Nigel Donnelly

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Overview

Light weight is all the rage at present and the Venus range seeks to grab a slice of the entry-level action. Designed and built at Lunar’s factory in Preston, Venus is a new all-new brand which goes head to head with Elddis Xplore, Sprite, Adria Altea and Bailey Orion. The 320-2 is the lightest UK-built tourer in 2012. It shares the clean, cutting edge styling of its big sisters in the Venus range, but with an internal length of three metres and a overall width of 2.09m, getting the internal details right is essential if the van is going to appeal to buyers.

Pitching and setting up

Outside, all the drains and steadies are easily reached. The Premium pack gives buyers a door flyscreen, hitch head stabiliser and smart alloy wheels. The one-piece front window is set into a ¾ height front panel and the front grab handles are recessed into it. The gas locker door is full-width and offers vast storage. The exterior door is a two-piece item. The sidewalls are single-piece aluminium and the rear panel is 1/3rd height. A high-level brake light is fitted. The controls for the water heater are tucked away on the front face of the offside bed box but the rest of the controls are handily located just inside the door on the right-hand side.

Lounge

Despite being an entry-level range, the lounge upholstery feels plump and looks plush. Evidence of the Venus’s budget status is there if you look closer however. Carpets are a straight-edge runner, rather than fitted and lighting is power-hungry halogen throughout. Still, the overall feel belies the low-end price. The Heki rooflight and big front window ensure that natural light is in good supply.

Kitchen

The end-kitchen is a neatly packaged area and offers a good basic specification. The Thetford combination oven and grill sits under the recessed three-burner hob. The spark ignition for the hob is on the oven. The sink is stainless steel and deep enough to be useful. A removable drainer is supplied. Given the dinky dimensions, workspace is always going to be under pressure but the thoughtful inclusion of a cover extends the available area when the sink is not in use. The TV shelf adjacent to the door can be used if required. Lighting is courtesy of two recessed halogen spots in the base of the two overhead lockers.

Washroom

Corner washrooms are about as compromised as a caravan washroom can be, but Venus has packed everything in as best it can. The swivel-bowl Thetford C260 toilet sits at the rear, with a washbasin in front-offside corner. The shower head sits over the top of the sink and a shower curtain runs through the centre of the room to protect the toilet why owners get cleaned up. Storage is limited to a moulded, mirror-fronted cabinet above the sink. The entrance door needs a bit of slam as it wears a waterproof seal around the outside edge.

Beds

The 2.09m width of the Venus means the bed is not the longest you’ll find, but buyers who are six foot or less tall should be able to get comfy enough. The bed is wide too, so sleep at a slight angle and taller folks will cope too. There is not room to sleep longways on the benches however. The cushions do need flipping over and swapping sides to minimise the effects of the knee rolls and to get the flattest possible bed. Four halogen spots mean that whichever way you sleep, there is a reading light and the wide front shelf means there is loads of space on either side for a glass of water or a reading book.

Storage

The seat bases are aluminium and when lifted, can support the seat cushions weight while you load. Storage is available on either side but on the nearside, the electrical trip and 12v fuse box rob some space, while the offside contains the Whale water heater and the outlet from the space heater so care must be taken when filling it. Elsewhere, the four overhead lockers are all quite small, but the side ones are shelved at least. There is one other above the two-door floor level storage cupboard next to the door. The wardrobe sits above the fridge in front of the washroom. It is half-height as a result, but offers a surprising amount of storage and is also the home of the TV aerial mast and booster. There is no externally accessed storage.

Technical specs

Berth2
MiRO763kg
Payload142kg
MTPLM905kg
Interior length3.27m
Shipping length4.92m
Width2.09m
Height2.6m
Awning size780cm

Verdict

The Venus range looks a well-timed entry to the market. It strikes a good balance between light weight and desirability to ensure that this pint-size tourer is an attractive proposition.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The 320/2 is very light weight, very compact and sharply styled
  • It makes a suitable tow match for a range of superminis and really is a caravan for all

Cons

  • Little worth worrying about but the unlined washroom cubicle and understated exterior graphics are the main pointers to the Venus's budget status
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