WHAT are you likely to get when you buy a new van for under £7,000?
If it’s a Knaus Deseo, the answer is: quite a lot. For a start it’s a true four-berth, comprising two full size fixed bunks across the rear end and two seats at the front which make up into a large double bed.
And when it comes to equipment it has a small but useful Dometic fridge and an electrically operated Thetford cassette toilet. But let’s start at the beginning.
From the exterior, the Deseo looks like a brick. Its one concession to curves of any kind are the 90-degree top corners of the sides.
The other two things which strike you immediately are the fact that, because it’s made in Germany, the door is on the offside, and even more obvious - there are no windows on the nearside.
The front, back and roof are smooth panels, whereas the sides are pebbledash. As far as colours are concerned, the main colour is white, offset by drab grey surrounds and the word Deseo in futuristic graphics on each side.
Also worth mentioning is that a rail has been fitted to each wheel arch cover to which the table can be clipped if you want use the table in the awning, or eat alfresco.
The van is built on a galvanised BPW chassis and has a long A-frame which makes for extremely stable towing, but which does nothing for the looks of the van, since there’s no fairing nor any place to stow the 12N and 12S plugs.
The gas locker at the front is an add-on with little room for anything other than two 7kg cylinders and a couple of chocks. What is seriously lacking however, is a spare wheel and carrier.
The final aspect that we would criticise about the van externally is the fact that the single waste outlet is sited right next to the door step. Not only is this just about the worst place for waste water to be discharged, it also makes it difficult to remove the full container when an awning is being used.
When you go into the van, the two permanent bunks are immediately on your left. Although they are full size in that they span the full width of the van, their maximum loading is only 60kg (9.5 stone).
In the toilet compartment Knaus has saved money by not fitting an access door for the cassette waste tank in the outside wall; instead it’s in the interior wall adjacent to the door to the compartment. The result is that you have to carry the cassette out through the ‘van.
To the right of the entrance is the centre kitchen unit which is equipped with a two-burner hob, plus the small Dometic fridge. Although it has two tiny ice trays, there is in fact, no freezer compartment.
Above the kitchen unit is one long roof locker with plenty of space for crockery etc. There’s also plenty more storage space in the base of the unit and in the floor unit opposite.
Across the front of the van is a full width, deep, open-fronted roof locker which again has plenty of storage space. And there’s a smaller open-fronted roof locker in the toilet compartment.
Apart from the Thetford cassette toilet, we were disappointed in the toilet compartment because it has no washbasin nor any provision for washing and shaving.
There’s just one very narrow shelf on the front wall which is just about wide enough for a soap dish, aerosol spray and similar items.
And if you put a basin on the top of the toilet seat, it’s so low you have to bend almost double to be able to wash. So I was left with no alternative but to wash and shave at the kitchen sink.
Turning the socket through 180 degrees would solve the problem at a stroke. The socket in the kitchen is mounted in a similar fashion but is further away from the wall so the problem doesn’t arise.
The front and the two windows in the offside have flyscreens and blinds plus unlined curtains and net curtains, whilst the two small windows in the rear panel - one for each bunk - have the same except for net curtains.
The lack of a window behind the seat on the nearside didn’t seem to affect the amount of light in the van, but the lack of one in the toilet compartment definitely did!
Even with the light on, it’s dark and gloomy. The situation isn’t helped either due to there being no rooflight - only a small ventilator in the ceiling.
Bearing in mind the price of £6,895, we think the Knaus Deseo represents very good value for money.
It’s a true four-berth van - even though two of the occupants need to weigh less than 10 stone!
Price: £6,895 including delivery
Warranty: Six year body shell water ingress. Two years all other items
MRO: 833kg (16.4cwt)
MTPLM: 1000kg (19.6cwt)
Overall width: 7ft 2in (2.18m)
Overall length: 19ft 3in (5.88m)
Overall height: 8ft 1in (2.53m)
True four berth
No hot water system
No spare wheel
No leisure battery
No windows in the nearside
Bad positioning of waste water outlet
• A full version of this review appeared in the November 2006 issue of Which Caravan. To order a road test reprint contact Tina Beaumont on 01778 391187.
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