The Sprite Freedom 6 TD has a great layout for six. It's a great price. And it's light in weight. All the basics are right for a fantastic starter caravan. The Freedom 6 TD brings to the market a brilliant affordable option that makes a move up from tenting into caravanning a reality for more families.
The Sprite Freedom 6 TD is a caravan to consider if you are thinking of graduating from tenting to caravanning. This new model is a lightweight six-berth with beds for six. It is the winner of Caravan magazine's 2016 Family Caravan under £15,000 award.
The Swift Group’s three family-layout newcomers are an interesting concept. All of them are six-berths. All are lower in price than their potential rivals. And all of them are what we might call “basic” in terms of level of equipment.
They lack carpets, microwaves and conventional curtains. But they do have all the essentials for family holidays, in a no-frills manner. This is caravanning at its simplest. Like turning back the clock to the days before the majority of caravans became cocoons of luxury as manufacturers began to strive for ever-higher equipment levels in attempts to appeal to the rising tide of higher spec demand from buyers.
The Freedom range strips caravanning back to basics. Beds, hobs, oven-grills, showers, all the essentials are there. These caravans are designed specifically to appeal to families taking their first step from camping to caravanning. Comfortable seating, a shower and a central heating system – all things that tenting can’t provide – are here in the Swift Group’s three first-time-buyer models.
And all of them are light in weight. Even the twin-axle Freedom FB, with a fixed bed and an overall length of 7.92m, has an MTPLM of a mere 1508kg.
Our review example of the range, the Freedom 6 TD, which won Caravan mag’s award for Best Family Caravan under £15,000, is the lowest-priced tourer in its six-berth, single-axle class.
The arrival of the Freedom trio has now nicely broadened choice in the lightweight six-berth sector, and focused attention on the affordability of making that giant step up from grass-roots camping to wheels and off-the-ground living – and central heating.
So how does our review 6 TD measure up when we consider the demands of a family of six looking for their holiday upgrade?
First, tents don’t have showers…
Sheer luxury! Flick-of-a-switch hot water from the Truma Combi 6 system that also supplies space heating. A shower that’s in its own compartment within the washroom that also contains a basin and loo. And even a shower rose with an on-off button, so that once you have set the temperature, that setting is retained when you turn off the water (to apply the shampoo) and then resume your showering. All a million miles ahead of tenting!
The shower room is amidships, opposite the kitchen, with the shower on the front end, the basin in the centre and the loo at the rear. Cabinets and shelving give you enough places to put stuff.
There is, though, one shortcoming of the Freedom 6 TD’s little room. There’s no provision for hanging towels. Caravan retailers can usually supply and fit these, or you can go down the DIY route; either way, if you buy this model, it would be wise to make towel loops a priority before your first trip away, otherwise damp towels will have to hang over wardrobe and cabinet doors, which doesn't look pretty.
While floor space isn’t as generous as you’d find in a shower room that spans the whole width of a caravan at the rear, there is enough for mum or dad to shower at least one child.
The 6 TD is the same layout as the Sprite Major 6 TD (but with less equipment and a lower price and 85 fewer kilos to tow); this model has a long-running success story because of its brilliant bed arrangement. The layout provides two permanent bunks plus two more to make up from dining seating, all contained within a family “room” at the rear. These models also have the versatility of lounge settees that are long enough to make into single beds, at 1.9m (nearside) and 1.8m (offside), as an alternative to creating a big double bed.
It’s an arrangement that works well, proven by the huge popularity of the well-established Sprite version.
Nice touches are very bright LED clusters in each bunk area.
One of the most important factors when you’re choosing a caravan for six is the amount of storage space a caravan provides. The more hide-away space, the less the risk of the caravan becoming untidy, as can easily happen when six lots of clothes, shoes and other necessities, not to mention toys, are threatening to clutter your holiday home.
The 6 TD’s wardrobe has 53cm of hanging width.
There are six head-height lockers (not including the kitchen); the two in the front sector are huge, at 90cm wide. There’s ample duvet, pillow and sleeping bag space under the long lounge and the two seating sections in the dining area.
And under the lower bunk you have an area that’s 1.83m long and 57cm wide. Even better, you can hinge up the base of this bunk and secure it against the wall while you get at the contents or even store something for transport that’s taller than the bunk base; toys, for example.
The storage capability of this caravan ample for the needs of six, we’d say.
It’s worth saying, though, that so much storage space at the rear can lead you to load too much weight here, which can create an imbalance, by reducing the nose weight (the down force exerted by the caravan onto the towball of the car). The generally accepted nose weight figure for caravans is 5-7% of the MTPLM; for the 6 TD that ‘s between 70 and 98kg. You can buy nose weight gauges, or you can improvise with bathroom scales and a piece of wood, by lowering the hitch cup onto the wood by winding the jockey wheel.
With two “dining rooms”, the Freedom 6 TD caters brilliantly for two generations. The young caravanners have mealtime seclusion; more importantly, this is somewhere for table-top activities; a place the kids can call their own. And there’s an admirable design feature in this area; a mains socket plus TV connection points within a (two-shelf) cabinet, and an aperture through which to feed cables up to the surface; perfect for charging and using iPads, laptops and the like. There are also TV points plus a main socket close to floor level at the front of the lounge;
The main table is conveniently stowed in the wardrobe when it’s not in use.
And when it’s just coffee time, a small table can be hinged upwards at the centre-front of the lounge.
The 6 TD’s dining attributes also give it brilliant family lounging credentials. All six can gather on the lounge’s lengthy settees, for television-watching.
This super-lightweight six-berth’s economies compared with higher-priced models include a style feature that, as you’re relaxing in the lounge, you can’t help but notice. This caravan doesn’t have curtains. Instead, panels of fabric border each window. Much as we applaud what the Freedom 6 TD sets out to achieve, in terms of economies and simplicity, we’re not convinced that these fabric panels are a good idea. It’s all a matter of taste, of course, and we do like the plain fawn seating fabric.
Freedoms don’t have carpets as standard although they’re an option; one which we’d definitely go for if we went for this model. Attractive as the vinyl flooring is, caravans are a whole lot cosier with carpets.
Cooking equipment is three burners and a grill. That’s another pointer to the Freedom’s raison d’être as a first step into caravanning from tenting; campers won’t miss ovens. The big advantage of absence of an oven is increased storage space; the 51cm wide, 64cm deep two-shelf cabinet under the grill is the bonus.
When you add in the three top lockers plus the cabinet alongside the fridge, the 6 TD’s kitchen storage capability can safely be described as fine.
At 1404kg MTPLM you have a wide choice of towcars that are suitable for the Freedom 6 TD. The accepted advice for novice towers is that a caravan should ideally weigh at least 85% of the car’s kerb weight, which means you are looking at a car weighing 1651kg or greater.
The Sprite reputation for well-balanced road characteristics was exemplified in this model; its test tow was an easy joy. The electronic AL-KO ATC stability control system that detects and corrects any first-sign of snaking is an option on the Freedom range; one that we’d go for on any caravan because the enhanced safety margin that it gives is well worth budgeting for an extra £315.