This independent review on the Avida Birdsville Slideout motorhome was conducted and written by Malcolm Street from Caravan World.
Avida has introduced a new slide-out model to its popular Birdsville range and the result is surprising.
Avida’s successful Birdsville range has, until quite recently, been available in a variety of layouts but none has ever had a slide-out – until now. The latest model Birdsville has an offside slide-out and is available as either as either a C-class with a Luton bed or a B-class without. Our review motorhome, one of the first models off the production line, was a C-class unit.
Like the rest of the Birdsville models, the C7424SL (SL for ‘slide-out’) is built on a Fiat Ducato cab chassis, which has a 180 Multijet with the 3L 132kw/400Nm turbodiesel and sixspeed AMT gearbox. Having an X295 chassis also means it comes with a GVM of 4400kg.
On the road, the 3L turbodiesel powered the motorhome along in the manner to which we have become accustomed. For my travels, I ventured along some misty and wet dirt tracks in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney – all without a problem. One of the benefits of the front wheel drive Ducato is that there are no traction problems on soft ground.
Given the Tare weight of 3650kg, the Birdsville has a good load capacity of 750kg. It’s built in the usual Avida style, with a fully-welded metal frame, fibreglass composite walls, one piece fibreglass roof, and fibreglass mouldings for the front and rear. The entry door is the standard Hehr style with a separate insect screen. Although the usual Dometic doubleglazed windows are fitted to the walls, the Luton peak windows have a very distinctive shape, which add to the pleasant overall look of the motorhome.
Having a slide-out changes the Birdsville’s external bin arrangement slightly but there’s still a reasonable amount of storage for all those travelling essentials. There are two in the slideout itself, which give access to the under-seat areas inside, and there’s the usual, awkward access to two bins underneath the slide-out – one for the two 4kg cylinders. A point of interest is that the water fillers, both gravity and mains pressure, are fitted in the rear wall – it saves having to think about which side they are on when filling up.
Like most other Avida motorhomes, the Birdsville is built using a fully welded metal frame for the walls, floor and roof. That frame has a foam sheet filler which Avida reckons will act as an insulator and road noise reducer. For the walls, all that is laminated together with backing panels and an outer fibreglass skin. The floor panel has a ply timber sheet above and metal sheeting below for under-floor protection. Additionally, the front Luton peak/cab surround and rear wall are fully moulded fibreglass. In keeping with Avida’s normal method, EDPM rubber is used as the outer covering for the roof.
As I noted above, there are a number of Birdsville layouts, with either island or single beds, and some with full-width bathroom. The slide-out, which runs more than two-thirds of the length of the body on the offside, changes the space dynamics. The motorhome still has an island bed but, instead of having a dinette which incorporates the swivelling cab seats, it comes with a cafe-style dinette. Both the dinette and the east-west bed sit in the slide-out, with the bed towards the rear.
This Birdsville layout has a full-width rear bathroom, nearside kitchen, offside bed and offside dinette. Up front, the nearside cab is boxed off by a large cabinet which houses the 190L fridge with microwave above.
Above the driver’s cab, the Luton bed measures a pretty reasonable 1.96×1.3m (6ft 5in x 4ft 3in) and has windows and roof lights on both sides, with the fridge cabinet providing a good bedside shelf. When not being used, the bed can be easily lifted out of the way to give better driver’s cab access.
Given the spacious layout, I thought the kitchen bench was quite short, but it does have enough room to fit a stainless steel sink with drainers plus a four-burner cooktop with grill underneath. There is, however, a bench extension at the bedroom end, as well as a flap that can be used to extend the bench across the entry door. Under the benchtop are three different sized drawers, a small slide-out pantry and a small cupboard.
Opposite the kitchen bench, the dinette will, in theory, seat four people – the rear seat has two seatbelts but leg room is a bit limited. However, the Zwaardvis-mounted table is a good size and it can be pushed out of the way to allow two people to sit on the same side, if required.
The overhead lockers above the dinette are fairly low, because they’re inside the slide-out, but they’re certainly better than nothing at all. Only the rear seat has a floor level door that gives access to the under-seat areas. The dinette doesn’t appear to have any 240V/12V powerpoints but there are some at floor level behind the rear seat in the bedroom area.
The rear island bed measures a very decent 1.98×1.42m (6ft 6in x 4ft 8in) and fits neatly into its allocated space between the end wall of the slide-out and the wardrobe on the forward side. That means there’s no bedside shelves of any sort but there are two overhead lockers above the bed. What the slide-out does allow with an east-west bed is a wall cabinet under the window, which is really an extension of the kitchen bench. It comes with an assortment of drawers, compartments and shelves which are quite handy. But, when the slide-out is closed, there’s no easy access to the rear bathroom.
There’s a 240V powerpoint set low down on the rear wall but I thought something at bench level might have been more appropriate, A flatscreen TV is fitted to the wall above the wall cabinet and it can be seen quite easily from the bed but less so from the dinette.
Across the rear, the bathroom has all the features you’d expect – offside shower cubicle, mid-wall vanity cabinet with cupboards, overhead lockers and wash basin and the ubiquitous Thetford cassette toilet in the nearside corner. Above the loo are a towel rack on the side wall and a large mirror on the rear wall. Bathroom ventilation is supplied by a rear wall window and a fan above the shower cubicle.
The Bottom Line
What’s good about this new Birdsville with slide-out is that the existing layouts give the buyer a good idea of how a slide-out can affect a motorhome layout. It’s not always positive (see page 132), but there’s no doubt that this layout creates much more free living space and generally opens up the motorhome – as it should. That might seem like a motherhood statement but I have seen one or two layouts where that didn’t happen. Certainly, introducing a slide-out design to an already popular motorhome layout was a smart move by Avida and it will be interesting to see how it takes up in the market