Where others have come and gone, Slovenian brand Adria has proven to be a long-term player among the European import class, with a small but steadily increasing range of caravans (and more latterly, motorhomes) including several suitable for a family. Now family caravans are an enigma in the Australian caravan industry. The right one can be hard to find and, apart from the camper trailer style, they are often expensive and large for the average family with a standard sized tow vehicle.
One of the latest vans in the Adria range, the Aviva 472PK, is an interesting solution to both those particular issues. Having an external body length of just 5.3m (17ft 4in), a Tare weight of just 1230kg and a price under $40,000 it looks like a good prospect.
For this review, I borrowed a Ford Ranger ute which, with its 2.2L turbodiesel engine, six speed auto gearbox and 3500kg towing capacity, was rated well above the Aviva’s requirements but I really didn’t mind that, since it made towing a breeze. I’d decided to head up to the D’Aguilar Highway, stopping along the way at the Caboolture Historical Village and then do a little exploring around the northern end of Lake Somerset.
Those not used to European-built caravans often express surprise at the lightweight Euro chassis but AL-KO knows what it’s doing with its C-section hot dipped galvanised chassis that’s beefed up a bit for Australian conditions with items such as extra outriggers.
Being an AL-KO chassis it does come with Independent Rubber Suspension (IRS), shock absorbers, an anti-sway coupling and wind-down corner stabilisers. I must confess I did wonder about the latter items – I have obviously become used to the quick-release style and winding the stabilisers fully down by hand did take a while. This Aviva came with Adria’s Sport upgrade which means extra ground clearance, 16in wheels, a 130L water tank and ahem, alloy checkerplating along the sides.
Above the chassis the frameless body, which comes with a seven-year water ingress warranty, is built in a Euro style with polyester sealed fibreglass composite panels. The large Dometic Seitz windows are familiar, including the dual windows at the rear that give a clue to the van’s family focus, but Adria has opted for the more Euro-style split habitation door. That makes it awkward to fit a security screen, instead having the concertina-style insect screen.
Slightly different to the usual style, the front boot lid is the entire lower half of the front wall. It lifts easily to give access to the two 4.5kg gas cylinders, which have their own separate cover, so other items can be legally stored in the boot. The lack of a lip on the boot creates a few difficulties for holding items such as hoses and power leads. However, the punched hole mountings with clip on plastic bins are a great idea and work well.
The front boot isn’t the only external storage, the front offside bin door gives access to the front underbed area and the rear offside bin door gives access to the spare wheel, neatly stored under the bunk bed.
It’s quite a good location – the corner area isn’t readily available from the inside but it’s quite easy to get the spare wheel out. With an ATM of 1600kg it has a payload of 370kg, which is better than some vans I have seen.
Starting in the rear, the bunk beds are well sized at 1.85x0.61m (6ft 1in x 2ft 1in) and whilst not as sophisticated as some I have seen, ie, with a DVD player, they do have a reading light and a large window each.
The lower bunk lifts up to create a cubby hole where small family members can play out of the way. The upper bunk does come with a ladder and both beds have curtains.
Believe it not, the cafe style dinette can also be folded down into a bed measuring 1.8x0.97m (5ft 11in x 3ft 2in).
Some families of four might find it squashy but I’m sure there are readers old enough to remember times when it was common for a family of five to travel in a van like this!
Up front, the main bed is 1.98m (6ft 6in) long and, having a chamfered corner, downsizes from 1.4m (4ft 7in) to 1.1m (3ft 7in). The offside window is on the small side but the roof hatch will improve airflow. Storage space is quite generous here with two overhead lockers, window shelf and a hanging cupboard at the base of the bed.
No surprises here, the Euro-style bathroom has the essentials – cassette toilet, shower and washbasin but it’s definitely a one-person bathroom. There is still room though for compartmented shelves and a good sized mirror. Outside the bathroom is what might be described as a vanity cabinet, it just doesn’t have a sink.
Adria’s combo three-burner cooker and stainless steel sink works very well here – it still leaves a bit of benchtop space for cutting veggies and washing up. Under the bench, a 100L Dometic fridge is found but there’s no oven nor a microwave. Storage is limited to the overhead lockers and the cupboards with slide-out plastic boxes.
Although a five-berth van, many may find it a squeeze around the table but four should have no problem at all. TV watching will be a bit of a trick, given it’s mounted behind the forward seat but maybe the lower bunk could be utilised by family members for family viewing.
Since the Aviva has an awning, I’m thinking that for long-term stays, a lightweight full annexe will improve the overall living space no end, at least one with flyscreens if nothing else.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In the world of heavy and large Australian-built caravans, this little Adria Aviva is something of a winner. Sure, it doesn’t have all the ‘camping essentials’ like a microwave nor many pretensions but it’s like a fresh breeze for families who are on a tight budget, have a small tow vehicle or just want a small, canvas-free van that’s easy to tow and park.
It’s different yes, but deserves some serious consideration.
HITS AND MISSES
- Budget price
- Lightweight and suits a wide range of tow vehicles.
- Surprisingly large beds all round
- Refreshing look inside
- Bin-style storage
- Full wind-down corner stabilisers
- No oven, conventional or microwave
- More suitable for junior family members; hulking teenagers could be more of a problem
Weights and measures
- Overall length 6.7m (22ft 8in)
- External body length 5.3m (17ft 4in)
- External body width 2.34m (7ft 8in)
- Travel height 2.56m (8ft 6in)
- Internal height 1.95m (6ft 5in)
- Tare 1230kg
- ATM 1600kg
- Payload 370kg
- Ball weight 100kg
Price as shown
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #572. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!