THE BIGGEST STORY from Elddis for the 2014 season is the relaunch of the Compass brand, which was discontinued in 2009. Compass had been in production for 35 years and had built up a loyal following. 


The reborn Compass ranges – Corona, Omega and Rallye – will launch in September, and four popular floor plans will be available in each one. 


The new vans are all built using Elddis’s new SoLiD – strong, light and dry – construction method. Used in the car and aviation industries, joints are glued not screwed together, significantly reducing the change of water ingress. 


Building on SoLiD foundations 

SoLiD has been a real success for Elddis since it launched in 2012, so it’s no surprise to see that the Consett-based manufacturer has significantly expand its portfolio of tourers, which now stands at 40. 


But this isn’t a rebadging exercise – taking a current product and tinkering around the edges. Elddis believes there isn’t enough choice in the market, and that buyers want to see more brands and ranges when they go shopping for a new tourer. 


Compass is a different offering from the core Elddis brands in significant ways. Firstly, all Compass tourers come on Al-Ko chassis. The other Elddis ranges – Xplore, Avanté, Crusader and the upmarket Buccaneer – all sit on BPW chassis. This decision has been taken to set Compass apart from Elddis, and give it its own identity. 


Secondly, Compass will not be sold through Elddis retailers. Instead, a dealer network is being built from scratch. This is so Compass caravans don’t compete with Elddis on the same forecourts, allowing Compass to grow a separate market share from its parent company. Details are still to be finalised, but we understand some big names in caravan retailing are already on board – more details as soon as we get them. 


Wide appeal 

We’ve seen a display van from each new Compass range, and reckon they could all have a wide appeal, in terms of styling and specification. 


At yesterday’s official launch, in glorious hot sunshine at Elddis’s County Durham HQ, there was a real buzz about the new Compass vans. The mid-range Omega 540 sports the classic rear fixed bed, end washroom layout – the most supplied floor plan to the UK volume market – so let’s see what buyers of the reborn Compass will get for their cash, in this case £19,299. 


Comfort and convenience 

The 540’s rear fixed bed means that buyers get the comfort of a double bed they can leave made up during the day, plus the convenience of a washroom that spans the width of the caravan. 


The washroom follows a logical layout, with the toilet and shower at opposite ends. The sink is just inside the entrance door, and a rooflight close to it gives you daylight where you need it. 


The shower cubicle is a good size, and there’s enough space to get dressed in comfort as well as privacy. The oval sink is big and deep enough to be useful – it doesn’t just look good. 


Plenty of space 

Moving into the kitchen, there’s plenty of space. The width across the van is very generous and there’s a respectable amount of worktop for food preparation. 


Cooks get the convenience of dual-fuel hobs, so if the gas is about to run out you’ll be able to polish off the evening’s stir-fry using the electric hook-up. And when it’s time for after-dinner liqueurs, all you need to do is open up the drinks cabinet next to the overhead lockers. A welcome touch of class. 


Bright and airy lounge 

Up front in the lounge, there’s a bright and airy feel. The light wood tones create a pleasing ambience and a there’s a large rooflight to let the light really flood in. 


The fabrics scheme works well, too. It’s not too in your face and matches the cabinetwork nicely, so it should appeal to a wide range of buyers. The parallel lounge seats convert into a spacious double bed in a matter of seconds, so you’ve always got room for guests when you’re on tour. 


This layout is a firm favourite with couples touring on their own – empty nesters – who want the convenience of a fixed bed, plus a good-sized lounge and well-equipped kitchen for entertaining. 


Ticks the boxes, scores lots of points 

You also get the convenience of an end washroom, plus two more berths in the lounge if you want them. This really is a layout that ticks all the boxes, and in the metal the Compass Omega 540 scores lots of points. 


We like the interiors, the finish is good and the spec includes the must-have Alde heating. If we’re being picky, the exteriors carry many Elddis design cues, so to our eyes there isn’t a massive point of difference here. 


But on balance, this van has more hits than misses. If the rest of the Omega range is as good as this, Compass could run its rivals hard in 2014. At the £18,249-£19,299 price point, it’s up against ranges including Coachman Pastiche, Lunar Lexon, Sterling Eccles/Swift Challenger SE, and Elddis’s own Affinity. 


Other Elddis changes for 2014 

In other Elddis news, Xplore has been relaunched as a standalone entry level brand, with two new layouts, the 402 (parallel lounge, end washroom), and 574 (fixed twin single beds, end washroom). 


The Avanté gets a new layout, the 550, with rear island bed and midships washroom, and the upmarket Crusader sees two new models join the range, Mistral (transverse island bed, end washroom on a single axle) and Storm (transverse island bed, end washroom on a twin axle). Superstorm has been deleted. All Crusaders now get panoramic sunroofs as standard. 


Discrete upmarket brand Buccaneer stays the same model-wise for 2014, with detail improvements for Caravel and Schooner.  


The official Compass launch is slated for 1 September, and selected models will be on display at the Caravan Extravaganza in Hull a few days later. To see the complete Omega line-up, plus Corona and Rallye – and the rest of the Elddis family – you’ll have to wait until October’s NEC show.