Niall Hampton
Editor

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As jam-packed and foot-punishing as ever, the NEC show is back – our Niall's done the legwork for you to make sure you see the best the event has to offer!

This year’s Motorhome and Caravan Show is well under way, with visitor numbers on the opening day up 16% on last year, according to show organisers NCC Events.

It’s more good news for the industry, coming on the back of a 13.7% year-on-year increase in touring caravan production to the end of June 2017.

The six-day, family-friendly event covers 11 halls of the NEC, with caravans concentrated in hall 6, hall 10 and halls 17 to 20.

If you’re planning on making a trip to the show before it closes on Sunday, then here are our picks of what not to miss.

Don’t miss our Tourer of the Year!

First, and filling most of hall 6, is Swift Group.

Pride of place is given to our reigning Tourer of the Year, the Swift Sprite Major 6, as you enter from hall 20.

Alongside the comprehensively refreshed 2018 Sprite range – a must-see, we say – other highlights in the Swift portfolio include Airstream, now exclusively imported by Swift Group, and the Basecamp crossover camping vehicle – our reigning Specialist Tourer of the Year.

See all 10 of the new Unicorns from Bailey caravans

The other leading manufacturer to showcase new versions of established ranges is Bailey, with its upmarket Unicorn, now in its fourth iteration, and the Pegasus GT70.

Inevitably playing second fiddle to the Unicorn, but proving popular with buyers, is the revamped Bailey Pegasus GT70 – a mid-life refresh for the brand’s mid-market range, timed to coincide with the firm’s 70th anniversary.

Although there are no new layouts, the slow-selling Modena has been dropped to leave a six-model line-up, and there have been styling and spec boosts across the board including new graphite alloy wheels, a 100W solar panel, ATC, a wheel lock, and fresh graphics and fabrics.

The whole 10-strong Unicorn range is available to browse at hall 19, stand 29, including two Practical Caravan Tourer of the Year winners: the Unicorn Cabrera (Best Tourer for Couples) and the Unicorn Segovia (Best Tourer for Large Families).

Coachman, Elddis, Compass and Buccaneer

Other UK volume manufacturers to drop in on include Coachman (hall 19, stand 39), to see the excellent 2018 version of its leading VIP range.

There is also the Erwin Hymer Group UK (the manufacturer formerly known as Explorer Group – hall 20, stand 9).

Don’t miss a smattering of new models in the Compass (Casita 860, Capiro and Camino 574, and Camino 674) and Elddis (Affinity and Avanté 574 and Avanté 860) ranges, and while you’re there have a look at the very impressive Buccaneer Barracuda – which stars in this week’s Practical Caravan TV show.

The latest from Lunar and Adria caravans

Staying in the 8ft-wide luxury segment, the NEC is your first opportunity to view the whole four-strong Alaria range together, including the new TR model, our reigning Best Luxury Tourer.

While you’re on the Lunar stand (hall 18, stand 13), step inside other highlights of its 2018 portfolio including the Lexon 660 and Delta TR.

The UK’s leading imported brand, Adria (hall 20, stand 77), has packed in a selection of models on its stand, including the quirky Action 361 LT three-berth.

Entry-level Altea and portfolio-topping Alpina are also represented, as is the Adora range, having lost its Platinum Collection soubriquet for 2018, but retaining the kit that was included in this popular special edition last season.

Knaus is having it large

Among the most interesting stands at the show this year has to be Knaus Tabbert UK (hall 17, stand 39), which has brought along several vans never before seen in this country.

Star for the Practical Caravan team was the tiny Travelino, which has the potential to bring about a revolution in the tourer market.

Here is a genuine four-berth caravan that, thanks to some pioneering construction methods, boasts an MTPLM of just 750kg – bringing it within reach of small family hatchbacks.

The Tabbert name makes a welcome return, too, with two funky PEP models on show – the fixed-double-bed 490 and the clever 540, with large fixed twin beds up front that can be converted into a double.

A slightly smaller revolution, but no less valuable to British buyers, is the shift of the Weinsburg habitation doors to the nearside, making the compact CaraOne 390 UK and static-only CaraOne 740 UK on show a more realistic proposition for UK touring.

And at the opposite end of the Knaus portfolio is the debut of the new iLUX version of the StarClass, featuring leather trim and automatic climate control – an industry first, according to Knaus.

Must-see Caravelairs

Caravelair’s 2018 Antarès collection, imported exclusively by Marquis Leisure, is on display at hall 6, stand 49 – six vans, including three new models, are available to view at the show. Entrance doors are on the UK nearside, and all the vans are NCC Approved.

The 406 is a compact four-berth with a rear corner dinette for children and a small parallel lounge, while the 480 and 485 are both end-washroom four-berths – the 480 has a rear fixed bed, while the 485 goes with a transverse rear double.

Caravelair’s USPs are low weights and an all-inclusive spec that includes alloy wheels, dual-fuel hobs and twin USB sockets. This six-strong range is definitely worth a look.

Clever thinking

Also catching our eye was a display by Lippert Components (hall 20, stand 72), demonstrating its caravan slide-outs. Have a look to see how it really opens up possibilities for new layouts – breakfast bar at the front of the van, anyone?

Other design smarts are available to view on this stand, including stylish Tecnoform cabinetry.

Finally, the days of spotting external fixture covers flapping away in your mirrors while towing could become a thing of the past thanks to a new innovation by Whale.

The Easi-Slide system features sockets with sliding covers in lieu of hinged flaps. We’ve seen these fitted on Coachman caravans, and they really do make a lot of sense. See for yourself at hall 20, stand 43.

Tickets for the Motorhome and Caravan Show 2017 can be bought online, by phone on 0844 873 7333 or purchased on the door from £12.00. Children 15 and under enter free, and there’s no charge for car parking.

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