Andrew McPhee

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Read the Adria Sonic I700 SP review from Practical Motorhome

Overview

There aren’t any British mainstream manufacturers currently producing A-classes, so if you’re in the market for one you have to look to the Continent.

Adria has long had a reputation for producing good-value, well-built vehicles, including luxury A-class ’vans – until recently, this included the Vision range, which was discontinued last year. Enter the Sonic: it was launched at the 2010 Düsseldorf show to replace the Vision for 2011. With a starting price of just over £65,350 in its four-tonne form, this certainly isn’t a cheap ’van, however – and there’s strong competition in this market from the likes of Bürstner, Hymer, Rapido and Pilote. So is the Sonic good enough to take on its European rivals and prove that Adria really can do prestige? There are three models in the Sonic line-up; here we test the SP version, with its transverse double bed.

Design

‘Striking’ only goes a short way to describe the looks of the Sonic: we love the swooping graphics, in smart black and white, which look more modern than those of the outgoing Vision. Our model was fitted with a habitation door on the driver’s side and a cab door on the near side.
Almost as striking is the length of the overhang; it’s 1.85m, so you’ll need to take care when turning. Surprisingly, rear corner steadies are a £190 cost-option as opposed to standard fit. The overhang houses an enormous garage, with doors either side: both measure 120 x 78cm.
The gas locker - which will house two 11kg bottles – is situated behind the offside front wheel; it is low down, for better driving characteristics and easier bottle changes. The wide-bore grey-waste pipe is located behind the nearside rear wheel; the heated, 85-litre waste-water tank is underslung, while the 100-litre fresh tank is under the forward-facing sofa.
Our model had no awning, but did have an awning light. An electric step leads up to the Seitz accommodation door: it has four-point locks, a flyscreen, and can be centrally locked via the key fob. This comes over a standard, more basic door as part of the SE Lux Pack: a £2890 cost-option.

On the road

Our test ’van was based on the four-tonne Ducato chassis, and had the Euro 4, 3.0-litre turbodiesel unit fitted; the 2.3-litre is standard on the 3.5-tonne chassis. The 3.0-litre engine – with 160bhp and 295lb ft of torque – is cracking, powering the vehicle quickly and efficiently, even up steep hills. It’s combined with a six-speed manual gearbox, which has a comfortable throw and makes driving the Sonic a pleasure.
This Sonic benefits from the wide, tall windscreen common to A-classes, and thus good vision all round. The leather-swathed cab seats are comfortable, and each has a pair of armrests and can be adjusted in multiple directions. There are two further belted seats on the forward-facing lounge sofa in the rear. We noticed barely a squeak or rattle from the fixtures and fittings in the accommodation area when on the road.
Our vehicle was fitted with reversing sensors, but not the optional reversing camera, which comes with an alarm as part of the £1190 SE Safety Pack; as the view rearwards is non-existent, we’d recommend it. The large, electrically adjustable wing mirrors gave excellent vision along both sides of the ’van.

Lounging & dining

All three Sonic models share the same lounge, with an L-shaped sofa layout on the nearside, and side-facing small sofa opposite. Both cab seats swivel to allow up to six to lounge in comfort.
A single-leg table is located in the centre of the seating area: it feels solid and well made. The table top can be manoeuvred both backwards and forwards, up and down, and side-to-side, on that leg: this means that it’s easy to squeeze out if you’re sitting in the cab seats and need to get to the kitchen. Five can dine here in comfort: the side sofa’s a little too small to seat two at mealtimes.
Our test vehicle was fitted with a bracket for a flatscreen TV (£149), located to the left of the accommodation door as you come in. It’s on an extendable arm, but this position does mean that it can’t be comfortably watched by those sitting on the forward- or side-facing sofas. Music and television lovers will appreciate the optional, £3990 SE entertainment pack, which includes a 19-inch TV, and a sound system compiled of Alpine, Bose and Eceler components. We were disappointed not to see any 240-volt sockets in the lounge area for charging laptops.

