Coachman, known for its high-quality build and traditional styling, here maintains its policy of 'evolution without revolution'. The graphics have been freshened and an external barbecue point is among the new features for 2009. Inside, small improvements such as Italian-styled locker doors, a new control panel and new lighting looks sure to attract plenty of interest.
Coachman is a Hull-based British manufacturer renowned for building practical, stylish caravans. The entry range Amara 520/4 has Coachman's high build quality with practical extras for a modest price.
New features for the 2009 model have made it a good family van, with flexible dining and sleeping options and a full-height hanging rail. It also looks good, with the addition of Italian-styled locker doors and up-to-date upholstery.
Pitching and setting up
The Amara's waste pipes, however, are at the rear of the van, which can make it awkward to position waste containers under them when you're on a sloping pitch, but access to the corner steadies is pretty painless.
Inside, the control panel, like much of the rest of the interior, is pretty conventional and is easily accessed, as is the fuse box, which is located under the offside front seat.
Access to the dining area is a bit of a squeeze with the table in place, but there is a flip-over style extension to the centre chest, where two can dine in comfort.
There's a side dinette for eating if you don't want to use the main lounge, but the seats are very upright and the lighting isn't as effective as in some rivals. That's because the Amara makes do with just two directional spotlights at the front of the lounge to complement the main ceiling light and two corner lights.
It's nice, too, to have a large sink and a recessed drainer for washing up, but the flipside of this is that work surfaces are compromised. The hob and sink have glass lids to ease the problem, but you'll still need to be a tidy chef.
The Amara has an overhead locker with plate racks, but with only one drawer and a cupboard between the oven and fridge, it lacks storage options. Happily, it claws back some lost ground by including a roof-mounted extractor fan and a main ceiling light.
That said, the Amara isn't the most spacious in this department, but it does boast a sturdy, domestic-style washroom door.
There are drop-in carpets, modern chrome fittings and illuminated mirrors over the basin, and a good deal of space has been given to the wardrobe, vanity unit and storage. That's all well and good, but it does mean you end up with a slightly claustrophobic shower.
The Coachman’s toilet has a manual-flush and it, too, is a little tight for space. There's a smart Venetian blind though, and a large wardrobe with plenty of lockers. There's also a sizeable counter surface for lotions and potions.
The great thing about the two lounge seats is that they are of equal length, so you get a tidy bed conversion, even if the bed itself is not the longest in this class. The double is made by pulling wooden slats from the centre chest to support the extra cushions.
The bunks work well, although it's the lower bed that's the comfiest thanks to its extra width and thicker cushions.
Under-seat storage in the lounge is accessed via a front drop-down flap, and there's more stashing space under the side-dinette seat. Things look less generous in the kitchen though, where there's just one large locker and a lower cupboard. You might have to store your kitchen paraphernalia in the dinette lockers. The good news, at least for some, is that there's a cocktail cabinet.
Here's a van that presents a traditional interior that will have huge market appeal. The kitchen area, however, is markedly compromised by limited storage options and a minimal work surface.
- Coachman gives it reputable build quality
- It has a low MTPLM
- It's relatively affordable
- Both lounge seats are of equal length
- There's a shortage of storage space in the kitchen
- The payload is small