Lizzie PopeSee other caravan reviews written by Lizzie Pope
Coachman is famed for its classy, well built tourers, so how does its lighter, less pricey Vision 560/4 model fare in the Practical Caravan review?
Coachman is admired for building robust, high-quality tourers that stand the test of time. Indeed, the company won a gold gong in our first Owner Satisfaction Awards in 2013, charting as the highest-scoring UK manufacturer for pre-owned caravans, proof that its products last and that its dealer network looks after customers.
For the 2014 season, the company invested in producing the new Vision range, which replaces the Amara line-up. Although it is Coachman’s entry-level offering, it competes in the mid-market sector. One criticism that’s been levelled at Coachman down the years is that its vans are heavy and expensive compared with rivals. With the Vision, Coachman set out to cut weight and cost, to appeal to a wider audience.
The Vision range offers two, four, five and six berths – here we have the four-berth 560/4. It has a popular layout comprising parallel sofas up front, a central kitchen, a nearside fixed double bed and an end washroom across the full width of the van – it is now the most-supplied layout in the UK.
Pitching and setting up
It also gets new front and rear ABS panels, and a white awning channel to match the sidewalls. You can stand on the hitch cover to reach higher when cleaning. The steadies are easy to access, with grooves moulded into the rear bumper to help you locate the winding nuts.
The Vision 560/4 is built on an Al-Ko chassis with an AKS stabiliser, and comes with attractive alloy wheels. The toilet cassette hatch is on the offside, as are two drain pipes, placed sensibly just to the rear of the axle. Also on the offside are the battery box, which houses the hook-up inlet, a point for an external TV aerial and the Truma water inlet.
On the nearside, there’s an outdoor hatch to the large storage space beneath the rear double bed, but there’s no external access to the space beneath the front sofas.
Heating and hot water come courtesy of the powerful, dual-fuel Truma Combi 6kW system. The unit comes with a smart, new, digital control panel that is operated via a rotary knob and is programmable.
The lounge sofas flanking the central chest are short but will seat four, provided the occupants are relaxed about personal space. There are four directional reading lights on the underside of the overhead lockers, and short, single strip lights to the upper sections of the overhead lockers, which some of our testers found a little low-rent, as they could see each of the individual bulbs through the plastic casing. There are no lights built into the ceiling other than two downlighters in a wooden panel forward of the rooflight.
In front, there’s a Pioneer radio/CD/MP3 player, with speakers mounted above the shelf across the top of the window line at the front. And this is where you find one of the interesting omissions: although a sunroof is not even offered as a cost option, there are no overhead lockers here.
The central chest top extends to make an occasional table and, to accommodate four at mealtimes, there’s a separate free-standing table which is stored in its own kitchen cupboard by the offside sofa.
We counted one plug socket at the front, above the upper shelf, one in the kitchen, one above the dresser alongside a TV point and a further plug socket in the fixed bed’s base. There’s also a pair of vents for the ducted warm air heating up front to keep the area cosy.
Work surface space on the offside is at a premium, although the dresser across the aisle next to the entry door is slightly higher than it was in the preceding Amara models. This allows room for a cutlery drawer between it and the fridge, and makes it more suitable to double as food preparation space.
The oblong sink has a glass lid, plastic bowl and drainer, plus there’s a dual-fuel hob and full oven with grill. There's also a microwave above the fridge, concealed in a dedicated locker, while storage for pots, pans and condiments is ample.
A strip light under the kitchen’s overhead lockers illuminates the area, but we found it a little gloomy at night. A rooflight is fitted in lieu of an extractor fan to deal with cooking odours.
There are shelves alongside the shower for toiletries, plus there are coat hooks, a toilet roll holder and towel rails. Our only gripes are that we’d prefer a frosted window to go with the attractive Roman blind, and the basin is set a little low – its rim is just 79cm from the floor.
However, in this Coachman Vision 560/4, only very young children will be able to use the sofas, which are just 1.54m long, as single beds. Before buying, young families should consider how long their kids will be prepared to share the lounge when it’s made up as a double bed.
Yet as a luxury two-berth, the 560/4 is great. There’s a concertina privacy blind that partitions the front from the rear bedroom, and a Venetian blind where the dresser meets the bulkhead serving hatch, which is ideal for breakfast in bed.
The fixed double bed is large enough at 1.87m x 1.35m, has a comfy headboard, two directional reading lights, and a single ledge for reading glasses or placing a cuppa. You should get a good, restful night’s sleep in the double. Its only shortcoming is the substantial cutaway to ease access to the washroom.
We’ve mentioned that some of our testers felt the Vision was short on overhead lockers at the front, but there’s a decent number in the rear bedroom. The wardrobe is here as well, offering ample space for a couple’s clothes and a good, deep hanging height, too.
The Vision represents a big step forward for Coachman: it looks fabulous and is loaded with equipment. Crucially, prices are lower than its predecessor – this 560/4 costs £500 less than its Amara equivalent.
If you can live without the option of a sunroof and no overhead lockers at the front, it could be for you. We’d have liked to see one or the other, though. Also, despite being the manufacturer’s lightest range yet, the Vision 560/4 is still nearly 100kg heavier and over £200 more expensive than, for example, the Swift Challenger Sport 554.
The Vision is a bold move towards lighter, more affordable vans, but is it enough?
- The washroom is very spacious
- It looks and feels smart inside
- This is a very popular layout
- It has a decent spec
- Prices are lower than its predecessor
- There's no sunroof – it's not even on the options list
- The basin in the washroom is a touch too low
- The single beds are quite short