At just £12,490 the Adria Altea Severn finds few competitors in terms of price. There are a couple of Sprites, two Elddis Xplores and the Venus range, and a smattering of Continental lightweights including Caravelairs and Freedoms. The Severn, though its the only six-berth in this price and weight range. Which makes it a pretty remarkable caravan.
It has two fixed bunks, on the offside, and a two-seater table area that makes into two more bunks opposite. That brilliant family arrangement appears in several caravans. But all of them are longer than the diminutive Severn. So how would the Slovenian-made newcomer cope with the demands of a lively family on holiday? We think it’s impressively good at its six-person task and this is why: Firstly, the family room is especially well separated from the rest of the caravan by the rear walls of the kitchen and shower room. There’s only a doorway-width between these two walls (and a pleated partition to draw across it). The second impressive factor about the Severn is its kitchen, which has more surface than is usually found in compact family-layout caravans.
There is compromise, in the interests of keeping the length short (and thus the weight down). It's in the shower room…
The shower and toilet are in one room. In continental caravan design, that’s the norm. And when you consider the practicalities of six people (some of them small and needing supervision to make sure the shampoo really is applied and rinsed off), the choice of a campsite with good showers becomes a holiday necessity. So the Severn passes this test for most potential buyers, we think.
There is, though, genuinely enough space to shower in the little room. The shower rose is also the tap, which rises on its hose to sit into a clip close to the ceiling. A curtain is there to keep water away from the loo. The shower rom is well equipped for storage, with two smart white plastic cabinets and six shelves. It's a well designed, if simple, shower room.
In night-time mode, the Severn is a real star. Beds for four children in a secluded room that also contains a large three-shelf cabinet equipped with television points… This is truly awesome considering the short length and light weight of the caravan.
This is a caravan to consider as a four-berth, too, because the kids get permanent bunks and a permanent dining-play area alongside; any way in which you envisage this rear area being used, it’s a brilliant family environment. It’s a cheerful, light and bright place too; that’s because the walls that separate it from the rest of the caravan are pure white.
The top bunk has a long wooden guard rail to make sure no-one rolls out. And there’s more to keep the occupant of the top bunk safe: The window alongside the top bunk is covered by a substantially-made fabric-mesh guard, attached to an aluminium rail and suspended by two webbing straps which are secured to the ceiling. The idea is that, if the window is open, the sleeper can’t fall out through it. The straps can be adjusted to allow the mesh area to come forward, when you want to reach the window locks.
The ladder is fixed, and made of wood, rather than the more often-found metal. As a result, visually, it blends in with the furniture.
The Severn is remarkably capable of hiding away a lot of stuff. Even though the water heater is under the lower bunk, there is a lot of space here. And when you raise it, you can delve in with both hands because it holds up on metal spring hinges. Two more bed boxes are under the rear seating area. You roll back slatted bases to get inside; a plastic turn-button holds the slats in their closed position.
Four top lockers and a three-shelf cabinet alongside the bunks all give good storage space.
Moving forward along the caravan you find one of the best-designed storage cabinets anywhere in caravans. It's a full-height cupboard, on the offside, between the bunks and the shower room – and it contains five huge shelf space. This is where the footwear and most of the garments can hide. The wardrobe is forward of the shower room.
Under-seating storage in the lounge doesn’t have the ease of access that you find under the bunk; here you have to hold up the solid wooden bases.
Two top lockers and a lower central front locker compete the storage arrangements. Taken as a whole, the Severn has amazingly brilliant storage opportunities considering its relatively compact length.
The notable feature here is the substantial construction of the tables, considering the light weigh of this caravan. The freestanding table (stored in the five-shelf cabinet) is quite heavy, and feels exceptionally sturdy when it's up. The forward dining arrangement is enhanced by a coffee table, a few centimetres higher than the dining table; this is the perfect place to put mealtime auxiliaries like bread, or fruit juice cartons.
The rear dining table clips to the wall. Both the clip structure and the table’s folding leg are exceptionally well-made and robust. Along with the sturdily-built woodwork, these tables give us the impression that Alteas are made to last the rigours of family use.
The kids get their own TV aerial, 12volt and mains sockets in the rear – but there’s no TV provision in the lounge; although there’s a mains socket mounted into the side of one of the bed boxes, there is no aerial point. We’re sure this is something that could be fitted by a retailer’s workshop, though.
Seating in both front and rear areas is comfortable; it's firm foam, and very supportive. Fabrics are a delight – and belie the budget price of the caravan. Terracotta swirls on a plain cream background look warm and appealing; cream suede-effect sections on the backrests of knee-rolls look luxurious; their tactility enhances this aspect of the Severn.
Everywhere we look in the Severn we are amazed at the amount of storage; so often in shortish multi-berth caravans kitchen storage is woefully minimal. But not in the Severn. The oven and grill is a combined unit, which means you get extra storage space. Although part of the wheel arch compromises space a little, this is a great cupboard for pans and there’s space for foodstuffs, too. On the forward edge of the kitchen is a three-shelf cabinet of useful proportion. There are two drawers and a small cabinet between the fridge and the oven-grill. The two top cabinets offer you the opportunity to install a microwave. There’s a socket inside one; installation would involve removing the shelf – although we were puzzled as to why the socket isn’t in the cupboard without the shelf.
There are three areas of surface around the sink and (three-burner) hob; although none of these areas is large, they amount in total to enough space to make good meals. There’s a mains socket in the perfect position for an electric kettle, to the left of the sin.
Tow characteristics are as much about the caravan’s balance as its length, and Adrias have an advantage in that, in common with most continental-manufacture caravans, they have long drawbars, which usually increase stability. The Severn zipped along twisting lanes and faster stretches with nimble and responsive ease; definitely a caravan with tow attributes you’d want for long holiday journeys. Sometimes caravans without shock absorbers exhibit a discernable amount of “bounce” on rough road surfaces but the bounce factor on the Severn seemed minimal during its test tow.