We’re amazed by the lighting design, bowled over by the smartphone-compatible sound system and wowed by the cossetting lounge with its headrests. We do wish Adrias came with TV aerials, though. And carpets. With those two necessities (by UK-market standards) the Missouri would be a first-rate contender for a slice of the rear island bed market.
Rear island bed layouts are high-fashion for 2017; here’s one that’s totally different from all the rest. And with headrests in the lounge
We start our review with an iPhone. And some music. Radio One is serving up some pacey rock music as we “move in” to Adria’s new, apartment-like, fixed bed caravan. We’ve paired our iPhone with the Missouri’s Bluetooth sound system. A fingertip touch on the knob in the centre of tiny brushed steel “media controller” panel mounted on the underside of the (stylishly concave!) kitchen cabinets switches on the music.
This is surely the neatest, smartest and smallest music device we’ve encountered. And it’s in Adria’s most sumptuous range yet. This is the Alpina Missouri, one of two Alpina layouts launched for 2017. These Alde-heated, wide, long caravans are designed for the discerning. They take over from the previous flagship, the Astellas, but this time Adria has produced layouts much more British-taste-oriented than the front-kitchened Astellas. Would the island bed Missouri live up to its flagship status? And is it set to compete energetically with the best of British caravans in its price-spec echelon? We had a day to find out…
The Missouri has its bed at the rear. That’s a burgeoning layout fashion right now, with more than 20 British-made caravans in 2017 ranges sharing that feature.
But there the similarity between Missouri and the other rear fixed bed offerings ends. This caravan is different in so many ways.
At 2.48m wide it’s even (albeit very slightly) wider than Explorer Group’s two new Avantés, and Buccaneers.
The bed is bigger than those in most other caravans. The extra width creates a lovely spacious lounge. It’s U-shaped – and with corner headrests. That’s a first in caravans. So is the shape of the top lockers. They’re concave, which enhances the spacious look, as does the use of white gloss finish. And, with a high arching roof light measuring almost a metre wide and 1.7m long, this is one of the brightest, lightest lounges in any caravan. There’s a built-in step, TV points on the outside and a 50-litre water tank
So far so impressive. But the Missouri has a separate “room”. It's in the nearside centre of the caravan, clad in matt brown textured wallcovering. We’d been walking around it for the first hour of our evaluation, trying to decide whether it’s an obtrusive blot on an otherwise beautiful canvas of layout and style, or simply a functional necessity. Which it is. This matt brown box contains the shower, the loo and the washbasin. The functionality continues on the outside, with five big chrome coat hooks and two mirrors, the larger one serving to enhance the spacious look in the centre of the caravan.
But the little “room” doesn’t try to blend into the layout and, after a while, we decided it really is a blot on the layout canvas. But don’t run away with the idea that this visual impression is a deal breaker because the Missouri has so much going for it. Awesome lighting style, big kitchen, smart two-tone-grey metallic-look exterior, an exterior TV connection panel complete with satellite points and a USB socket, all add up to an impressive package. But our attention keeps turning back to the “little room”…
The compartment measures 1.8m long and it juts out 82cm towards the centre of the caravan. The shower is a respectable 66cm x 82cm although the wheel arch intrudes into the shower tray area, it does give you a really useful shelf for soapy stuff. But the wheel arch also intrudes into the space in the centre of the shower room, boxed in by more of that matt dark brown casing; it frankly looks ugly. But again we come back to functionality, for this forms a useful area on which to put stuff. Its presence only leaves a 60 x 46m area of floor space, though. But we decided this is just about enough space in which to towel try and dress after a shower.
Adria is good at space-saving ingenuity in washrooms. The Slovenian designers invented the best-ever tip-up washbasin, integrated into a stylish mirrored cabinet and substantially constructed. It’s large, at 38x36cm. below it is a bench-style toilet. We spent some time assessing this little room. Were we being too harsh in our criticism of its small size? Probably not. And had we been pre-influenced by its bulky, boxy imposition on the rest of the caravan? Probably. Undoubtedly, though, it caters for towels quite well, with a rail along the roof of the shower cubicle and a second one on the near side wall.
The bed is a massive 1.94m long and 1.53m wide. There’s a TV bracket and connections on the rear wall of the shower room. The walls are padded-upholstered all the way up to the bases of the windows and behind the bed, reaching up to top locker level, creating a look of lovely cosiness. The bed base gets the same upholstered look, too.
The top sector of the bed base can be raised to create lounger-style backrests. And neat spotlights on long, flexible stalks give you perfect reading illumination.
Ad there’s more to this bedroom’s luxury ambience. On each side of the bed is a four-button lighting control panel, part of the Missouri’s programmable lighting system (the main control panel is above the door). There’s a USB socket on one side of the bed and a mains socket on the other. But no shelves to place your phones.
You can turn the lounge into a bedroom, by pulling out bases from under the side seating sections. Like the proper bed, it’s enormous, at 2.2m x 1.7m.
The storage opportunities under the seating and under the bed are huge. But there’s a fundamental problem. Neither the bed nor the lounge storage areas have self-supporting hinges. Opening the lounge storage areas necessitates removing the upholstery including the corner sections and then holding up the bed base while you delve inside. The area under the double bed is as big as the bed (except for a section occupied by the Alde heating unit). But the aperture is only 53cm deep; that’s the hinged section of bed base that you can raise. So reaching anything that might migrate to the rear of the bed would be almost impossible. And you have to hold up the lid.
Wardrobes, with deep shoe cabinets below, are 36cm wide. The cabinets would have benefited from shelves, though, to increase usable capacity.
The table lives in a generously-sized cabinet on the fore end of the kitchen. It’s a substantial construction with a gloss white surface. The width of the caravan means that you can position the table across the lounge when it’s not in use for eating, rather than put it away after each meal. We love that flexibility.
We also like the hinge-up coffee/drinks ledge that’s hidden behind the centre-front backrest. Again, gloss white, and substantial and smartly bevelled-edged trimmed with a chrome-effect strip.
The settees are 1.76m (offside) and 1.7m (nearside), which is long enough for reclining. And the firm foam from which these settees are made is really supportive and comfortable. The real stars of the lounge, though, are the corner headrests. Put your feet up, nestle into the corner, with your head back and you are pretty much guaranteed to enjoy instant relaxation.
The kitchen is 1.6m long, with a good amount of surface area to the left and in front of the (unique to Adria) three-burner inline hob. Two drawers and a drop-down-doored cabinet, each 82cm wide, area aft of the oven and grill. The (beautifully concave!) top locker doors hide a microwave and a cabinet fitted for tableware. The tall, slim-line Thetford fridge-freezer is aft of the kitchen, with small cabinets below and above it. This is a well-designed kitchen which we think would be easy to use, though some may consider the sink to be too small, at 28x30cm.
The Missouri looks –and is – a big beast to tow. But out on the road, its behaviour is impressive; certainly not daunting. Alpinas are the only single axle caravans of this length on the mainstream UK market, yet the Missouri’s test tow proved that handling characteristics are positive and stable, helped by the long drawbar you’d expect on a continental caravan. And AL-KO’s ATC electronic stability control is present to increase safety margin.
Woodland Waters Holiday Park, Ancaster, Grantham