Se­cond­hand shootout

Twin-sin­gle-bed tour­ers un­der £17,500

Practical Caravan - - Contents -

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.

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