A caravan for the swanky among us? Well, maybe; but there’s much more substance to the Alaria TI than pretty colour-changing lights in the lounge. The LevelSystem is awesomely convenient. And it is so easy to operate; Alarias have onboard water tanks and ATC.
The new three-model Alaria range, made by Lunar, has all the luxuries of the Delta, plus automatic levelling and colour changing lights!
The rich, gold decals shimmer in bright winter sunshine as we unhitch the Alaria at Little Orchard Caravan Park for its review. From the outside, the Alaria has instant luxury appeal. And the inside? That will have to wait. First, we have some equipment evaluation to carry out.
Alarias come with LevelSystem, a hydraulically-operated automatic levelling system that's controlled either from a handset or a panel just inside the door.
A series of smooth whirring and zzzing sounds emit from the axle area as the system takes control of the Alaria and levels it laterally, as axle jacks descent in response to the gyroscope inside the unit detecting the lie of the land.
Then, more whirring sounds happen when the outsized corner steadies lower. It’s an impressive piece of engineering that has the big Alaria perfectly level in just over a minute.
Alarias are only the second marque of a caravan to have the E&P LevelSystem fitted as standard; Buccaneers were the first, for the 2015 model year.
This system is tailor-made for caravanners who want every possible mechanisation to make their caravanning lives easy. (LevelSystem also appeals to lovers of technical stuff, like us – and there’s more techy fascination in store for us after dark on our review day)
Our review Alaria is a prototype, and the Alde system hasn't been filled with water so we can't use it. But the low sun of the day streams in through the two sunroofs – at the front and the huge, rectangular one over the lounge – and the Alaria soon warms up.
We know how efficient Alde is and we don’t need the Alaria to prove its worth. We are more keen to investigate the things that are unique about the new Alaria range.
There are three models, all of them mirroring Lunar Delta layouts – two with transverse beds (one with a rear washroom, the other with its showering arrangements in the centre), and one with twin beds. All of them are the same price and very nearly the same weight.
And all three have a unique lounge layout. That’s the point about the Alaria – other than the touch-of-a-button levelling system, of course.
Alarias lounges are so un-caravan-like that you feel you're in a bijou studio apartment. Sofas run along the offside and across the front, with seating and backrests that are entirely domestic in style and shape. The floor space is enormous. And there's a freestanding footstool to move around as you please.
And there are more things to distinguish the Alaria: they come complete with AVTEX televisions equipped with DVD capability, USB points and Freeview. Three mains sockets and a USB point are on a rise-and-fall unit in the corner of the lounge dresser.
Alarias have over-hob extractor fans with two bright lights focussing down onto the hob, and large (180-litre) fridge-freezers. They also have huge ladder style towel-drier radiators in the shower room.
The TI's shower room sits across the rear of the layout. At 66cm in depth, it’s not enormous, but most potential buyers will consider it to be significant enough.
The shower cubicle is rectangular. At 77x66cm, It's nicely spacious; this shape and size will earn praise compared with circular showers, which tend to be more restrictive regarding elbow space when washing hair. It’s beautifully appointed, with a full-depth panel featuring slate grey “tiles”, and lighting surrounding the top and sides of the pale grey shower riser-mount.
A focused, bright light shines down from the centre. It’s superbly styled and very well illuminated. Lighting also runs within steel-effect borders along the sides of the mirror; it’s a very luxurious, high-end domestic look.
A ceiling-mounted unit delivers an exceptionally bright circle of light – and a surprise; a fingertip touch on a little blue switch in the centre of the light turns off or on –that’s as an alternative to the pull-cord control for all of the lights in the shower room.
A second touch-control light of this style is in the bedroom, together with four spotlights set under and above the top lockers and also above the mirror. The TI’s bedroom is beautifully designed, with an upholstered frame around the mirror, a Roman-style folding blind and matt cream-white cabinet doors contrasting with the chocolate brown furniture.
The bed has the standard mechanism which enables you to push it back to increase corridor space during the day.
The TI’s main appeal will be as a luxury caravan for two. But if you want to turn the lounge into a bedroom, there is an easy way. A bed base pulls out from the front sofa section; it creates a double bed that’s 1.2m wide and just over 2m cm long.
A small dressing table in the offside forward corner of the room has a television bracket above, and connections close to the surface.
Drop-down hatches lead to both the under-sofa spaces. And the bed provides predictably vast space, with the advantage of an outer hatch.
Wardrobes are 54cm and 24cm wide, each with a drawer and shoe cabinet beneath.
Top storage in the lounge comprises two offside lockers (both with shelves) and two corner lockers, cleverly designed to make the most of the space here. And, above the deep window on the nearside, there’s a beautifully crafted drinks cabinet, with recesses for four goblets.
The dining table arrangement is doubly important in an Alaria, as there’s no centre-front pull-out table in this layout. So it’s great to find the table is readily available, stored in its section of the forward kitchen cabinet. It’s light to handle and has an unusual offset hinged leg design; they’re easy to fold and unfold, we discovered.
Three can sit around the table easily, although, as with all L-shaped layouts, two people can’t sit opposite one another. Does that matter? You decide. But this design does pretty much force us into awarding only a C rating for dining.
Alaria lounges are so inviting. Open the drinks cabinet, or put on the kettle – and relax, feet up on the settees, perhaps, or on the footstool that has a hidden storage area under its top; perfect for copies of Caravan magazine!
Now turn on the lights. But which colour will you choose? An entire spectrum of colour is at your fingertips, controlled from a dial by the window on the nearside of the lounge. A line of LEDs runs around the rim above the front and offside windows; it's an impressive effect.
Some may say it's a bit of a gimmick but we think it's lovely and, as the light faded on our winter test day, the colours from the LEDs began to make the outline leaf pattern on the curtains shimmer – blue, turquoise, yellow, pink, red, the choice of yours.
A small table (42x 29cm) hinges up from a three-shelf wall unit on the offside alongside the window. It’s perfect for coffee mugs or drinks glasses. But we feel it intrudes into the superbly open-plan aspect of the Alaria’s lounge so, if we bought an Alaria, it would probably stay flat against the wall.
With the 35cm extension hinged up, the kitchen surface length is 1.31m. Add in the 58cm-wide dresser surface opposite, and the safety rating of the Alaria TI's kitchen area is up there among the best. Storage is generous, too, with a 52cm-wide cabinet in the dresser and two cabinets in the kitchen, containing an array of shelves plus two drawers.
We love the position of the extractor fan; exactly where you need it, directly over the hob. We also like the capacity of the fridge-freezer, (180 litres). Some shorter-stature potential buyers, though, will say the microwave is too high, though (it’s above the freezer).
The TI is the lightest of the three Alarias; the TS is 1810kg, and the RI is 1825kg. All three are easily within the scope of cars in the weight-class of our 2118kg-kerbweight SsangYong Rexton W, and the journey from the factory to Little Orchard Caravan Park (motorway plus narrow winding lanes) had us praising the remarkable stability of the TI.
Twin-axle sure-footed, easy-tow characteristics are beyond dispute, of course – but some feel slightly more dependable than others, in an almost indefinable way. The TI is one of these. We love it!
Lunar Delta TI –same bedroom layout; parallel lounge
Options aren’t on offer for Alarias