Live-in test: Sprite Super Quattro FB
Embarking on a pre-christmas tour of Yorkshire’s East Riding offered our test team the ideal opportunity to find out how this 8ft-wide six-berth would perform
Our test team takes an in-depth look at this spacious new 8ft-wide six-berth
‘Once you step inside the Quattro FB, you immediately notice the additional room that the extra width of the caravan gives you’
EIGHT FEET SEEMS to have become the magic width for British caravan manufacturers in recent years. Continental firms have turned out such vans for many years – Adria’s more upmarket ranges are all 8ft wide, for example, as is the Knaus Starclass line-up. We don’t even want to begin to talk about widths they might be towing across the pond. But with the exception of Buccaneer, British firms have preferred to stick to dimensions closer to the more conventional 7ft. Until recently. First, what was then the Explorer Group opted to take what it was already doing with Buccaneers and apply this further down the market, with the family-orientated Elddis Avanté and Compass Casita. Lunar soon followed suit with the Alarias (once it had built a pit in its factory wide enough to take such a model). And then there was Swift, which opted for new 8ft-wide models in two of its ranges. The focus at the launch last summer was on the Elegance Grandes, but earlier in the year, it had also brought out two 8ft-wide versions of the most popular layouts in its recently enhanced Sprite range, the Sprite Supers. Suddenly there seemed so many to choose from – and then, by the NEC this year, we had Bailey’s Pegasus Grandes, too. We decided to take stock of one of the new extra-wide vans, to see how they fared on a pre-christmas tour. Colleague Bryony was off to East Riding (p24), and the obvious choice was the six-berth Sprite Super Quattro FB, with central dinette, nearside rear corner bed and offside rear corner washroom.
The Sprite Super range might be 8ft wide, but the Quattro FB remains recognisably a Sprite. It still features that distinctive curvaceous Sprite front panel and, like all of the Sprites since the 2018 season, three front windows. The extra body width does make this row of windows look a little more squat on the road – as does the whole van, in fact. But you do get even more of a view from inside. You still get the smart Sprite lettering along the side, too, and the sleek, modern decals. Our test model came with the Diamond Pack (costing a further £610 for a twin-axle), so we also had classy ‘Edge’ alloy wheels. In short, you could turn up with this at a Sprite owners’ rally and it wouldn’t look out of place. It’s been a while since Sprites looked like a budget van, and the Supers are continuing in this move upmarket.
We arrived to pick up the Sprite Super fresh from the NEC, where we had heard more than one dealer’s anecdote about some poor customer who thought they were the bee’s knees when it came to towing, only to find touring with an 8ft-wide model a little different to what they were used to. So we were a little wary in starting out with this one, even though the distance we had to travel – just through Hull rush-hour traffic out into the country lanes of the East Riding – was apparently considerably less than our unfortunate friends had been covering.
In the event, we needn’t have worried. The car we were towing with – a Volvo XC40 – was only just an 85% match if we were parsimonious with what we packed. However, thanks to that Diamond Pack, the van came with an AKS stabiliser; so, even though we did not have ATC (that costs a further £349 to fit on its own), towing was smooth and untroubled. We even found an advantage in having a wider caravan: it’s easier to check the lights are properly connected, because the front sidelights are that much easier to see in the side mirrors.
Pitch and set-up
Arriving at the site, we found that the corner steadies were easy to reach. In this reviewer’s opinion, it’s something of a key test that you should be able to reach the corner steady bolts, using an average-size steady winder, without having to kneel down on the (potentially muddy) ground. And in this respect, the Sprite Super passed with flying colours. The hook-up connection is protected inside the wet locker for the battery, but this van’s entry-level origins become a bit more obvious when you realise that there isn’t any external barbecue point or shower. That said, having external access to the large storage area provided under the fixed bed (a space whose only obstruction is the spare wheel that comes as part of the Diamond Pack) is a definite bonus if you tour with lots of kit. For example, outdoor furniture can easily be stowed away in here.
