Twin-single-bed tourers under £17,500
FIXED-BED LAYOUTS are without doubt the most popular in just about every range of new caravans sold in the UK, and there’s such a variety, too. One of the most common floorplans is the twin-fixed-singles, end-washroom, which is often preferred by couples. But as ever, there are compromises to be made, and this layout is no exception, as we will see. The used (nearly new!) models we viewed at Robinsons Caravans, in Chesterfield, are from the mid-range portfolio, although the Lunar, a dealer special, has a few extras.
The contenders 2016 Elddis Affinity 574
The Affinity is a smart-looking caravan, with its grey front locker lid, wheel arches and lower trim, and tasteful graphics. It also has a sunroof and a large Stargazer longitudinal rooflight, so should be bright inside even on the gloomiest of days. It’s built using SOLID construction, which means ‘glued, not screwed’, so it should better resist water ingress. Although mid-range, the Affinity is equipped with Alde wet central heating, often preferred by those who tour all year round. Despite this, Elddis has managed to keep the MTPLM to a reasonable 1450kg.
2017 Lunar Ultima 570
The Ultima, a Robinsons Caravans dealer special, has been around since 2000, and is based on Lunar’s Quasar, Lexon and Arriva ranges. As with most dealer specials, there are significant upgrades for a reduced price. In this case, the cost of the upgrades was £3229, but the price paid was £399. The first ‘upgrade’ that you notice on the Ultima is the black front, borrowed from its upmarket Clubman and Delta siblings. Inside, you’ll find lots of things borrowed from the Clubman range, too. Despite the extra kit, the Ultima’s MTPLM is 1455kg.
Pitch and set-up Elddis Affinity 574 Lunar Ultima 570
Both caravans have Al-ko running gear and smart alloys, those on the Ultima being black with ‘machined’ faces. Up front, it’s good to see both fitted with an AKS 3004 stabiliser, ATC stability control and a buttonless handbrake. The Ultima has heavy-duty steadies, while the Affinity has the more lightweight ones, and all are easily accessed. Main services are confined to the offside, but the Ultima’s waste-water outlets are more accessible. It also has an offside services light. Up front, both have large lockers. The Ultima’s has slightly better access, because its lid cantilevers up and out of the way, whereas you must lift things over a bit of a lip and under the hinged lid on the Affinity. On the nearside, both have gas barbecue points. The Ultima has a wet locker, which incorporates a 230V socket. The Affinity has access to the storage area under the front bunk and a 230V socket and TV point just inside there. On the Ultima, there’s external access to the area below both fixed beds, whereas the Affinity only has it on the nearside. To counter some of the Ultima’s plus points, the Affinity has a Reich mover and an Al-ko wheel-lock. On both caravans, the main heating and electrical controls are just inside the entrance door, and both have alarms. Thanks to the mover, the Affinity just edges round one.
Lounge Elddis Affinity 574 Lunar Ultima 570
In most single-axle fixed-bed caravans, it’s the lounge that has to make the biggest sacrifice in terms of space, and these two are no exception. But thanks to light-coloured fabrics, and both boasting sunroofs and those huge
Stargazer and Maxi Skyview rooflights (the Ultima’s being significantly wider, but its sunroof is narrower), as well as a plethora of windows, neither looks or feels cramped. When it’s dark outside, there’s plenty of LED lighting, too. Seating-wise, there’s nothing in it. Four would be comfortable, but any more than that would be a squeeze. It’s in the detail that these two caravans differ. For example, the Ultima has a second TV point tucked away on the offside of the front shelf, whereas the Affinity has two USBS and a 230V socket on the nearside, but no TV point. The Ultima also has a couple of USB points, but they’re in the kitchen area, rather unusually. Both have TV points and shelves to the right of the entrance door, with the Affinity having the benefit of a wallmounted TV bracket above this shelf. It also has a drinks cabinet mounted high up there. Radio/cd players are standard fit in both, but in the Ultima, rather than pinching space in one of the large overhead lockers, the designers have located it inside one of their clever corner cupboards, next to the sunroof. Overall, this one’s a draw.
