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