NOW THAT CARAVANNERS don’t need a towing vehicle with a plated weight in excess of 3500kg to tow caravans of up to 2.5m wide in the UK, European imports built to UK specification may become a more familiar sight on our roads.
Adria's Astella is one of a new breed of wider caravans on the UK market
At the moment, the two main manufacturers doing this are Adria with the Astella, and Dethleffs with the Nomad Rally. On the second-hand market, there are also models from Hobby and Hymer available, to name but two.
Towing a wide caravan
I recently towed the 2.48 metre wide Adria Astella for approximately forty miles along a variety of roads to see what it would be like towing a wider caravan.
Despite towing with a Land Rover Discovery fitted with Milenco Grand Aero towing mirrors, the first thing that struck me was that these did not give an adequate rear view. Yes, I could see along the sides of the caravan (just), and things in the distance behind me, but on the occasions when there was a car quite close behind, I couldn’t see it at all. In fact, anything within thirty to forty metres on a straight section of road was lost.
On dual carriageways, extra care must be taken when overtaking , making sure that there were no other vehicles within that “blind” area which were about to pull out to overtake me. Towing my own 2.28 metre wide caravan presents no such issues. I understand that wider extension arms for the Milenco mirrors are available, so I would like to see what difference they make. The twenty or so centimetres of extra width might not sound like much, but on narrower country roads, its surprising what little room there is at times, especially when negotiating tighter corners, or passing large vehicles which were travelling in the opposite direction. Passing parked vehicles in towns and villages also required extra care.
Give 2.5m wide tourers a wide berth?
Whilst there is the obvious attraction of more internal room in one of these wider caravans, I really do question their suitability for the UK’s roads. Perhaps with wider towing mirrors the rear visibility problem might be addressed, and then towing on main roads might not be a concern. However, in my opinion towing on the narrower country roads (the type which we often need to use to get to a campsite), and in towns will always remain an issue.
Another problem that owning one of these caravans may present is being able to obtain breakdown recovery. Many operators impose width restrictions, and indeed I had to shop around to find one whose dimensions covered our 2.28 metre wide caravan. Not many UK companies will recover caravans of 2.5 metres width.
Based on my experiences, I'd say that wider caravans suit seasonal pitches, where towing is restricted to a minimum, but they’re certainly not ideal for regular touring.
To see what is being said on the PC forum, click here