, read it online or grab your copy via the free iMotorhome Magazine App, just be sure you don't miss the August issue of iMotorhome Magazine! #Sunliner #VWTransporter #GheoCab #ProjectPolly #DIY

VW T6.1 & California Beach Released

Much anticipated, the latest VW Transporter facelift is well positioned to continue its success… by Allan Whiting of OutbackTravelAustralia.com.au With the release of the pop-top-roof ‘Beach’ variant and the availability of after-market campervan furniture for the Transporter, there’s renewed interest in the Crafter’s smaller sibling. Reportedly, VW’s Transporter 6.1 range becomes available to order from September 2020. Standard equipment across what is virtually the 2021 range includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Front Assist with City Emergency Brake (CEB), Crosswind Assist, Side Assist including blind spot monitoring and Rear Traffic Alert, Multi-Collision Brake and, in some models, an intuitive digital cockpit. The following summary covers those variants that have 4Motion 4WD fitted. The Transporter T6.1 van range consists of short and long-wheelbase models that have a choice of 110 kW or 146 kW diesel power, with a 7-speed automated manual (DSG) transmission. Standard equipment comprises: H7 twin halogen headlights; daytime running lights (DRL); sliding door, left side; lifting rear tailgate with window and wiper/washer; 16-inch or 17-inch steel wheels; full-sized steel spare wheel; height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support; leather-wrapped steering wheel with height and reach adjustment; rubber flooring in the cab; electromechanical power steering; 165 mm (6.5-inch) display with USB/AUX/SD input and Bluetooth; a pair of USB-C ports and App-Connect; cruise control with speed limiter; remote central locking; electric windows and heated, folding mirrors; air conditioning; auto headlights; rain-sensing wipers; load compartment locking from cabin and key fob; Hill-Start Assist (HSA); Multi-Collision Brake (MCB); Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP); Traction Control System (TCS); Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Brake Assist (BA); driver and passenger front and side/head airbags; reverse parking sensors and rear view camera. Factory Camper or DIY The factory-built campervan – the California Beach – comes with the 110 kW engine, DSG transmission, electro-hydraulic lifting roof, two powered sliding doors, rear three-place seat, second battery, cabin heater, SatNav, two-tone ‘retro’ paint option, 18-inch aluminium wheels and swivelling front seats. RRP is $94,990, which sounds a lot until you do the DIY exercise and discover that having all this kit, with a VW warranty, is not bad value for money. For those who want to custom-fit a Transporter into a campervan there’s plenty of kit available. Best known is the Van Essa furniture from Germany that can be installed permanently or fitted to an optional floor-rail system that allows rapid conversion from ‘tradies van’ to campervan. For more information on the new T6.1 visit the Volkswagen Australia website HERE.

