Reviews

CHECK OUT AVIDA’S  ALL-TERRAIN GEM: THE TOPAZ

If you’ve a bigger wagon then the Topaz will follow you to some out of the way places

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From the outside, Avida’s Topaz CV7572 SL is an impressive-looking van. Like all the Avida caravan range, it’s built without a frame but using a sandwich panel construction for the floors, wall and roof. Using a more integrated design, the 49mm floor is very much part of the overall caravan structure and not only offers strength but insulation as well. 

Being their Multi Terrain model, this Topaz has a higher ground clearance than the Tourer model, which does make it easier (among other advantages) to inspect the hot-dipped galvanised chassis and suspension system. DuraGal RHS 150mm is used for the main and drawbar rails. Different from a conventional box section chassis, there are less than the usual number of cross members and they are punched hole C section rather than RHS – a weight-saving exercise. Protective aluminium lining is used on the underside of the floor and the spare wheel is mounted at the rear, giving space fore and aft of the wheels for the water tanks. AL-KO drop-down stabilisers are fitted on all four corners. 

For a bit of rough road stuff the 15-inch alloy wheels are fitted to Cruisemaster CRS independent suspension with trailing arm, coil springs and shock absorbers, while 10-inch electric brakes supply the stopping power. 

External Features

In addition to the good-sized front boot area, the Topaz also comes with a decent-sized tunnel boot, easily accessed from both sides and a separate left-hand side front bin for the two 9kg gas cylinders. Apart from the standard-looking Dometic double-glazed acrylic windows and the Dometic door, the other feature of note on this van is the right-hand side slide-out. It’s located to suit the interior design of course but it also happens to be above and just behind the suspension, thus keeping the extra weight of the slide-out above the wheels. 

 

Looking Inside

Pushing the easily locatable (i.e. where you would expect it to be) button, the slide-out steps power out, giving you easy access into the van. One of the benefits of a slide-out in this particular van is that it gives the designer the ability to move away from what has become the standard van layout with the much-loved front island bed and full bathroom across the rear of the van. 

Instead what you get is a very comfortable front club lounge, kitchen area in the middle, bedroom incorporated into the slide-out and just to keep some things standard, a bathroom across the rear. Apart from dark bench tops and table, the overall colour scheme leans towards the lighter side, creating a space filled with natural light. By night, the well-placed LED fittings provide a good light spread. Opening the slide-out is like the steps, just a matter of pushing the right switch. Avida does seem to have lifted its game on slide-outs, with this one being less clunky than earlier versions.

About the only problem with the slide-out on a quick roadside stop is that it blocks access to the bathroom when closed up and not even lifting the bed base solves that. Still, the spacious bathroom does come fully equipped with everything you might need for regular ablutions – left hand corner shower cubicle, angled to ease access, right-hand-side cassette toilet and a rear wall vanity cabinet that includes a pedestal wash basin and a top-loading washing machine. The latter item has two features going for it, one being the sliding top so there’s somewhere to put the clean/dirty washing and the second is that it’s not butted right up against the toilet, so you get a bit of elbow room. Oh, and for the readers, the washing machine top is also handy for parking your book. 

Making the most of the available space, there’s a small wardrobe between the shower cubicle and the wall complete with hanging space and shelves. Storage space isn’t overly large but it’s enough to keep the essentials.

An advantage of the slide-out 1950mm x 1530mm sideways bed is that it doesn’t have the length limitations that a conventional longways bed sometimes has. Indeed, if the cabinetry under the left-hand window area was dispensed with, an even longer bed might be possible. What you don’t get with this arrangement is bedside wardrobes but you do get bedside cabinets, overhead lockers and the previously mentioned cabinetry on the other side that includes a wardrobe with lower drawers and more overhead lockers. What looks like more storage space under the window is actually where the 80cm flat screen TV hides, rising majestically by the push of a button. A neat touch on both sides of the bed are the small compartments in lieu of a bedside table that come complete with USB charger points. 

 

Testing Out the Kitchen 

A result of using a slide-out is that the kitchen area takes up space on both sides of the van rather than just one wall. To the right of the entry door is where the fridge cabinet is found. It comes complete with a Dometic 190-litre three-way fridge and Samsung microwave. Also fitted are two cabinets with wire basket slide-outs and facing towards the front of the van is a roller shutter door cabinet that hides a second flat-screen TV, one easily viewable from the front seats.

On the opposite side of the van from the fridge, the kitchen bench offers quite an effective use of space. Instead of cupboards, there are three good-size drawers and a smaller one at floor level. Even the larger-than-usual wire basket pantry has a second use – the flat top makes a good kitchen bench extension. You do, of course, get the other expected items – Dometic cooker, grill and oven and an adjoining stainless-steel sink.

 

Time to Relax…

Undoubtedly one of the advantages of a club-style lounge surrounded by windows is that it’s easy to peek on your neighbours and see what they are doing. An advantage of the Dometic windows is that the insect screen can be rolled up out of the way, thus giving a nice clean photo opportunity if that’s your thing. 

More practically, the Zwaardvis table mounting gives a solid base, yet one that can easily be moved around. At floor level, there’s a hatch that gives access to the front tunnel boot. Also on floor-level is the 240V circuit breaker, as well as 240V and USB charger outlets. Dunno why but manufacturers don’t always seem to realise that locations that might be convenient for them aren’t always for the end users, who’ll often experience accessibility and lead-tripping issues. 

 

Weights and Measures

All of the above features are fitted into a 7485mm caravan that comes with a tare mass of 2750kg and a 3300kg ATM. That does give a decent payload of 550kg but the two 124 litre water tanks do make a substantial subtraction on that, bringing it down to 300kg. For towing it might be possible to get away with a 3500kg ute but I reckon for a more stable towing platform with a bit of spare kg capacity, then something like a Nissan Patrol or Toyota LandCruiser would be a better long-term deal. 

 

Verdict

What this Topaz offers is a very spacious interior with a unique but pleasant layout, and enough ground clearance to get you to more places. The slide-out is practical and adds space, and a nice bonus is the club lounge at the front, which gives the occupants room to stretch out and relax.