To me, small vehicle design is (or can be) the pinnacle of excellence, so I was very keen to see the latest launch from Leisure Line. A vehicle of this type is quite a departure from the caravans of integrity this long-term New Zealand manufacturer is known for.
Enter a Leisure Line built caravan and you can smell the difference – it’s there as soon as you go into the vehicle with that first whiff of real wood. I love it.
I’ve always respected the Waikato manufacturer’s desire to use craftsmen builders, and to source as often as possible locally-made fitments, even if this means a greater cost to pass on to the buyer.
There are plenty of people who value this level of craftsmanship, and the opportunity to support local manufacturers, that the purchase of a Leisure Line vehicle offers. Knowing this philosophy only piqued my curiosity ahead of seeing the prototype of the AutoHaus. My first impressions were that this was a slick offering with a real integrity of design that made full use of the small space.
I did initially think it was quite pared back. Perhaps even too bare, too neutral. But then I recalled a conversation with the designer of my all-time favourite small vehicle from a New Zealand designer: the now defunct (and much-missed) Roadcraft. John Maugham told me the secret to achieving a sense of space in a tiny vehicle was to resist the temptation to draw attention to the essential components. Instead he said these should form part of the background.
Looking around the AutoHaus, I saw that these elements of expert small space design had been used to great effect. The flush fronted, soft-close lockers didn’t stand out because they weren’t intended to. These were intended to merge into the interior walls as if they didn’t exist at all. They were not intended to be ‘look at me’ shouty. Likewise, the soft-grey upholstery is not yelling at you to take notice.
The more I considered how well thought-out the interior design actually was, the more I began to admire it. The AutoHaus is built on a long-wheel-base Ford Transit, a departure from the more usual Fiat base.
Externally this is a very attractive and distinctive vehicle with grey-scale decals, a black base strip and alloy wheels all adding to the kerb appeal. The AutoHaus offers a compact and easy-to-drive solution in a six-metre turbo-diesel, with automatic transmission and power steering, plus all the mod-cons you would expect from a larger RV.
Three different layouts are offered: U-shaped, café seating and single beds. I’m instantly drawn to the u-shape because I love the warm welcome this option offers in almost any vehicle. The rear lounge by day is the place to sit and enjoy wrap-around views, and at night it converts to a huge bed. I don’t mind making up a bed at night, although I admit to having been caught out at least once by a complicated set-up after too many wines at happy hour.
Being an experienced manufacturer, Leisure Line has perfected the ease of conversion from day to night mode.
It’s an art, but here in this tiny vehicle is a fully-functioning galley with a two-hob burner and 110-litre fridge, as well as a compact bathroom. You’ll have around 80 litres each of fresh and grey water; a 100-watt solar system as well as house battery. Of course, there’s a 19-inch TV with satellite dish.
There’s an expression which says, wherever you go, there you are. In this instance, wherever you are, you’ll find yourself with everything you need to ‘be’. It’s all very Zen, perfectly simple, and simply perfect.
I love it, and I think anyone in the market for a great little zippy motor with great pedigree from a Kiwi manufacturer will as well. So, if you’re in the market for a new runner this summer, contact Leisure Line or their agent Country RV and let them know. The word is that these are running out fast, so get your order in now to avoid disappointment.
For more information contact Country RV
0800 288 860 – www.countryrv.co.nz
All AutoHaus models feature the following specification as standard Model photographed price $117,990 on road.
• Ford Transit Custom LWB Automatic
• Alloy wheels
• Swivel passenger seat
• NZSAT Satellite dish
• 19-inch TV
• Dometic 2-burner gas hotplates and sink
• Dometic 110 litre 12v/240v compressor fridge
• 100W solar panel
• 110A hour house battery and battery management system
• LED Lighting
• Horrex screens and blinds
• Shower and toilet
• 88L fresh water and 81L grey water tanks with tank level indicators
• Whale gas blown air heater
• Whale gas/230v water heater