INTO TEMP­TA­TION

It usu­ally takes a sub­lime com­bi­na­tion of cov­eted des­ti­na­tions and supreme lux­ury coach prod­uct to eas­ily sell com­muters the ‘bus travel’ dream. In ‘Aotearoa’, ADL’s Elite New Zealand model is do­ing its bit to tempt as many oth­ers as it can.

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS FABIAN COT­TER IM­AGES ADL

Bri­tish bus maker Alexan­der De­nis Limited (ADL) may have left Aus­tralian shores, but its Asia-Pa­cific base in NZ is a strong­hold matched by a sub­limely de­signed Elite coach. Fabian Cot­ter re­ports.

Its dis­tinc­tively swoop­ing roofline sets it apart from its peers, its coach-form length em­i­nently be­at­i­fy­ing the ef­fect as op­posed to other shorter ve­hi­cles, where such roof de­sign ar­guably just makes it all look ro­tund and dis­ap­point­ingly os­ten­ta­tious.

On the chic Elite New Zealand – de­signed by Plax­ton, a part of lead­ing Bri­tish bus com­pany Alexan­der De­nis Limited (ADL) – that lus­cious roof slicks back to a taste­fully jut­ting-out tail, while for­wards its frontal lines cas­cade down­wards into a beau­ti­fully panoramic wind­screen that meets a front bumper be­low punc­tu­ated by a trio of globes in head­lights ei­ther side.

Along the flanks, round-edged win­dow treat­ment flu­idly fuses the roofline edges above to the doors of the bin bays and side pan­els be­low. At the rear, sim­i­larly thought-out tail-lights mir­ror their coun­ter­parts at the front of the coach, the back­side over­all tidily stylish and pro­fes­sional in look.

This is the Elite by ADL. Or more specif­i­cally, the suit­ably named Elite New Zealand. It’s been a few years since Alexan­der De­nis left Aus­tralian shores, its own­er­ship of Cus­tom Bus not the best foray, but its Asia-Pa­cific base now is Hong Kong and its Bri­tisho­ri­gin, Kiwi-spec Elite is bliss­fully at home amongst some of NZ’s finest tourist des­ti­na­tions along its sooth­ingly sweep­ing roads.

A de­sign that’s not new – it’s circa 10 years old hav­ing made its de­but at Euro Bus Expo in the Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, Birm­ing­ham, UK in Novem­ber, 2008 – but she’s evolv­ing supremely with be­spoke tweaks be­fit­ting the NZ travel mar­ket.

As ADL is quick to at­test to, cit­ing it as the “evo­lu­tion of pas­sen­ger travel”, the Elite is, “in­spired by Plax­ton’s pedi­gree in coach in­no­va­tion and in­flu­enced by the very best in clas­sic and con­tem­po­rary de­sign”. That the Elite’s iconic styling is, “de­signed to

take pas­sen­ger travel to new lev­els of so­phis­ti­ca­tion, style and com­fort,” and that, “from the se­cond pas­sen­gers step on board to the mo­ment of their ar­rival, the Elite de­liv­ers a pre­mium pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence…”

THE INS AND OUTS

When ABC mag­a­zine con­tacted Tony Moore, gen­eral man­ager, Alexan­der De­nis NZ Ltd, he said, “The Elite is head turn­ing and, at the same time, is highly fuel ef­fi­cient. It’s de­signed with a sweep­ing aero­dy­namic front and its unique panoramic styling gives a new ap­proach to pas­sen­ger vis­i­bil­ity. It also gives the driver class-lead­ing vi­sion for en­hanced safety.”

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, the Elite of­fers a sense of space that un­sur­passed without com­pro­mise of pas­sen­ger com­fort or mod­ern styling. High­lights in­clude: a dis­tinc­tive pro­file; panoramic vi­sion; fuel-ef­fi­cient de­sign; front light­ing de­tail; prac­ti­cal fea­tures; a lux­ury in­te­rior; and sleek over­head styling.