House of Windsor

Is the Windsor Daintree a house-on-wheels fit for bargain conscious royalty? This review is from the June 2020 issue of iMotorhome Magazine Windsor Caravans is a name many will be familiar with. The company, which was part of the troubled Fleetwood Corporation in Perth and also makers of Coromal Caravans, sold both brands to Brisbane’s Apollo RV for $1M in 2019. Apollo is primarily a motorhome and campervan manufacturer at February’s 2020 Victorian Caravan Camping and Touring Supershow I came across a curios sight: a Windsor Daintree motorhome sitting alone is a sea of Windsor caravans. Clearly, investigation was required… Talking to the Man from Windsor, it transpired that Apollo has spied a market niche not filled by its near-invisible locally-made Winnebagos nor its under-rated and under-marketed Adria range, imported from Slovenia. Enter the first motorhome in the Windsor brand’s history. Cheap and Cheery? Let’s cut to the chase: The Daintree is a shot across the bow of Jayco’s Conquest; a torpedo at Sunliner’s Pinto and a broadside – well, you get the picture. So the question is, is it okay? Firstly, let's define what the Daintree is: an entry-level 6.58 m (21’7”) 2-berth B-class motorhome. Featuring an electric roof bed, generous lounge/dinette, decent kitchen and a full-width rear bathroom, it packs a lot into its compact dimensions. And priced at the Melbourne show at $103,990 drive away – it now lists for $105,990 on the Windsor website – it also appears to be a compelling value proposition. So what’s the catch? When you look at the brands of chassis that motorhome manufacturers in Australia build on, you usually see Fiat, Iveco and Mercedes-Benz. In the past you also saw Ford, but the Transit fell from favour and despite the current Transit being very good manufacturers haven’t embraced it, which is a great disappointment. Then occasionally you come across Renault – the Master to be specific – and it's always at the budget end of the market. Despite being reasonably popular in Europe, the Renault Master has never made real inroads in Australia, and that's despite it having a smoother and more driver-friendly automated manual transmission (AMT) than the Fiat Ducato. That the Daintree rides on a Renault Master is no surprise – and no bad thing. Masters sold in Australia to date have been the run-out model now superseded in Europe and are definitely last-generation in terms of interior style and design. However, the engine is strong, the transmission proven and there are a surprising number of Master delivery vehicles running around suburban Australia that prove the model’s durability. Its biggest limitation is a limited dealer and service network, but if you’re buying new you’re covered by a three year warranty and if something goes wrong, getting you to a service centre is their problem. While the Master’s interior is grey and plasticky, the ergonomics are okay and the driving experience entirely reasonable. Power comes from a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel that produces an unremarkable 110 kW and 350 Nm, but it feels stronger than that. As mentioned it drives through an AMT, which has six speeds and sends power to the front wheels. Fuel capacity is a generous 100-litres and with a tare weight of 3085 kg and a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of just 3800 kg, it not only provides a decent payload but should have a 1000-km or thereabouts driving range at touring speeds. Standard equipment includes remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, cab air-conditioning, dual front airbags, cruise control, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, reversing camera, sound system, internally adjustable headlights and decent storage. When Renault finally exhausts its stocks of right-hand drive Master cab-chassis and the much improved new version lands here, it will be interesting to see if it retains its price advantage and entry-level status in the motorhome world. Body Matters I have to say I think Apollo has done a good job packaging the Daintree. Whilst thoroughly conventional, it's a good-looking little motorhome and the perfect size for a solo traveller or well organised couple. It's also worth remembering Apollo cut its teeth building campervans and motorhomes for the rental market, which means they know how to build things to last (our Project Polly is an example). Body construction is of single-piece structural composite-panel walls, roof and floor, with gel coated interior and exterior panelling. Euro-style double glazed acrylic windows are used all ‘round and the designers have