Nigel HutsonSee other Advice articles filed in ‘Caravans for sale – buying guides’ written by Nigel Hutson
Caravanning couples have never had such a big choice of tourers!
If you think about it, just about every caravan for sale in the UK is suitable for touring twosomes, from the smallest, most basic two-berth to the largest, multi-berth, twin-axle gin-palace.
Whilst it might seem to be an extravagance, if you’re a couple who often take grandchildren away with you, then a family caravan with fixed bunks might suit your needs, but could still be used by you as a couple.
But with so much choice, where do you start?
Even if you concentrate on caravans predominantly aimed at couples, then not only are there the ‘traditional’ two-berth layouts (front-lounge, end-washroom, or front-lounge, end-kitchen), but also a huge number of fixed-bed options. These are marketed as four-berth vans, but it’s clear that they are intended for couples.
So, let’s say you have £15,000 to spend, you want a brand-new caravan, and it must be strictly a two-berth. What options are there?
To help you out, here we look at three of the best 2017-season two-berth caravans we’ve reviewed, to see how they stack up back-to-back.
Bailey Pursuit 400-2
- Price: £14,599
- Berths: 2
- MiRO: 965kg
- MTPLM: 1090kg
- Payload: 125kg
- Awning length: 843cm
- Layout: front-lounge, end-washroom
Bristol-based manufacturer Bailey bucks the trend when it comes to the caravanning year. The vast majority of manufacturers revamp or launch their new ranges around September, at the beginning of the new season.
Not so with Bailey. The firm does so when it feels an upgrade is necessary, and there’s a lot of sense in that. For 2017, it was the turn of the company’s entry-level range, the Pursuit to have its facelift.
The smallest model in the Pursuit range is the 400-2, an end-washroom two-berth. Whilst still using the now familiar Alu-Tech construction methods, new bits of external trim have brought the range up to date.
Also, the new Pursuit range of Bailey caravans is options-free, making things more simple for customers. Now they include as standard some items previously on the options list, such as an Al-Ko AKS3004 stabiliser and a sunroof.
In the Bailey Pursuit 400-2, the inclusion of the sunroof, together with the large, single-piece front window, really does make the lounge bright and airy. That’s also helped by the light colourings of the fabrics.
After dark, artificial lighting is excellent, too, with perhaps the only omission being reading lights at all four corners (only the front two corners have one each), but bearing in mind that this is an entry-level model, perhaps that can be excused.
The lounge even comes equipped with a branded radio/CD/MP3 player and decent quality speakers.
When it’s cold outside, the 2kW Truma Combi heating system keeps the caravan nice and cosy. Although this unit has the lowest output of the Truma units, we can vouch for how effective it is – Bailey recently did a trip to Finland in a pair of Pursuits, and the standard heating coped admirably in the Arctic temperatures.
Rather than having a centre chest at the front, the 400-2 simply has a small, fold-up coffee table, which helps with the spacious feeling.
The main table is stored under the offside sofa, and is a bit of a faff to get out, but because of the diminutive size of the 400-2, Bailey’s options for storage are limited.
Moving to the kitchen, workspace is very limited, but aided by a fold-up extension. You get a three-burner hob and a combination oven/grill, which in our experience tend to work very well.
There’s a large fridge/freezer and a detachable drainer. Also new for 2017's Pursuit range of Bailey caravans is the impressive inclusion of a microwave as standard.
When it comes to sleeping, you can either use the sofas as 1.88m x 0.71m singles, or make them up into a 2.03m x 1.60m double.
Because there are no knee-rolls, making up the double bed simply means slotting the two backrests into the gap between the seat bases. Another upgrade for 2017 is that the mattresses are Ozio fibre.
The washroom, which also houses the wardrobe, is of a decent size, and it’s pleasing to find a fully lined shower cubicle.
It’s also good to have an opening window and pop-up rooflight for ventilation. However, you’ll have to preserve modesty by closing the window blind as the window itself is clear!
Want more? Read our full 2017 Bailey Pursuit 400-2 review.
Caravelair Antarès 335
- Price: £11,995
- Berths: 2
- MiRO: 726kg
- MTPLM: 1000kg
- Payload: 274kg
- Awning length: 777cm
- Layout: front-lounge, end-kitchen
Marquis Leisure has recently started to import the French-built range of Caravelair caravans. Not only is the price of the Antarès 335 very attractive, but so is its MTPLM, with a very generous payload of 274kg, and overall length of just 5m. Eye-catching figures indeed.
The two things that you’ll first notice about the Caravelair is that it is unmistakably Continental in design, and that the entrance door is on the UK’s offside. For general use, the latter shouldn’t be a great problem, and could be a bonus if you decide to go caravanning across the Channel.
