The main attraction of the Swift Group’s Sprite Major 4? It’s not a fixed bed model. But it could be…
If you can’t decide whether you want a permanent double or not, here’s a reasonably lightweight tourer that can help you make up your mind. From the middle of the eight-strong Sprite line-up for this year – and not to be confused with the fixed bed model of the same name and number, but also designated FB – the “standard” Major 4 offers the usual twin settee front lounge (that converts into a transverse double), and a rear nearside angled double dinette that can also make a bed. Plus, with the pull of a couple of blinds, you can section off the rear bedroom so you have a full en suite service with the washroom behind.
If you want numbers, this all translates a rear double that’s some 1.94m x 1.32m (maximum) as well as a front double at a rather larger 2.02m x 1.42m.
Thoughts on uses? Keep the rear double made and you have a perfectly serviceable “permanent bed” two-berth. Or, it allows for two couples sharing. Or it could even cope with a young family of four, providing the kids don’t mind sharing.
It’s a floor plan that also gives you a washroom across the back of the ‘van, with a shower cubicle in the nearside corner, so there’s a bit of changing space. In honesty though, it’s a bit on the narrow side.
There’s also one of the biggest wardrobes you’ll ever encounter in any tourer. And yet, it’s commendably short – well under 7m – and weighs in at a maximum of 1,327kg.
That means, even fully loaded, it’s a safe, 85 per cent match for a car with a kerbweight around the 1,560kg mark – which puts it within reach of the Ford Mondeo/Audi A4 class.
But, Sprite. Isn’t that synonymous with value for money? It certainly is. And that’s despite today’s caravanners expecting certain home levels of luxury – hence the full cooker, 113-litre fridge’/freezer, TV station (convenient for both lounges), and Truma heating and hot water operating from gas and/or mains electricity.
Price, as viewed on the forecourt is £14,950*. That’s because it comes with the Diamond Pack and Panoramic Sunroof extras (at £410 and £325 each respectively). They don’t just add a touch of not so guilty pleasure and pizzazz to a ‘van that otherwise veers towards the “plain Jane”, they’ll definitely guarantee a better price at trade-in time.
Chances are, you’ll struggle to find a Sprite without the Diamond Pack, it really is that good an offer – it brings you alloy wheels (steel spare), Al-Ko AKS 30004 stabiliser, Al-Ko Secure receiver, door flyscreen, stereo radio/CD/MP3 player with iPod connection and a couple of scatter cushions.
One-piece smooth aluminium sides and a single front window help towards a crisp exterior look (don’t forget, Sprites are built in the same place and way as caravans badged Sterling).
True, there’s some obvious cost-paring. Notably the sprung roller blinds that are rapidly going out of fashion, and the unlined curtains, and the rather too flimsy mini corner shelves for the rear lounge. It’s hardwearing upholstery albeit not the highest quality foam. There are good, deep overhead lockers, all with positive catches, and seat locker access is very good, too – via large hatches as well as hinged bases.
All this, and you’ll even save a bit on your tourer insurance premium – thanks to the Thatcham Approved Tracker Retrieve system now fitted as standard.
More than just a great starter ‘van, this has enough comfort and luxury to tempt anyone
Plus: Generous specification for the money. Reasonably lightweight. Flexible double lounges layout. Full-width washroom. Huge wardrobe. Ten-year warranty
Minus: Rear bed not the longest *Narrow washroom
Cost to insure: £216.00*
- Price from £14,305
- Berths 4
- Overall length 6.93m
- Interior length 5.29m
- Width 2.23m
- Headroom 1.95m
- MIRO 1182kg (including Diamond Pack at 35kg)
- MTPLM 1327kg
- Key options Diamond Pack £410, SR Panoramic Sunroof £325, Al-Ko ATC £459
- Security and Safety Al-Ko AKS stabiliser, CRiS registration, Al-Ko Secure axle wheel lock receiver, Tracker Receive, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector
- More info: Swift Group (www.swiftgroup.co.uk)
- Alternatives: Adria Altea Tay, Bailey Orion 440/4, Venus 490/4, Sterckeman Alize 370CE
*Caravan insurance cost based on Sprite Major 4, £14,305. Fitted with hitchlock, wheel clamp and as standard security. 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 16.01.13. *Thanks to Broad Lane for assistance with this review (www.broadlane.co.uk).