managed to incorporate a couple of external storage lockers for things like chairs, table, hoses, etc. Standard equipment is impressive and includes a 3.2 kW reverse-cycle rooftop air-conditioner, 20-litre gas/electric hot water system, 188-litre three-way 2-door fridge-freezer, 25-litre microwave, cooker with 3 gas/1 electric burners, range hood,150-watt solar panel, 100 amp-hour deep-cycle house battery, LED lighting, Bluetooth sound system, 4-metre wind-out awning, barbecue gas bayonet fitting, security screen door, 110-litres of fresh water and 55-litres of grey, an external hot and cold shower, town water connection, 60-cm (24”) LED TV/DVD and more. There are manufacturers of much more expensive vehicles who could learn a thing or two from this equipment list about how to provide buyer value – at any price point… Inside Story Stepping inside through the mid-positioned entry door reveals a pleasing story: You turn left to walk past the pair of inwards-facing lounges and dinette table, and into the cab with its swivelling seats, or right, to pass through the kitchen and into the full-width rear bathroom. There’s storage above the cab, while the electric drop-down bed runs east-west, above the lounges, and headroom when retracted is quite reasonable. Decor is plain but simple, with a combination of cream/white walls and cabinetry plus dark grey upholstery and drawer fronts. The floor has a light woodgrain finish and overall the Daintree looks and feels modern. There’s also a surprising amount of space in the lounge/dinette, which I think could probably accommodate six people plus another couple in the swivelled cab seats. The kitchen is a real surprise, with excellent bench space that includes a hinged lid over the cooker that's actually a part of the benchtop. The main kitchen unit starts opposite the entry door and runs along the driver’s-side wall to the bathroom. The two-door fridge-freezer sits across the aisle in a tall cabinet, with storage above, in the corner against the bathroom wall. Between it and the entry door is another tall unit, with a hanging wardrobe up-top and three drawers below. The TV is nestled high up on the wardrobe end panel and easily viewable from the lounge seats, cab or when in bed. The bathroom is another surprise in such a small vehicle. Being full width it has room for a separate shower plus plenty of bench and storage space, a big mirror and an easily accessible cassette toilet. There’s also room and privacy enough to do what you need to do… Drop-down beds are always a compromise, lacking as they do the niceties of privacy, bedside tables, drawers and reading lights. However, as they go the Daintree’s is pretty reasonable and lowers considerably for easy access. It’s key operated via a switch by the entry door and can be left made-up when raised if desired (and you don’t have a million pillows – I know, it’s a girl thing). There’s good ventilation thanks to windows at both ends, but you’d need to be careful sitting up for a cuppa or when reading that you don’t lean on the one behind you. Like I said, it’s a compromise… What I Think If you get the impression I was impressed by the Windsor Daintree, you're right. In a 6.5 m motorhome it provides almost Tardis-like living space, a high level of equipment and a truly practical floor plan at a price that is near unbeatable. It also looks good inside and out, so really, what isn't there to like? I can hear some howling at the fact it's on a relatively unknown cab-chassis that you wouldn't touch with a barge pole, but this is the 21st century and there is no such thing as a bad motorhome base vehicle. The Renault Master is backed by a 3-year/200,000 km warranty and comes with 3 years roadside assistance. Windsor/Apollo backs the Daintree with a five-year structural warranty and three-year interior warranty, and has sixteen hundred-plus service centres Australia-wide. Anyone looking at a new compact motorhome should check out the Daintree – especially those looking at a van conversion motorhome. It appears to be well built, comes from one of the most experienced manufacturers in the country and I think provides almost outrageous value. Indeed in these economically challenging post-Covid days it could be just the thing for value conscious royalty – or you… Pros…. Outstanding value Excellent standard equipment Spacious living area Big bathroom Generous kitchen Compact dimensions Warranty Cons… Renault dealer network That's about it! Manufacturer Apollo RV T: 1800 777-779 E: info@apollocamper.com W: windsorcaravans.com.au #WinsdorMotorhomes #Windsor #WindsorDaintree #RenaultMaster #ApolloRV

