The Liberation by Paradise represents the second largest standard model the Gold Coast manufacturer offers and is one of its best sellers. Available in two variants — the Platinum and the Deluxe — both ooze class and quality. Popular with retirees for its ease of use and personalisation options, we took one for a 600km review around the central Gold Coast, braving late summer storms and indomitable humidity.
With a 7200kg GVM, you are required to hold at least a light-rigid licence to pilot the 2.4m wide, 3.2m tall palace on wheels. If you have not passed yours, the team at Paradise are willing and able to help you find the right training and testing provider.
Able to tow 3500kg, tested with a rear bike rack and with some roof top storage available, the Liberation offers owners a lot and towing a small car on an A-frame is a cinch with the twin angle, always on rear view camera.
When travelling, we spend at most maybe 20 per cent of our time behind the wheel — the other 80 per cent is relaxing and unwinding. The fact I wrote the stationary part is relaxing infers the driving can be less so and that’s the truth. Hauling around a multiple tonne motorhome with motorbikes, cyclists and B-doubles sharing your space can be daunting. Visibility must be excellent, the seating position must be comfortable and arranged to keep you alert and attentive. With the exception of a couple of van conversions that lacked good mirrors, every motorhome I have been in has had both, but I also feel you need to have confidence in the power underfoot and in the handling of the motorhome in corners, and here the Iveco underpinnings excel.
The suspension is by way of adjustable airbags at each wheel that resist body roll well and the power, all 205hp and 470Nm, do a good job of pulling away at the lights or building momentum for an oncoming hill. It helps that the power goes through a proper 8-speed automatic gearbox, not a robotised manual transmission popular in smaller ‘homes — those can be cumbersome and slow to react.
The factory headlights are good, though I’d suggest adding the optional alloy bull bar to protect them and to mount some extra light bars should you be planning dusk sojourns. While at it, front and rear parking sensors can be added to supplement the standard twin angle reversing camera, which I would recommend for the front especially, as it can be hard to judge the position of the front corners from the high driving position.
I think I said this in a recent caravan review of mine — slide-outs are brilliant. For a minimal weight penalty, you gain so, so much internal space. With a slide-out, gone is bumping into your companions when moving about, in comes the option of full-size beds, lounges and bigger kitchens, but not all are made equal.
In a caravan, it isn’t noticeable because you aren’t within the body when underway, but in a lot of motorhomes, cheap ones especially, noise from rattley slide-outs and the mechanisms that drive the slide-out can be a problem. Paradise addresses both through a unique design. Where most slide-outs are a framed unit added to an existing body, Paradise design the slide to be part of the body with the long supports becoming part of the frame or structure of the body. This means they are much quieter when underway and stronger. The other difference is the use of actuators to push the slide out and in. The actuators are fully sealed which eliminates the chance of road debris fouling them and preventing movement. The cost is higher, which is of course reflected in the final price, but the outcome is well worth it.
The Liberation can be had with two slide-out options, the Platinum seen here, or a full-length version on the Deluxe. You might be tempted to assume the Deluxe would be the better option, and it does add a lot of space in the ensuite, but there is a small detail missing from the Deluxe. The self-retracting awning that comes out above the slide-out, protecting it from the elements, doesn’t cover the full-length of the Deluxe — there just isn’t an awning long enough. This doesn’t render the Deluxe problematic but requires extra attention to avoid leaves and debris getting pulled into the top seal. For this reason alone, I prefer the lower-stress Platinum even with its slightly shorter slide.
Along with the space inside, there are some stand-out features. The built-in coffee drawer is perfect. Its cutouts have been made to perfectly encapsulate the coffee maker, cups and utensils but also provide a storage container for extra pods. The lounge, which doubles as extra seating while underway, can be easily converted to additional sleeping space should you skip the Luton option and the big LED TV resides in a nice pop-out opposite the full-size queen.
A small detail I appreciate a great deal is the acrylic mirror attached to the door to the ensuite. Full size, it reflects light internally to add a sense of space but will also come in handy when choosing what to wear from one of the massive wardrobes.
The kitchen benches are large and overhead lockers a good depth and height. You get so many choices of leathers, laminates and colours I think they could make the decision process on what to order difficult but the team at the factory help with examples and knowledge of what finishes go well with each other.
