The launch of a new year of models from The Explorer Group is always impressive, and this year is no exception with a refreshed, 42-strong tourer range across its Xplore, Elddis, Compass and Buccaneer brands.
All get fresh exterior graphics and interior fabrics and finishes, along with Teleco directional TV aerials. There are changes to all sliding-bed models so these beds retract a full 400mm to make it easy to navigate around the caravan in the day, plus a ‘flip down’ mattress that simplifies the bed-making process at night.
The entry-level Xplore range benefits from a new Whale combination controller for its heating, plus a GRP outer skin for its floor and a central chest of drawers for the 402 and the new family-friendly six-berth 586, which features fixed bunks, a side dinette and a large corner washroom. The fixed-double 504 and twin-dinette 434 have been dropped, though the 435 continues for 2016.
The 2016 range of Elddis caravans has received the most dramatic updates, with the entry-level Avanté gaining an Affinity-style front end with a large panoramic sunroof. Avanté also gains a new transverse island-bed model, the 554, as the 540 and 564 leave the range, but perhaps the biggest change lies beneath as it becomes the first caravan to use Whale’s new Expanse dual-fuel underslung water-heater, mounted beneath the floor to avoid sapping precious storage space inside the van.
Layouts for Affinity remain unchanged, but there’s a huge difference in feel inside the van – not just because of the fresh upholstery, but also thanks to the arrival of the ‘Stargazer’ 1.4m-long Heki rooflight, as featured on Lunar models last year. The range-topping Crusader will be far easier to spot in 2016 thanks to its dramatic new ‘Champagne’ sidewalls and matching bronze gas-locker lid. Inside, there’s funky new lighting and, like all models from Affinity up, USB points on the front shelf. The old Shamal has made way for the Aurora, with an in-line rear island bed and central washroom.
Now in its third year since re-introduction, the Compass line has been further refined with the Corona 382, 540 and 564, plus the Rallye 482 and 634, leaving the pricelists, and the arrival of the transverse island-bed Corona 554 and the family-friendly Rallye 636 with fixed bunks and two double beds made up from the lounge and dinette. The Corona also gains the ‘Stargazer’ rooflight.
Standing proud at the top of The Explorer Group line is Buccaneer, which this year does without the in-line island-bed Argosy. The 8ft-wide Buccaneer remains the sole Elddis product on a BPW chassis, and the headline-grabbing news is the return of the Clipper with fixed twin beds. Why headline-grabbing? Because those beds are not in-line, but transverse with retracing bases during the day. It will be fascinating to see how buyers of Buccaneer caravans take to this unusual floorplan.
Layouts for Affinity remain unchanged, but there’s a huge difference in feel inside the van