Step inside the Quattro FB and you will immediately notice the additional room that the extra width gives you – particularly if you are more used to standard British caravans up to now. The neutral interior colour scheme might be a bit too grey and silvery for some, but it rather appealed to our tastes. And the two front settees are very comfortable. The front chest is removable as a £175 dealer-fit option. If you prefer, your dealer can instead provide you with wraparound seating here – the front panel is vertical enough to allow for this arrangement – although without this, the front lounge can still seat six. And if you want to chop and change the seating, that’s possible, too. At the back of the chest, you get the usual array of sockets that Swift makes very visible. This season in the Sprite, that includes a pair of USB sockets, one mains, 12V and TV socket and two ghost fixtures, should you want to add more sockets. However, the sill here is relatively narrow, so anything electrical (including the TV) would probably have to go on the front chest. And if it’s just a radio that you are after, you might prefer to use the radio module included in one of the overhead lockers, which allows you to plug in your own device to connect with the speakers housed in the ceiling. In addition to the Diamond Pack, our model had the £365 optional sunroof; but even without that, the lounge should be adequately lit from
‘Make no mistake about it, the corner bed in the rear is a real haven for the grown-ups to retreat to at the end of the day’
outside by the large windows and the Heki in the roof. In the evening, one feature that really does set the Sprite apart from other supposedly entry-level vans is the dimmable ambient lighting behind the overhead lockers here. There is perhaps a bit more of a nod to cost-cutting, though, in the four spotlights under the lockers. These are set straight into the surface, so they are not directional, and they can only be turned on as a pair. The same applies to the two LED lights in the centre of the ceiling. Still, they do provide another level of lighting, making this a very pleasant place in which to relax. The lounge is also nicely heated, with a vent in the offside corner. Surprisingly, the ambient lighting behind the lockers in the middle dinette is not dimmable. However, it’s a pleasant place to sit and spend time: the sofas here are very comfortable. While we had concerns about the freestanding table that goes here coming adrift on the move, we had no trouble during our journey. The table really only has space for four. So although this dinette is much closer to the kitchen, if more than four of you are eating, you would probably have to resort to taking the foldaway table out from its storage space near the fridge and putting it in the front lounge. Even then, you may have to use both tables together.
As standard, the Quattro’s side kitchen includes a separate oven and grill, three-burner hob and a Dometic fridge that is probably just large enough for the food of six people. As part of the Diamond Pack, our model also had a microwave, but this doesn’t take up too much of the storage space. The two remaining overhead lockers include crockery and mug racks. The large workspace is well lit by a window and a striplight, although the curved shelf – brought into the Sprites from Swift motorhomes – does partly obscure the light underneath. That said, the shelf includes two mains sockets, a hole for cables and a space for fobs and keys. The large granite-style round sink has a cover that doubles up as a chopping board. Space for storing large pans and bulky kitchenware might be a bit more limited. The pan locker immediately beneath the oven is really only big enough to house medium-sized saucepans. There is a larger cupboard to the right of this, under the cutlery drawer, but part of it is taken up by the wheel arch and ducting, so you’d need to be careful how you put a frying pan in there.
You don’t get a window in the corner washroom, although a rooflight helps to illuminate it. There’s a small basin, a round toilet and a heating vent. The handbasin has a cupboard underneath and a large mirror that’s well lit with one LED. There’s a toilet roll holder and a towel ring conveniently close to the shower cubicle in the rear. This cubicle is spacious, with its own LED light and a large plastic moulded rack for bottles and so on. But it only has one relatively small drainage hole, so if you are not perfectly level (which we were not), you might need to encourage the water on its way. A catch keeps the concertina door firmly in place.
