See Ya! 36′

Interior space is something nearly every coach could use more of. Whether it’s in the form
of slideouts, storage space or simply a feeling of greater openness, having a little extra
breathing room is welcome indeed. Alfa Leisure has addressed this issue in a big way with
the See Ya! Class A motorhome, a coach with enough interior headroom to make even NBA
basketball players feel right at home. As would be expected, Alfa makes a pretty big deal
out of this design, claiming to offer the tallest interior headroom (7 feet 6 inches) in
the industry. They also claim the tallest and deepest living-room slideout, measuring 42
inches deep and 6 feet 2 inches high. Extravagant? To some, perhaps. But it’s kind of nice
when you want to stand up and stretch without worrying about knocking your knuckles on an
overhead light fixture. It would only be natural for some folks to be concerned about the
laws of physics related to increased coach height. Not only does the center of gravity move
upward as the weight of the walls and roof (plus roof-mounted equipment) shifts skyward,
but the sail area of the side walls grows as well. Combine higher center of gravity and
increased sail area, and usually you’ve got a coach with unstable handling at best, scary
handling at worst. Only time, and an extended road-test, would tell. To test the See Ya!’s
stability, we drove U.S. Highway 101 around the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula
during a period of heavy rain and powerful wind. The test conditions couldn’t have been
better (or worse, depending upon how you look at it) – a narrow two-lane with its share of
fast-moving log-truck traffic kicking up bow waves that tend to shove a motorhome sideways,
not to mention cross winds blowing down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But to our surprise –
and counter to those laws of physics – the Alfa handled it with aplomb; not much bobble as
the trucks flew past, and manageable control even when the winds kicked up. The
better-than-satisfactory handling can be credited to the fact that the coach is built on a
rugged Freightliner XC Series chassis with Neway air suspension front and rear, Bilstein
shock absorbers all around, and a heavy-duty 1 ½-inch diameter stabilizer bar. Neway’s
independent front-suspension system does an admirable job of soaking up the bumps and
keeping the coach pointed in the right direction, even though outside forces are doing
their best to make life tough. Powering the coach is a 330-hp Model 3126E Caterpillar
turbodiesel that spins out 860 lb-ft of torque at 1,440 rpm. The engine is married to an
Allison 3000MH six-speed automatic transmission that smoothly runs through the gears from a
3.49:1 first gear to a double overdrive of 0.64:1 at the top end. The jump from first to
second bridges the largest ratio gap, so that’s the shift that’s most noticeable. As the
coach reaches shift speed, it makes the jump and accelerates forward. Naturally, there’s
turbo-lag to deal with, and leaping off the line from a dead start just doesn’t happen.
Mash the throttle, wait, wait some more, then off you go. Zero-to-60-mph acceleration tests
gave us an average time of 34.98 seconds at sea level on a windless 60 F day. It’s not
going to win any land-speed records, but there’s no problem comfortably blending with
traffic if you take a run at it from a freeway onramp. Life in the cockpit is pleasant,
with faux-leather power seats that move every necessary direction to keep the pilot and
navigator comfortable. Armrests fold out of the way when desired, and the seats swivel to
face the living room for additional seating capacity when the room is full of friends. A
stack of three drawers in the center of the dash console, plus a deep tray and cubby, offer
great convenience for stowing sunglasses, wallet, cell phone and spare change within easy
reach. The driver enjoys the convenience of a tilting/telescoping VIP “smart” steering
wheel that places many essential driving functions right at your fingertips. You can
activate the windshield wipers for just a single sweep or for continuous operation at high
or low speed. You also can operate the windshield washer, the headlights and cruise control
without lifting your hands from the wheel or having to divert your eyes from the highway in
search of a control switch. To the left of the driver is a collection of rocker switches
that control map lights, the generator, the engine brake, etc. Our advice is to memorize
the positions of the various switches because the small labels are impossible to read while
driving. At night, the switches light up and, pretty as that looks, the white-lettered
labels vanish entirely. In addition to the speedometer and tachometer, the dashboard has
all the necessary gauges positioned in logical sequence, so you can quickly scan the dash
to make sure the mechanisms are functioning properly. Centered on the dash is the rearview
monitor, complete with brightness and contrast controls, as well as sound-level adjustment
that will allow the driver to hear the screams of an assistant standing outside the rear of
the coach while backing through the fence at an RV site. For more than a week, we enjoyed
the Alfa life and naturally gravitated to all the cushy spots we could find. The central
piece of furniture in the living room is the Kustom Fit sleeper sofa. This is a very easy
place to spend time, whether you’re sitting upright or kicked back with a pillow under your
