Avida has been busy over the last few years, turning its attention to building caravans as well as the motorhomes it is best known for. Of course, ‘SL’ denotes ‘slide-out’, and this is the company’s first-ever slide-out caravan. The slide-out encompasses almost the whole offside length of the rig, stretching just over 4m (13ft 2in). This allows all aspects of the van’s interior, except the bathroom, to benefit from the 600mm-plus widened living space.
LAYOUT AND DESIGN
The amount of living space afforded by the slide-out makes you wonder how you ever did without one. What would be the centre walkway in a conventional van becomes the open floor space of a large room. This is only the case, of course, when you’ve parked up and have room on the offside to extend the slide-out. If you need a quick pit-stop on the side of the road, getting past the bed to the bathroom is a bit tricky with the slide-out retracted.
Opening the slide-out is a simple, one-switch affair, while closing it requires pressing an additional button. The slide-out is designed this way for safety – so it can’t be retracted by accident and, hopefully, you’ll have cleared the area of any obstructions before closing it up.
The kitchen has plenty of room, with none of the issues that a front kitchen can pose when a sloping bulkhead erodes available space. A great advantage of the east-west front kitchen layout is the acres of food preparation area it affords. The Topaz’s kitchen bench must be one of the most unfettered I’ve seen in any caravan. Starting from the nearside, there’s a short strip of fixed bench before arriving at the four-burner cooktop, then another short strip before the single-tub stainless-steel sink with drainer and mixer tap. From there to the offside wall is a long stretch of bench.
Above the bench are three storage lockers and the flatscreen LCD TV, which sits in its own open cupboard. Below the bench there’s further storage and a Samsung microwave. While a bench-height microwave is really the ideal scenario, most caravans have their microwave mounted up high overhead, which is not ideal as you risk spilling hot liquids on yourself when removing items from the microwave. The Topaz’s low-mount microwave is a preferable position.
As this Topaz is the 50th Anniversary edition, it has a dark tiled ceiling-to-bench splashback and side walls. It’s a great idea for cleaning up but, in this hue, it makes the kitchen appear darker than it needs to be.
The fridge-freezer is on the offside, fixed to the slide-out wall. When the slide-out is retracted, the fridge can still be accessed – although that great offside bench space in the kitchen is not so easy to use.
The dining area is the most open in this layout, with an Anniversary edition cream/beige leather-clad offside lounge opposite a slightly wider lounge on the nearside wall. The dining table is secured to the floor in front of the nearside lounge, and there’s plenty of room to get around it to the lounge.
BEDROOM AND STORAGE
The bedroom is spacious, with ample room to walk around the end of the bed once the slide-out is open. Getting to the far side of the bed is not quite as easy, though – you have to employ a sideways shuffle.
There is quite of bit of storage here, with lockers above and a narrow wardrobe and cupboard at the left side of the bed, and under-bed storage as well. There are narrow bedside tables with neat cubbies underneath and the left bedside also has a USB charging port – not yet a typical fitment in caravans but a great inclusion.
Opposite the bed on the nearside is one of the 7052SL’s party tricks – out of a narrow cabinet, a flatscreen LCD TV pops out from a recess. Between the cabinet and the bathroom is a large wardrobe. There are also lockers along the nearside ceiling, capping off an impressive suite of internal storage options.
The bathroom is a really good size and there’s no sense that you have to tuck in your elbows in here. The triangular shower cubicle is on the nearside and the ceramic washbasin sits on a stylish, curved vanity in the centre. There’s a washing machine hidden under a sliding benchtop further along the vanity, and this is a really good idea, as it turns the bench into a platform on which to rest a clothes basket when you’re doing the washing. There are lockers above and cupboards below, creating ample storage options, as well as open shelves to store frequently-used items.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The 7052SL Topaz displays all the hallmarks of Avida’s attention to detail, its trademark strong and light body and chassis structure, as well as one of the longest slide-outs in the business. This is capped off with a comprehensive equipment list that includes a great deal of thought in terms of placement – the grouping of electrical equipment and the USB ports for example, and the grey water tank inclusion when most vans have none.
- Superb fit and finish
- Large kitchen
- Open living area
- Strong yet lightweight
- Not much room at left bedside
- Limited onboard power storage