Take a bow

Looks are just one area in which the 2012 Avan Ova­tion M3 Al­cove ex­cels.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - 2012 Avan Ovation M3 Alcove - Right: The com­fort­able and mo­torhome-friendly Du­cato cab.

Ap­pear­ances may not be ev­ery­thing, but car­a­van and mo­torhome man­u­fac­turer Avan has al­ways man­aged to make its C class mo­torhomes look at­trac­tive.

It’s not some­thing ev­ery man­u­fac­turer has man­aged to get right, but the Ova­tion’s stream­lined nose cone and tail­light mount­ing/bumper bar mould­ing, along with the bub­ble-style tinted win­dows, make for a mo­torhome that war­rants a sec­ond glance.

Built from a fi­bre­glass com­pos­ite struc­ture, the 2012 Ova­tion M3 Al­cove is based on a Fiat Du­cato Mul­ti­jet 160, with a 3L 115.5kw tur­bod­iesel that drives through Fiat’s six-speed AMT gear­box.

While that Fiat was reg­u­larly praised for its mo­torhome-friendly cab – with spe­cially cut-out roof and fac­tory-fit­ted swivel seats – what’s of­ten left un­men­tioned is the Fiat chas­sis. These were de­signed to be wider than nor­mal for light com­mer­cial use, mak­ing the ride more sta­ble.

STOR­AGE APLENTY

An­other fea­ture of the chas­sis is the fact it sits quite low, either re­sult­ing in a lower sit­ting mo­torhome or, as is the case here, a slightly raised floor to al­low for more ex­ter­nal bin stor­age.

There is a gas bin large enough for two 9kg cylin­ders on the off­side be­hind the driver’s door. On

the op­po­site side, the front bin gives ac­cess to the un­der-seat area and the We­basto heater lo­cated un­der the bin floor. There is a sub­stan­tial load area un­der the rear bed, again with a false floor for even more stor­age space.

A point of in­ter­est is that the grey wa­ter tank also has a larger ca­pac­ity than the fresh wa­ter – a fea­ture of­ten seen in New Zealand mo­torhomes.

Un­der­neath the Pros­tor awning, the Euro­peanstyle en­try door with top half win­dow doesn’t have a se­cu­rity screen; rather, there’s a side­ways-re­tractable screen fit­ted to the door frame.

In­side the M3, the lay­out is de­signed for four peo­ple. The setup in­cludes a rear bed and bath­room, mid-off­side kitchen and a front lounge/din­ing area. The more stream­lined M3 Ova­tion Lowline comes with ex­actly the same lay­out, but with­out a Lu­ton peak bed.

STEP IN­SIDE

Given the nearly 7m (23ft) length, there are sev­eral trade-offs that have been made in or­der to ac­com­mo­date other fea­tures. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily a neg­a­tive com­ment, it just de­pends on what a

prospec­tive buyer would be happy to live with.

The lounge/din­ing area is a good ex­am­ple of such com­pro­mise. Both cab seats swivel around and form part of the dinette. Com­ple­ment­ing the ta­ble and seat­belt-fit­ted rear dinette seat is a small lounge be­hind the pas­sen­ger seat. The re­sult is a va­ri­ety of seat­ing in a slightly com­pressed space, which pro­vides a choice of seats from which to view the TV, the mount­ing point of which is lo­cated on the panel be­hind the driver’s seat.

How­ever, the floor hatch un­der the dinette ta­ble that gives ac­cess to the bat­tery, power sup­ply and 12V fuses is a tad awk­ward to ac­cess.

Above the driver’s cab, the Lu­ton bed mea­sures 1.96x1.43m (6ft 5in x 4ft 8in) and comes with a ceil­ing height of 600mm (2ft), as well as a read­ing light on either side and a shelf above the over­head lock­ers. With my knack for fre­quent head-bump­ing in con­fined spa­ces, it’s im­por­tant to me that the Lu­ton bed can be lifted for­wards and out of the way when not be­ing used, giv­ing much eas­ier ac­cess to the cab.

CLEVER COM­PRO­MISE

The off­side kitchen bench is de­signed in an L-shape to max­imise space. A three-burner cook­top, round stain­less steel sink and sep­a­rate round drainer are mounted in the bench­top. Many will love the sep­a­rate grill/oven mounted di­rectly un­der the sink, but it does re­duce the po­ten­tial stor­age to a sin­gle drawer and cup­board, plus two over­head lock­ers.

That leaves the area be­tween the en­try door and the bed for a 175L three-way fridge, with mi­crowave above and a DVD player above that. The mi­crowave and DVD can be hid­den be­hind a roller shutter door when not in use. Both may present height is­sues for shorter peo­ple.

It may not be a new idea, but fit­ting a bed, bath­room and wardrobe into the rear is some­thing of a chal­lenge, and re­quires a few of the afore­men­tioned de­sign com­pro­mises. Cut­ting off the cor­ner of the 2x1.25m (6ft 6in x 4ft 1in) bed gives a bit more walka­round room, but re­moves some mat­tress space.

At the same time, most bath­rooms in a mo­torhome this size would not have a sep­a­rate shower cu­bi­cle – but you get one here. Up­per and lower cup­board space is also in­cluded in the bath­room, plus a cas­sette toi­let and wash­basin.

The un­der-bed stor­age is quite sub­stan­tial and has ex­ter­nal ac­cess, while the ad­join­ing wardrobe of­fers hang­ing space, with a shelf above. The lower part of the cab­i­net is partly taken by the power lead. And I

Clock­wise from main: The Lu­ton bed fits well with the ex­te­rior de­sign; lots of seat­ing op­tions up front; a sep­a­rate shower is very wel­come in a mo­torhome of this size; a ded­i­cated off­side gas stor­age bin; plenty of ex­ter­nal stor­age.

Clock­wise from top: The dinette ta­ble is a lit­tle on the small side; an L-shaped kitchen bench; squeez­ing in the rear bed means cut­ting off some of the mat­tress.

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