head and a book to read. When it’s unfurled into sleeper mode, there’s an exceptionally
comfortable mattress that will actually fit two full-size people (my feet did hang over a
bit, but I’m taller than most). Certainly, this will be a suitable place for the kids to
sleep, and even for other visitors who measure less than my 6-foot-plus height. The sofa
can be easily made into a bed without the need to extend the slideout room, although that
does block the aisle between the cockpit and the rear area of the coach. The more
conventional sleeping area is, of course, the bedroom, which, in addition to the
comfortable island queen-size bed, also features nine dresser drawers so you can carry all
the pj’s you want. The bed, supported by pneumatic struts, lifts to reveal a hatch leading
to the engine compartment, which is nicely insulated to keep noise and heat outside where
they belong. There was some storage space under the bed, but the hatch takes up most of
that space. Along the curbside wall is a huge cedar-lined closet, offering more than 7 feet
of space to hang clothes behind two enormous mirrored sliding doors. For those who plan to
spend a lot of time on the road and don’t relish the thought of having to stop at a
coin-operated laundry, the Alfa features a convenient laundry center in the separate toilet
compartment of the bathroom complex. The Splendide combination washer/dryer is hidden
behind attractive doors in a midlevel cabinet across from the toilet. That puts it right at
eye level, so you can sit down to take care of business and enjoy watching your wash whirl
around at the same time. Above the laundry unit is a large pass-through cabinet that opens
from the bedroom as well, which seems like an ideal space for storing linens. And below are
three good-size drawers for other linens. Behind the toilet is the largest RV magazine rack
I’ve ever seen, just in case you lose interest in your laundry. Four (count ’em) television
sets are spaced throughout the coach. The main one is a 26-inch RCA in the cockpit overhead
cabinet, aimed back toward the living room. No. 2 is a 13-inch Samsung mounted in the
kitchen cabinet directly across from the sofa. The third is a 13-inch Toshiba with an
integral DVD player, permanently installed in a ceiling-mounted pod in the bedroom,
perfectly positioned for watching a movie while in full-recline mode. And the fourth is a
20-inch GE in the basement-storage compartment, so you can watch your favorite program from
the comfort of your lawn chair while enjoying the shade of the awning. Part of the patio
party center is a small refrigerator/freezer, so you don’t even have to step back inside to
grab another cold drink. What makes the visual entertainment collection so cool is the
King-Dome automatic satellite antenna that lives beneath an aerodynamic shell on the roof.
This system will allow you to watch your favorite DirectTV, Dish Network or Express Vu
channel wherever you happen to be in the contiguous 48 states (the system is programmed
from the factory to receive DirectTV). Of course, you have to subscribe in order to receive
satellite service, just as you do at home. If you carry your own collection of movies on
videotape or DVD, the entertainment center includes a remote-control stereo VCR/DVD player.
There’s also a Kenwood multidisc CD player when it’s music you desire. The galley is
splendid, especially if you happen to be the resident chef. A deep, deep countertop
provides lots of room to spread the ingredients out while you prepare meals. A threeburner
LP-gas range with a 21-inch conventional oven beneath offers traditional methods of burning
your dinner, and a microwave is on hand for higher-tech gourmets. Beneath the counter are
four utensil drawers. For larger items, such as pots and pans, there is one deep drawer, a
hefty slide-out tray and another smaller heavy-duty drawer. Turn around and look under the
dinette benches, and you’ll find two more huge deep drawers. There’s no shortage of storage
space in this kitchen. Two large pantry cabinets are ready to be stuffed with food items.
The clever part about the pantries is that they open from two sides, 90 degrees apart, so
the can of soup you’re reaching for is always easy to grab, no matter how deep it’s buried
on the shelf. Above the normal overhead cabinets is another level of what Alfa refers to as
“attic storage cabinets.” Because these areas are placed so high, the company provides a
folding stepladder in a special compartment behind the sofa to make stored items easier to
reach. Each compartment is equipped with lidded plastic bins, so it’s easy to slide a bin
out and get at whatever’s stored there without having stuff wander around and get lost in
some nether region of the attic. The concept of bin storage is carried into the basement,
as well, with one of the compartments featuring large plastic drawer-type bins that are
stacked, connected to each other and bolted to a slide-out tray. Although the bins could
easily be removed so you could store more sizable items, this concept works well for
keeping smaller stuff organized. We decided this 36-footer is a lot of coach for the money,
well-equipped to pamper a couple or a small family while traveling. Alfa Leisure has come
up with an ideal way to let you confidently wave “See Ya!” to friends and neighbors as you
head for the horizon. Alfa Leisure Inc., (909) 628-5574, www.alfaleisure.com.

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