Peter BaberSee other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- There are no external hatches for the under-bed storage
- Bunks may be more practical for kids than a central double