Red em­peror

With its flashy in­te­rior and long op­tions list, the 2013 Bil­l­abong Grove 186 Moda is a ter­rific catch.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - 2013 Billabong Grove 186 Moda -

Vic­to­rian-based Bil­l­abong Car­a­vans isn’t the largest car­a­van man­u­fac­turer by any means but it does pro­duce a healthy range of car­a­van sizes and lay­outs, with a large num­ber of rear-bath­room mod­els. This par­tic­u­lar Bil­l­abong Grove 186 Moda was a fi­nal­ist in Car­a­van World’s Best Aussie Vans quest back in 2013.

The name is de­rived from the van’s internal length but the 2013 Grove is a tan­dem-axle van with an ex­ter­nal body length of 6.1m (20ft). That’s a good length for tow­ing and for giv­ing the de­signer room to work with, but the chal­lenge is get­ting the space pro­por­tions right.

The Bil­l­abong is con­structed quite con­ven­tion­ally and is built on a 100x50mm-railed box sec­tion Su­pa­gal chas­sis. A 50mm riser sits above the leaf-spring sus­pen­sion mounts while the 150x50mm draw­bar runs back to the sus­pen­sion mounts. Both 95L wa­ter tanks are fit­ted for­ward of the axles. Up front are the usual items: ball cou­pling, hand­brake, dual gas cylin­ders and jockey wheel, plus an op­tional mesh rack.

Above the chas­sis, there are no un­wel­come sur­prises. The frame is mer­anti, the cladding is alu­minium. There’s also a se­cu­rity screen door, Seitz win­dows, LED strip lights and a Dometic awning.

The win­dows and the lower waist of black check­er­plate were op­tional items. I did feel, how­ever, that the roof/wall sealant along the ex­ter­nal J-moulds was a lit­tle more ob­vi­ous than it could have been.

The front boot has plenty of stor­age space, de­spite also hous­ing the 110Ah bat­tery and elec­tri­cal con­trol panel. In ad­di­tion to that is a front tun­nel boot, al­though it’s only ac­ces­si­ble from the near­side as the off­side houses the Sub­ur­ban hot wa­ter heater.

Given its ATM of 2570kg and Tare of 2170kg, the van can be towed by a wide range of tow ve­hi­cles and its

un­laden ball weight of 120kg means some Euro­pean tow ve­hi­cles with low max­i­mum ball weights will pull it as well. On the road, the Bil­l­abong 186 was quite well be­haved.

LADY IN RED

A peek through the in­te­rior cup­boards and over­head lock­ers re­vealed ev­ery­thing fit­ting to­gether well. All the cab­i­netry doors have strong pi­ano hinges but while the over­head lock­ers were nice and deep I thought some of them could have done with a shelf.

The red, char­coal and white in­te­rior colours of our re­view Grove 186 Moda cer­tainly catch the eye. The red comes from the leather up­hol­stery and acrylic splash­backs in the kitchen and bath­room. The char­coal colour adorns the cup­board doors and the drawer fronts. While it might sound a bit stark, it re­ally isn’t.

The Grove 186 Moda has a full-width rear bath­room, along with a near­side dinette, off­side kitchen and front bed­room. All down­lights and read­ing fit­tings are LED.

At first glance, the bed looks like it of­fers good walk-around space, es­pe­cially on the dinette side. But it’s slightly de­cep­tive be­cause that’s in its un-ex­tended form at 1.73m (5ft 9in), which might be a bit short for most peo­ple. Once ex­tended, it tops out at 1.9m (6ft 3in), which is a much bet­ter length but it cuts down on the walk-around space.

A stan­dard ar­range­ment of side wardrobes, bed­side cab­i­nets, over­head lock­ers and a de­cent-sized shelf un­der the front win­dow are fit­ted around the bed. Small di­ag­o­nal cup­boards are fit­ted into each cor­ner at the foot of the bed and, just in case all of that’s not enough, you can lift the pos­ture-slat bed base to re­veal a large un­der-bed stor­age space.

The two leather-up­hol­stered seats of the dinette look very invit­ing to re­lax into, es­pe­cially with the fixed wall cush­ions and tri-fold ta­ble that can be hinged back out of the way when not needed.

Over­head lock­ers and un­der-seat floor lock­ers sup­ply stor­age and the 240V pow­erpoint is not un­der the ta­ble in an awk­ward po­si­tion like some, but on the wall above!

The kitchen is an in­ter­est­ing study in space util­i­sa­tion. Start­ing from the for­ward end, the 150L fridge is set off the floor with cup­boards above and be­low. That leaves space for a stain­less steel sink and drainer and a four-burner cook­top with grill. The

Bil­l­abong Grove 186 Off Road 27ft 2014 • $58,990 • QLD • (07) 3073 8253 Bil­l­abong Grove 176 25ft 2010 • $45,000 • QLD • 0417 601 955 Bil­l­abong Budgee 17ft 2009 • $24,000 • nsw • (02) 8315 0059

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