The five-berth Coachman Amara 550/5 is best for families and in this review Practical Caravan's experts give their verdict, with the full spec and prices

Overview

British caravan manufacturer Coachman has been building caravans since 1986. Based in Hull, Coachman prides itself on its stylish design, so it's no surprise that the Amara 550/5 is beautifully made. Here you get a luxury finish at mid-market prices. 

Pitching and setting up

The Amara’s running gear consists of an Al-Ko chassis, Al-Ko stabiliser, buttonless handbrake and 13-pin electrics. The steadies are easy to access, particularly the front ones, which have rubber-lined guide channels. However, the waste pipes are at the rear of the van.

The front locker is large enough for two gas cylinders and the door is held high by a central gas strut. Other external equipment includes a barbecue point, mains socket and wet locker. All controls are on a panel above the entrance door.

Lounge

The Amara’s styling is tasteful and beautifully finished. The detailing on the locker doors and the thick, plush upholstery fabric wouldn’t be amiss in a much more expensive van.

Both lounges are comfortable. The front lounge has bolster and throw cushions. The Heki rooflight ensures it is light during the day, and a ceiling light, two corner lights and two spotlights provide good lighting options for the evening. There’s a fold-down shelf on the offside with a power point and TV point below. This is the designated place for the TV as there is no TV point by the chest. A radio/CD/MP3 player, two speakers and a directional aerial complete the entertainment equipment.

The rear lounge has plenty of seating for three kids, and a large table. This end also has a rooflight, ceiling light and two spotlights as well as a fold-down shelf and points for a TV.

Kitchen

The Amara’s kitchen is well-equipped with a 107-litre fridge, separate oven and grill, four-burner hob and extractor fan. A microwave is hidden behind a tambour door. A power point is also provided and is conveniently placed.

The amount of kitchen work surface isn’t as generous as the amount of kit. The recessed drainer means there is just a single strip to one side. But both the sink and hob have glass lids.

Kitchen storage is not generous, but there is enough to be workable for a family. The two overhead lockers have plate and cup racks. Also provided are a cutlery drawer and shelved cupboard, though the wheel arch steals some of this space.

Washroom

The washroom is one of the Amara’s strong points. It may not be as spacious as an end-washroom, but it is as well appointed as many.

The separate shower has a solid screen to keep the rest of the room dry. Four shelves and a soap dish inside the shower means there is ample room for lotions and potions. When these shelves are combined with the cupboard under the sink and a shelf, there is plenty of storage.

Also fitted in the washroom is a swivel toilet, a basin and a mirror. There is plenty of legroom around the loo, and enough space to get dry and dressed after a shower. The opaque window and rooflight ensure the room is light.

The one niggle is the location of the mirror above the window. It is very high, meaning kids will not be able to see into it while brushing their teeth.

Beds

Using the usual slats, the Amara’s front lounge converts to a large double bed, and as the cushions are a snug fit, it is comfortable. However, because there are only two spotlights in the lounge, only one person will have a reading light. At more than six foot (1.85m) long, the sofas are also long enough to use as single beds.

The sofas in the rear are too short (1.37m) to be used as singles, even by children. Luckily, it doesn’t take any more than the usual effort to get the cushions off, the bunk up and the double bed made beneath it, providing three good berths in the rear of this family caravan.

The sofa cushions are a good fit for the double, but the extra cushions provided for the bunk are a very loose fit. This is disappointing considering they are provided solely for that purpose. However the guard rails and ladder are easy to position.

There is a material door to separate the bunks from the rest of the van.

Storage

There are six overhead lockers in the front lounge and another five in the rear. None have shelves and those in the rear are narrow. None of the lockers have positive catches, so heavy items will need to be stored down low during transit.

The under-seat lockers in both dinettes have sliding slats below the cushions rather than supported lids. They are a bit fiddly. The front lockers are a little easier to access as they also have drop-down flaps at the front. The nearside box has been halved lengthways to create a large wet locker accessible from outside.

The wardrobe has adequate hanging space, though no shelves or drawers, because the heater is fitted below it.

There is also a floor-to-ceiling cupboard next to the wardrobe that houses the two tables. The space not taken up by the tables is narrow and difficult to use, so it’s a lot of space to dedicate to the tables.

Technical specs

Berth5
MiRO1381kg
Payload199kg
MTPLM1580kg
Interior length5.62m
Shipping length7.38m
Width2.26m
Height2.6m
Awning size992cm

Verdict

The family-sized Coachman Amara 550/5 caravan boasts a classic layout, that is beautifully executed in true Coachman style. Overall, we give this 2010 family caravan a 7/10 rating.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Two good-sized dinettes on a single-axle
  • Washroom and kitchen are useable despite so many beds
  • The level of kit is also good for a van of this price
  • The finish is excellent and the styling attractive

Cons

  • Quasar has better rear dinette sleeping options
  • Waste water pipes are at the rear of the van
  • Poor-fitting bunk mattress
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