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The experts at Practical Caravan review the luxurious, family friendly Sterling Eccles SE Amethyst

Overview

A much anticipated model with more kit than ever but also lighter than before, the Amethyst promised a lot on paper. With enough beds to sleep four youngsters and a fixed-bed for parents, could this layout be perfect for families, or could it be a couples’ luxury apartment on wheels?

Pitching and setting up

Running on Al-Ko’s twin-axle chassis, the Amethyst comes with ATC stability control, a buttonless handbrake, alloy wheels, an AKS 3004 stabiliser and a spare wheel as standard. New for 2013 is a 20W roof-mounted solar panel to help keep the battery charged.

The front locker’s lid is supported by a central gas strut and the heavy-duty corner steadies are easily accessible – the rear ones have extended guide tubes. On the nearside, there’s an external gas point, a mains socket and a pair of under-bed hatches while to the offside, two water inlets (one for the on-board tank) are positioned at the front of the van, near the battery/mains inlet. The waste-water outlets are behind the wheels.

Lounge

There’s ample room for even a family of six to be seated in comfort in this caravan, with its long front lounge seats and the side dinette, where a couple of youngsters can entertain themselves.

Viewing the TV may be a little problematic, though, especially if everyone wants to watch, as the two connection points are almost at opposite ends of the caravan. The front one requires the TV to sit on the front chest, while the second is a swivelling bracket mounted high up at the base of the fixed-bed.

At mealtimes, six people can dine together at the front, using the pull-out occasional table in conjunction with the main table. Two can make use of the side dinette.

Kitchen

At first glance, the kitchen unit seems huge. However, in terms of work surfaces, the space hasn’t been used as well as it might have been.

The sink, with its removable drainer, is at the front, and the cooker is next to it. At the rear, there’s a small amount of worktop, but it would have been much better placed between the sink and the cooker. The side dinette’s table provides an extra work surface.

Yet work surfaces aside, the kitchen is very well equipped and includes a dual-fuel cooker with separate oven and grill (with spark ignition), a 110-litre fridge/freezer, and a digitally controlled microwave fitted 1.45m from the floor. An Omnivent, a pair of mains sockets, good lighting and storage leave the kitchen wanting for little.

Washroom

Unless caravans with fixed beds have an end washroom, it’s this area that usually suffers the most – and Sterling's Amethyst is no exception.

The combined toilet/shower wet room is in the rear offside corner and is fully lined. There’s a bi-fold door separating the two to help keep the toilet dry but, realistically, this caravan would be better suited to full-facility sites.

A single light and a rooflight are adequate rather than good. The basin and vanity dresser unit are between the wardrobe and shower/toilet. They feature a small cupboard underneath, a back-lit mirror above, a couple of shelves to the right and a heated towel rail.

Beds

Starting at the front, the lounge converts into a pair of single beds (1.76m x 0.71m nearside and 1.86m x 0.71m offside) or a double bed (2.02m x 1.33m). However the bed is used, occupants get reading lights. If used as a double, the main cushions would be best turned around to get rid of the knee rolls.

The side dinette provides a pair of bunk beds (1.73m x 0.59m top and 1.8m x 0.7m bottom), but while the upper bed has a light, the lower one doesn’t. A detachable ladder gives access to the top bunk.

In the rear nearside corner you’ll find the comfortable fixed bed, measuring 1.88m x 1.3m, tapering to 1.02m at its foot. A small shelf for the morning cuppa is provided for each occupant.

Storage

Not surprisingly, there are storage areas galore in the Amethyst. The kitchen is well catered for by having three upper cupboards, two of which have crockery racks, and two lower ones as well as a pan cupboard under the cooker.

All the seat bases are empty, with the exception of the one at the front offside which houses the on-board water tank and electrical units. Each has easy access from either above or from the front. Excluding the ones in the kitchen, there are 11 overhead lockers, many of which have shelves.

Technical specs

Berth6
MiRO1595 kg
Payload180 kg
MTPLM1750 kg
Length6.27 m
Ship length7.93 m
Height2.62 m

Verdict

As a family tourer, the Amethyst works very well indeed, the only negatives being the shortage of kitchen worktop space and the small wet room. If you’ve got the vehicle to tow one, then there can’t be many better six-berth caravans out there. A caravanning couple who use full-facility sites will find the Amethyst opulent.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The kitchen is very well appointed
  • There's a lot of storage space
  • It's a handsome caravan
  • The lounge is very comfortable

Cons

  • With an MTPLM of 1750kg, it will need a substantial tow car
  • Worktop space is at a premium in the kitchen
  • Space in the washroom is restricted
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Lizzie Pope
Digital Editor

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