There can be no denying that a fixed bed consumes much-needed space in a caravan when not in use – brilliant when needed, but perhaps a waste when not. A year or two ago, Swift introduced a variation on a theme when the fixed bed was replaced by a similar-shaped dinette that converted into a double bed, thus theoretically giving the best of both worlds.
That layout is now available in Swift’s entry-level range in the guise of the Sprite Major 4. Whilst the Sprite range generally might have lost its price and weight advantages when compared to other manufacturers’ entry-level offerings, they’re well enough equipped to be competing with some mid-range models. So how does this double dinette layout work in practice?
Pitching and setting up
The front locker’s lid is supported by a central gas strut, giving good access. There’s a step-on hitch cover, too, which aids access for cleaning, whilst each of the corner steadies is readily accessible.
The water and mains connections are towards the front on the offside, with a pair of waste water outlets placed together to the rear of the offside wheel. Finally, the electrical controls are all to hand, as they’re sited just inside the entrance door.
Whilst each is large enough to accommodate four, we think that the front one will be the main dining area as it’s much easier to access, and it’s possible to extend the main table area with the addition of the slide-out occasional table above the centre chest.
The rear dinette will more than likely find itself being used as a play area for youngsters, especially with its fixed table.
The TV point is on the side dresser just to the rear of the entrance door, and whilst viewing from the front lounge is the more comfortable, it is possible to turn the TV through 180 degrees where it could be viewed from the rear dinette.
As with most caravans of this layout (be it in fixed bed or second dinette form), kitchen work surface is very much at a premium. A removable drainer helps, but even then there’s only a small area on which to work. As there are no fold-up worktop extensions and the dresser unit is small, we suspect that one of the tables will be called upon to provide the extra work area. A mains socket is provided for a kettle.
Often, it’s the little things that let the side down, but that’s something that the Major 4 can’t be accused of. For instance, as well as an opening window, there’s an electric flush loo, a coat hook and a toothbrush glass and holder. It’s surprising how often some of these are omitted.
There’s plenty of storage for lotions and potions, but you might struggle to store towels in here. Good lighting (halogen) and ventilation complete the washroom.
The rear dinette converts into a tapered double, measuring 1.93m x 1.32m, narrowing to 0.95m at the foot. However, the biggest issue is in erecting the thing. The table has to be dropped down to form the base, and then an extra cushion is needed to fill a large gap. Once made, it does provide a comfortable bed, but the cushion juggling in such a confined area is a bit of a struggle.
Kitchen-wise, there are three overhead lockers. One contains crockery holders and another is shelved; the third is large enough for cereal boxes. In the kitchen unit, there’s a small cupboard between the oven and fridge, with a small pull-out basket and a cutlery drawer above. A cupboard, open shelf and an overhead locker in the dresser unit give more storage options.
Up front, the nearside bunk is clear, but the one on the offside contains the water heater and mains consumer unit, so offers little in the way of storage. Above, there are a couple of overhead lockers (or four if the front sunroof is not specified). Completing things is the front chest with its two drawers and fold-down flap at the bottom.
It’s clear to see what the designers of this layout were intending. However, in practice there are several shortcomings. During the day things work well if a family is on board. However, bedtime is when the issues manifest themselves. As mentioned before, the only single bunks available are the two short ones in the front lounge. So unless you’ve got youngsters who don’t mind sharing a double bed, parents would have to move to the rear lounge. But because the kitchen, dresser (with TV station) and entrance door are all forward of the partition screen, great care would have to be taken not to disturb little ones. With older offspring, the only option is them sleeping in double beds. Therefore it’s reasonable to conclude that this layout is not really a great family van, and the side-dinette, end-washroom layout might be a better option. For for a couple, the fixed-bed version would be better. Score: 3/5
- Good looks, solid build feel, good equipment level
- Small kitchen surface, fiddly rear bed, halogen lighting throughout