MOVIE THEATRE FEEL

If you are a true movie buff you know that no home theatre job re­ally cuts it (mind you, there are some awe­some ones you’d never want to leave in a hurry) and part of ‘go­ing to the movies’ is not just the flick but the phys­i­cal theatre pres­ence it­self. The light­ing, the am­bi­ence, the width of the walk­ways to each cin­ema room – not to men­tion the or­gas­mic smell of freshly popped pop­corn. While the Elite does not come stan­dard with a pop­corn maker – though, that might be a fu­ture op­tion for any coach af­ter this gets printed, who knows? – such is the feel­ing the Elite sets out to achieve.

ADL says first im­pres­sions count and its Elite of­fers a stylish, wide en­trance, guar­an­teed to im­press, with the “theatre-style front seat­ing with an open frontal as­pect” pro­vid­ing pas­sen­gers a panoramic view of their sur­round­ings. The seat­ing con­fig­u­ra­tion is for up to 53 reclining seats fea­tur­ing drop­down arm­rests to gang­way sides.

In­side, it’s been de­signed to max­imise the pas­sen­ger legroom and com­fort, of­fer­ing mul­ti­ple seat­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity con­fig­u­ra­tions; al­ter­na­tively, where even greater com­fort is re­quired, wide seat pitches for fur­ther leg room can be spec­i­fied, it adds. A stylish, stream­lined lug­gage rack houses

in­di­vid­ual over­head con­trols for the ad­vanced air- con­di­tion­ing sys­tem while a high- qual­ity au­dio­vi­sual sys­tem for on-board en­ter­tain­ment, with mul­ti­ple op­tions tai­lored to cus­tomers’ in­di­vid­ual re­quire­ments, is avail­able, says the com­pany.

The in­di­vid­ual pas­sen­ger seats fea­ture three-point seat­belts, with mul­ti­ple seat op­tions avail­able in­clud­ing univer­sal-type seat belts, leather pad and pip­ing, and ad­justable footrests. The ‘su­per wide’ VIP pas­sen­ger seat up­grade op­tion is avail­able to­gether with full leather trim op­tions. Ul­ti­mately, a choice of seat­ing con­fig­u­ra­tions is avail­able in­clud­ing the ac­com­mo­da­tion of ta­ble seat­ing. Per­fect for chow time or play­ing Uno on the go.

In terms of ameni­ties, the Elite of­fers fresh-wa­ter flush wash­room de­signs to ei­ther the cen­tre or rear sa­loon, fea­tur­ing mod­ern styling, mul­ti­ple op­tions, and max­imised space. In proper air­line style, the com­pany says the user-friendly, be­spoke servery op­tions avail­able help the crew of­fer first- class hos­pi­tal­ity on the move, in­clud­ing a rear three-way servery. This in­cor­po­rates sink, stor­age and elec­tri­cal out­lets to al­low for dif­fer­ent kitchen de­vices and an op­tional choice of ap­pli­ances. If TV chef Gor­don Ram­sey’s read­ing this – mate, you’re [ex­ple­tive]-ing cov­ered.

It’s all com­fort­ing and cos­met­i­cally pleas­ing in­side. And

…bliss­fully at home amongst some of NZ’s finest tourist des­ti­na­tions along its sooth­ingly sweep­ing roads...

safe – the three-step en­trance leads to non-slip floor cov­er­ing through­out. Once past the stylish tubu­lar and glass en­trance with driver par­ti­tions, pas­sen­gers are greeted by Mi­crotrim fab­ric trim to the side cas­ings, racks, roof pan­els and trim panel in­serts. In­te­rior par­cel racks with in­di­vid­ual read­ing lights and vents, air-con­di­tion­ing and driver’s per­sonal locker are there, too.

The LED in­te­rior sa­loon light­ing with night­light fa­cil­ity, ad­di­tional en­trance area and step­well light­ing are most wel­comed, so too the roof-mounted sa­loon cli­mate con­trol unit.

DRIVER HEAVEN

Moore says the Elite New Zealand was de­vel­oped for driver sat­is­fac­tion, of­fer­ing ex­cep­tional vis­i­bil­ity and safety.

