During the past two decades, Avan has adopted an avant-garde approach to building RVs. Certainly, there is no disputing the manufacturer’s stance on sophisticated design and hand-crafted construction which has improved the style, comfort and value of its fleet.
This modus operandi is depicted in the newest addition to the Avan hardtop range – the Nathan 609 – a stylish and modern van that CW recently tested at Gumbuya Park, a nature and amusement park 75km east of Melbourne, Vic.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
Joining the Ashlee, Frances and Owen Limited in Avan’s hardtop range, the Nathan 609 – which comes in a choice of exterior and interior colours – proved easy to tow around the undulating outskirts of Gippsland.
Aside from the bonded panel construction, there are several other features on the Nathan that receive my tick of approval, including the interior walls, blinds and flyscreens, and two-piece door. And that’s before I get started on the ensuite and kitchen!
At first glance, the matte gloss interior walls appear as though they’d show up the faintest of tiny fingerprints. But I was completely wrong; it’s a tough-wearing, stain-resistant wall panelling, so there’s no problems during feeding time if the grandkids attempt to imitate Pro Hart with a splash or two of bolognaise.
Avan spruiks the Nathan’s integrated blinds and flyscreens as a ‘unique anti-jam, smooth operation’ system. I wasn’t sceptical about the claim, but I felt compelled to give them a serious workout and they measured up to my self-styled litmus test. They’re user-friendly and provide practical functionality – you can select between full block-out, flyscreen only or completely open.
I also appreciated the ingenuity of the two-piece door and ‘soft touch’ retractable screen door for increased ventilation. They, too, were easy to operate – you can have the door completely or half open, or utilise the flyscreen on its own.
Avan’s marketing guru Steve Doughty said a prime objective with the Nathan 609 was size-to-weight ratio. “We’ve kept it as open as we can without compromising on weight.”
Doughty also covered off the Nathan’s points of difference to the other caravans in Avan’s hardtop range – the full ensuite including separate shower and toilet, the galley-style kitchen, a larger 185L fridge, cafe dinette seating with tri-fold table, and the island double bed (also on the Owen Limited).
The test van was loaded up with Avan’s Adventure Pack features which include higher ground clearance, a bigger chassis (150x50mm), 15in wheels and tyres, and an extra step. There is also the provision for solar power.
And it also came with several Deluxe Upgrade Package inclusions – an Allure pack interior, LED strip lighting, glass shower door, ceramic vanity sink, washing machine, feature splashback and radio/CD player.
BEDROOM & STORAGE
The bedroom features an island bed partnered by a wardrobe, cupboard and reading light either side. There are also three overhead cupboards above the bedhead, a ventilation hatch above the bed and a radio/CD player plus two display shelves and a cut-out at the foot of the bed.
The large, galley-style kitchen is resplendent with high gloss cabinetry and cupboard doors with positive push-lock latches, along with a feature splashback and more of the glittering granite benchtops.
It’s a meal preparation HQ with all the necessary mod cons, including a Swift 500 Series four-burner gas/electric cooktop with mini-grill, 12V Finch rangehood with a light, 20L Panasonic microwave, and a 185L Thetford three-way fridge-freezer.
There is also storage space aplenty, with a large slide-out pantry next to the fridge complemented by a smaller pantry and a lift-up cupboard above the microwave. Above and below the deep-bowl stainless steel sink with hot and cold flick-mixing tap are more cupboards, one of the lower ones housing two slide-out drawers. There is also a slide-out drawer and drop-down compartment below the cooktop. Double powerpoints are fixed either side of a panoramic window.
The Nathan’s full ensuite, with separate shower (plus glass door) and toilet, will impress the creature comforts club. Above and below the ceramic vanity, which has a striking ‘Cashmere Granite’ top, are three fold-out cupboards and four cupboards respectively. There is also a Lemar washing machine, a mirror above the Thetford C200 cassette toilet, and a good-
Other interior standard features on the test van included one-piece flooring (meaning no butt joins), 20L Attwood gas/electric hot water service, electric water pump, TV aerial connection, a 95Ah deep-cycle battery with built-in charger/transformer and retractable 10m lead, and a wind-up roof antenna.
THE BOTTOM LINE
At $63,000, as reviewed, the Nathan 609 is a durable and sophisticated van offering sufficient luxury for the price.
This up-to-the-minute van is also elegant and well-designed, and boasts superior insulation properties courtesy of its bonded panel construction. And its impressive size-to-weight ratio makes towing easy and should bolster its approval rating from caravanning enthusiasts perennially seeking improved fuel economy.
HITS & MISSES
- Spacious layout
- Good size-to-weight ratio
- Easy to tow
- Could benefit from a grey water tank
- No slide-out barbecue
- A little light on gas capacity