Make no mistake about it, the corner bed in the rear is a real haven for grown-ups to retreat to at the end of the day. It is comfortable, with a well positioned and exceptionally supportive headboard. We really liked the little shelf you get on the washroom wall for books, and the space below it complete with a mains socket. That means you can charge your phone and still have it beside you at night, too. The sleep experts might frown at this, but so what? Once again, the two spotlights for reading are only centrally switched, so you and your partner will have to reach a compromise on when these go off. But that dimmable ambient lighting, which was present in the front lounge but not in the middle, is present once again here. The double bed at the front is made by sliding two platforms together. But one snag to having an 8ft-wide caravan is that, to complete the bed, you need an infill cushion, which you have to store somewhere during the day. Thankfully, it is only a small oblong. More (and more complicated) infill cushions are needed to make up the double bed in the middle. This is made with the table, whose telescopic leg needs to be retracted. There are also extensions to make the bed wider, but we did notice that, with these in position, the partition curtain only just makes it around the side of the bed. Whether it is extended or not, however, there is still room to walk around this bed.
The size of this caravan means you get two wardrobes on either side, between the middle dinette and the rear section. The offside wardrobe includes a large mirror on the door. And as a bonus, it is situated above a large heating duct, so we found that clothes stored here were toasty warm when taken out in the morning! The nearside wardrobe has an aerial fitting inside, but still has ample space for hanging and, at the bottom, a space for putting your boots. This is especially useful, because there is no boot locker by the door. The large, mainly clear area under the bed can be accessed by lifting up the slats, but we did think they could open wider than they do at the moment. Back here, there are also three overhead lockers – one large at the rear, two smaller down the side – with some handy open shelving in between. There is no exterior access to the front underseat areas, but there are access flaps on the inside. Because the legs to the bed platforms cleverly fold away, they do not get in the way. The nearside locker is totally clear, the offside one mostly. As ours was a 2019 model (as opposed to one produced halfway through the 2018 season), it came with the elegant new front chest that is common to all Swift models this season. This includes one large drawer on the outside and a smaller one hidden inside. You also get a large locker underneath, which is obscured if the bed is in place. Swift has also made access to the underseat lockers in the middle dinette easier, by having slats that lift up here as well. On top of all that, you get four overhead lockers and two corner lockers in the front lounge. There are also another three overhead lockers above the middle dinette, which, unlike the ones in the front, are shelved.
Kit and value
We were impressed by the finish on the Sprite. You wouldn’t usually expect to find dimmable ambient lighting in this price range, nor generally to have such a selection of lighting. The soft furnishings and furniture are also very high quality. Some of the equipment, however, might be at full stretch if the van has its entire quota of occupants. For a family of six, we think you would fill the 100-litre fridge to capacity very quickly. We were also aware that our model included the Diamond Pack. Given that this adds alloys, a microwave, AKS stabiliser, a door flyscreen, two more scatter cushions and an enhanced radio, if we can’t persuade you now that it’s definitely worth £610 extra, we probably never will. Without these additions, though, this comfortable and spacious caravan would still feel slightly on the entry-level side.
With at least the Diamond Pack, the Sprite Super Quattro FB offers a good towing experience and comfortable accommodation at a very attractive price, even if it is well above what you might have been used to with Sprite in days gone by. This is an attractive caravan inside and out, with a layout that offers great flexibility. And if you add ATC to make towing easier, you shouldn’t break the bank.
The lounge has a cool-grey and silver colour scheme, and the two settees are very comfortable
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN Middle dinette seats up to four in comfort. Kitchen worktop is well lit by a window and a striplight. Overhead lockers include crockery and mug racks. Part of the cupboard space under the cutlery drawer is taken up by the wheel arch and ducting
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE Front double is made with platforms and infill cushion. Rear corner bed has a supportive headboard. Double in dinette is a bit complicated and partition curtain only just contains it
LEFT-RIGHT Front gas locker is easy to reach. External access to area under fixed bed is a bonus, although optional spare wheel took up some room. Foldaway table stows in its own spot by the fridge. Despite fitting for the TV aerial, the nearside wardrobe has lots of hanging space
LEFT The washroom has a rooflight, but no window ABOVE Generous storage includes useful shelving to keep essentials to hand