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

Practical Caravan - - Contents -

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.

De­sign

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.

Tow­ing

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.

Lounge

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.

Kitchen

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.

Wash­room

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.

Beds

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.

Stor­age

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.

Ver­dict

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.