Kate TaylorSee other caravan reviews written by Kate Taylor
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Practical Caravan reviews the new, well-specified Compass Rallye 530 to see if the Explorer Group has hit the mark for couples
The Explorer Group has aimed its new, well-specified Compass model at couples who will welcome its unusual features and thoughtful design. We assess its promise.
The Compass brand was re-introduced by The Explorer Group for the 2014 season, and there are more big changes for 2015 to move it slightly further upmarket from its Elddis siblings, which now run on the same Al-Ko chassis. The mid-level Omega has gone, with both the Corona and top-spec Rallye lines being extended to absorb those models.
All vans get Alde central heating and a Whale Intelligent Controller, which senses water pressure. The Rallye includes a sunroof, easy-clean upholstery and a 40-litre water tank.
Among the four new models in the eight-strong Rallye range is the end-washroom 530. Its offside dinette is wider than what’s usual and top bunk fittings are not included as standard, perhaps to attract caravanning couples.
Pitching and setting up
The Rallye is a seriously good-looking van, and it’s not all show either. There are thoughtful touches, such as an A-frame light to illuminate the front locker, a barbecue point and the battery/mains locker’s location further back on the offside than the norm for better weight distribution.
Everything is easy to access, including the electric controls, which are just inside the entrance door. Only the toilet cassette hatch mars things: it is towards the back on the nearside, which could make access difficult with an awning.
With four end bolsters and matching scatter cushions, it is a comfortable place to be. The sunroof and Heki rooflight make it feel very spacious and airy. When it’s dark outside, lights galore create a homely atmosphere inside.
A wall bracket for the TV and hidden electrics in a cupboard show further attention to detail.
The side-dinette may be wide enough for four, including small children, but we suspect it’s more likely to be used as a spacious dining area for two.
The microwave is built into the unit opposite the kitchen, and it’s safely fitted only 1.06m from the floor. A small worktop is just below it for hot food.
The drinks cabinet is neatly integrated into the overhead lockers next to the entrance.
A dual-fuel hob, separate oven and grill, Dometic fridge/freezer and an Omnivent round out the appliances. The only thing missing is a Michelin-rated chef!
On the nearside is a tall cupboard with vented shelves, which is perfect for towels. In the nearside corner is a heated towel rail and the Thetford auto-fill flush toilet – unfortunately right in front of a clear window!
A washbasin, a mirror, two cupboards and a pull-cord light switch complete the specification.
The dinette can be converted into a good-sized single bed (1.88m x 0.68m) using the table as a base.
At the front, there’s the option of twin beds or of assembling a double (2.04m x 1.88m) by using pull-out slats. The seat cushions are comfy for daytime use, but the pronounced knee rolls should be turned outwards for the mattress.
With the beds made up, each occupant gets a reading light, whatever the arrangement.
The front lounge has four drawers in the centre chest, seven overhead lockers (three with shelves) and space in the nearside bed box. The offside box is occupied by water and electrical systems.
Only the front seat base of the side dinette can be used: the rear one houses the water tank.
The Compass Rallye 530 would work well for a small family, but if you’re a couple seeking a high-spec tourer, it should be on your shortlist.
Thoughtful design makes it user-friendly. The amount of storage space may tempt you to exceed the modest payload, but this keeps the Rallye within the capabilities of many tow cars.
- High standard of specification
- Ample storage
- Wide side dinette
- Microwave at a safe height, with worktop below
- The clear washroom window offers no privacy
- The toilet cassette hatch may be blocked by an awning