At £15,894 including delivery, the Xplore 586 has to be regarded as outstanding value, even when you add on £420 for the SE pack with which every Xplore comes. The pack includes the hitch-head stabiliser, spare wheel and AL-KO Secure wheel lock receptor. The 586’s exceptionally light weight for its six-berth capability puts it ahead of competitors in its class. But the high-points of this caravan can’t simply be quantified in figures. This model’s layout excels as a family caravan.
The Xplore 586, Caravan magazine's Lightweight Caravan of the Year for 2016, has beds for six and a long kitchen with good storage capacity.
Providing accommodation for six in a caravan that’s only 5.7m long is a test of any manufacturer’s ingenuity. New for 2016, this layout achieves not just beds for up to six. It does so in three well-defined and reasonably well separated areas.
And it’s light in weight; at 1350kg it’s the lightest caravan in its bunks-six-berth class, which surely helped it to win Caravan magazine’s Lightweight Caravan of the Year award for 2016.
When we drew up the shortlist for this award we scrutinised caravans with MTPLM figures under 1500kg, and the latest addition to the Xplore range is a long way under 1500kg. This award, though, isn’t simply about figures. It’s about how well a caravan performs for the market for which it’s designed.
When our four judges explored the fine detail of the 586 they gave it high marks in all scoring sectors, including its stunning styling. The combination of turquoise and bright green in curtains and cushions sends thoughts instantly into the realms of sunny holidays, and the very pale woodwork makes this relatively compact caravan look actually rather spacious.
There’s much more to this new Xplore model than the visual qualities that will grab your attention the moment you step inside. The stuff you can’t see is rather more important. Xplore caravans, in common with all Explorer Group tourers, are made using the SoLiD fully-bonded construction system. Explorer developed the system with Henkel, the structural bonding specialists; the same construction system is used on Formula 1 racing cars, super yachts and is also used to bond aircraft wings.
There’s another construction feature that’s hidden from view, too. The floor is protected from road moisture by a GRP underskin.
The Xplore’s heating and hot water system system isn’t obvious, either. It’s the Whale system, hidden away under the offside settee.
And it’s very efficient. At the start of our chill winter test (with temperatures hovering around 3ºC), powered by electricity, the 586 reached a comfortable coats-off temperature in less than 15 minutes and five minutes later we pronounced it toasty. We could have switched on the system’s gas mode, at the same time, and the caravan would have warmed up even quicker. And it has the simplest control panel of any heating system, with on-off buttons for water and space heating, and a line of red dots to indicate temperature selected.
Time to consider the showering arrangements…
While most caravans have shower rooms either across the whole width at the rear, or centrally on the offside, there are some caravans that fall into neither of those camps. The Xplore 586 is one of them, with a shower room that occupies a large chunk of the offside corner, bordered by the bunk beds and the wardrobe. It’s vaguely triangular in shape, with more floor space than you might imagine; there’s as much space to move around in here as in some full-width rear shower rooms.
The shower is in the right-hand sector, almost in the centre of the caravan, with the toilet and washbasin on the offside.
Two cabinets are together big enough to hide away most of the showering necessities. And the Whale water heater is designed to warm up rapidly, to keep pace with family shower requirements. It has an eight-litre capacity. Like the space heating system, you can power it on either gas or electricity, or both. In that mode, it will warm the water to 70ºC in just 12 minutes, which is useful if you need near-consecutive showers. On electricity, it will take 20 minutes to fully warm up, which is fine unless everyone wants their showers at once.
There is one downside to the 586’s showering arrangements, though. There is only one towel loop. So towels would be draped over doors to dry. The answer is to ask your retailer to fit more towel loops or bars in the shower room, of course.
The 586’s credentials as a caravan capable of accommodating up to six centre around two areas. One is the fixed bunks, cosily tucked away in the nearside corner, with a ladder fixed to the framework and a feeling, when you crawl into bed, of seclusion; the pillow ends get quite a lot of privacy from the wall of the shower room alongside.
The other key zone is the offside dining area, which makes into two more bunks. The lower mattress is made up of the seating upholstery using the whole depth, rather than folded out to half-depth, so adult-sized caravanners will find comfort here. The mattress for the top bunk is much thinner (that’s fine for little caravanners); it’s rollable, so you can store it under a seat.
A curtain tracks around this area and completely disappears into the wardrobe; an incredibly neat arrangement!
The lounge has settees long enough to make single beds, as an alternative to a double; it’s nice to have that flexibility.
Flexibility is found in the realm of storage, too. Under the lower bunk is a really useful space. And you can make it even more useful (depending on what you want to put here) by taking off the mattress and placing it on top of the higher bunk, and raising the base. A webbing strap fixes it against the wall by means of a press-stud.
The wardrobe has two good-sized shelf areas beneath it; this would be the ideal space for shoes.
There’s flexibility in the dining arrangements, too. You could do quick breakfasts and snacks in two-by-two relays at the side dining area. Or you can all sit together, three on each side, with the main table in the lounge.
The efficacy of lounging arrangements, family-holiday style, is more about facilitating activities than just sitting in front of a TV. So location of power points is important, for charging different media equipment. There are three sockets positioned for this purpose (and two more in the kitchen). One’s in a corner of the lounge (ideal for leaving stuff to charge). One’s close to the floor in the dining area (ideal for iPads and the like, in film-watch mode). And one is close to the top of the cabinet that divides the lounge from the dining area. That’s where your TV would go; it could face the lounge or the rear of the caravan, even watchable from the bunks.
The kitchen is 1.52m long, with good space between and alongside the sink and hob.
Cooking facilities are three burners and a combined oven-grill.
There’s no microwave although you can have one fitted for an extra £179.
Three drawers and a cabinet, all 37cm wide, are between the fridge and the oven-grill. And there’s a 46cm wide cupboard under the oven-grill. When you also factor in the trio of top cabinets, the 586’s kitchen storage credentials are workable, even with six appetites to cater for.
There’s a little more space to consider, too, in the cabinet that forms a room divider between the lounge and dining seating areas. The cabinet is 90cm deep and almost 30cm wide, with the table occupying a little of that width. A couple of pull-out, metal basket-type shelves in here alongside the table would have created good additional kitchen storage.
If we bought an Xplore 586 we’d go for the option of ATC electronic stability control. It adds £420 to the price of the caravan but its value in terms of extra safety margin is immense, simply for peace of mind, knowing that there is something electronic detecting any sign of sway that might occur if you’re overtaken by a lorry, for example.
The 586 is light enough to be mated to vehicles a lot less in weight than our Rexton, of course. Unsurprisingly, it towed smoothly and superbly. And at the end of the test the light weight earned more praise when we found it’s quite easy for two people to manhandle.