Appliances are top-notch with my current favourite upright fridge, the Dometic RUC 8408X, making a showing alongside a great Fusion internal and external sound system, Dometic three gas and one electric cooktop and gas grill plus a convection microwave oven. In the ceiling are two reverse cycle air conditioner units and an auto-touch gennie can be fired up from the well positioned switch panel.
The ablutions area is to the rear with a decent space to dry off or get dressed beside the separate toilet and domestic sized shower. You’ll also find a 3kg front loader washer here which will come in handy if planning to stay away from holiday parks.
Our test Liberation has more than a few camp-free options that allow for more time away from civilisation — slim-line 300Ah Lithium battery, which is standard across the Liberation series; a 3000W pure sine-wave inverter; 300L of fresh water storag; and 720W solar supply. These combined should allow a user to stay off-grid for a number of days so long as they steer clear from firing up the AC for long.
The genset is part of the package and built into a locker suspended off the chassis with the aforementioned remote inside the cabin. It will comfortably run one Dometic Harrier air conditioner unit at around 15–20 degrees cooler than ambient and as we found during our week away, will help keep the body cool when underway should you have passengers.
An optional electric macerator toilet and 90L blackwater tank rounds out fluid storage and combined with the greywater tank makes the Liberation national park ready. So long as the road allows, there is no where you couldn’t take your Liberation.
Paradise is proud of the alloy skeleton the body is framed with. It offers proper rollover protection while being low in weight and builder-friendly. Predominantly box-section, the walls, floor and ceiling frames are assembled on jigs then joined to the chassis. I had a good look at the mounts as they will be subjected to the most strain as the chassis flexes and was happy to see Teflon spacers to allow some give and Nyloc nuts have paint stripes to easily identify any loosening nuts.
Adhered using a combination of glue and screws, the walls and domed roof are one-piece fibreglass panels and the floor is a honeycomb composite that will never rot, takes impacts well and is great for sound suppression and insulation. All are router cut including wire routing, all plumbing cut-outs and hatches and windows for exacting finishes and reliable production processes.
The outside is painted with Cromax 2K paint, a high-end automotive paint that is appropriate for our harsh conditions and should you want, you can option on an extensive application of UPOL Raptor coating like you see here, on our test Liberation.
The interior marine-ply cabinets use dovetail joints for a cleaner appearance and will be more sturdy than stapled cabinets common in cheaper homes. All benchtops are solid wood with your choice of laminate.
NEXT LEVEL TECH
Standard on the Liberation is a system I just love. Once you release the electronic handbrake, the hydraulic support legs, satellite dish and entry step all retract to their ‘in’ position. I really appreciate this tech, as most of us have at one stage forgotten one of these pre-departure steps.
But, one tech feature I like even more, is the automatically locking drawers. Once underway, the drawers and cupboards lock to prevent unwanted opening and the spilling of contents. You might suggest a good latch does just as well, but I am yet to find a latch that is easy to use, fully secure and friendly for an arthritic hand.
Rounding out the tech are the usual suspects of water and battery management systems from Enerdrive including a 3000W pure-sine inverter that will run the coffee machine, washer and TV with relative ease though it should be upgraded (along with the battery volume) should you want to run the air conditioner.
One of the things I most admire about Paradise is their full-service focus. Not only do they make the motorhome you buy, they also provide servicing and offer refurbishments and insurance work.
In our walk-through of the factory, we saw a ‘home that had had a close encounter with a pole or tree, tearing a large gash into the front and side of the body. Under the instruction of the insurance provider, Paradise was repairing the front nose cone and replacing the bulk of the side of the body. The work was extensive, but being undertaken by the same team that built it, you can trust the outcome.
So confident are Paradise that they offer a five-year structural guarantee and three years manufacturer’s warranty and up to three years or 200,000km on the chassis and driveline of the Iveco. A 200,000km driveline warranty exceeds most cars but I imagine it will be hard to achieve inside three years, impressive as it is.
Paradise is one of the best-known brands in Australia and for good reason. When you combine excellence in manufacturing, great customer support and limited supply, you get strong demand and respect.