Kitchen

You’d struggle to cook comprehensive dishes in the Sonic I700 SP’s small L-shaped kitchen: there’s little worksurface. There’s a great amount of storage, though, with three good-sized drawers to the right of the small oven/grill, a locker beneath the latter and another up top. There’s also a black opaque – and lit – drinks cabinet to the right.
The hob is a three-burner Spinflo unit with spark ignition, and the stainless-steel sink has a single mixer tap. Behind this you’ll find one of the little waste bins so beloved by Continental manufacturers, and a chrome spice rack. Above the hob is an extractor fan; there’s a small Heki light in the roof, but this is a tall ’van – 205cm high inside – and shorter motorcaravanners will find it hard to reach.
Thetford’s 150-litre SES fridge has been positioned to the left of the kitchen; it’s finished in black, which contrasts nicely with the cream upholstery. We loved the fact that there’s plenty of space between the kitchen and the washroom so occupants can easily pass each other.

Sleeping

The SP version of the Sonic has a transverse fixed bed; the other, SC and SL versions have an island bed and fixed single beds respectively at the rear. You can raise and lower the fixed bed in the SP manually; while this is a handy feature (it allows you to really make the most of that whopping garage beneath), winding it up is hard on the arms.
The bed itself is accessible via two small steps. A good-sized window at the foot of the bed and the large rooflight overhead make this a bright place to be. The top of the wardrobe, located in front of the bed, provides a large area where you can keep a drink or a book overnight; handily, there’s also a plug here for charging a phone overnight. Three lockers along the back wall of the ’van provide handy storage for clothing, but do compromise headroom for the person sleeping at the rear of the bed. The water- and air-heating controls are located here, too: useful for switching on during cold mornings, but less handy if you’re sitting in the cab.
It’s a much easier process to lower the front bed: simply drop the backrests of the cab seats, press the button near the accommodation door and the bed lowers automatically. You don’t have to lower the lounge table to drop the bed, either. This front bed is a really good size, with a large rooflight over the top to eliminate any claustrophobia. This bed’s headroom is 86cm at the tallest point, tapering towards the front of the ’van.
The concertina blinds all around the ’van do a good job of eliminating light from outside at night; there are concertina blinds in the cab, too. We would have appreciated an electrically operated windscreen blind.

Washroom

The I700 SP’s washroom isn’t large, but it is well designed: a good-sized, ABS-lined shower cubicle has been squeezed in, which measures an impressive 88 x 57cm at its narrowest point. There’s no wheelarch to impinge on the floor space, and there are two plugholes to allow quick drainage. We found the mixer tap was located a little low, though.
That large cubicle does mean that space suffers elsewhere: while there’s enough room around the Thetford electric-flush, swivel bowl toilet, you’ll struggle to use this as a dressing room. We were also disappointed to see a transparent window here, rather than an opaque or tinted version. A small step up into the washroom reduces headroom here to 190cm.

Storage

It’s the garage that’s the prime storage area in the Sonic, and it’s extremely versatile; raising the bed increases its height from 105 to 138cm. There are fixing hooks on the floor for tethering bikes; the garage is also lit, heated and has drainage holes. You can reach into the garage via a hatch in the front wall of the bed.
For clothes, there’s a lit, three-quarter-length wardrobe in front of the rear bed, and three lockers over that bed. There’s no other dedicated space for clothing, so if four are on a longer tour you might need to resort to the garage. There is some space under the side-facing sofa in the lounge, but the other sofa has a fresh-water tank within it.
Bear in mind that opting for the 3.5-tonne chassis will result in a payload of just 358kg; if your licence allows it, we’d recommend the 4.0-tonne chassis with its larger, 858kg payload.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM4000kg
Payload858kg
Length7.4m24′3″
Width2.3m7′7″
Height2.95m9′8″
Waste water85L
External Options
GRP sidewalls, Awning light, Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Oven, Separate grill
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

You’ll need to ramp up the options to bring this up to true luxury ’van level – for example, we’d like to have seen a Seitz door with flyscreen and corner steadies as standard. Even then, we still don’t think this is a bad price for such a well-winterised, well-built and well-thought-out A-class. Forget brand expectations – we really think the Sonic ’van can hold its own. We’re looking forward to any possible floorplans for Sonic.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Stylish exterior; bedrooms full of light

Cons

  • Poor kitchen workspace
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