Take a step inside, and the Continental flavour continues. Rather than the UK’s preferred curtains at the windows, you’ll see net voiles together with blinds and flyscreens. You’ll also notice that the main table is of the clip-on variety.
Because the caravan is so short there’s no front centre chest, or for that matter a shelf below the single front window.
Indeed, there’s not much else in the lounge, other than a TV point mounted on the wardrobe and a pair of reading lights in the front corners, but what do you expect at this price?
Heating is taken care of by a Truma unit, which by UK standards these days does look rather old-fashioned, but it functions well.
The combination oven and grill is mounted between the wardrobe and the heater, and away from the main kitchen area. This is a little strange, as it makes the wardrobe rather short in length, but it still has a good width.
The end-kitchen has a three-burner gas hob and a stainless-steel sink. There is some work surface to the right of the sink.
The fridge/freezer is beneath the hob, leaving space for a drawer, cupboard and open shelves. An opening window and pop-up rooflight take care of ventilation.
The only option for the bed is a double. By simply dropping the lounge table, you’ll have a bed that’s 120cm wide.
Too narrow? Popping in a couple of boards extends this to 172cm. It’s not the slickest of ways to make the bed up, but again, look at the sub-£12,000 price.
The Caravelair Antarès 335’s washroom is very simple. The mixer tap doubles up as a showerhead, and there’s a small corner sink with a rather flimsy cupboard beneath.
The washroom isn’t lined, but showering would be a struggle anyway, given the amount of space in there, as the bench-type toilet takes up much of the floor area. At least there’s a pop-up roof vent.
See more in our 2017 Caravelair Antarès 335 review.
- Price: £13,799
- Berths: 2
- MiRO: 1020kg
- MTPLM: 1175kg
- Payload: 155kg
- Awning length: 910cm
- Layout: front-lounge, end-washroom
When first introduced, it was arguably a rather bland-looking affair. But now perhaps only the large single front window gives the game away externally that this is an entry-level range. This 460/2 is the smallest of the Venus caravans for sale, too.
If you pay an extra £499 for the Plus Pack, specification is upgraded to include alloy wheels, an Al-Ko stabiliser, a spare wheel and carrier, an Al-Ko Secure receiver, a microwave and a radio/CD player with iPod connection.
Doing that still keeps the price well under £15,000, but buys you one well-specified caravan.
Step inside, and you could be mistaken for thinking that the Venus is from a level above. There’s no fashionable sunroof, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as you gain an extra locker and a pair of good-sized shelves at the front – glossy finishes to the lockers is a classy touch.
A Heki rooflight and that front window keep things light and airy in the lounge during the day, whilst LED lighting takes over when it’s dark. There are only two reading lights placed, unusually, at the kitchen/dresser end of the seats.
You get a centre chest with a pull-out table at the front, the main table being stored within the kitchen unit, the TV point located on the practical nearside dresser. It is very comfortable, too.
The offside kitchen is perhaps the main part of the 460/2 which gives the game away that you’re in an entry-level caravan.
Here you’ll find a three-burner gas hob and a combination oven/grill. Having said that, with the added microwave it’s still more than adequate, and worktop space is on the generous side.
Making up the double bed is made simple thanks to the inclusion of upmarket, pull-out aluminium bases. The other alternative is to use the sofas as a pair of singles, but you will find the spotlights at the wrong ends – of course, if used as a double, only one occupant gets a light.
A separate, fully lined shower cubicle, two wardrobes and an attractive vanity unit adorn the washroom. You also get a rooflight and an opaque opening window.
In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve stepped into a high-end caravan – until you notice the manual-flush cassette toilet.
It’s amazing how well specified entry-level tourers are these days. It could be argued that you don’t need to move more upmarket to enjoy very comfortable caravan holidays.
Of course, spending more gets you more bells and whistles. But, on the whole, you’ll get most of what you need in entry-level models such as these.
We’ve only covered three contenders here – and which you choose will be down to personal taste as much as budget. But, of course, there are others.
Sticking with the traditional, for £14,755 you could have Sprite’s excellent Alpine 2 with an MTPLM of 1186kg, and boasting a similar front-lounge, end-washroom layout to the Venus 460/2.
Like to stand out from the crowd? The Polish-built Freedom Discovery is a bit of a left-field choice.
However, with prices starting from only £9995 and an MTPLM of 750kg, these vans are ideal for owners with small tow cars, and their pop-up roofs and one-piece moulded bodyshells make them a bit different.
Tempted to dive into the new caravans for sale pages now, to see what you can find?