Pennine Quartz 4 is a lightweight convertible caravan for couples and here's Practical Caravan's expert verdict on this new-style folding caravan

Overview

Folding caravan manufacturer Pennine is determined to develop the term it introduced last season: convertible caravans. Its latest offering is the three-strong Quartz range, and we reckon the mid-range Quartz 4 has the makings of a winner.

Pitching and setting up

Pitching takes 10-15 minutes once you’re used to it. It’s about remembering sequences, especially as many of the soft furnishings, including most curtains, can be left in-situ. A succession of clips, zips and Velcro fastenings ensure everything stays where it’s meant to.

Despite the relative ease with which you can put it up, we think this is more the kind of unit you’ll want to set up on site for greater periods than just single-night stopovers, with or without the full-size awning option.

As for towing and general manoeuvring, we don’t know of a four-berth trailer unit that’s easier to lug around. The Quartz’s 900kg maximum weight means it really can be towed by anything from a Ford Focus upwards.

Lounge

The caravan-style wraparound lounge is a key feature. It’s the first layout like this we’ve seen in such a vehicle, and it works. Not only that, but with the ability to zip off the nearside canvas, you really can have a room with a view.

Most folk are likely to order their Quartz with a full awning, too. It completes the package, but isn’t cheap at £1295 (with a bedroom annexe costing a further £399) at launch.

Playing another key part in creating a comforting ambience is Pennine’s use of the latest breathable fabric from leading awning manufacturer Isabella. Called Isatex, it’s a heavy-duty, fully breathable PVC-coated polyester that’s easy to wipe clean.

Also new is the bed board material – phenolic-coated birch plywood – reckoned to be extremely hard wearing and resistant to mildew (a common problem on units like this).

Kitchen

Part of the pitching procedure involves slotting the two kitchen units into place on top of cupboard storage, giving you a perfectly workable area with good-sized fridge, three-ring hob, oven/grill and a sink/drainer.

Cupboard storage is pretty good, too. If worktop space is at a premium, there’s always the freestanding table you can pull into position, or the fold-up top in the doorway opposite.

Washroom

There is no washroom, but you could consider buying a separate toilet tent if you don’t want to have to rely fully on site facilities all the time.

Beds

Bedrooms are, in normal folding camper tradition, placed at either end of the unit. Both are on one-piece sprung mattresses, with the main, king-size double on a slatted base at the front. You can also zip up the inner tent in the bedroom for extra privacy, and there’s a bit of pocket storage (ideal for books, spectacles etc) in each bed area.

You could even sleep more people if you had to, if you’re prepared to rearrange the lounge cushions.

Storage

You can squeeze a lot of your everyday camping gear into the gaps with the unit in its down position. A full-length wardrobe hinges up into position on top of drawers, and there’s easy access to the uncluttered seat bases.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO740kg
Payload210kg
MTPLM900kg
Interior length2.74m
Shipping length4.17m
Width2.12m
Height2.74m
Awning size560250cm

Verdict

Convertible caravans are a niche Pennine has created for itself and is now looking to fully exploit. Lots of newcomers are intimidated by the prospect of towing a ‘full-size’ caravan and, if you’re stepping up from tents, or simply prefer some canvas around you as opposed to ‘tin’, this is an enticing prospect.

Veridict overall: 8/10.

Conclusion

Pros

  • It's easy to transport
  • Wraparound lounge is sociable
  • Good storage space
  • You can tow it with a Ford Focus-sized car

Cons

  • It's easy to set up when you know how
  • It's a lot of effort for one-night stopovers
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