IT has been a while coming but the Sterling Eccles, one of the oldest names in the caravanning world has received some welcome attention.
Manufacturers, the Swift Group, have repositioned the Eccles range to be more competitive, believing that prices can’t keep rising out of their core market’s budget. The Eccles Topaz is a perfect example of this.
On the outside a distinctive shape is new. Smoothly moulded front panels, with the triple pane window match the curvy rear. Dark blue and grey graphics are subtle yet modern.
And although prices have remained static, you still get a stabiliser and wet locker as standard on the outside.
Stepping inside, and that extra two inches of width really makes a difference to this two-berth. It has a lounge up front, central kitchen and dresser and spacious rear washroom.
Swift, for this year, has done away with pretty much all the ceiling lighting in the lounge, replacing it with a combination of spotlights (one in each corner), mains lights moulded into the front between eye-level lockers and one small light fitted in a plastic moulding that curves to follow the front sweep, holding the clock too.
There’s a front drawer unit that unfolds to create a coffee/breakfast table. With just the two of you, there’s no need to bother with the main table for every mealtime.
The bed slats can be accessed through the door below. The kneerolls are not too pronounced so a fairly flat bed is achievable. There are armrests in the front corners as well as two cushions and two smaller bolster cushions that can be used as armrests.
A classy and cosy interior
In the kitchen, the rather large, round sink dominates and has a proper metal mixer tap.
The compact Stoves cooker, with three gas burners and an electric hotplate, is common throughout Swift’s entire mid-range line-up. It comes with a grill and oven too.
The fridge offers 113 litres (although only 107 of these are usable) with a small freezer compartment.
The microwave takes up valuable kitchen storage space, but it’s easier to justify in this two-berth than it would be in a family ‘van.
The washroom door has a proper metal handle, a decent lock and a door stopper to prevent it swinging open and hitting the furniture.
Although spacious, this room squeezes a lot in. To the right is a large walk-in shower with its own light. The shower even has shelves for shampoo and soap.
Directly ahead is the deep sink with metal tap, as well as a mirror, soap dish and beaker holder. Below, the cupboard – though not huge – will hold small towels or there’s a shelf above the heavily frosted window.
The toilet and wardrobe sit on the left.
Toilet and washroom
The new ambient lights create a really cosy interior and the blinds on the front windows are much easier to use. The interior looks classy and simple and will not put anyone off.
The use of good quality fittings like that washroom door handle and proper metal taps in the sink and washroom, help give this mid-range caravan a much more luxurious feel.
And the equipment levels aren’t stingy either. Weights and prices are similar to last year’s model too, so you won’t need a huge car to pull it along - a Mondeo-class car would suffice.
Only a few minor details, like that antiquated way of making up the front lounge into a bed that has been around since the year dot, stop this caravan achieving 10 stars.
• A full version of this review with specification appeared in the August 2007 issue of Which Caravan. To order a road test reprint contact Tina Beaumont on 01778 391187.
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