Alastair ClementsSee other News articles filed in ‘Caravans’ written by Alastair Clements
Following the shortlist announced earlier this week, Practical Caravan is now able to bring you the full results of its Tourer of the Year Awards 2016, brought to you in association with Whale. The ceremony took place on 24 September at Hampton Manor, near Solihull, with Lunar securing the top prize for the first time since 2008.
Our judges were looking for a caravan that features genuine innovation, as well as working brilliantly for its owners, and from the moment we stepped aboard the new Lunar Delta RI we knew it was going to be a front-runner, with more ‘wow’ moments recorded inside this tourer than any other – mainly for its superb central walk-through washroom and opulent rear master suite with transverse island bed.
For a luxurious twin-axle caravan to secure top honours it has to be something very special, and the Deltas RI is. This may only be a caravan designed for two, but they will be two very lucky people.
And now we can exclusively reveal the list of class winners in full. The returning category for Best Awning was landed by Vango for its excellent Varkala 420. This year’s testing was dominated by inflatables, so it seems only fitting that our winner should come from a pioneer of the genre. Our judges were impressed by its rugged construction and all-inclusive cost, which includes everything from pump to wheelarch cover, rock pegs and draught skirt.
Few things have remained so manifestly unimproved as the traditional dinette bed, so Belfield Furnishings was a deserving winner of the Best Innovation category for its DreamSleep system, which uses a clever arrangement of splits and folds in the seat bases to make a flatter, more supportive bed without sacrificing daytime comfort.
The main tourer categories began with a trio of new awards. Adria took home the gong for Best Budget Tourer for its fantastic value Altea 552DT Tamar, a comfortable six-berth that sneaks well within our £15,000 limit. Next up was Lunar, which secured the Best Luxury Tourer award for its superb Delta RI, which ticks two of this season’s must-have boxes – a transverse island bed and a walk-through central washroom – and would go on to take overall honours. And finally, German brand Knaus landed the Best Specialist Tourer for its innovative Deseo Transport Plus, a caravan with the flexibility of a box-trailer!
Following those three newcomers, the ceremony moved on to more familiar categories: Best Tourer for Couples, Small Families, Large Families and Seasonal Pitches.
A transverse island bed van took the couples class for the second year in a row, with the winning Elddis Avanté 554 boasting a revised retraction system that makes all the difference in granting you far easier passage to the washroom, and blending good specification and space with a very attractive price.
Having missed out in the couples category, the new Bailey Pegasus was a deserving winner in the small families class for the much-revised and much-improved Ancona, which our judges concluded “might just be the perfect van for a growing family”.
If the Ancona’s five berths isn’t enough for you, then perhaps you should consider the brilliant new Xplore 586, which landed the Best Tourer For Large Families trophy for the Explorer Group’s entry-level brand for the second year in a row. Our judges cited the Xplore’s terrific value for money and light weight as the key factors in its victory.
The final group looks at vans that would be ideal for seasonal pitches, and here a trio of twin-axles was topped by the Swift Group’s all-new Conqueror 630, a spacious and well-equipped tourer with plenty of storage, a well-specified kitchen and a practical washroom.
So congratulations to our victors, and commiserations to those who missed out this year. We are confident that, whatever your needs and budget, you’ll find your perfect partner among our winners and runners-up!