Beds Elddis Affinity 574 Lunar Ultima 570
Most owners of these caravans are likely to be couples, so the fixed-singles will be the main beds here. Having the wider bodyshell, the Ultima has a clear advantage – the beds are significantly wider and slightly longer. That said, the Affinity has ‘breathable’ Ozio mattresses, and the bases are slightly higher from the floor than the Ultima’s. It’s good to see all of the fixed beds have well-placed reading lights, corner shelves (the Ultima’s being larger) and comfortable padded headboards. Both caravans have a TV point mounted on the side of the wardrobe in the bedroom area. There’s also a concertina divide to close off the front of the interior in both. Moving up front, there’s a choice of very short single beds or a good-size double. The singles are really only long enough to accommodate young children. If you are making up the double bed, however, the Ultima uses high-quality slide-out bases, as opposed to the Affinity’s pull-out slat arrangement. So it’s a comfortable win here for the Ultima.
Kitchen Elddis Affinity 574 Lunar Ultima 570
As far as equipment is concerned, there’s very little to differentiate these two vans. Each has a Thetford Aspire 2 dual-fuel hob with separate oven and grill, a Dometic 110-litre fridge/freezer and a microwave. The microwave in the Ultima is perhaps better placed, because it’s over the work surface rather than the hob, as in the Affinity. Both are quite high up, though. One of the Ultima’s extras is the Dometic cooker hood, although the Affinity has an additional rooflight over the kitchen. Both have removable drainers and a small fold-up worktop extension. The Affinity has a rectangular stone-effect sink, while the Ultima has a circular stainless-steel model. Of the two, the Ultima has more workspace. In both, the main table is stored in the cupboard at the lounge end of the kitchen. That’s where the similarities end. The Ultima has its fridge mounted in the kitchen unit, whereas the Affinity’s is below the wardrobe. However, it does gain three large drawers here. In the cupboard where the table is stored, the Affinity has a couple
of deep shelves. The Ultima has pull-out wire baskets, a cutlery drawer and an extra shelved cupboard. Lighting in both is good, but the Affinity gains an extra 230V socket. Again, there’s little between the two, so another draw.
Washroom Elddis Affinity 574 Lunar Ultima 570
Each washroom has a fully lined shower cubicle, Thetford c260 electric-flush toilet, opaque opening window, a large handbasin with mirror above and a cupboard below, a wall-mounted cupboard above the toilet, an opening rooflight and LED lights. The Affinity has the Eco-camel Orbit water-saving head, but the Ultima’s shower is more of a feature, thanks to its smart grey mouldings. It also has a couple of shelves. The Ultima has a large, single-piece door, rather than the bifold example in the Affinity. The designers have fitted a handy drying rail in the Ultima’s shower cubicle (the Affinity also has one, above the toilet). But having that Alde heating system, the Affinity also boasts a heated towel rail. This last point just edges it for the Affinity here.
Storage Elddis Affinity 574 Lunar Ultima 570
The Ultima has by far the better wardrobe. Not only is the hanging depth longer, but there are also three drawers and a useful drop-down flap below. Elsewhere, there really is very little to separate these two caravans. Where the Ultima does have an advantage, however, is that there are drop-down flaps on the front of the bed bases, something that the Affinity doesn’t provide. So this round goes to the Ultima.
Verdict Elddis Affinity 574 Lunar Ultima 570
On points alone, the Ultima is the winner. But it’s not quite so clear-cut. Despite being older, the Affinity is in better condition. The Ultima has been used hard in its short life and costs £500 more. The wardrobe is compromised in the Affinity, and the beds are far better in the Ultima. The Affinity fights back with that mover, and the Alde heating system, rather than the Truma blown-air in the Ultima. It is close, but the Affinity just edges it.