Value, 1476 kg MTPLM, lovely ambience, white lockers, lighting style and first-rate storage for its size. There’s a lot to like about the Major 4 SB. It's easy to see why it's the single-axle best-seller in the range. Only the restricted amount of lower storage space in the kitchen drew questions from us. But then you can’t always have it all and the SB does give you so very much.
Sprite’s single-axle best-seller offers a luxury island bed layout and surprise refinements
Sprite's single-axle best-seller offers a luxury island bed layout and surprise refinements
There are 10 models in Swift's ever-popular Sprite range. That's more layout choice than in any other of this manufacturer's ranges. Five of these models have six-berths. It underlies the fact that, over time, Sprite has made its name on family-affordability.
Four Sprites have twin-axles. They added an extra one for 2018. That's testimony to the general rise in popularity of twin-axle caravans. That's the Sprite Quattro EB, with a transverse island bed.
There's a single-axle option for buyers looking for a transverse island bed. That's this one, the Major 4 SB, introduced in 2015 on the crest of the wave of popularity for this layout concept.
It's now Sprite's best-selling single-axle model, which is why we picked it for this review.
This model is so popular that Swift didn't have one at its factory in Hull for us to review. So, we arranged with a retailer to borrow one. Campbells Caravans, which has branches at Lostock Hall, Preston, and at Blackburn, obliged.
We took a 20-mile drive north, via the M6, followed by some narrow, twisting lanes. It provided an ideal route to assess the lightweight 4 SB's road manners.
Along the way, talk in the car turned to affordability. And, the lightweight attributes of this agile tourer. Plus, how this legend of leisure lifestyle all began. The Sprite brand dates back in to the dawn of touring caravan evolution.
In 1947, a visionary called Sam Alper made his first touring caravan. In the post-war years, materials were not available. Alper made his caravan using suspension and brakes from a Spitfire. Two years later he began producing Sprites; an iconic brand was born.
Alper designed his Sprites to be light in weight and affordable. The industry acknowledges him as the father of mainstream touring caravanning today.
The Major 4 SB, with a list price of £17,330, earns a big, bold tick in the box marked 'value'.
Every Sprite comes with the Diamond Pack of equipment that adds £495 to the price. Even factoring this in, the Major 4 SB looks great value at £17,860. The Diamond Pack gives you essentials: an AKS hitch-head stabiliser, and an AL-KO Secure wheel lock receiver. If you decide to buy the lock (£265) you are likely to earn a reduction in your caravan insurance cost).
The pack also includes the convenience of a microwave, plus refinements. These are alloy wheels, two scatter cushions, a door flyscreen and a radio/CD/MP3 player with iPod connection.
Sprites also come with panoramic sunroofs, which add £349 to the price. This feature, together with the new sleeker front window design for 2018, enhances the Sprite image. They elevate the brand's appeal from its traditional budget status.
Campbells' price for the caravan we are reviewing is £18,735. That's the basic price plus the Diamond Pack plus the sunroof and delivery charge.
This year's Sprites have distinctive teal-coloured graphics. We love the practicality of the interior scheme, too. It has dark grey seating and paler grey backrests. It's durable without looking basic.
The layout is pretty much standard for a single-axle island bed caravan. The kitchen is on the offside, a four-seater lounge and a full-width shower room across the rear.
The shower room is large, but all you need is here. A double towel hook is within easy reach as you step out of the shower, plus a towel loop. There's a shelf for shampoo in the shower cubicle.
Good-sized cabinets below the basin (with two shelf spaces) and on the rear wall (with three shelves) provide excellent storage. There's also a corner shelf on the offside wall above the window.
Three spotlights direct light down from the ceiling in the mirror-washbasin area. And it has a big, circular light provide illumination in the shower cubicle.
The bed is 1.85m long in its extended night-time mode. In the day, it retracts by about 20cm to give you a good corridor space. The mattress is deep. It feels supportive.
It's constructed of memory fibre and is handmade. A dual-signed label stitched to it has two names on it. Graham has signed off the inner section. Cody signed the outer; impressive attention to detail!
You can of course turn the lounge into a double bed. Webbing-linked slats pull out from under the two drawers. This bed is over 2m long and 1.59m wide.
Bedroom ambience is impressive, keeping in mind the modest price of this caravan. Lines of very bright white LEDs run across the top of the over-bed lockers – and also above the wardrobes!
There's a large triangular dressing table with a mirrored three-shelf wall cabinet. And TV points sit above the lower cabinet. The spotlight above the dressing table has a dimmer facility; we didn't expect that in a sub-£20,000 tourer!
An exterior hatch opens into the under-bed space. It's ideal for large items such as awning chairs. The metal, cross-shaped bed base retraction mechanism restricts apertures from inside the caravan. That is the same in most beds of this design. But organisation overcomes this.
The spare wheel is under the bed, close enough to the exterior aperture should you have to use it. But not too close to restrict space.
Wardrobes are alongside the bed. The larger one contains two shelves, two drawers and a drop-down-door cupboard below (ideal for shoes). The other has a cupboard with two shelf spaces. Above the bed, two lockers each give you two shelf spaces. Bedroom storage is first class in a caravan of this length.
Side and front lower lounge storage areas all have full-width drop-down hatches.
The table stows away on the aft wall of the larger wardrobe. When it's quick-meal time, the pull-out table above the chest of drawers is fine. It creates enough space for two place-settings.
Two power points are in the lounge. Speakers and two spotlights are set into the console that surrounds both the sunroof and the central roof light. Illumination runs above the side lockers.
TV connections are by the dresser aft of the door. All you need for cosy caravan lounging is here.
There's an element of styling in this kitchen. It is simple and looks lovely. It has a curved shelf that descends from the microwave housing. This gives you somewhere to put small items such as a pepper grinder.
A mains socket is here, out of the way. And here is another refinement that's a surprise in a 'budget' caravan. There is a dimmer switch which operates the strips of LEDs above the lounge lockers.
The kitchen's long when you use the hinged extension. And the circular sink is enormous by any caravan standard.
Lower storage space is the only aspect of this kitchen that might challenge you. The cabinet is quite slim, with one metal shelf. And the dresser gives you two good wedge-shaped shelf spaces. But the lower one would be best for items you often, as it's right beside the door.
Agile on the tight corners of narrow lanes on our route, sturdy at 60mph on the M6, the SB was a delight to tow.
You could say that was a given, considering the beefy vehicle which we use for all our test tows. The well-balanced feel of the SB makes us sure it would tow as well behind a much smaller, lighter car than our SsangYong Rexton.
We wish it had ATC, though, for extra security. It's a £349 option; we'd go for that if we were buying one.