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2014 ijspropeer­lye­quip­p­wed Si­apl­phiyre 6616D for van­ning the kidls.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - News&reviews 2014 Avida Sapphire 6616d -

Noth­ing beats pack­ing up the car­a­van and get­ting out to en­joy a fam­ily hol­i­day. What peo­ple con­sider as a good fam­ily car­a­van can be as unique as each fam­ily, but as much room as you can get and as much space as you can pro­vide are two sure win­ners for many fam­i­lies.

The 2014 Avida Sap­phire 6616D is a 6.6m (21ft 6in) van sport­ing a front is­land bed, cen­tre kitchen/ dinette and rear dou­ble bunk-bed lay­out, with one ma­jor sell­ing point to win over any fam­ily: a com­bi­na­tion shower/toi­let. This might not sound like a deal-breaker, but spend 10 days hol­i­day­ing with the fam­ily in a trop­i­cal par­adise – when it rains all day, ev­ery day – and, sud­denly, not hav­ing to tramp up to the shower block and to en­dure a shower on the way there and back is a boon.

The Sap­phire has a Dura­gal chas­sis with a fi­bre­glass com­pos­ite body at­tached and is sus­pended by Roller-rocker leaf-spring tan­dem beam axle sus­pen­sion. The A-frame is sup­ported by a re­mov­able sin­gle-clamp, cen­tre-mounted jockey wheel and houses two 9kg gas cylin­ders. A steel mesh stor­age tray sits be­tween the two arms of the A-frame. At the rear, a full-width steel bumper bar also serves as the stor­age point for the al­loy spare wheel. The chas­sis has 150x50mm rails with 100x50mm A-frame rails fit­ted with sub­stan­tial un­der­side pro­tec­tion bars.

With an ATM of 2750kg and a Tare weight of 2108kg, the 2014 Sap­phire has a de­cent 642kg pay­load, which is great for trav­el­ling fam­i­lies. While the un­laden ball weight is quoted at 145kg, with a week’s worth of gear loaded and full gas cylin­ders and wa­ter tanks, we mea­sured a 200kg tow­ball mass.

The Avida’s ground clear­ance and un­der­body pro­tec­tion is very good for a road van. Noth­ing hangs too low, so there’s lit­tle po­ten­tial for dam­age, and all the Avida’s wires and pipes are tucked up high and/or pro­tected so it can’t be eas­ily dam­aged. It gives you the con­fi­dence to head down a high-crown dirt road to your favourite camp with­out wor­ry­ing about un­der­body dam­age.

Out­door liv­ing is cov­ered off by a Dometic awning, a gas bay­o­net on the front near­side of the van and a con­ve­nient fold-down pic­nic ta­ble on the near­side above the wheelset. An out­door shower is also fit­ted within a lock­able re­cess on the van’s off­side, great for re­mov­ing dirt be­fore the kids head in­side.

Ex­ter­nal stor­age space is am­ple in the Avida. There is a front boot and also a for­ward tun­nel boot with dual ac­cess. Both the tun­nel and front boots are lock­able and have lights.

SHIN­ING IN­TE­RIOR

The Sap­phire al­lows a fan­tas­tic amount of nat­u­ral light in­side. There are four large hopper win­dows in the main part of the cabin and a large roof hatch about a third of the way down the van’s length.

The in­te­rior is well-ap­pointed and the main bed is a queen-size with bol­ster to (ever so slightly) lengthen it. This still doesn’t quite give the bed the length that taller peo­ple will need, though.

There are ver­ti­cal wardrobes on both sides of the bed and two locker cup­boards above. There is a small hor­i­zon­tal sur­face for read­ing mat­ter on the near­side and a large hor­i­zon­tal area on the off­side. There is also a more sub­stan­tial re­cessed stor­age shelf above the bed­head.

Speak­ing of stor­age, of­ten an ex­ter­nal tun­nel boot comes at the cost of un­der bed stor­age – but not in this case. The Avida’s main bed lifts on two struts to re­veal a par­ti­tioned stor­age space and the wa­ter pump unit.

The floor on the bed’s off­side is sig­nif­i­cantly com­pro­mised by the space re­quired by the wa­ter heater. Al­though get­ting into the bed is no prob­lem, ac­cess­ing the ver­ti­cal wardrobe is awk­ward due to the pan­elling that cov­ers the heater com­po­nents.

There are also two stor­age pock­ets in the main bed­room; one high up on the off­side wall (with two coat hooks above) and an­other on the for­ward­fac­ing wall (back­ing onto the dinette).

En­ter­tain­ment is cov­ered off with a wall-mounted TV on the near­side for­ward-fac­ing wall and an au­dio sys­tem set into the off­side for­ward-fac­ing wall. The TV can also be mounted out­side within the pic­nic ta­ble re­cess, where there are also two au­dio speak­ers so you can lis­ten to mu­sic out­doors.

The side kitchen has a 150L Dometic fridge/ freezer with an LG mi­crowave above. There is a stor­age locker above the mi­crowave and an­other locker just be­low the fridge.

The kitchen bench con­sists of a sin­gle tub sink and drainer, a four-burner Dometic (one elec­tric, three gas) cook­top/grill with range­hood above (fit­ted with two LED down­lights) and a nar­row piece of free bench space. The kitchen lacks enough bench space for com­fort­able meal prepa­ra­tion and this is an all-too-com­mon prob­lem with car­a­vans. Thank­fully, there is plenty of kitchen stor­age, with two large lock­ers above the bench (with a hor­i­zon­tal par­ti­tion in each) and five draw­ers be­low the bench.

On the left of the draw­ers is a two-rack slide­out pantry. These are be­com­ing com­mon fit­ment in car­a­van kitchens these days and I know from ex­pe­ri­ence that they are a great idea.

Op­po­site the kitchen is the café-style dinette with fold-out ta­ble. There are two neat re­cesses for stor­age in the lower wall be­side the seats and a mag­a­zine stor­age rack on the for­ward-fac­ing wall. The ta­ble al­lows plenty of space when ex­tended, al­though the sub­stan­tial mount­ing sec­tion ad­ja­cent to the wall does take up leg room if two peo­ple want to share a seat.

Un­der the dinette seats are stor­age lock­ers ac­cessed by the hatches on the seat sides or by lift­ing the cush­ions.

Avida Sap­phire CV5412L18FT 2014 • $45,450 • NSW • 0406 822 926 Avida Emer­ald CV5432 QB 17ft $57,490 • QLD • (07) 3171 1824 Avida Emer­ald 24ft 2015 • $70,990 • QLD • (07) 3171 1824

Clock­wise from left: The van rides on beam-axle leaf spring sus­pen­sion; the Sap­phire was an “ab­so­lute gem to tow”; a ‘bond­ing ses­sion’ by the campfire; twin gas cylin­ders sit on the A-frame, in front of the boot.

Clock­wise from left: Phil and his kids make good use of the dinette; the kitchen fea­tures a fam­ily-friendly 150L fridge, four-burner cook­top and grill; look­ing to­wards the front bed­room from the mid-near­side kitchen.

Clock­wise from above: The main bed is sur­rounded by stor­age and nat­u­ral light; kids should find the rear bunks to be eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and com­fort­able; a fully fea­tured bath­room.

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