Spending several weeks tootling around New Zealand in a motorhome taught me a lot about what exactly it is you do, and what you don’t, need to make life on the road comfortable and, above all, easy.
When living space is limited, ease-of-use and efficiency become paramount. You don’t want to be constantly running from one end of the RV to the other getting and moving things, squeezing past each other in a too-narrow walk-space. So making sure the layout flows logically and every inch of space is accounted for purposefully is imperative.
The A’van Ovation M5 is a C-class motorhome which ticks all these boxes and more. The M5 sits towards the larger end of the Ovation range – exceeded only in length and weight by the M6 and M7 (slide-out) models.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
The rear of the M5 plays host to the motorhome’s most interesting feature and certainly the one that sets it apart from most others RVs – a club lounge with a wind-down main bed above.
By day, the club lounge is easily large enough to seat six people quite comfortably and, when you’re ready to climb into bed, simply hold down the switch over the kitchen bench and the bed will roll down quite effortlessly – once you’ve removed the back cushions from the lounge and stored them under the seats. The bed’s mechanism is very quiet and it only takes about 30 seconds to fully descend.
The only minor sticking point is the headroom with the bed raised to the roof – 175cm at best, or less if you want to leave bedding on the bed, as it won’t ascend to its highest point, leaving less headroom below. But as you’ll largely be sitting down in this area, it’s not a huge problem, really.
The lounge and, therefore, the bed is surrounded by three large windows and serviced by two double powerpoints at floor level.
Extra passengers can travel in the forward facing seats behind the driver’s cab. These form part of the offside dinette when at camp, but are equipped with seatbelts for travelling. Both cab seats swivel around to create extra seating at the dinette and this will probably end up being the dining area as well. There’s a reasonable amount of space for occupants to sit behind the large table and it can be removed for travelling. The cab seats swivel by just lifting a lever on the side. Compared to other setups we’ve seen, this is refreshingly easy.
On the other side of the door is the impressive kitchen. The Ovation has a heap of free bench space – about 870mm of it, in fact – large by any RV’s standards; and all the cooking facilities you’d need to keep the family happy. The Smev triple gas burner cooktop sits towards the front end of the bench, with the round sink (no drainer) next to that, and the Smev convection oven below. The microwave is located higher than I would have liked, in one of the three overhead lockers, and there are several large cupboards and a half-height pantry under the sink.
Opposite the kitchen is the spacious offside bathroom, with a Thetford cassette toilet dead ahead, a small vanity with round sink to the left (front) and a very big shower cubicle to the rear.
The light from the large window above the toilet, which is amplified by the mirrored cupboard over the sink, creates a definite feeling of spaciousness in here.
However, the sliding shower door with flimsy plastic screen seems incongruous with the rest of the fittings, and I wouldn’t mind a powerpoint or two in the bathroom, as well.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With a living area and a bed at each end of the motorhome, and the RV’s overall length and width, the A’van Ovation M5 provides a lot of space for travelling families to live fairly comfortably together.
I really liked the club lounge/wind-down bed arrangement – it sure beats making up a bed out of couch cushions every night. I’d probably prefer to forgo a few inches of bathroom space to allow more walk-through room down the middle of the van, but that’s just a minor layout quibble.
The van is well-presented and solid, if not exceedingly eye-catching, but provides everything you’d need for a fun, comfortable trip away from home.
- Easy-swivel cab seats
- Club lounge/wind-down bed arrangement
- Driving the Ducato
- Lots of bench space
I would have liked...
- Not having to remove seat cushions to wind down rear bed
- Better security for front bed in its ‘stowed’ position
- Powerpoints for front bed
The full test appears in Caravan World Australian Motorhome 2015.