As a past master of understatement, when conservative Coachman announced its 2012 ranges with talk of a revolution, the whole caravan world sat up and took notice. We weren’t disappointed either, except in one respect: while the Laser, VIP and Pastiche ranges were thoroughly overhauled and given radical new looks inside and out, the Amara seemed to be quietly forgotten.
No more. There’s a nine-strong line-up for the season ahead, including two all-new models. But, it’s a long-standing favourite that we’ve singled out for further investigation. The 570/6 is a full-on family ‘van, capable of catering for up to six.
Because it’s a Coachman, you just know it’s going to stand up to the knocks of family life that bit better than its peers. Plus, going with a proven formula means there’s a strong case to be made for this being the most family-friendly of them all.
Exterior graphics are now in silver and grey, but arguably of more importance is the move to one-piece sides. Tempting as it must have been, Coachman hasn’t gone for the panoramic windows that have surely helped sales of Amara’s more upmarket stablemates. Maybe that’s to come in the future…
Inside, again, there’s plenty of change and – most pleasingly – nothing to signify it’s at the expense of quality. The colouring is pretty neutral, with a new look to the furniture (Comina Ash is the name for the main finish). As is the current trend, lockers doors have a two-tone finish to them. You can also have wraparound front seating instead of the chest of drawers, at no extra cost
Somewhat ironically, it’s in the kitchen that so many so-called family-friendly ‘vans are at their most vulnerable. Logic (and cost) surely dictates that families are less inclined to dine out compared to say, couples – yet, at best, the kitchens are no different to the other offerings in any given range.
To a degree that’s true here, although the latest 113-litre Thetford fridge is a help. Also new, the Thetford Caprice cooker has a dual-fuel hob (three gas rings, one electric hotplate) plus grill and oven. It’s good to see a full sink and drainer, too. But, it’s the all-important work surface that’s all at a bit of a premium. And storage capacity is OK rather than making any specific effort to cater for family-size appetites.
Another new fitting of note is the move to Truma’s Combi-4 hot water and heating system, operating from gas and mains. But, it’s the rear section that is arguably still the highlight of this tourer. Not only are there two fixed bunks here, there’s also a seating area on the nearside that’s just perfect for tucking away the kids during the day and letting them do their own thing. By night, however, you can convert this to two more bunks.
That makes, by our reckoning, the 570/6 at its best as a four-berth. But, should your children want to invite their friends along, well it’s more than capable of coping.
Overall, it’s that retained feeling of solidity that sets Coachmans apart from their rivals… and bodes so well for family use.
Yes, it’s a hefty thing, so you’re going to have to consider your towcar carefully. Equally, unless you’re prepared to venture into twin-axle territory, the 570/6 doesn’t have a lot of direct rivals as a six-berth.
Insurance discounts for this Coachman caravan could be achieved by paying for the optional AL-KO Axle wheel lock (£250), AL-KO Active Trailer Control (ATC) (£495) or key fob alarm system (£350).
OK, the price has gone up by around £500 on the 2012 version, but appearances are deceptive: you’re getting a whole lot more here.
A proven family favourite, that just got a whole lot better.
Plus: Overall quality/sturdiness, now with added style! Class-leading specification. Smart looks inside and out
Minus: Not the lightest, nor the cheapest
Summed up in one word: Capable
Price: From £19,270 on the road
Cost to insure: £322*
- Berths: 6
- Overall length 7.51m
- Interior length 5.85m
- Width 2.26m
- Headroom 1.96m
- MIRO 1399kg
- MTPLM 1585kg
- Key options Al-Ko Secure Wheel Lock £250, Al-Ko ATC £495, Entertainment Centre (with DVD player) £300, alarm £350, Omnivent (in lieu of Heki £170, Awning warmer £60, alternative upholstery £250,
- Security and safety AKS stabiliser, shock absorbers
- More info: www.coachman.co.uk
- Alternatives: Adria Altea Tamar (542 DT), Sterling Eccles Sport 586, Swift Challenger Sport 586, Bailey Pegasus Ancona
*Caravan insurance cost based on Coachman Amara 570/6, £19,270. Fitted with hitchlock, wheel clamp and optional ALKO secure axle wheel lock. Kept on drive at HX4 0BE. Caravanners over 30 years old, claim free for 3 years and a member of a caravanning club. £100 excess. 180 days European cover and up to £75 per day for up to 15 days emergency accommodation cover included. Legal expenses cover, extended European cover and other emergency accommodation expenses cover options are available at extra cost. Quote includes 10% online discount and 6% Insurance Premium Tax and is correct as of 17.09.12.