Project Polly DIY – The 5 Minute Job!

Time to replace a fried USB charging outlet in Project Polly. What could possibly go wrong? Yet again our project motorhome Polly serves up a surprise when it comes time to do some quick and easy DIY. Of course...

Bargain Basement?

Is Jayco’s entry-level Conquest R.19-1 the bargain it appears on paper? This review is from the August 2020 issue of iMotorhome Magazine It’s little wonder first time RVers get confused, given the industry itself can’t even decide what to call different styles of vehicles. Take the Jayco Conquest RM.19-1 for example, it’s what I call a van-conversion motorhome (motorhome because it has a bathroom), but Jayco calls it a campervan. Semantics aside, this style of vehicle is becoming increasingly popular as people find van conversions provide an excellent balance of size, features, economy and price. Incidentally, in the Conquest name, RM stands for Renault Master and 19 means length in feet. Well, approximately. Actually, the little Conquest is 6.2-metres (20’ 4”) long, 2.78-metres (9’ 2”) tall and 2.15-metres (7’) wide – not counting mirrors. Speaking of price, Jayco set the cat amongst the RV pigeons last year with the RM.19-1 by pricing it at just $81,900 drive-away. The combination of Jayco’s enormous buying power and massive production facility means it can build motorhomes with economies of scale others can only envy, but price alone isn’t everything. Is it actually any good? iMotorhome Magazine reader Mark sent this message through our Facebook page, “Hi all, I'm so glad I've come across your FB page and reviews. I really appreciate your down to earth and practical reviews. Is it possible to review the "cheap" Jayco RM.19-1 Campervan? So many of the vehicles reviewed are out of my price range and I'd love to know your thoughts.” Well Mark, you piqued my interest and so here goes, even though getting hold of a vehicle in Covid times is difficult and the best we can do for now is bring you a ‘taste’ of it… Back to Basics The most obvious cost-saving feature of the Conquest RM.19-1 is the Renault Master; now a superseded model at that. There’s nothing wrong with the Master, it’s well proven as a delivery van in Australia, it’s just that Renault has never been able to crack the local RV market and must be offering them at bargain prices. On paper the Master stacks up pretty well: Power is 110 kW and 350 Nm from a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel that drives the front wheels through one of the best 6-speed automated manuals available. Anti-lock brakes, traction and stability controls, all-wheel disc brakes and dual front airbags are all standard, as are remote central locking, power steering, electric windows and mirrors, cab airconditioning, a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and Bluetooth. It also comes with a generous 100-litre fuel tank, so a 1000 km range should be quite realistic, and a 2500-kg braked towing capacity. Tare weight is 2750 kg (approx) and gross vehicle mass (GVM) is 3510 kg, leaving an on-paper payload of around 760 kg. Not bad at all… The Master’s cab is bland with acres of grey plastic and a spartan feel, but has no impact on drivability or practicality, only the aesthetic. Where Jayco has saved money and where it does impact liveability/practicality is in retaining the Master’s standard three-seat cab. While it provides the ability to carry a third person, it’s at the expense of walk-through cab access and would be especially inconvenient in bad weather and/or if a solo traveller wanted to depart a campsite without exiting the vehicle. Another saving has been made by omitting a reversing camera – an unfathomable oversight. Having driven several Renault Masters over a couple of model iterations it remains an underrated favourite. The only real issue I can see is the sparse dealer network if genuine Renault service is desired or required. As a new vehicle it comes with a 3 year/200,000 km warranty and roadside assistance, while the motorhome conversion is backed by Jayco’s 2 year manufacturer’s and 5 year structural warranties, plus a national dealer network. That takes care of the Renault side of things, but what about the rest of the vehicle? Well Stacked Despite its bargain basement price tag the Conquest RM.19-1 actually stacks up well in the standard equipment department. Roof-mounted air conditioning, 100 amp-hour house battery, 120-watts of solar, a 12/240-volt compressor fridge, Furrion AM/FM/CD/DVD entertainment system and 24-inch LED TV/DVD, Winegard aerial, LED strip lighting, microwave, external 240-volt power point, entry step (manual), 3.7-metre Fiamma wind-out awning and an LED exterior light are all included. By comparison, there are more expensive motorhomes I can think of that don't include air conditioning, solar or a separate entertainment system in their standard equipment list. The RM.19-1 also comes with proper, opening motorhome windows on the sides rather than fixed automotive glass, although the latter is used in the rear doors. Where the