Peter Baber
Reviews Editor

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Large families can luxuriate in the eight-foot-wide, new-for-2017 Elddis Avanté 840, but can it revive the fortunes of the fixed nearside bed? Find out!

Overview

Elddis has introduced two new eight-foot-wide models to its Avanté range for the 2017 season. One of them, the 866, we've already tested but what about the other, the 840?

Instead of providing a den with bunks for the kids at the back, it has that fast-disappearing item, a nearside fixed bed. We decided to take a look.

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Pitching and setting up

An eight-foot-wide caravan is always going to be that much more of a challenge when you’re on the road.

Therefore it is good to know that the Elddis Avanté 840 comes with an Al-Ko galvanised steel chassis, along with an AKS 3004 stabiliser, ATC trailer-control system, shock absorbers and receivers for optional wheel locks, plus an overrun device with a two-way assisted handbrake.

The van itself has a GRP underskin to help prevent water ingress, and aluminium rather than GRP one-piece sides.

Lounge

Like the 866, the 840 has a layout that – at least at the front – seems designed for family living. The two settees are wide enough to seat six, although whoever’s sitting by the door may feel a bit exposed because there’s no bolster here.

The caravan’s designers have cleverly realised that you might be entertaining a large group, because the settee bases – which are already curved at the front for more comfort – expand slightly outwards just before you get to the chest in the middle. This means that you could squeeze someone in at the end without them feeling too uncomfortable.

There’s a mains, 12V and TV socket tucked away behind the curtain, and the closest overhead locker is partly taken up by a TV aerial fitting, so we assume you are meant to put the TV on the chest in the middle. The two speakers for the built-in CD and radio tuner with an MP3 connection are above here, too.

While the front lounge is great for groups, the Elddis Avanté 840 really comes into its own with the second offside dinette in the centre of the van.

Positioned next to the nearside central kitchen, and with (just about) enough room for all the family to sit around three sides of the pedestal table, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a family breakfast.

The light tone of the woodwork and the two large square rooflights really brighten the interior. On our test model this feeling was heightened by the standard, beige-and-yellow ‘Linden’ upholstery.

If you prefer you can go for the optional ‘Constellation’ upholstery instead (a mix of beige and white with geometric patterns), or for the more stately ‘Sahara’ option with a red stripe. All come in Aquaclean material, so marks should clean off with water. And, with four spotlights in addition to ambient lighting, the interior should feel inviting in the evening.

Kitchen

With the four-burner hob (three gas and one electric hotplate) and the large circular sink both on the left-hand-side of the kitchen unit, there’s a considerable amount of workspace available to the right. It can be extended even further with a flap, which doesn’t get in the way of the door, and a chunky cover for the sink itself.

There are two mains sockets next to the light switch. These are ideal for your kettle, and whatever other paraphernalia the payload (and your hook-up) will allow.

Beneath the worktop is a Thetford Aspire 2 oven and grill, with a pan locker beneath it and a cupboard to the right of that. Both are partly taken up by the twin-axle wheelarch.

Above the cupboard are two soft-close drawers, while there is a third drawer (but no cutlery tray inside it) above the cavernous cupboard on the right side of the unit. We thought that the latter could probably do with an extra internal shelf, however.

Up on top here are three overhead lockers, while to the left of the unit you get a 155-litre, three-way fridge/freezer and above it an 800W Daewoo microwave.

There’s a small cupboard still higher above that with a further mains socket, but it’s taken up by the microwave.

Washroom

The corner bathroom in the 2017 Elddis Avanté 840 has a large shower at the end of it, although the cubicle only has one plughole. The whole room is well-lit and ventilated by a rooflight and a window.

There are also two vanity cupboards and a useful bit of shelving that features the toilet-roll holder. Often we’ve found that such holders on their own are fragile and fall apart while towing, leaving you with a spaghetti of loo paper to sort when you arrive.

Beds

Because of that large front lounge, you’d expect the bed that’s made up by pulling slats out from the chest and turning over the Ozio cushions to be good. It’s certainly long, at 2.11m (6ft 11in), and has an alright width of 1.45m (4ft 9in), but it takes a bit of putting together.

The extending edges of the seat bases by the chest are neatly accommodated for when you come to turn them over, thanks to a corresponding curve on the edge of the seat backs. But to avoid the cushions fitting together loosely you’ll need to add a slender infill cushion, and the resulting surface is a little lumpy in places.

The middle double is 1.9m (6ft 3in) long. If you don’t want to use the infill cushions provided, it’s 1.04m (3ft 5in) wide, so perhaps only suitable for smaller children. But if you do whip those infills out of the wardrobe and employ them, the bed extends to 1.3m (4ft 3in).

Thanks to the eight-foot width of the caravan, there’s plenty of space for anyone to move around this bed. The dividing curtains were missing from our test model.

However, even with the bed in the narrower setting, we think that the curtain would hang quite a way from its relatively short ceiling rail, and in the extended position may begin to resemble a wigwam.

Given that the dividing curtain for the rear of the caravan is also close by, and itself weaves very narrowly past the wardrobe, you could find this whole area a swirling mass of fabric.

That rear fixed bed, meanwhile, is also 1.9m (6ft 3in) long, and this time 1.25m (4ft 1in) wide, tailing to 1.08m (3ft 7in) at the end. You do get two spotlights, plus shelves and a TV and mains socket. But the exit out of bed – at just 80cm (2ft 7in), between two hard edges – is one of the narrowest we’ve seen.

Storage

There are two large, unencumbered storage areas beneath the Elddis Avanté 840's front settees that are easily accessible from inside, but have no external access.

There’s also a huge storage area under the fixed bed which is even easier to access from the inside, because the bed lifts up on gas struts. But, again, there’s no external access.

The middle dinette has under-seat storage areas, although these are partly obscured by the ducts from the 4.3kW Whale heating system.

The central wardrobe is large, with two drawers and a locker beneath it. But the folding table is stored at the back of it, which can make life tricky because you have to squeeze past the clothes hanging on the rail. Then again, given that there’s already a permanent table in the side dinette, you might not choose to use this table very often.

The overhead lockers – four in the front, three in the middle and an astonishing five generously sized versions over the fixed bed – all come with positive catches.

Technical specs

Berth6
MiRO1555kg
Payload179kg
MTPLM1734kg
Interior length6.39m
Shipping length8.05m
Width2.45m
Awning size1090cm

Verdict

Fixed rear beds appear to be somewhat losing favour among caravan designers, so full marks have to go to Elddis for including such a bed in a van like this, which cries out to be used by a large group. It’s beautifully bright inside and really represents a great place for that group to spend time.

We feel that there still needs to be some working-out of details, though, such as access to that rear bed, and the design of those divider curtains.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The side dinette is great for family meals
  • There's a bright, pleasant ambience thanks to the warm colour scheme
  • It's easy to access the folding table

Cons

  • There are no external hatches for the under-bed storage
  • Bunks may be more practical for kids than a central double
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