Family-layout twin-axle caravans are officially in fashion. Suddenly, they’re growing in number. This new six-berth Quasar is one of two family four-wheel options to be launched from the Lunar stable for 2015. Along with the Venus 620/6, the Quasar 646 was unveiled to the public in February 2015. Their arrival brings the choice of lightweight twins on the market to six.
Two are in the Sprite range, the Quattro FB and EW. Both have MTPLM figures of 1600kg.
Stretching the weight range a little further upwards, there’s the family-layout Elddis Avanté 636 at 1642kg, and in Bailey’s Pegasus GT65 range, there’s the six-berth Turin, at 1676kg.
The Quasar 646’s MTPLM is 1550kg, marginally more than the Venus at 1530kg. The layout’s the same, so these two caravans, with differences in equipment level and looks, will in many ways compete with each other for attention among families looking for lightweight multi-berth holiday accommodation. The enhanced equipment you get by going for a Quasar rather than a Venus includes a full oven and grill (compared with the combined unit in Venus models) and a mains hotplate.
The Quasar 646’s layout gives you settees long enough to make single beds, an offside dining area that can be transformed into bunks, and two permanent bunks in the nearside rear corner. It’s the same layout as the single-axle Quasar 586 (a brilliant concept in family touring; little wonder Lunar gives us alternatives from which to choose on the same theme) but with more length, more space and a bigger kitchen. And all six beds are longer.
The big-caravan appeal goes on, into the washing department…
The shower room is almost triangular, with an extension in the apex, to accommodate the shower, tucked away unobtrusively. That’s important, because its position creates a generous amount of floor space; easily as much as in many shower rooms which span the full width of the caravan.
Some buyers may say the washbasin is rather small for family needs; fine for cleaning teeth and washing hands and only just large enough for washing your face. The shower, though, is lovely, with an Ecocamel head that mixes air with the water to increate the flow rate and with five shelves for shampoo bottles!
There’s a towel loop on the wall close to the shower and a double hook on the other side of the shower room. We’d prefer to have another couple of hooks if we were buying this caravan; that’s easily achieved.
The under-basin cabinet is a little small for the needs of six but there are other places you can store bathroom items, such as in the drawers beneath the wardrobe, just forward of the shower room.
The bunk area is brilliantly designed, with the forward end of the bunk unit forming a ladder. Four apertures create foot-holes so the little person can get in and out of bed. Each of the fixed bunks, which are 1.79m long, has a light, a window and a curtain and there’s a mains socket in the base of the lower bunk.
The dining area transforms into bunks that are 1.82m long. Raising bunk bases is always a bit of a fiddle but they are a very efficient use of space. The curtain which tracks around the bunk area has its own cabinet, so it’s always neatly out of the way; a nice touch.
The settees are 1.95m in length; long enough to use as single beds. The base of the double bed that you can make here is linked slats; they roll out from under the central-front drawers.
The storage area under the lower bunk is superbly designed, with an exterior aperture plus an interior hinge-down hatch and, of course you can raise the bed base. Because there are three ways to get into it, all sorts and shapes of equipment could be stowed here, from quite large folding chairs and a table to a lightweight awning. The spaces under the side dining area seats are accessed by sliding back the webbing-linked tops; again very easy.
Full-length drop-down doors give you access to the spaces under the lounge seating.
With nine top lockers, a wardrobe with a 66cm wide rail and two drawers beneath, the amount of storage space is all you’d want it to be and more besides. And there’s a surprise. Below the under-wardrobe drawers is what looks like two more drawers. But these drawer fronts are hinged together, as one unit, so when you open it, you get a 40cm deep hatch; perfect for big walking boots as well as everyone’s trainers.
The four-person dining tables lives in its own section of the kitchen cabinet. The bunk-dining area’s table forms the base of the lower bunk here; its single aluminium leg folds upwards to lie parallel to the base of the table.
Importantly, one of the 646’s five mains sockets is in the dining area; ideal for charging phones, iPads and the like.
Two sets of mains, 12-volt, television and satellite points are in lounge, one in the offside front corner and the second at the rear of the lounge. It’s close to a TV bracket on the half-wall that divides the dining area from the lounge.
The lounge is amply long enough for all six occupants to sit. It’s a comfortable, relaxing environment, with big squashy bolsters at all four corners and two large scatter cushions.
The 2015 Quasar colours of subtle fawns, with bold purple in the cushions and curtain tie-backs, look gorgeously modern and will appeal to most tastes.
The 646’s kitchen is large enough to be compared to those in some houses. With 1.4m of kitchen length forward of the cooker, making meals for six would be a joy here. Even with the large, fan-shaped removable drainer in place there’s 62cm of space.
The sink cover matches the kitchen surface; even though it sits a couple of centimetres higher than the rest of the surface, this circular area is useful additional food prep space when you’re not using the sink.
Lower storage space is generous; two cupboards, one 25cm wide, the other 39cm, with a good-sized cutlery drawer and ample depth for tall items such as cereal packets. Top space is good, too, with two double-doored cabinets alongside the microwave. Even though this is a lightweight caravan for its length, the oven and grill are full size; the hob has a mains hotplate and three burners.
The 646’s tow test, by chance, had a dual role. Yes, it was a test of the new handling characteristics but it was also the first time we’d towed with our new Ssangyong Rexton. Chance, therefore, to play with one of its gizmos, the reversing camera that enables you to hitch on without the aid of a pair of eyes outside watching hitch and ball. Nice! And so was the 646’s performance on its 40-mile round trip to Little Orchard Caravan Park at Weeton close to the Fylde coast in Lancashire.
The Rexton’s tow weight credentials, of course, well exceed that which is necessary to pull a 646 but it was clear to us that the new Quasar’s twin-axle, beautifully balanced characteristics would be just as good with a lesser-weight vehicle in charge. The cornering precision and inherent stability that comes with four wheels sells the twin-axle concept easily, especially when you consider that now, more than ever, two axles don’t need to mean heavy weight.
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