Conquest RM.19-1 does show cost-cutting is in things like a foam mattress, refrigerator – 60-litres compared to 85-litres, which is the norm in this size vehicle – and fresh and grey water capacities, which are 60-litres and 45-litres, respectively. So while on the electrical front you should be able to freedom camp for days at a time, you're going to need to be very frugal with water usage to make it happen. I guess in reality a night or two between caravan park stays is the likely usage pattern for this vehicle. Finally, I can't find any reference to insulation, but would like to think there must be some in there somewhere…. Glitz and Glamour? While you would hardly call the RM.19-1 glitzy or glamorous, Jayco’s designers have done a decent job on the interior for the price. The layout is almost identical to Project Polly’s, with the exception of through-cab access. The bathroom is immediately behind the driver's seat, with the fridge and microwave in a unit behind it. The kitchen is immediately to the right of the sliding side-door, while down the back are a pair of single beds that double as the dinette, and thanks to a removable table can also be made into a large double bed. It's all basic van-conversion stuff and there are no surprises, including the extensive use of grey marine carpet for wall trim, plenty of bare metal around the doors and the ubiquitous light woodgrain cabinetry used throughout. While the three opening motorhome windows include integrated privacy and insect screens, the fixed glass windows at the rear make do with the most basic of curtains. There are no blinds on the windows in the cab, rather, just a curtain between the cab and living area – again, just like Project Polly. Living Room At first glance the little Conquest’s interior is a pleasant surprise. However, the closer you look at it the more you realise the compromises that have been made to not only keep the sticker price low, but to accommodate everything in this relatively short van. For example, there is no wardrobe or hanging space, although there is a decent amount of cupboard space above the beds and storage beneath them. The kitchen unit is tiny, with just enough space for the round stainless steel sink and two-burner cooker; the former with a clunky round cover made of benchtop material and the latter with the usual flush glass lid. It’s good to see a small flip-up bench extension, but there’s just a single drawer for cutlery and three cupboards to accommodate all your kitchen needs. That’s apart from a cupboard under the high-mounted fridge, opposite. The dining table mount is another indicator of price, it being of the cheaper chrome tube type rather than the more substantial Lagun system. Finally, I can't see any 12-volt or USB charging outlets and the 24” TV appears somewhat oversize and could get in the way, given its location at the end of the fridge cabinet. The bathroom is an all-in-one wet design and although basic, it’s not as basic as Project Polly’s. That’s because it at least gets a small corner hand basin with its own mixer tap, separate to the height-adjustable, chrome flex-hose shower. There is also a fan hatch in the ceiling – another win over Polly! Come bedtime you have the choice of a pair of singles or you can fill in the aisle with boards, move the back cushions across and make it up into quite a decent double, which is actually closer to king-size. Opening windows on either side would provide airflow, which is good because there is no roof hatch (only the air conditioning unit). What I Think In the RV world, like every other, you basically get what you pay for. If we were all super rich we’d be driving bespoke motorhomes crafted by artisans from the finest materials. However, when every dollar counts you have to spend them as wisely as possible. The Jayco Conquest RM.19-1 presents the budget conscious or financially constrained with a genuine alternative to buying used. For the money it has an extensive standard equipment list and delivers the security of buying new, knowing it’s backed by solid warranties. Sure it's built to a price and that's reflected in various aspects of the design and finish. Nevertheless, aside from the glaring omission of a reversing camera and the considerable inconvenience of no walk-through cab access, it’s likely to fulfil its intended role well. It will be interesting to see if the RM.19-1 soldiers on once stocks of superseded Renault Masters are exhausted. I suspect Jayco will keep a budget priced entry-level motorhome in its range (even if they call it a campervan!) to entice buyers into showrooms and, hopefully, bring them into the family. In the mean time, the littlest Conquest is worth investigating if you can live with its compromises, and isn’t that what most bargains are about? Pros… Price Equipment Range Self-contained Warranties Cons… Cab access No reversing camera Water capacities Limited storage Superseded Renault Contact Jayco E: info@jayco.com.au W: jayco.com.au Find a Dealer HERE #Jayco #JaycoConquest #RenaultMaster #Campervan #Motorhome

