This enormous twin-bed caravan is utterly brilliant in terms of value for its size and bijou-apartment style layout. Storage is well planned and colossal in quantity. And styling is awesome.
The 2016 Adria Astella Amazon is 8m long and 2.45m wide, and yet costs only £23,590. This twin-bed caravan's kitchen is at the front and its lounge-dining area, in the centre, is L-shaped with a separate settee.
Adria Astellas are among the largest caravans on the British market, at just over 8m long at 2.45m wide. Only the Adria Adora Isonzo and Adora Thames come close in Adria’s portfolio. Elsewhere among mainstream caravans sold in Britain, only Buccaneers are comparable in width and length. That’s where the comparison ends, though, for Buccaneers have much, much more equipment than Astellas, which is why they cost over £30,000. And that makes Astellas look extraordinary value for money. Which they are. While they don’t attempt to compete with the Buccaneer level of kit, they do offer the buying public a very big caravan. So if space is your priority, Astellas are worth examining carefully.
There are two models. The Rio Grande, with a double bed, and this one, the Amazon, with twin beds. Both have full-width rear shower rooms. And both have two layout aspects that distinguish them from all other caravans. The kitchens are at the front. And the dining-lounges are in the centre. We say dining-lounges because the seating and eating area looks much more house or apartment than caravan, with L-shaped seating around the table and a separate settee on the opposite side of the caravan. How well would the unique Astella layout work in practice? We had three days to find out…
We’ll start our evaluation at the rear of this 8m colossal caravan. Astellas have 50-litre water tanks (under the offside seating), so long, leisurely showers are a given.
Astellas have Alde heating, a component of which is a panel radiator in the shower. It seems a strange place for a radiator, given that all other Alde shower room heaters are outside the shower itself. But Adria does things differently and during our time with the Amazon, with the Alde system well warmed up, the only down-side to this location we could ascertain is that, while the shower itself gets quite warm, the rest of the shower room is less warm. And that’s where you need warmth, when you’re toweling dry and dressing.
Style is everywhere in this caravan, including in the washing arrangements; the basin is quite large, oval and sits on top of its cabinet.
Practicality isn’t lacking, either. Slim cabinets flank the mirror; each has three shelves, just the right size for small items of make-up that, in a larger cabinet, would fall over and become untidy every time you towed. There’s a cabinet below, for larger items.
And there’s a piece of equipment in Astellas (and also in Adria Adoras) that you’ll see in no other caravan in Britain. It’s a toilet brush, in a smart chrome casing, attached to the wall.
It’s good to see a towel rail in the shower, at roof level. The second rail, on the rear wall above the loo, is rather too close to the wall to accommodate anything except small, thin hand-towels. So in order to dry two shower towels, one would most likely be draped over the bi-fold shower door. No problem, though; at least towels would be confined to the towel area!
Astella beds have pillow-end sections that can be raised, to create sunlounge-style relaxers.
A TV bracket is at the foot of the nearside bed, on the side of the wardrobe – but you’ll have to budget for an aerial to be fitted; none of the Adria ranges come with aerials as standard. Keep in mind the price of the caravan by comparison with all others of its size, though, and around £300 for an aerial (fitted) isn’t really an issue. Adria retailers are very accustomed to this task.
The beds are 82cm wide and 1.93m long, so ideal for tall buyers.
A double bed can be made up in the dining area; the base slides out from under the offside settee.
When you raise the twin beds you have two great caverns of space for storing stuff.
There’s storage space under the L-shaped dining area and separate settee, too, but both are more difficult to access than the spaces under the beds. That’s because the nearside settee’s solid wooden locker lid is not self-supporting, so you have to hold it up with one hand while reaching inside with the other, and the slatted pull-out base of the lounge bed makes raising the top quite awkward. That said, few buyers would need the storage space under here, with a sizeable wardrobe, a cabinet beneath it, plus a couple of brilliant additional storage opportunities…
As we said earlier, Adria does things differently. No other caravan has an exterior locker that is 93cm tall and with a square floor area of 63cm, and is heated by the Alde radiators which run along its base. Ideal, then, for placing your walking boots to dry, in additional storing tall items.
More storage brilliance arrives in the Amazon in the form of a second wardrobe, in the kitchen directly alongside the door, so that you can hang up coats as you step inside. There are two shelves beneath, ideal for putting shoes, so that they don’t obstruct the doorway. And there’s more. If you don’t want to use this as a coat-length wardrobe, you can hinge down a shelf that’s clipped to the wall, and have a shorted hanging depth, plus an additional shelf. Amazing!
In addition, top lockers run along the full length of the bedroom, plus both lounge seating areas.
Dining, Astella-style, is dramatically different from all other caravans. It’s in this central area that these enormous caravans have a closer resemblance to bijou flats than touring caravans. As we sit amid the leather clad L-shaped seating we can easily picture sumptuous feasts on the big glossy wood-grain-effect table and are reminded of Adria’s own description for the Astella lifestyle: “Camping in glamourous style”. The style isn’t just about the seating configuration. Lighting style adds to the bijou apartment image, with a conical shade on a long arm to swing out over the table when you want to create a romantic dining ambience. And there’s more. For an extra £699 you can buy your Amazon a Bose sound system, with neat little speakers and a subwoofer. This option isn’t fitted to our review model but we have experienced the awesome quality sound of this system in another Astella. Definitely to be recommended if music is a significant element of your leisure lifestyle.
Once you’re installed in your lovely caravan dining room you have decisions to take as to who sits where. L-shaped seating always presents dilemmas on this topic. It’s safe to assume most Amazon buyers will be couples; do you sit side-by-side, or does one person sit at the end of the table and the other at the side? And if there are four, you can turn the chunky monopod table around so that a person sitting on the offside settee is close enough to the table.
When you take away the table the dining room suddenly becomes just like a lounge in an apartment. This enormous, glossy wood surfaced table with the biggest base we’ve yet seen in a caravan doesn’t have a dedicated storage place, so getting it out of the lounge means pushing it down the caravan to sit between the beds.
The width of the caravan means that the offside settee is quite a long way from the L-shaped seating, so without the table the Amazon looks even more like a domestic room than a caravan. At least five can lounge in this area; the Amazon is definitely a model to consider if you plan on friends joining you on a regular basis.
The Amazon’s kitchen is L-shaped, with a surface that’s a staggering 1.96m long and 72cm deep, and the fridge plus oven and grill in a stack on the offside. No other caravan has a kitchen configuration like an Astella. Storage comes in the form of three enormous drawers, just over a metre long and 28cm deep, plus a three-shelf cabinet, 28cm wide, and of course the wardrobe-cabinet we detailed earlier.
The grill is at eye-height and the oven is at chest-height for a person of average height; shorter people would see this position as inconvenient.
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. This shape changes the angle at which the tyres touch the ground compared with a straight axle tube, where one wheel will have a slight tendency to lighten its pressure on the road surface as the caravan goes around a bend, which means the opposite wheel takes a greater loading. With a Delta axle, the wheel that is taking the greater load has an increased toe-in to compensate for the increased load. This design is all about enhanced stability. In theory. In practice? Our long-term-test time with the Delta-axle Adora Isonzo, during which we traversed England from Lincolnshire to Cornwall and the Midlands and Norfolk several times, demonstrated the efficiency of this axle; the towing characteristics of the biggest single-axle caravan in Britain proved to be impressive. The Amazon’s test tow demonstrated the same characteristics.