The title says it all. The 2016 Caravan of the Year gained its high marks for its value considering its length, width, its superb island-bed layout and its level of equipment that now includes Alde heating. That factor, alone, has transformed the Isonzo compared with the original model. Anything we’d change? Well, we’d like a television aerial as standard (in line with all British-made caravans, so that’s the market standard here). We’d like two more nice big cushions. That’s all.
The Adria Adora Isonzo Siler Collection is our 2016 Caravan of the Year! Here’s how the Slovenian-made Isonzo won its high points for the second time…
A caravan has to be pretty special to win our accolade of Caravan of the Year. To win the title twice, a caravan has to be exceptionally awesome. When the Isonzo first arrived on the market two years ago it won our Best Layout Award and went on to take the top title. Two years on, the Isonzo has grown in spec stature, gaining Alde heating, a completely redesigned kitchen layout, a bigger fridge-freezer, an illuminated kitchen wall and more. Adria tells us the enhanced level of equipment amounts in value to £3200. Yet this latest Isonzo is only £445 more than the initial model.
At £19,390, that’s phenomenal value for an eight-metre (from hitch to tail lights) caravan. Which is among the reasons why this unique-layout invention, now with added equipment and added value, beat off the competition again, to take Caravan magazine’s prestigious title.
The new Isonzo, named after a river which flows emerald green through Italy and Slovenia, was already in celebration status before our judges shortlisted it for our awards. It was chosen by Adria as one of two caravans to be granted Silver Collection status in celebration of the manufacturer’s 50th year. (The other model is the Adria Altea Eden.) Isonzos have silver side skirts, front and rear panels, and the curtains have a silvery pattern that looks dramatic against the smart coal-grey grey background.
The most important change to the Isonzo is that this latest model has Alde heating. It’s the only model in the Adora range to get the Alde treatment; the others are heated by the Truma blown air system. With no disrespect to Truma or blown air, we have to say that, for a big caravan, in use in mid-winter, Alde transforms the package from great to fantastic. Finned radiators all around the caravan, behind furniture and inside a casement along the offside bedroom wall, plus a panel radiator in the shower, ensure an evenly-distributed warmth. While the weather during our review week was by no means cold, we quickly came to appreciate Alde’s superiority.
So, our review week is progressing well. The new Isonzo is amply warm. And we’re appreciating the extra width compared with all other mainstream caravans in Britain except Buccaneers, which share the Isonzo’s, 2.45m width. And we’re eager to turn attention to the new-design kitchen. First, though, we investigate the pampering department…
Two feature mirrors with lighting set behind them sit on the rear wall; one in the shower and another in the toilet sector. A bigger mirror, flanked by slim shelved cabinets, sits in the middle, above a basin that sits on top of, rather than recessed into its cabinet. The shower is almost square, at 63x74cm. This is not the biggest shower room in the business but it is certainly one of the most stylish. And Adrias are the only caravans to be equipped with (stylish, chrome) toilet brushes!
Towel provision comes in the form of a bar on the rear wall plus a rail across the ceiling of the shower. That’s a new addition compared with the original model and makes a big difference.
At 1.4m wide this bed is domestic double-bed sized. The rounded corners diminish the size of the bed only very slightly. And it’s 1.93m long making this caravan a good choice for tall buyers.
There’s something rather special about the construction of the Isonzo’s bed. The (firm foam) mattress is in two halves, linked by fabric. The frame structure is also in two halves. The pillow ends of each half can be raised, rather like a poolside sun-lounger, for daytime relaxing. The centrally-hinged half-and-half design makes getting stuff in and out of the under-bed space really easy. There’s a large (1.10m wide and 34cm high) exterior entrance to the under-bed space. This is one of the best-designed caravan beds we’ve yet to find.
It’s not just the bed that makes this bedroom very special. It’s the amount of daylight, coming in from windows on each side. Two bright spotlights over the bed and three more above the offside window send focused cascades of light down into the room and an equally bright strip of light above the two over-bed lockers enhances the whole look.
The width of the caravan is a major reason why this transverse bed layout works better in the Isonzo than in most other models. There is no need for a retraction mechanism to enlarge the corridor; 35cm of space enables the walkway to be considered generous.
Most Isonzos will be bought as two-berths, as are the majority of double-bed caravans. But if you do want to turn the lounge into a bedroom, you can do so by drawing substantially-built wooden-framed slatted units out from the settees to meet in the middle, to form the base of the bed.
Those lounge bed base sections, though, don’t make the process of accessing the storage areas below very easy. You have to take off the upholstery sections, including the one across the front of the caravan, in order to raise the (quite heavy) wooden structure. It’s not self-supporting, so you either have to delve inside with one hand while holding the top up with the other, or enlist some help. That said, there is so much storage space under the bed that you may rarely need these front areas; indeed, drawing on our experience while long-term-testing the first Isonzo, we managed to avoid using the front lower storage altogether.
The wardrobe gives you 60cm of hanging width, a good area for shoes beneath and more space alongside, within the brilliant seven-shelf cabinet. All caravans should have storage space as well designed as this!
The coffee table hinged at the front of the caravan is 76cm wide and 35cm deep. It’s not designed for place-settings, though, so the freestanding table will get more use in an Isonzo than those in caravans with deeper pull-out front tables. Once you’ve extracted the table from its cabinet on the fore end of the wardrobe (it’s a tight fit and needs to be tilted to just the right angle to come out and go back in) you’re likely to leave it up, though. That’s because this caravan is so wide that you can turn the table sideways, so it occupies less of the lounge’s length. Useful!
The arched sunroof that stretches almost the whole length of the lounge is a star feature of Adoras. The curtains are starkly modern, with the silvery stripes graduating in depth. Comfort, though, needs a little help. If you get an Isonzo, buy a couple more scatter cushions, because the lack of armrests means corner-cosiness is lacking.
Apart from the inclusion of Alde heating, the biggest change to Isonzos is in the kitchen. The fridge is now the 140-litre slim tower model, replacing the oven and grill on the aft end of the kitchen. The long drawers are now shorter (but you won’t miss the space, they’re still capacious) and the oven and grill are alongside them. We think this is a huge design improvement, as is the inclusion of a microwave, bringing the Isonzo into line with the vast majority of caravans on sale in Britain.
Surface space isn’t enormous; you need to keep the sink cover in place whenever you’re not using the sink, to make the best use of this kitchen.
Another new kitchen feature is the black-and-white fine-speckled acrylic wall, rimmed with white light.
A single-axle caravan that’s over eight metres long? That’s different from anything made in the UK! It’s also a different type of chassis.
Astellas and Adoras are the only caravans on the mainstream British market to have AL-KO’s Delta axle. The axle tube, which connects the wheels, is slightly V-shaped, rather than straight. To keep the wheels pointing forward, the stub axles on which they rotate are not quite at right angles to the radius arms of the suspension. This arrangement keeps the wheels in good contact with the road during cornering and cross winds.
Other benefits of the Delta axle include a lowering of the roll centre and a self-steering effect whereby, when turning, the inner wheel tows out with a positive camber whilst the outer wheel has a negative camber. The overall result is improved stability when towing.
We towed our long-term-test Isonzo to Norfolk, Cornwall and several times within the Midlands and, apart from noticeable bounce on rough roads, had more praise than we had expected for this single-axle big beast. The new Isonzo’s test tow, again, underlined its efficiency and inherent stability.