“The dis­tinc­tive panoramic front wind­screen is heated with ther­mal and acous­tic in­ter­layer, pro­vides ex­cep­tional vis­i­bil­ity, and aids safer driv­ing,” he ex­plained. “Elec­tri­cally heated and ad­justable mir­rors, to­gether with pow­ered screen blind and heated driver’s power­op­er­ated sig­nalling win­dow, are all stan­dard fea­tures.

“The widest en­trance in its class al­lows for easy pas­sen­ger ac­cess and im­proved driver’s view. In ad­di­tion, the en­trance pro­vides max­i­mum flex­i­bil­ity for a dis­abled ac­cess op­tion,” he added.

As for driver er­gonomics there’s a choice of fully ad­justable air­sus­pen­sion deluxe driver seats and

…frontal lines cas­cade down­wards into a beau­ti­fully panoramic wind­screen.

a reclining seat in the spa­cious crew area, it says. An in­di­vid­ual driver’s air-con­di­tion­ing con­trol is fit­ted for year-round com­fort, while er­gonom­i­cally po­si­tioned con­trols, bin­na­cle-mounted gear se­lec­tor and an easy-to-read dash panel en­ables ef­fort­less op­er­a­tion, it’s claimed.

UN­DER THE SKIN

So what about its skele­ton? As for fram­ing it’s a jig-built, welded 1.4003 stain­less-steel struc­ture meet­ing the re­quire­ments of ECE R66 reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing rollover strength. All frame sur­faces be­low the waist rail are treated with a pri­mary anti-cor­ro­sion pro­tec­tion

and the ve­hi­cle is un­der­sealed in a two-stage process.

The ex­te­rior pan­els are sin­gle­piece, com­pos­ite main side pan­els, bonded to the main struc­ture. Alu­minium-framed locker doors with sin­gle-piece alu­minium skins are top edge hinged or par­al­lel lift. There’s GRP front and rear pan­els.

Out­side, there’s a power­op­er­ated, out­ward-open­ing plug en­trance door with three-quar­ter depth, dou­ble-glazed win­dow com­ple­mented by a pow­ered plug-type sec­ondary exit door. Green-tinted sin­gle-glazed and curved glass side win­dows look cool and there’s a three-piece lam­i­nated front screen.

At the back it’s a sin­gle-glazed rear win­dow, or solid rear panel op­tion. The driver sig­nal is with elec­tri­cally op­er­ated and heated drop-down sec­tion and there are two glazed roof lights.

As for light­ing, it’s halo­gen pin­point head­lamps, com­bined in­di­ca­tor and side­light lenses – all mounted on easy ac­cess cra­dles. Add in sin­gle, side-mounted LED in­di­ca­tor re­peater lights and LED skirt-level marker lights, LED mark­ers to the front and rear roof domes, and front fog lights for

good mea­sure. Ul­ti­mately, though, there’s a range of com­pre­hen­sive op­tional ex­tras to meet de­sired op­er­a­tor tastes and re­quire­ments, with cost ef­fec­tive­ness in mind, says ADL.

THE PACK­AGE

A new Plax­ton coach means you’re also in­vest­ing in the top-qual­ity af­ter-sales ser­vice, which has be­come a hall­mark of Alexan­der Den­nis, it states. Alexan­der Den­nis is an es­tab­lished force in New Zealand and is geared up to sup­ply best-in-class sup­port for both parts and ser­vice; the lo­cal af­ter­mar­ket team has an ex­ten­sive range of parts in stock and are ded­i­cated to max­imis­ing up­time and keep­ing cost of own­er­ship to a min­i­mum, the com­pany adds.

…an es­tab­lished track record in bring­ing to mar­ket highly en­gi­neered buses and coaches.

Above: Seat­ing con­fig­u­ra­tion in­cludes ta­bles.

Op­po­site: Glass all over for a panoramic view.

Above: Check out that view! The scenery is nice as well...

Above: Who wouldn’t want to tour in a ve­hi­cle like this?

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