Andrew McPheeSee other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee
Read the Adria Sonic I700 SP review from Practical Motorhome
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Oven, Separate grill
Thetford C-250 toilet
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.
- Stylish exterior; bedrooms full of light
- Poor kitchen workspace