The caravan market is one of the few manufacturing industries Australia still dominates. Although local vans are plentiful, the same can't be said of overseas rigs. These imported caravans are something of an exclusive breed.
Adria is a Slovenian brand that has manufactured caravans from its base in Novo Mesto for the past 46 years. While up to seven models are available in the 25-plus European markets in which Adria competes, Australia has a choice of five models across two ranges: the Altea and the Adora.
Adria has offered caravans to Australian buyers for the past five years, providing full-size single and dual-axle vans with European construction principles: a light frame/chassis and a spread of weight that permits a lighter ball weight.
MORE WITH LESS
The Adora 612 DP is a relatively new addition to the local Adria range, sharing most of the features of the 6.4m (21ft) tandem-axle Adora 662 UP, but contained within a 5.8 (19ft) body and a single axle. The 612 DP's Tare of 1424kg is also 98kg lighter than the 662 UP's.
The new van's Al-Ko chassis is unusual in that it utilises two parallel I-beam chassis lengths: flat on top, but bowed on the bottom rail. Each I-beam rail has cut-outs (to reduce weight) and is intersected by three lateral beams. The A-frame joins the main chassis lengths quite deep, not far off the axle line. The galvanised steel chassis is suspended by a torsion-beam axle - another departure from the leaf-spring norm - and the drum brakes are actuated by an override coupling.
The coupling is also an Al-Ko unit, which incorporates friction pads to reduce sway, thus requiring a hardened steel 50mm towball to be fitted to the tow vehicle. The Al-Ko coupling also features a very user-friendly hydraulic-assist handbrake.
The Adria's body is a four-component composite sandwich structure that features an external polyester layer, a plywood layer, an insulation layer and interior lining. The manufacturer claims the insulated shell is hail-resistant.
The van tows very well and feels light for its length (which it is). While general towing manoeuvrability and stability are very good, the swing at the rear and shallow departure angle (due to the long rear overhang) need close attention.
Access to exterior storage is quite good, with a lockable cubby at the front nearside, which is also where the external powerpoint is accessed. Rear doors on each side allow access to a huge storage area, which seems as large as the luggage space under an interstate coach. While this is an exaggeration, it is certainly more than ample for a family of four. The dilemma is how much heavy luggage is appropriate for this space, since it located behind the axle line.
A lockable battery box is recessed into the nearside front of the van, and the air-conditioning unit (standard with the optional Premium Pack) sits adjacent. An awning is also fitted, again part of the Premium Pack, while an external light is installed just behind the screened door. The 50L water tank is filled via a lockable inlet on the side of the van.
LIGHT AND AIRY
Inside, there is an abundance of cupboard and lockers (most of which are hydraulic strut-assisted), plus plenty of open shelf space. As you enter the spacious van, the front U-shaped dinette is on the left. This is also a handy space for extra travellers because it converts into a double bed.
The dining table is stored in a compartment adjacent to the entry door: it can be a little fiddly to retrieve, but this may be an issue of familiarity. The dinette has firm cushioning, which is not undesirable, but the cushions are higher off the floor than you might expect.
Part of the reason behind the light-filled interior is the two large hatches fitted to the ceiling - one adjacent to the kitchen and one above the bed.
Two overhead storage lockers on the front bulkhead, flanked by large, open storage shelves, provide ample accommodation for reading material and the like. Three ceiling lights above the dinette are accompanied by individual reading lights for each bench.
Three polycarbonate windows are fitted at the front, as are two narrow sidelights and the main centre window. Each of these is hinged on top to provide easy window adjustment with a locking wheel and bracket setup. All windows in the van feature lined curtains with velcro holding collars.
A simple control panel for the hot water, battery and reverse-cycle air-conditioning, plus a twin 240V socket, 12V plug and TV aerial jack, are located on the wall adjacent to the dinette.
The Adria has inbuilt air-conditioning ducting with adjustable vents placed though the interior to evenly spread air flow. This system seems like a reasonable alternative to a centrally-mounted roof system with internal vents only.
The kitchen is situated on the axle line behind the entry door and features a Thetford Caprice MkIII four-burner gas cooktop with rangehood, grill and oven. A single sink sits between the cooktop and the 175L Dometic three-way fridge. While the cooktop has a fold-down top to allow some extra bench space, the cooking area is otherwise very tight.
The bathroom, with toilet and separate shower cubicle, is opposite the kitchen. The space around the toilet and sink appears generous enough, but those larger-bodied souls might find the shower a little tight. And the cubicle's frosted and frameless bi-fold glass doors look magnificent, but you would feel wary of breaking them when closing them together. They seem tough enough, but their potential fragility does cross your mind.
The rear bedroom has a sliding concertina privacy screen, which also separates the shower from the van's main compartment. The advantage of this is obvious: you don't have to shoo guests out of the caravan if you want a shower before dinner.
Getting around the double bed is a simple exercise, with no corner cupboards restricting access. There are overhead and reading lights, plus ample locker space above the bed and to the sides. The hanging space to the side of the bed is reasonable, rather than generous.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It seems that there is more than one way to build a caravan and the Adria Adora is a nice point of difference to the usual local offerings. While it might not suit everyone's tastes, the Adora has managed to provide a load of equipment and sophistication in a lightweight, easy-to-tow package.
This van covers all the necessary travel comfort bases and its lighter weight makes it suitable for people with smaller tow vehicles.
Source: Caravan World Oct 2011.