Nigel Donnelly

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The revolutionary two-berth Xplore 302 has been a big success for Elddis. Now its designers have been back to the drawing board to squeeze in sleeping quarters for two more people. Its interesting to note this move towards lighter, smaller tourers which can be towed by cars the same size as a VW Golf. We caught our first look at the Xplore 304 at the Manchester Central Caravan & Motorhome 2011 show – it'll also be making an appearance on the Elddis stand at next month's Boat & Caravan 2011 show at the NEC Birmingham.

Pitching and setting up

Just like the Xplore 302, the 304 can be manhandled on Tarmac with relative ease thanks to its low MTPLM and single axle. There are grab handles front and back to take advantage of this. In standard spec the 304 lacks equipment, but adding the optional SE pack (£399) will buy a Winterhoff stabiliser, spare wheel, door flyscreen and alloy wheels. The steadies are easily located and wound down thanks to metal guiding channels.

Lounge

That spectacular yet practical L-shaped lounge is once again the 304's crown jewel. Combined with portrait side- and panoramic front-windows, natural light floods the lounge and shows up the pleasant new light oak furniture. The Truma blown air heating unit is found below a spacious cupboard, and four overhead lockers, like the seating, should provide enough room for four people. There's a sideboard for a small TV or lamp by the picture window. The heating controls and 230v sockets can also be found in this area, positioned on the side of the cupboard. Come the evening, the lighting is taken care by a combination of fluorescent power-saving and halogen lights.

Kitchen

The kitchen in the 304 is generally well equipped when you consider its size and price. Apart from there being no microwave and a combined oven and grill, you get two overhead lockers, a three-ring gas bruner, one electric hob, a large stainless steel sink and large cupboard beneath. With the glass protectors pulled down there is even adequate room for food preparation. The main controls are found inside the door on the left of the kitchen. A great effort from Elddis with such limited room.

Washroom

If there is one area that falls a bit short in the 304, it is the washroom. There was never going to be enough room on the chassis for all that lounge and kitchen space as well as a large washroom and so the latter is compromised. However, the space is bright and airy, with modern sink and shower fittings and a Thetford swivel toilet. A large towel rail above the toilet and generous mirror above the sink are two thoughtful touches.

Beds

For this van to be successful, the beds need to be comfortable and spacious, practical and sturdy. The size of this caravan may put people off, but the price and weight will bring them round. If the beds are doing their job well, that's half the battle won for Elddis and its 304. We already knew the front lounge double would be up to the job from the 302's layout, but we can report that the rear-dinette bunks perform just as well. A top bunk folds down from the wall, while the two dinette seats are easily transformed using the table into a bottom bunk. Both feel safe, and even if the bottom bunk is larger, the top comes supplied with a very comfortable mattress.

Storage

The 304 provides four overhead lockers in the lounge, two in the kitchen, a large cupboard above the Truma heating unit and a further one below the kitchen sink. In the washroom there's space for toiletries around the sink and on a small platform fixed to the shower fitting. Although the storage space isn't huge, four people should find just enough room in the 304 to stow all their belongings, providing they pack sensibly.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO893kg
Payload157kg
MTPLM1050kg
Interior length3.7m
Shipping length4.36m
Width2.146m
Height2.726m
Awning size8.15cm

Verdict

The numbers on the spec sheet need to be seen to be believed. A 1050kg MTPLM caravan that sleeps four in comfort for less than £12,000. Could this be the most accessible family tourer on the market?

Conclusion

Pros

  • An ultra-lightweight tourer for four people that works – great space and spec for a tiny price

Cons

  • While the washroom is perfectly usable, it is still cramped
  • The 302 suffered from this, but with two more people to cater for, it could struggle even more
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