Niall Hampton
Editor

See other Blog articles filed in ‘Our fleet’ written by Niall Hampton
   
A ROUND TRIP of 1000 miles is a stern enough test of a towcar’s capability and comforts, but throw in some snow and mountain roads and you’ve got yourself quite a challenge, writes Dan Wright.


Back in January, I towed from Practical Caravan HQ in Teddington to Portsmouth, hopped on an overnight ferry to Caen, then drove another 400-odd miles to the ski resort village of Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise, in the central Auvergne region of France.

A ROUND TRIP of 1000 miles is a stern enough test of a towcar’s capability and comforts, but throw in some snow and mountain roads and you’ve got yourself quite a challenge, writes Dan Wright.

 


Back in January, I towed from Practical Caravan HQ in Teddington to Portsmouth, hopped on an overnight ferry to Caen, then drove another 400-odd miles to the ski resort village of Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise, in the central Auvergne region of France.

 

We had taken care to load heavy items over the axle but still found the long (7.18m), single-axle Bailey Pegasus 554 a bit on the twitchy side, despite a hefty Al-Ko 3004 stabiliser.

 

At our first fuel stop, we moved a couple of suitcases (10-15kg) from the back of the van and this made a noticeable difference. On the return trip, ridding the van of snow and ice that had built up during a snow shower seemed to improve stability still further.

 

The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel never felt like it was trying that hard to pull the Bailey and we were rarely out of top gear on the motorway. We struggled to get much better than 20mpg. But we were either on or just under the 110km/h (68mph) speed limit for outfits with a gross weight of over 3.5 tonnes.

 

For comfort and handling, the Outlander was without fault for a vehicle of its class – the lack of wallow around the corners made driving the mountainous roads a pleasure. The automatic four-wheel drive inspired confidence, though we switched to permanent four-wheel drive at the first sign of snow.

 

Our only hiccup was on leaving our site after a good dump of snow (up to eight inches). The Mitsubishi towed easily through the fresh powder until we reached the steep site exit road, which had been polished like an ice rink by all the skiers driving up it an hour earlier.

 

The man from the Mairie would normally have gritted it by this time, but was running late. We drove up too timidly, lost traction and despite engaging the handbrake, slid slowly backwards for a few yards before the van wheels came to rest gently against a ridge of ploughed snow.A slippery slope had Dan’s outfit stuck in the snow

 

We were towed off by the village snowplough and, of course, put on our snow chains. The moral of the story? If in doubt, fit your chains: you can always take them off!

 

Data
Price £28,549
Power 154bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 280lb.ft @ 2000rpm
Kerbweight 1810kg
Towing limit 2000kg
Towball limit 100kg

Share with friends

Follow us on

Most recent caravan reviews

The Practical Caravan 2017 Coachman VIP 565 review – 1 - The VIP’s looks have stayed fairly constant since 2012, yet it remains a desirable luxury tourer – plus, the front gas locker door boasts double locks (© Phil Russell/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Caravelair Antarès 476 review – 1 - The Caravelair Antarès 476's quirky, one 'eye' looks hint at the unusual layout inside – it has an MTPLM of 1200kg (© Phil Russell/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Buccaneer Galera review – 1 - The silver sides are new and give the 2017-season Buccaneer caravans a distinctive, upmarket look (© Andy Jenkinson/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Hymer Nova GL 470 review – 1 - Its external styling is a little boxy and retro, but there's no getting away from the Hymer Nova GL 470's £27,690 price and 1700kg MTPLM (© Practical Caravan)

Xplore 554

£15,599

The Practical Caravan Xplore 554 review – 1 - The new-for-2017 Xplore 554 is aimed at couples and has a 1335kg MTPLM (© Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Knaus StarClass 480 review – 1 - A Continental van with its door on the UK nearside, shows that Knaus is committed to wooing British caravanners – does it work with the StarClass 480? (© Peter Baber/Practical Caravan)