How to favour four
It’s a welcome return for the Compass marque in motorhomes. It starts this season with a roll-out of Avantgardes – six coachbuilt motorhomes and two van conversions – direct copies of the established Elddis Autoquests that roll down exactly the same County Durham production line, albeit given a bit of their own personalities with different exterior trim and interior finishes.
Like their Elddis stablemates, Compass’ Avantgardes come in at prices that will leave rivals reeling, even if you will want to consider a few optional extras.
It’s a rather continental layout, too, for this budget-priced four-berth coachbuilt motorhome. It’s based on Peugeot’s Boxer, with 130bhp engine. There’s a neat twist, however, to the rear single beds over a garage formula. At the front is a short lounge with parallel settees, which happily combine with swivelled cab seats for on-site use.
But, there are also travel seats folded into the settee bases. They’re not perfect – set too low for taking advantage of the views via the side windows; but also, critically, they eat into what would otherwise be stowage space here. And yet, the opportunity to offer occasional seating for two extra travellers, but with the extra comfort of settees for on-site use, could be a deal-breaker.
Similarly, the 194 can provide sleeping for four. Take two steps up to the main beds, fixed singles at the back, set on slatted bases. They’re not the longest, scraping 6ft maximum, but there are infills to make a 6ft 10in x 4ft 3in (2.08m x 1.30m) double.
It’s rather surprising to see no overhead locker storage here, too, although a major upshot of that is there’s the facility (often foregone by others) to sit fully upright in bed – for example, for watching TV (a bracket is pre-fitted at the foot of the offside bed) and/or reading (individually switched, adjustable lamps are the right height here, too), and there’s a locker and shelf separating the two single beds.
They’re all set over a garage, too, which is a real boon for stowing anything up to (smaller) bikes, barbecues and more. There are hatches each side, for access, and lashing points for load security.
Mid-‘van, the kitchen is nearside, the washroom and wardrobe offside. The former includes a Thetford three-ring hob and separate oven and grill, with enamelled sink in a matching black finish. At 85 litres, it’s a rather small fridge, with push-button ignition for gas operation. The flip-up worktop extension will surely prove invaluable, likewise the two mains sockets nearby. With a microwave oven only an option, there’s arguably a bit more storage than some can muster – with a choice of drawers and floor lockers as well as flat-fronted high-level cupboards. Overhead lockers come with positive catches.
Across the corridor, the washroom offers a swivel-bowl toilet and countertop basin. Double cupboard high-level. You’ll need to draw a curtain around for showering via an Ecocamel outlet (great for water-saving), but there’s just the one plughole below, and storage is limited to a shallow locker over the toilet.
Items that suggest this is a budget model include the lack of sunroof in the overcab section, roller blinds to the habitation windows and a curtain for the cab. There is, however, a window to the habitation door and a large rooflight over the lounge. Heating and hot water boiler – both courtesy of Whale – are underslung, helping free up interior storage space. There’s a similar under-the-floor location for the fresh and waste water tanks so, if you really want to take advantage of the 194’s top-level Grade Three heating and insulation rating and tour all-year round, your best bet is to go for the Winter Pack extra.
Also from the options list, consider the Lux Pack a “must-have” (cab air conditioning, passenger airbag etc), while security items like the alarm and tracker will not only give you peace of mind, but might also shave a few pounds off your annual motorhome insurance premium.
It’s all pushing the price up, of course, but you’re still well in bargain territory here.
Verdict: Flexible for four who prefer things frill-free
Plus: Flexible front lounge, keenest of pricing
Minus: No engine upgrade or automatic transmission options
In-a-nutshell: Cut-price coachbuilt
There’s more information on the Avantgarde range on the Elddis website . Find out more about insuring this or your current motorhome on our motorhome insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Pilote Pacific P706GJ Essentiel, Roller Team Zefiro 685, Swift Escape 684
Compass Avantgarde 194 factfile
|Model||Compass Avantgarde 194|
|Base vehicle||Peugeot Boxer|
|External dimensions||7.34m L x 2.69m W x 2.82m H|
|RRP||From £44,949 on the road|
|Safety & security||Electronic immobiliser, remote central locking, ABS and EBD, EBA (emergency brake assist), smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, tyre pressure monitoring, CRiS VIN Chip|
|Key options||Lux Pack (£1,218), alarm system (£322), tracker (£280), Witter towbar (£600), cab blinds (£450), microwave oven (£195), Winter Pack (£320), bike rack (From £235), rear view camera system (£365), extra shelving pack (£42), alloy wheels (£650), barbecue point (£105)|