Mike Le Caplain

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The Coachman Pastiche 470 could be the most radical of 2016 caravans, says Practical Caravan's expert reviewer as he gives his verdict on this couples' van

Overview

It takes a lot to get grizzled old caravan journalists excited. So learning at the Coachman Caravans 2016 launch in July that the company was planning a new fixed-bed model didn’t exactly get our pulses racing.

That changed as we stepped aboard the caravan. Coachman, that bastion of British reserve and tradition, has built the most jaw-dropping UK tourer you’re likely to see this year.

The 470 is a new addition to the mid-priced Pastiche range and, on the face of it, it’s hardly worth holding the front page for: two berths, a spacious end washroom with large separate shower, a perfectly serviceable kitchen and a side dinette.

However, at the front, where you’d expect to find the lounge, is a transverse fixed double bed instead. (Across the front? Are they mad?)

More unenlightened onlookers may dismiss the 470 out of hand, but we’re not so sure. The only way to judge it properly is to put it to the test.

Setting aside all other considerations about it for the moment, it’s worth bearing in mind the changes Coachman has instigated on the Pastiche’s exterior for 2016. While there appears to be little difference compared to the 2015 line-up, visually at least, the changes are there and some are significant.

The body itself is unchanged, with new blue-themed graphics the most obvious change (last year’s were red). The switch to a body-coloured A-frame and tail-light surrounds is less obvious, but welcome. The alloy wheels have been changed from ‘Vortex’ anthracite to silver ‘Falcon’ for 2016, and there’s a new Dimatec LED awning light.

More important is the significantly lower weight of all 2016 Coachman caravans. The biggest savings come in the entry-level Vision range, but Pastiche has shed between 30kg and 55kg, thanks in part to Coachman’s ‘ABC’ Advanced Bonded Construction.

Pitching and setting up

While we have no 2015 Pastiche 470 to compare the new model to, Coachman's new lightweight construction method translates into an MTPLM for the new caravan of just 1295kg – impressive for such a well- equipped mid-range tourer.

In practical terms, the 470 impresses with its offside services and nearside under-bed access door. Its corner steadies are easily accessible and, thanks to the low weight, it can feasibly be inched onto a pitch by hand.

Lounge

This section of the test will take no time, because the 470’s lounge – whether a traditional parallel or L-shaped seating area – does not exist. The only available seating is a two-seater offside dinette; it may be fine for dining, but it’s hardly conducive to kicking back with a good book and a glass of wine. You can enjoy a pleasant afternoon snooze on the bed, of course, but there’s no clever mechanism for converting it into a lounge – it’s the dinette or nothing.

All of this may sound like a howler by the manufacturer, but this isn’t the case. Coachman is pragmatic enough to know that the 470 is likely to appeal to a select group of buyers who may well spend their winters in Portugal or southern Spain.

In such climates, the last place you’d want to be is inside the caravan. You spend the whole time outside or sheltering from the sun in an awning with the sides zipped out to let the breeze through. The interior is where you sleep and use the washroom.

Viewed in this enviable light, the 470 makes sense, and opens the prospect of long-term fixed- bed caravanning for those who can’t or don’t want to stretch to the weight and cost of a large 4x4.

Elsewhere, it’s worth noting that the TV stand is perfect for watching the box in bed and, like all other Pastiches, the 470’s heating and boiler system is now to full Alde specification.

Kitchen

If you assume that the buyer described in the previous section of this test is the 470’s target market, you could be forgiven for thinking that most cooking will be entrusted to the barbecue. As such, you’d expect the on-board kitchen to be basic.

But no – the 470’s kitchen is at least as good as you’ll find in any other Pastiche. Worktop is extremely generous (although when deployed, the new lift-out drainer swallows it all up) and the fitted microwave and curved mixer tap are both new for 2016.

Alongside is a proper domestic-style spark-ignition cooker, with a dual-fuel hob and separate oven and grill. There’s ample high and low storage; the former passes the cereal-box test with consummate ease.

Washroom

Coachman is known for palatial and stylish washrooms, and the 470’s is no exception. This is not a large caravan, so the available floor space is impressive, with ample room around the swivel- seat toilet and forward-facing washbasin/vanity unit, which incorporates a backlit mirror.

The opaque window and the heated towel rail are welcome.

The separate nearside shower cubicle is fully lined and comes fitted with a light, moulded shelves and a king-sized showerhead. It’s a big cubicle, too, something that becomes obvious when you spot the equally enormous door. Oddly, though, the door is a couple of inches shorter than its frame; we can only guess that this is to allow steam to escape.

Beds

Clearly, the sleeping arrangement is where Coachman's Pastiche 470 really comes into its own. The transverse fixed double is a healthy 4ft 6in wide and extends across the Pastiche’s full 7ft 5in-width, which should be long enough to suit most shapes and sizes.

Coachman has sensibly opted against fitting a window at the head end of the bed, and simply equipped the blank wall with an attractive padded headboard and pelmet, complete with a pair of adjustable reading lights.

Better yet, you can lull yourself to sleep, either by listening to mellow tunes on the stereo (easily reached from the bed) or by gazing at the night sky through the panoramic rooflight overhead (there’s an opening rooflight further back, too).

Factor in the sideboard-style, full-width wooden shelf beneath the windows for books and spectacles, and you’ll see that this is a five-star bedroom.

Storage

It’s easy to assume that any van with a fixed double bed is going to have an embarrassment of stowage riches beneath. This is true of the 470, but there are a couple of caveats.

First, the good news. The bed base lifts on gas struts to reveal an L-shaped nearside void (which is accessible from outside). Aside from one power cable, it is clutter-free. The area directly opposite is filled with plumbing and electrical equipment; we can’t help feeling that Coachman missed a trick here.

The main floor extends right under the bed and, while usable, it isn’t as practical as it would be were the bed base moved a foot or so back to extend the existing L-shaped storage area into a more usable oblong shape.

Elsewhere, we have no complaints. Good-sized roof lockers run the length of the caravan on both sides and there’s a handy cupboard just beneath the TV unit. The wardrobe opposite the entrance is large and largely uncluttered, with ample hanging space. The washroom boasts a shallow but practical floating cupboard,
as well as a small cabinet beneath the washbasin.

Technical specs

Berth2
MiRO1171kg
Payload124kg
MTPLM1295kg
Interior length4.7m
Shipping length6.33m
Width2.26m
Awning size910cm

Verdict

If ever there was a Marmite caravan, then this is it – you’ll either ‘get’ it, or you won’t.

We think the Coachman Pastiche 470 will appeal enormously to its intended market, not just because it’s a good tourer (and lounge considerations aside, it is), but also because it’s that rarest of vans: one that genuinely breaks the mould and whose sales will, we suspect, be watched very closely by its rivals.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Low weight
  • Long fixed double bed
  • Careful design
  • High quality build

Cons

  • No lounge
  • Underbed storage is half full
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