A Long Reach?

Unchanged for years, does Avida’s flagship Longreach still deliver the goods? This review is from the August 2020 issue of iMotorhome Magazine Imagine having bought a new car six or seven years ago and deciding it's now time to upgrade. In that period, safety equipment has dramatically improved, ditto engines, gearboxes and fuel economy. Meanwhile, occupants now experience unprecedented levels of safety, comfort and convenience. So imagine going back to the dealer to find they're still selling your old model, brand-new, and really all that’s changed is the price? That's basically the situation the owner of an older Longreach would have walking into an Avida dealer. And yet, new Longreaches continue to be sold and the model is still viewed by many as aspirational. What's its secret? Is it really so good it doesn't need improving, or is its continuing popularity one of the ultimate marketing jobs (and dare I say, something of a long reach)? Or could it be something in between? Read on… More is More If you want to go on the road full-time and value living as well as personal space, there's no substitute for real estate. Whilst less is often more, sometimes it's not and you just want lots of it, plus the ability to carry plenty of stuff – and maybe even tow. This is where the Longreach excels: At 9.5 m (31’) long and with an 8.7 tonne gross vehicle mass (GVM), it’s a big piece of mobile real estate. It also looks somewhat like an A-class motorhome but actually is a C-class, courtesy of having a separate cab-chassis and over-cab bed. This is an exclusive and rarefied end of the RV market because of the price (just over A$300,000), size and the need for a medium rigid (MR) driver’s licence. Motorhomes in this category sell in small numbers, but the Longreach doesn't have things all to itself. Its closest competitor is Sunliner’s Monte Carlo, while sitting above both is the Tiffin Allegro Breeze – a luxury A-class motorhome that’s in a price, style and refinement class all of its own. The Monte Carlo and Longreach are interesting to compare because their manufacturers have gone down different design routes on what, underneath, are identical chassis. While the Monte Carlo is billed as a luxury motorhome, the Longreach – still very comfortable and well appointed – is less ‘glamorous’, but feels more practical; it’s the one you're most likely to be comfortable getting dirty. Because both share the same Isuzu truck cab-chassis it means no matter how you dress them up there's no escaping their utilitarian underpinnings; something only too apparent in the driving/cab experiences and which, to a large degree, defines their characters. Evolutionary… Avida is a conservative manufacturer given more to evolution than revolution. There’s nothing wrong with that and its products are proven, popular and backed by a national dealer and service network. The Longreach’s biggest attraction – it’s size – is also it’s biggest limitation. That’s because its Isuzu NQR 450 Long cab-chassis is built for heavy-duty truck applications and was never intended for motorhome use. Isuzu is the top selling truck brand in Australia and has built a legendary reputation for Japanese reliability. It also has an impressive national dealer and service network. However, Isuzu isn’t a great innovator and it’s products seem to take years to evolve. Fortunately, this model is offered with a Premium Pack that adds some comfort and convenience items and it is what the Longreach includes. The Premium Pack adds an instrument panel multi-information display (service interval/ fuel consumption/etc), cruise control, climate control airconditioning, chrome grille, fog lights, driver’s foot rest and – most importantly – a six-speed automated manual transmission (AMT). It also comes with a driver’s suspension seat, however that's not available in the Longreach due to it being what Isuzu calls an ‘engine access hatch model’ (required for servicing as the cab can't be tilted). Although long-serving, the NQR 450 has received some modernising touches over the years and these include a Euro-5 emissions-compliant engine (no AdBlue required, although it has a diesel particulate filter), dual front air bags with seatbelt pretensioners, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, heated electric mirrors and cornering lamps, plus remote central locking. It also features a 6.2 inch LCD touchscreen infotainment system that includes DAB+ digital radio and Bluetooth with voice recognition, while the unit doubles as the display for the reversing camera. The engine remains Isuzu’s big (by motorhome standards) 5.2-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel that puts out a relatively leisurely 139 kW @ 2600 rpm and 510 Nm @ 1600-2600 rpm. These are hardly groundbreaking figures but they do bode well for longevity. In fact the engine has a B10 rating, meaning there is a 90% chance it will make 500,000 km without issues. Also the same for a very long time is the six-speed AMT, which can be driven either as an automatic or in manual mode. One feature common to Japanese trucks and which, unfortunately, European manufacturers don’t embrace is the exhaust brake. It works well for holding speed down-hill and for washing it off when slowing for a corner or approaching a slower vehicle. It also helps extend brake life. Speaking of brakes, they are front discs/rear drums, while Avida adds helper airbags to the front suspension to ‘civilise’ the ride somewhat. Given this is a big and heavy vehicle, expect average fuel consumption to be in the 15-25 L/100 km (19-11 mpg) depending on cruising speed, load and terrain. That means the 140-litre fuel tank should be good for 500-900 km. Back to the Future In researching this story I dusted off the iMotorhome Magazine archive and revisited the Longreach test in Issue 33 from September 2013. What struck me was that almost seven years on to the day, virtually nothing has changed and that's what got me started on the theme of this story. Because so little has changed it’s well worth reading Malcolm’s Street’s review and you can download the issue here. Talk about back to the future. What I want to talk about for the remainder of this article is how the Longreach has fared over the years and see if it still stacks up as a desirable and worthwhile motorhome. Lest you think I'm being uncharitable, I have to declare a personal interest in the Longreach: The world has turned upside down due to Covid-19 and Mrs iMotorhome appears to be on track for early retirement. That, in turn, has fast-forwarded a range of options previously on the back-burner. One is selling-up and going on the road for a couple of years in a vehicle big enough to double as a house, until we reinvest in bricks and mortar. There are few motorhomes capable of filling