Read our Practical Caravan experts' verdict on the Coachman VIP 545/4 – a luxury island-bed caravan on a single axle

Overview

The Coachman VIP 545/4 is one of the five models in the single-axle luxury range produced by the Hull manufacturer, whose tourers have the reputation for excellent build quality. All of its tourers are built to last and have performed well in Practical Caravan's Owner Satisfaction Surveys, both as new and pre-owned models.

What’s more, Coachman’s upper ranges are some of the best-looking vans on the market, thanks to an overhaul for the 2012 season. These included the addition of dark grey roof rails, arched corners to the moulded front panel, matching wheel arches, skirt strips and large integrated sunroofs.

Since then, changes to the top ranges have been minor. For example, for 2014 the VIP range got new alloy wheels, an Avtex ultra-slim TV and Truma Combi 6 heating, with a smart digital control panel operated via a rotary knob. It also got a new 80W solar panel fitted to its roof as standard, which is a higher power rating than those fitted to  rivals in this sector, such as the Elddis Crusader Cyclone.

Pitching and setting up

Externally, the standard kit level of the Coachman VIP 545/4 is high. For example, the Al-Ko chassis comes with an AKS stabiliser, ATC anti-snaking device and Secure wheel lock. It also has external gas and 230V points, a locker, a shower, an awning warmer and a remote-control alarm.

The waste-water drain outlets are sensibly sited on the offside, rear of the axle, but because of the layout, the toilet cassette is accessed from the nearside of the van, which will mean removing it via an awning when it needs to be emptied.

The one-piece entry door has a deep window and a solid feel with a chunky handle and locking mechanism. When open, it’s secured with a magnetic catch. The one-piece aluminium-skin sidewalls have a textured ‘ridge’ effect.

Lounge

Inside, the Coachman VIP 545/4's layout has a pair of facing bench seats at the front, a midships kitchen, and separate shower and toilet cubicles.

The main feature is an island bed arranged lengthways at the rear, which reduces the space available for the lounge, note Practical Caravan's expert reviewers.

The lounge's soft furnishing set the tone for the decor. The seat backrests bear a floral motif that is repeated on two of the four scatter cushions. They are complemented by the LED strip lighting concealed above the overhead lockers, and directional reading lights.

Wraparound seating in place of a chest of drawers is a no-cost option.

For dining, the pull-out top to the chest of drawers creates a table that’s ample for two. When you want more space, open a small cabinet beneath the kitchen worktop to find a large freestanding table.

Heating and hot water are powered by Truma’s fully programmable dual-fuel Combi 6 system, which delivers 6kw on gas and 1.8kW on electricity.

Kitchen

On paper, The Coachman VIP 545/4's kitchen is well-equipped. In the cooking department, it boasts a dual-fuel hob, a separate oven and grill, and a microwave housed in its own locker.

The Omnivent fan is an impressive addition. However, workspace is tight, which leaves little option other than to use glass lid of the recessed drainer as worktop. This may not always be the most convenient thing to do, especially when dishes are air-drying.

Washroom

Practical Caravan's reviewers noted the unusual washroom arrangement in the Coachman VIP 545/4. Its shower cubicle and toilet are in separate 'rooms' on opposite sides of the van at the foot of the bed.

There is another unusual feature about this: the toilet's hinged door can open through 90˚ to close off access into the rear bedroom, which turns the rear bedroom into an en suite. It’s a flexible alternative to an end washroom.

The large, cylindrical shower cubicle on the offside has a rigid sliding door and is generously proportioned.

Beds

The preferred spot for a good night's sleep in the Compass VIP 545/4 is the island bed.

The double measures 1.83m long (6ft) by 1.38m (4ft 6in) with enough room to climb in from either side. It has a padded headboard and a pair of adjustable reading lights. Audio speakers here are a welcome addition, as are floor-level lighting and ledges on both sides for knick-knacks.

A second double bed can be made up in the front lounge by drawing a metal frame from under the offside sofa. Alternatively, the lounge can be used as single beds, but only for younger children up to 1.6m (5ft 2in) tall.

Storage

We found plenty of places to keep our belongings throughout the Coachman VIP 545/4.

For example, the seat lids rise smoothly on gas struts to ease access to the storage space below. Similarly, the rear double bed rises from its frame without your having to work hard to lift it. This simplifies getting at bulky items stowed away in the cavernous space below.

On either side of the bed are wardrobes that have a couple of drawers underneath.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1475kg
Payload155kg
MTPLM1630kg
Interior length5.8m
Shipping length7.46m
Width2.32m
Height2.65m
Awning size1038cm

Verdict

We find the Coachman VIP 545/4 to be a fabulous-looking caravan. Everything about it feels solid and durable and all of us on Practical Caravan loved the large bedroom with en suite facilities.

However, it’s very heavy for a single-axle caravan at 1630kg. Nevertheless, if you’ve got the tow car to pull it, the 545/4 should prove to be the ideal van for a discerning couple that is not prepared to skimp on luxuries.

Conclusion

Pros

  • External mains and gas outlets and even a shower point
  • Kitchen is well equipped with plenty of floor space
  • Washroom door shuts off the bedroom
  • Gas struts make under-bed storage access easy
  • Audio speakers in bedroom

Cons

  • Toilet cassette hatch is on the nearside – inside the awning
  • Island bed reduces space for lounge and kitchen
  • Heavy for a single-axle
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