Has MDC built the caravan we never thought they would?
Words & images Gary Tischer

Is AUS RV a new manufacturer of caravans? Yes and no. AUS RV is an evolution of MDC, but the AUS RV caravans are built from the ground up in Brisbane. The build starts with Australian steel and composite materials that are then manufactured in the Coopers Plains factory by Australian workers, some with over 30 years’ experience in the caravan manufacturing business.

For images, videos and the full RV Daily experience, read this in our online magazine.

It takes expertise and experience to put together a quality product so one of the first hires for AUS RV was the ex-Jayco Manufacturing Manager Kevin Edwards. He was with Jayco for around 18 years, and along with Business Development Manager Ritchie Fort, will head the AUS RV team slated to expand to around 140 by the end of 2017.

So what does this mean for you, the potential buyer of a new caravan? This is the first local review of the new AUS RV Byfield, so have a read, look at the images and video, then check them out on the caravan show circuit for yourself. AUS RV will be at most of the shows around the country except for the Melbourne Supershow in late February due to AUS RV being considered a new manufacturer. The shows will be a great place to inspect the new vans and also talk to the guys who make them, as Kevin and Ritchie will be at many of the shows to talk to customers first hand.

At this stage the first two caravans have rolled of the production line. The 19ft Finke off-roader looks the goods but for this review, we’ll check out the 22ft Byfield. There will be a model of the Byfield to suit almost everybody with an all-road and off-road variation on offer. Each one of these will then have three floorplans to choose from, including a family-friendly bunk bed version. It is the all-road Byfield that is reviewed here.

BUILD
One of the first things you will notice if you have a look under the van, is the smaller number of steel cross members in the chassis. This is due to the use of a composite floor that is bonded to the chassis producing a lighter but also very strong van compared to traditional methods.

The chassis is made onsite in Brisbane from Australian steel then sent out for galvanising prior to the floor being attached. The use of one-piece composite walls and roof also adds strength to the whole van. The walls and roof have a foam core sandwiched on both sides by fibreglass. This provides strength and prevents any water ingress as well as providing great insulation.

INSIDE
Stepping into the Byfield with the forward entry door, you notice the huge windows on either side with another at the front of the van, which provide a great deal of ventilation and light around the bed. Both insect screens and blinds are provided on all windows and vents. Two USB charging ports are included on each side of the bed – essential in these days of mobile devices.

Storage abounds throughout the Byfield so you should not easily run out. Some campers from a nearby van came and checked out the new Byfield while I was photographing it- they were very impressed by the size of the pantry and the two very large floor to ceiling linen/towel, clothing storage areas near the bathroom.

Décor in this particular van was white with dark furniture and marble Laminex. It looked very stylish with the black taps, sink and bathroom accessories. The white overhead doors provided a light contrast. The lighting throughout the van is LED and there are plenty of lights where needed with easy access switches.

A Dometic 190-litre two-door fridge provides plenty of cold space while the Dometic four-burner cooktop, grill and oven should enable you to cook some hearty meals. A NCE microwave completes the cooking facilities and there is plenty of food preparation space.

The bathroom doesn’t disappoint with separate fibreglass shower cubicle on one side and a Dometic cassette bowl toilet on the other. The 3.2kg washing machine is hidden, but easily accessible, under the bathroom bench. A large mirror and black accessories continue the stylish décor.Three easily opened, ceiling ventilation hatches provide light and fresh air. The roof-mounted, reverse-cycle air-conditioner is a welcome standard feature considering the summer we are currently experiencing.

OUTSIDE
From the outside, the AUS RV Byfield is a good-looking van, both in its boxy shape and its decals. The drawbar and lower front of the van is protected from stone chips by Black Raptor coating which can be optioned down the sides as well.

On the roof is a 200W solar panel to support the 100-amp battery. Personally, I’d like to see more battery power as standard. There is a large storage compartment at the front that extends the full width of the van, which can be optioned with an outdoor kitchen.

Enduro Cross Country tandem independent suspension and 10inch electric brakes are supplied by AL-KO. The chassis is 150mm x 50mm galvanised Aussie steel so the Byfield ticks the strength and durability boxes. The standard hitch is 50mm ball but can be upgraded to a DO35.

Water tanks total 170 litres of drinkable water but no grey water tank is included as standard. Two 9kg gas bottles are located on the A-frame with a bayonet mount for attaching a barbecue at the front of the van.

VERDICT
The AUS RV Byfield has all the makings of a great caravan. The all Australian manufacturing and inclusion of brands like AL-KO and Dometic give the feeling of a reliable product. The staff, processes and investment in the AUS RV brand give me confidence that this will be a brand that will with us for the long run and produce a great range of vans, the Byfield being the first of these. This is definitely a van that is worth looking into.

PROS  

  • Use of composite materials for strength and insulation
  • Locally made with a network of dealers around the country
  • Well thought out interior
  • Can be upgraded to anoff-road model
  • Choice of interior design

CONS  

  • Needs larger battery if free camping
  • Yet to be tested over time

SPECIFICATIONS
Model: AUS RV Byfield 22ft ALL-ROAD CARAVAN
Travel length: 9m (29ft, 5in)
External body length: 6.68m (21ft, 9in)
External body width: 2.46m (8ft)
Travel height: 2.90m (9ft, 5in)
Interior height: 2.02m (6ft, 6in)
Tare weight: 2300kg
ATM: 2900kg
Ball weight: 100kg

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