Alastair ClementsSee other caravan reviews written by Alastair Clements
Practical Caravan's reviewers like what they see in their first look at the Elddis Affinity 554, an island-bed van unveiled for the 2015 mid-market range
The Elddis Affinity 554 is the latest addition to the mid-market and aspirational range. In 2013, Practical Caravan's reviewers chose the fixed-double-bed 540 as their Tourer of the Year. Still, it’s the most heavily revised Elddis for 2015 – including the ‘Sky-Scape’ sunroof, which is lifted from its cousin, the Compass Rallye.
There are neat silver graphics above the three front windows that integrate the Sky-Scape into the caravan's design and link visually to the silver-painted gas-locker lid and skirts. On the sides, the grey/burgundy decals are simple but stylish, and go well with the refreshed rear light clusters.
Pitching and setting up
The range retains the Explorer Group’s SoLiD construction method. The company also adds one-piece ‘Strong-Lite’ aluminium sidewalls and the bonded ‘No-Screws’ awning rail. Elddis is so confident that its build eliminates water ingress that it offers a 10-year warranty.
A major change this year is the switch from BPW to Al-Ko chassis. They are fitted with shock absorbers, a stabiliser, ATC trailer control and Secure wheel lock receivers. The spec includes Alde 3020 programmable central heating, an alarm system with leg sensors, and external satellite, mains and gas points.
Chrome-edged cream bands on the cupboards and chrome handles give a luxury feel. At night, ambient LED lighting accentuates the atmosphere.
The microwave sits chest-high between a cupboard and the sideboard. The nearside worktop is a bit low, but it wears the same stone-coloured finish as the main kitchen’s opposite. A large granite-effect sink, a swan-neck tap and backlit drinks cabinet contribute to the high-quality feel here. A separate oven and grill, four-burner dual-fuel hob and a good-sized fridge/freezer round out the kit list.
Elddis makes the most of your water container with a top-spec Ecocamel Orbit showerhead. The Whale Intelligent Controller cuts out automatically when the water has run out to prevent damage to the high-flow pump.
This is a four-berth with a transverse island bed, plus the front lounge can be made into a double bed. The 554’s transverse 6ft 2in island bed can be retracted during the day, to leave space around the curved foot of the bed for accessing the washroom. At 4ft 6in wide, it feels pretty generous, and you won’t notice the extension piece beneath your pillow. For more legroom, make up the front double, which is a healthy 6ft 7in x 4ft 11in.
The bedroom boasts plenty of space for stowing your belongings. Twin wardrobes flank the island bed and lockers line the area overhead. A huge ventilated storage area in the base of the bed is accessible from outside and usefully near the axle line, which allows you to keep heavier items there.
Come the end of the Practical Caravan Elddis Affinity 554 review, what is the verdict? Well, the Explorer Group feels certain that this model will be a big seller in 2015 and from what we've seen, we think their confidence is justified.
The Affinity offers a high specification at a price that may tempt buyers away from costlier upmarket caravans, without making it feel like a sacrifice. Fixed-bed fans will be tempted by the 554, and all buyers are likely to appreciate the new sunroof.
- A stylish and well-constructed caravan
- The island-bed layout reaches market at a more affordable price point
- Some features of the interior trim may strike some people as a bit too traditional
- The receiver for the Al-Ko Secure wheel lock is standard, but the lock itself is a cost option