THE Swift Group’s sun roof innovation creates a lot more than the stunning black-outlined, upswept design that catches eyes as you tow.
Inside, the extra daylight these big, curving sun roofs let in makes every caravan in which they’re fitted amazingly light and bright – a fact we came to notice all the more on the dull days during our test of the Eccles Coral.
Less obvious is the reason for the curved black moulding that runs across the tops of the windows. Swift calls this a “water management channel”, designed to take rain water away from the window assembly, to the sides, so that no water runs around the window edges. Does it work?
Well, heavy rain during our Coral test week demonstrated that it does. Water does indeed reach the corners of the caravan before it descends earthwards.
Sun roofs arrive on all Conquerors and Elites; they’re a £500 option on Challengers and Eccles models. Although all the sun roofs are the same, each sun roof-equipped caravan has its own well-defined character, and none is more distinctive than the Sterling Eccles Coral.
It’s new for 2011, and it competes with Bailey’s Unicorn Barcelona, Pegasus Bologna and Elddis Supersirocco; all these models have fixed beds two axles and end washrooms.
The Coral’s distinguishing features are all right in the centre of the layout. It’s one of the most open-plan central layouts around. That’s because the nearside dresser is comparatively low, the divider between bedroom and living area is one simple brushed-steel-look pole (and a blind hidden out of the way) – and the kitchen is huge.
In between, there’s plenty of floor space – and a feeling of open-plan airiness that ensures there’s minimal risk of the Coral attracting any criticism about fixed beds dominating layouts.
Among the new-for-2011 spec that arrives on Eccles models, though, is something we think shouldn’t be here at all. It’s a rubbish bin – much larger than in previous models and therefore much more intrusive in terms of appearance and space. Bins on caravan doors look awful in any model – especially when the door is at the lounge end.
These new-style bins are intended to come apart for ease of emptying. But on both the Coral and the Eccles Amber which we tested in the same week, the bins came apart on their own in response to door-closing vibration and towing.
And in the Coral, which has so much kitchen cupboard space, a bin would have been much better placed on the inside of a cupboard door. Result: more space on the mat for shoes, no risk of bin odours and untidy tops of bin liners in the lounge – and no great grey protuberance on the door!
Our prototype test model had a large cupboard on the washroom wall; in production models this is replaced by open shelving – which is utterly useless when you’re towing; there are already five shelf areas of stuff to be stowed for towing – who wants two more?
The under-washbasin cupboard and the one remaining wall cupboard are not large enough to contain all the stuff that would gather on the existing shelf areas, let alone two more!
But our gripe must be seen in context of an otherwise exemplary caravan that’s bound to hit the spot with a lot of people for whom space and great quantities of storage are important.
The Coral’s assets stacked up in a growing pile the more we examined it. Just imagine yourself relaxing in the scenes pictured on these pages and it’s not hard to share our enthusiasm for the big Coral.
Big, spacious and special, the new Coral ticks boxes galore. It’s big in terms of its near-eight-metres of length, its layout creates plenty of space – and it’s special by reason of its practical kitchen with great quantities of storage space.
We love the fine, full-width showering and grooming area, the pale woodwork and the neat white speakers set into the ceiling, directing sound roundly into the living area.
Most of all we love the amount of light let in by the sun roof. Will sun roofs in caravans be a mere passing gimmick? Some people said that about Heki rooflights in the late 1990s…