Peter Baber
Reviews Editor

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If you have a growing family and a limited budget, you might find this budget price four-berth from French manufacturer Caravelair has appeal.

Overview

The Antarès range from French brand Caravelair has been sold exclusively by Marquis Leisure for a couple of years.

This season's models haven't changed a great deal. But their budget price - a family van below £16,000 - and light weight should mean they retain their appeal.

We took a look at the Antarès 406, a four-berth with bunk beds in the offside corner, to see how well it still measures up.

Pitching and setting up

One thing that has changed a bit is the decals. Formerly a thin blue curve around the forward side windows, they now look much bolder.

That aside, the Antarès is pretty much as it was - no bad thing. You still get an AKS 3004 stabiliser and shock absorbers. With an MTPLM of 1150kg, the 406 could be within reach of the kind of medium-sized cars that most people own.

On site, you will be pleasantly surprised, too - exterior barbecue and shower points, and a mains socket, are included as standard, all close to the mains hook-up and external access to the front nearside underseat area.

The only downside is that, thanks to the layout, the access hatch for the cassette toilet is right by the door, so probably comes within the awning.

Lounge

Unfortunately, once you step inside this caravan, its budget qualities become more apparent.

The upholstery, for one thing, is very much 'brown on brown'. There are cassette blinds and fly screens to all windows, but the curtains have stays that do not attach to the wall.

There is no sunroof, either. Instead, there is a pair of lockers, which we found rather impinged on headroom for taller people.

That said, along with the LED light in the centre of the lounge, you do get two spotlights here, which are individually switched and directional. In addition, there is a mains socket, and even two USB sockets on the rear corner of the offside settee.

All that is unusual at this price, as is the Truma Combi 6 heater with well-placed vents.

A table, stored in the wardrobe in the middle of the caravan, will be adequate for four. Or you can use the small fold-out shelf below the front window for snacks.

The rear dinette is really best left to the children, because any sizeable adult could find it quite a squeeze getting into the rear seat here. It is well lit, however, with a large window and a second rooflight. And another welcome surprise at this price - you get two more spotlights here.

Kitchen

The side kitchen in the Antarès does have a dual-fuel hob, but it's only a three-burner (two gas and one electric). Then again, how often do you really need four burners at the same time?

The circular sink has a glass cover that is removable but has no other purpose, which seems a waste. The worktop, while not particularly big, is well lit.

Underneath you get a Thetford Triplex combined oven and grill, as well as a large drawer, partly taken up with a cutlery tray, and a cupboard underneath with two shelves inside. The cupboard under the oven is partly obscured by the wheel arch, but still large enough for big pans.

A half-height fridge sits under the half-height wardrobe across the aisle from here.

Washroom

Although the smart exterior helps to disguise the fact that this is a budget caravan, the rear corner washroom might not - it is very bare. There is only a small steel handbasin, and the shower shares space with the toilet.

Storage is basic, too, with one small shelf high above the toilet. But you do at least get a large LED light and a rooflight, and the room is heated by a vent.

Beds

The double bed is made up by pulling out slats from under the middle of the 'U' at the front of the van. These are some of the most roughly finished slats we have ever seen. We also found the ones on our test model quite a struggle to roll back.

Rather oddly, you complete the double bed with some infill cushions that are stored in the wardrobe, rather than using the backrests as you might expect.

This is annoying, because it means you have to find space to store the backrests when you want to make use of the bed's full length.

You might want to keep one of them as a headboard, however, as the bare metal exposed when you remove them isn't the comfiest thing to lean back against.

To make up the bunks at the rear of the van, you lower the clip-on table to the level of the seats for the lower bed, then pull up the fold-out bunk.

You then need more infill cushions to make the mattress for the upper bunk - so you have to find still more space to store them. At least this makes for a comfier mattress than one that is partly cushions, partly infill.

This bunk is also sturdier than some we have seen, with good guards and a solid ladder.

Storage

Having external access to the nearside underseat area is an unexpected blessing in this van, and not just because it means you can take stuff outside.

Although this area is clear, to access it from inside, you have to lift all of the cushions (which were very tight fitting on our test model) and raise the slats. The offside is mostly taken up with the Truma Combi 6 heater. There is an access flap to the small locker under the slats at the front.

The pair of lockers across the front of the van are the only overhead storage in the lounge. There are two more good-sized ones over the side dinette. The areas under the seats here are both clear, so could be used for storage, although they are quite a struggle because, again, you have to lift cushions and slats.

The wardrobe in the middle is a good size for a family, even if it is only half-height.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO927kg
Payload223kg
MTPLM1150kg
Interior length3.8m
Shipping length5.51m
Width2.1m

Verdict

For a budget van, the Antarès 406 is an odd mix: plenty of good spec outside but rather bare in places. In most of the van, it is a case of getting what you pay for. Still, this is a good price, and you're unlikely to have to trade up your tow car. This is certainly one to consider.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Excellent spec on the outside

Cons

  • Washroom is bare and bed slats are badly finished