that role for us (and being vaguely affordable) and I remembered back to 2013 when I drove the Longreach because Malcolm ‘only’ had an LR licence. By the end of the day it struck me that I ‘got’ what it was all about and could see the attraction. That thought has lingered ever since, hence this revisit. Wonder Years The Longreach is a development of the earlier Alpine, back in the days when both were called Winnebagos. It's little wonder that over the years things have moved-on across the industry and this is evident in some aspects of the Longreach’s standard features. The equipment list that used to seem generous now appears a little wanting, especially considering the size and intent of the vehicle; things like just 160-watts of solar panels and 3 x 100 amp-hour house batteries. Yes there is a 3.6 kVa remote start Onan generator to top things up, but like all such units it is campsite and peace-and-quiet unfriendly and also requires a separate fuel supply as it runs on petrol. Then there is the water capacity: 250-litres of fresh and 125-litres of grey. Considering there’s something like 1.7-tonnes of payload available, couldn’t the fresh water capacity at least be doubled (or more) without much effort or expense? That would greatly enhance the Longreach's remote camping ability, which is certainly one of its great attractions. And then there’s the use of a cassette toilet, albeit with a spare cassette. Surely something like a150-litre black water tank would now be acceptable and preferable, given the prevalence of RV dump points across the country? Having said all that, you can certainly live with the Longreach at its current specification level, but it could easily be so much better. As mentioned, the great compromise in the Longreach is the chassis. Ironically, it is also one of its greatest attributes. I have no doubt the average owner will wear out the body long before its Isuzu underpinnings. However, it's still an short-haul truck chassis and that means no walk-through cab; sitting over the front axle and riding up and down over every bump, plus sitting over the engine while it works away. None of these are deal breakers and might even appeal to former truck drivers – or those who wanted to be one. It certainly gives the Longreach a distinctive character and presence, but Isuzu needs to bring its chassis up-to-date with things like adaptive cruise control, a proper automatic transmission and some steering-wheel-mounted controls. Hino has done/is doing this and more, so fingers crossed Isuzu plays catch-up sooner than later. Living Space All talk so far has been on things mechanical and equipment levels, but of course that's only half the story. Inside is where the Longreach shines and so here's a quick review of its features. Worth noting is that Avida provides a range of decor choices, but the overall look and feel is modern and clean without being over the top. I should also note the Longreach has two slide-outs and both are on the driver’s side; one for the lounge and dinette, and the other for the bedroom. Earlier models had the bedroom slide-out on the kerb side, but that interfered with outdoor living space and the current arrangement is best. The floor plan is straightforward even though there is no walk-through cab access. Rather, there is a clamber-through-a-big-hatch access and of course, the seats can't be swivelled and don't form any part of the living area. That’s the biggest downside to living with a Longreach, but it’s something you’d get used to. An upside is if you curtain-off the hatch, the cab air-conditioning should do an excellent job of keeping you cool when travelling on even the hottest day. Also, the over-cab bed, which lifts on gas struts for improved cab access, only needs a short ladder to reach. The motorhome entry door is just after of the cab and because of the vehicle’s size it’s a climb to get inside. There are two electric entry steps plus internal steps to reach floor level, but it's worth the effort because being high up you get extra good viewing from the windows. Upon entry there is an angled corner storage unit to the left, between the door and cab, which houses a pop-up TV. It’s best viewed from the L-shaped lounge, opposite the entry door, which is extendable and which, along with the sizeable cafe-style dinette, sits in the large slide-out. The kitchen is immediately to the right of the entry door and it has a relatively small amount of bench space to go with the cooker/oven and sink. Moving aft, there’s a pantry unit next with a slide for your Nespresso machine (yeah!) and then a two-door fridge-freezer. Across the aisle is the forward-facing dinette seat and this marks the division between the Longreach’s open-plan living area and its private bathroom and bedroom. The bathroom is split, with a large, rearward angled shower on the kerb-side and a toilet/vanity cubicle across the aisle. The latter’s door can close off the bathroom and bedroom for privacy, while the queen bed is mounted east-west, with its head in its own slide-out. There's plenty of cupboard and drawer space throughout the Longreach, as you’d expect, including under the main bed, which lifts on gas struts. Outside, there’s a ton of bin space – access to which is made easier by side-hinged doors. There’s also an outdoor entertainment system and even a bar fridge and washing machine. The Longreach comes standard with a 3000-watt inverter and it has airconditioning ducted throughout the ceiling, plus webasto diesel-fired heating with multiple ducted outlets at floor level. All-in-all it’s well set up for long term living and long distance travel. Well, mostly. While the Longreach has a huge awning it’s not electric, which is especially bewildering considering the purchase price. What I Think Revisiting the Avida Longreach has been an interesting exercise. On one hand it's still largely king of the road yet on the other it's something of a dinosaur; albeit one offering almost unrivalled reliability, living space, utility and load capability for the money. A potential buyer needs to weigh up the points raised, take one for a proper test drive and really consider their wants and needs. They also need to factor in the not inconsiderable costs of registration, insurance, servicing and tyres. The Longreach is basically unique in the Australian RV landscape and certainly worth investigating – and it's no long reach saying there could be one in our future… Pros… Presence Living space Storage Payload Equipment Liveability Reliability Support Towing capacity Cons… Size Weight (road limits) Cab access Manual awning Limited water MR Licence Running costs Manufacturer Avida RV 32 David Road Emu Plains NSW 2750 T: (02) 4734 – 8116 W: avidarv.com.au Find a dealer HERE #Avida #Longreach #Isuzu #IsuzuNQR #Motorhome #RV