The Liberation Platinum represents the pinnacle of Paradise’s off-the-shelf builds but the personality afforded by the almost endless fit-out options and customisation give you the chance to put a little of who you are into the build. The outcome is a motorhome not only to see our wonderful country with but to be proud of and that’s what the team at Paradise has always aspired to do.
Paradise had some trouble a few years back. In 2017 the doors were shut and the gates locked as creditors chased unpaid bills. It was a tough period with the family owned business seeing great success in the prior 15 years of operation. However, within 60 days of the closure, the gates reopened and production restarted under the guidance of Shannon Burford and a group of investors.
Since reopening, Burford has streamlined and consolidated production to seven ranges and around 50 full-body motorhomes plus a sprinkling of converted vans and custom builds per year. This might be down a bit on the pre-administration volume which peaked at about 70 units but with controlled costs the company is better positioned for growth, Burford tells us.
With the main office and sales yard backing onto the factory, it is well positioned to offer prospective buyers a full experience of what goes into each model. We were lucky enough to get a guided tour from the fibreglass moulding centre to the paint shop, router room and all manufacturing areas. It is a slick operation with well-defined zones for each stage of the build and clear build sheets to control each build. The paper-trail for each build starts in the sales office and ends up in the warranty department to allow the team quick access to the components used and the people involved in the build. This allows the warranty team to quickly answer questions from customers and to trace any possible issues with supplied parts like water heaters. These processes and the company's attitude towards its 50 strong workforce has seen it seamlessly transition to RVMAP accreditation.
One of the major focuses of Burford and the team at Paradise has been to gain RVMAP accreditation. For those not in the know, RVMAP is a voluntary accreditation that involves up to 250 checks done twice annually on a range of quality controls, a code of ethics and a practice guideline. The program is maintained by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia and is popular with progressive and successful brands. Although not a substitute for a comprehensive warranty, it is in my opinion, a reliable indication of a company focused on its people and process.
In February the team handed over the 700th Paradise built. It was another of the popular Independence range, a Platinum with twin slide-outs. Resplendent with gold touches, we only managed a quick look as it was getting its final details before owners Ian and Judi Downes collected it during a company-wide celebration. All the stops were rolled out with current and prospective customers mixing with the factory and administration staff to celebrate the major milestone.
MORE BUT BETTER
I quizzed Burford on what was next and besides his obvious passion to keep getting better at what paradise already does, he showed more than just a passing interest in the safety tech popular in passenger cars but yet to really make a splash in commercial vehicles like the Iveco 72C210 that underpins a lot of the larger motorhomes. Paradise has always had a focus on safety, the design of the body structures in all models a clear example of their efforts, but what of things like emergency automatic braking? Like myself, Burford welcomes the prospect. What of hybrid drive trains? That excites him, particularly for the possibility of being able to tap into an automotive sized battery bank. To be able to run all of the motorhomes’ appliances would be a big step to a properly gas-less motorhome, another positive safety step.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length: 8.5m (28ft)
External body width: 2.4m (7ft 1in)
Travel height: 3.2m (10ft 6in)
Internal height: 1.9m (6ft 2in)
Tow capacity: 3500kg
Frame: Aluminium body frame with steel slide-out
Cladding: One-piece fibreglass roof and walls and composite floor
Suspension: Front coil and rear leaf springs assisted by airbags
Water: 300L water, 90L grey tank
Battery: 300A lithium
Air conditioner: 2 x Dometic Harrier Inverter
Gas: 3 x 4.5kg
Cooking: Dometic three gas and one electric cooktop and gas combination grill
Fridge: Dometic RUC8408 216L compressor
Microwave: 25L convection microwave/oven
Toilet: Electric macerator with 90L holding tank (standard is a Dometic cassette with 14l tank)
Shower: Separate shower/toilet
Hot water: Truma AquaGo Instant Gas Hot Water Heater System
Price as shown: $382,733.45
Long-range fuel tank, 12V sirocco fans, alloy cab side steps, tow bar, alloy bulbar and LED light bar, GME 80 Channel UHF radio, external hot and cold shower, Fiamma dual bike rack, Fiamma wall mounted fold up rear ladder, front and rear parking sensors, electric macerator toilet with 90L blackwater tank and UPOL Raptor lower paint upgrade
PRICE FROM: $375,000 drive away (QLD)