Since Sprite’s inventor, the legendary Sam Alper, built the first Sprite in the 1940s, the name Sprite has been synonymous with lightweight, affordable caravans. Sprite is one of Britain’s oldest caravan names – and Sam Alper’s principals of light weight and low price hold as true today as they were when he invented the first Sprite.
The newest Sprite, the Major 6, launched earlier this year, brings to the range a layout that packs beds for six into little over 1400kg (MTPLM). There are fixed bunks for two, plus two more bunks to make up in an offside dining area – and, of course, a wide double bed to create in the lounge. It’s a brilliant design for family living, because the kids get their own dining area – and this one is just about wide enough for four small children to sit at.
It’s brilliant in other ways, too. The new Major 6 has two features that are a surprise in only 5.6m of body length. The first one you’ll notice is that there are two wardrobes. The second is less obvious, until you open the door into the shower room.
The Major 6 has a separate shower, in an offside, corner shower room that, from its exterior shape, doesn’t look big enough to give you this luxury. And there’s floor space, too; this shower room is a million miles better than anything a shared shower-toilet compartment can offer in terms of family convenience. For this money, this weight and this length, the showering arrangements are excellent.
The sleeping qualities of the Major 6 excel, too. Especially for the two kids who get the fixed bunks. Each has its curtain and its reading light – and the lower one has a small shelf just by the pillow; it’s not until you crawl in here and take a good look that you find the shelf. You also find, below the shelf, a deep void – perfect for the occupant of this bunk to secrete away crisps and other eatables that the parents won’t know are here until they hear midnight munching sounds!
There’s fixed-ladder access to the top bunk. A second ladder clips in place when you make up the bunk beds in the dining area. The base of the lower bunk is completed by the table, which drops down to rest on ledges at the edge of each seat.
A high mark goes to storage because, in only 5.6m of body length, the Major’s designers have managed to cram in two wardrobes, a good-sized kitchen cupboard, plus space under four seats, and nine top lockers. The settee lockers have front access – and if you should want to get to items from the top, there are metal springs to hold the base up for you. Not every caravan in the Major 6’s price-bracket has locker stays.
It’s the presence of two wardrobes, though, that is the Major 6’s greatest storage surprise. Both have full hanging depth. The wardrobe that sits in the centre of the back of the caravan, between the shower room and the fixed bunks, has a shelf below the hanging depth, A huge space below the shelf is perfect for shoes.
The second wardrobe (between the lounge and the dining area) has the Truma heater unit beneath it.
With two dining areas, the Major 6 caters amply for family needs. The freestanding table for the lounge hides way, when not in use, at one side of the rear wardrobe; there are clips to hold it in place.
But it’s not praise all the way when it comes to mealtimes. In the side dining area the space between the table and the seating is a little too great for comfortable eating. You feel a tendency to put your elbows in the air in order to use cutlery, which isn’t comfortable; children will find this even more of a problem. Young children need booster seats in the car – so if you bring these into the dining area at mealtimes, you solve the problem.
Upholstery is firm and comfortable in the lounge and, although the settees aren’t full single-bed length, there’s enough room for two to relax with their feet up.
A full oven and grill, three burners (no microwave, though) and enough surface to make family meals; the kitchen stands up to the test well. Three cupboards at the top take care of lightweight items and, importantly, there’s a cabinet between the fridge and the oven.
Sprites come with a Diamond Pack that adds £399 to the price. But don’t complain about that, because in among the niceties including cushions and a radio are two features that are important on-the-road attributes. One is a hitch-head stabiliser; the other is a spare wheel.
On its test tow, at speeds up to 50mph, around some roundabouts and tight town corners, the Major 6 demonstrated superbly stable and uncomplicated characteristics as we had expected. Behind our Kia Sorento, you could say that would have been obvious – and you’d be right. But experience teaches us that, even when you’re using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, good stability and tow characteristics show. The Major 6 is easily towable by a car of much less weight than the Sorento.