August's iMotorhome Magazine is Ready!

Lots happening in the August issue as we settle-in to winter and hit the road in Project Polly. Download or read it online now... This month we revisit the imposing but ageing Avida Longreach C9536SL to see if it's still up to the job after about a decade on sale. At a reader's request we also check out the bargain priced Jayco Conquest RM.19-1 to see if it really is as good a deal as it seems. We hit the road in Project Polly on a rewarding but eventful loop through the NSW High Country; detail an affordable DIY side-door conversion kit for the latest Toyota HiAce and other vans, and look at ways to conquer life in the cold world of winter travel. Colin Oberin shows how he created hanging space in his Horizon Waratah, plus there are letters, news, RV Friendly Towns and more. Download it, read it online or grab your copy via the free iMotorhome Magazine App, just be sure you don't miss the August issue of iMotorhome Magazine! #AvidaRV #Longreach #Jayco #JaycoConquest #ProjectPolly #DIY #HorizonMotorhomes #ToyotaHiAce #iMotorhome #Motorhomes #Campervans

Winter Warming!

by Warren McCullough The recent easing of virus-related travel restrictions in many parts of the country has seen increasing numbers of motorhomes back on the road – right in the middle of winter! Those who are able to travel to the northern areas of the continent may be able to avoid the cold weather further south, but the rest of us are likely to be dealing with single digit and below-zero temperatures as we settle in each night. While winter travelling in Australia may not require the insulated water tanks and anti-freezing infrastructure installed in the motorhomes of our northern hemisphere cousins, reliable air heating is still essential, especially when venturing inland or to alpine areas. Three heating options are available in our van: Roof-mounted air-conditioner Portable ceramic fan heater Ducted diesel-fuelled heater. The roof-mounted air conditioner and the ceramic fan heater both require 240-volts to operate, so are only suitable for use when staying in caravan parks or campgrounds with access to a mains power supply. The diesel heater is fuelled from our van’s main fuel tank and can be used anywhere. A fourth component is also critical to cold weather motorhome comfort: a quality doona, blankets, and warm clothes! Roof-mounted Air-Conditioner A heating function is built into our Dometic roof-mounted air conditioner, but the unit requires 240-volts to operate. This is not a ‘reverse-cycle’ air conditioning unit: The heating facility is similar to a regular fan heater – a metal coil element with air blowing over it. This is actually a better heating option than a reverse-cycle heat exchange, which doesn’t function well at very low outside temperatures, which is when you are likely to be using the heater! I rate the roof-mounted unit as our least preferred heating option. Although silent outside, the fan is relatively loud inside and the thermostat on the fan is either fully on or off (not tapered). Also, it draws air from the ceiling, which is where the warm air already resides. Portable Ceramic Fan Heater When mains power is available this is our preferred heating option. The ceramic fan heater is small, sits on the floor at the front of the van (drawing in cooler air from the floor) and is very quiet. These heaters are also relatively inexpensive – around $20 to $40. We prefer the ceramic variety over regular fan heaters with a heated element, from both a safety perspective and for overall efficiency. While most heaters in this category have similar heating specifications, physical dimensions vary considerably. As a portable fan heater is something that will most likely be stored more often than it is used, choose one that best fits your situation, which usually means purchasing the smallest available. Our heater is 200 mm H x 150 mm W x 100 mm D). These heaters usually include an adjustable thermostat control with overheat protection, a tip-over shut-off switch and are readily available at Bunnings and most department stores. Ducted Diesel Heater We have a Dometic Eberspacher diesel-fuelled air heater installed under the rear seats, with a ducted air outlet in the living area. Our van is relatively small, requiring only one ducted outlet. Larger vans are able to utilise multiple ducted outlets to disperse the heated air over a wider area. The heating unit draws fuel from our vehicle’s diesel fuel tank, theoretically using up to one and a half litres if left running overnight, although we have never needed to keep it running all night. The diesel heater also uses a couple of amps of battery power to start the heater up, and to keep the fan running. The unit is quiet inside the van, but can be heard outside when it is starting up. Once the air in the van is up to temperature and the thermostat kicks in, the heater tapers off and the sound output is negligible. If your van is not diesel fuelled or you have a slide-on camper without easy access to the vehicle’s diesel tank, and you already have LPG installed, then an equivalent LPG-fuelled ducted air heater serves a similar purpose. Warm Bedding and Clothes Once the van is up to temperature, good quality bedding keeps us warm for the night as we turn the heater off when we go to bed. Our experience has been that during cold winter nights the internal van environment stays about 5° to 10°C warmer than the outside temperature, although we haven’t experienced any really bitterly cold ‘blizzard’ type conditions on our trips away. On our most recent inland journey we ran the diesel heater for an hour or so before bedding down for the night, then turned the heater off. First thing in the morning the outside temperature was -2ºC, while the inside air temperature was +8°C, but we were cozy and warm under the bed covers. Running the heater for 15 mins in the morning brought the inside air temperature up to a more respectable +17°C. The Bottom Line When camped without mains power, the diesel heater is our go-to air heating option: it warms the air in the van within a few minutes, and is very economical. In campgrounds with mains power available the portable ceramic fan heater warms the van very quickly, is quieter (outside) than the diesel heater and is not consuming diesel fuel. With these two heating options we have no need to use the heating function of our roof-mounted air-conditioner, but I am sure its cooling facility will prove invaluable as we head into a long hot summer!

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