Covering five halls of the NEC Birmingham between 23 and 28 February, there’s lots to see at the 2016 Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show. If you’re planning to visit this weekend and you’re not sure where to start, here are our show highlights.
After we brought you our preview of the new Knaus StarClass range, it was great to get inside these two vans, designed with the British caravan-buying public in mind. We can also now tell you that the StarClass 560 with its fixed double bed will cost from £25,695, while the twin-single-bed 565 starts from £24,995.
But that’s not all. We discovered that these two models are just the beginning and will eventually be part of a six-model range that will launch at the October NEC show, where a range of Weinsberg caravans, also with their doors on the UK offside, will be revealed, too.
If you’re after something a little different, don’t miss the Lifestyle 550 LK, also on the Knaus stand. With its L-shaped lounge, fixed bunks and fresh, colourful design, it’s definitely an eye-catcher. And if you like it but you don’t need something quite that size, you might be pleased to learn there’s a two-berth model in the pipeline.
We all love something for nothing and at this week’s show, there are a number of pretty special freebies we think you might be interested in.
If you’ve been watching the current episode of our TV show on The Caravan Channel, you’ll know that Truma and Bailey have joined forces and are giving away a Bailey Pegasus caravan – just head to the Truma stand. And, speaking of Bailey, don’t miss your chance to win a Bailey Lego caravan to enjoy building. The Lego [email protected], which made its debut at last October’s NEC show, is back in Birmingham this week, so check it out if you’re in need of inspiration.
Meanwhile, if you buy any Elddis at the show (except an Xplore), you’ll get a free Powrtouch Evolution Motormover worth up to £1195, or on the Adria stand, if you order a van at the show, a free Premier Gas BBQ will be yours.
In addition, Lunar is giving away a free caravan motor mover or caravan cover on all Ariva, Quasar, Stellar, Lexon, Clubman and Delta models bought at the show, or a free Al-Ko secure wheel lock or Tow Pro towing protector if you buy a Venus caravan. And while you’re on the stand, don’t miss the Lunar Delta RI decorated to celebrate the model’s victory at our Tourer of the Year Awards 2016.
First foot forward
If you saw our Barefoot review and took a shine to it, make tracks for the Barefoot stand (stand 4508 in hall 4). A word of warning, though – you won’t be the only one there! This distinctive cream caravan seemed to attract a lot of attention when we were at the show. And we’ve been told a blue version is being built. This is also the place to go if you’d like to enter a competition to win a Roberts Revival Mini Radio.
Sticking with smaller vans, in hall 1 we found the stand of pop-top caravan company Silver. And it’s undergone a rebrand, the 2016 models now called Silver Trend, plus the Trigano name has been dropped.
The line-up remains unchanged although, perhaps paradoxically, the 2015 vans have predominantly silver exteriors, whereas the new, rechristened ones are mainly white.
Other pint-sized tourers making an impact are on the Teardrop Caravans stand in hall 2. This is only the firm’s second NEC show, but these mini marvels, bespoke, hand-built and made to order, are worth checking out. Even if you’d rather go touring with good headroom, a full washroom, a well-appointed kitchen and a separate lounge area, it’s astounding to see what can be squeezed into such a small space, and with such design flair.
We are always excited to learn about new companies trying to break into the market, especially when that company’s aim is to allow more people to enjoy caravanning. Sound good? Then head to Nirvana’s stand, as the firm is launching a range designed to suit the needs of disabled caravanners.
Called the Freedom range, Nirvana’s Mark Sharp told us the line-up offers three to five berths, a wide access rear door, an electric winch, an open wet room/washroom and a garage, from around £14,950.
Elddis makes space
We know sometimes it’s the details that make the difference and clearly Elddis has listened, and has moved all of the on-board water tanks in its island-bed models. Previously, they were in the middle of the island bed’s underbed space, consuming valuable and very useful storage capacity. Now they’re sited to the side.
And while we are talking Elddis, we think the brand deserves a special mention for its colossal show stand. We started counting the number of caravans on display and got lost somewhere around the 30 mark – great for comparing layouts if you’re shopping for your next tourer.
Coachman Pastiche 470
One caravan which stopped us in our tracks when launched last year for the 2016 season was the Coachman Pastiche 470. Its radical layout featuring a fixed double bed across the front makes it stand out in the British market and while it was on show at the NEC show last October, its bold layout means it’s still worth looking at if you’re in the market for a two-berth tourer.
Tablets for toilets
Chemical toilets are not the most glamorous side of our favourite pastime, but they are essential, and at this week’s Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show, market leaders Dometic and Thetford were both promoting tablet/sachet versions of their products.
Of course, the advantage of these is if you use them you’ll never spill chemicals, as you could when pouring from a bottle, plus they are lighter and easier to store, which is great for your payload and when trying to use space efficiently when packing your van. Dometic, in hall 3, is giving free trials away at the show, if you fancy trying before you buy.
There’s also a new product on the Thetford stand: a waste-holding tank with wheels and a handle. Available from April for the C200 and C2/3/4 models, this handy new portable tank will be sold as part of Thetford’s ‘Toilet Fresh-Up Set’, which also includes a toilet lid and seat, plus chemicals. And coming to the NEC show in October, will be Thetford’s new toilet and fridge.
Finally, if you want to take the pain out of levelling and pitching your van, head for the E&P Hydraulics stand. While an all-singing-and-dancing system featuring hydraulic corner steadies and hydraulic axle supports has been available previously, the compact version is making its debut at the show.
This system does without the corner steadies, but can still hydraulically level your van. Indeed, the product’s claim is it can do this, at the touch of a button, within two minutes. And it doubles up as a jack – handy if you need to change your van’s tyre. Check out the prototype in hall 4.
Available from 1 April, and with the option of a remote control to really wow fellow caravanners on site, this compact version is also more affordable, costing around £1800-£2000.
The Knaus StarClass 560 will cost from £25,695, while the twin-single-bed 565 starts from £24,995