Trendy fixed beds may well be in vogue, but there’s still healthy demand for more traditional layouts – and that’s where Coachman’s latest Vision comes in
There was a time when the new Coachman Vision 520/4’s layout was a stalwart of any caravan manufacturer’s line-up, from the cheapest to the most expensive. But as the fixed bed phenomenon has taken off so strongly – much to everyone’s surprise, not that many caravan manufacturers would admit it – the time-proven front lounge/side dinette/end washroom layout has had to take something of a back seat.
But there’s a sense that it’s starting to make a comeback, and with good reason. It works particularly well in the handsome new Vision, offering both couples and smaller families space-saving accommodation by day and night, together with a luxurious full-width end washroom. While fixed beds are what they are, convertible dinettes offer genuine flexibility.
Pitching and setting up
Speaking of which, the 520/4’s 1465kg MTPLM means you’ll need a tow car weighing in the region of 1723kg if you’re a stickler for 85% matches, which is large family estate car or small SUV territory.
All four corner steadies are easily reached, with those at the front in particular benefitting from guide holes cut into the skirting, lined with rubber grommets. And the few external service points that exist (hook-up point/battery box, water inlet, toilet hatch, flush fill point) are restricted to the offside wall, away from the awning.
The traditional front gas locker has a reasonably low-set aperture and wide-opening strut-assisted door to ensure you don’t bash your head on it. There’s plenty of space within, too. And if you were wondering, the AL-KO AKS hitch stabiliser and smart anthracite alloy wheels are both standard, as is pre-fitting for a secure wheel lock (itself a 4kg/£255 cost option).
It’s a shame the awning light is positioned in such a way that you exit the caravan in your own shadow, but that really is our only gripe.
Tradition is very much the watchword in here, so don’t expect to find any new-fangled panoramic rooflights (although there is an opening Heki 2 rooflight). As such, it does come as a bit of a surprise to find an open shelf over the front windows, rather than the expected additional roof lockers, and none of the other lockers has positive catches.
That said, the woodwork is of a good quality, and we could find no evidence of unfinished wood or obviously exposed screw heads. The upholstery, too, is of a tasteful oatmeal colour, with contrasting darker curtains and a couple of floral scatter cushions that carry with them a welcome (and, it must be said, rather stylish) whiff of the 1970s.
Lighting is taken care of by the usual quartet of adjustable reading lights, a pair of halogens sunk into the roof and unusual flush-fit strips fitted unobtrusively along the tops of the locker doors.
Meanwhile, the children can decamp to the side dinette when the caravan is set up in daytime layout mode, leaving mum and dad to relax in the main lounge, or linger longer over a meal than the children. The TV unit that separates the two is small, but still useable and equipped with adjacent mains and aerial points.
It’s surprisingly well-equipped for an entry-level model, too. The Thetford cooker has separate oven and grill areas, together with an electric hob hotplate and three gas burners, while the microwave oven hidden behind one of the roof lockers is standard fit.
The Thetford fridge can swallow up to 113 litres of groceries, too, while the all-important washing-up water is heated by a programmable dual-fuel Truma Combi boiler. The sink itself isn’t massive (and we find circular sinks are usually easier to work with than rectangular ones), but there’s plenty of worktop space and the locker and cupboard storage is better than average throughout.
The shower has the over-size shower head that's currently en vogue, and a super-abundance of shelving, while the rounded shape and full-height doors makes it feel less encroaching in there than most.
We have just one complaint about this family caravan's washroom: you’ll have to remember to draw the blind on the clear-glazed window when you’re spending a penny!
Further back the side dinette has a traditional cantilever bunk design, opening up a 1.83m long and 0.72m wide (6ft long and 2ft 4.3in wide) lower berth and one ‘upstairs’ that’s an impressive 1.76m long and 0.61m wide (5ft 9in long and 2ft wide). Make-up may seem like a bit of a long-winded faff in these enlightened days of effortless fixed beds (and you need to find somewhere for the extra bed cushions to live), but in truth it’s no hardship at all.
The washroom, too, sports a huge wardrobe, complete with three built-in shelves, a pair of large drawers lower down, a sizeable open shelf over the rear window, a small locker beneath the washbasin and a shallow two-shelf locker over the loo. Not forgetting, of course, the three open shelves next to the vanity unit in this caravan.
If you’re looking for funky, avant-garde wackiness, then look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a good-looking, well-made, flexible and practical caravan that genuinely belies its entry-level status, then the enormously likeable Coachman Vision 520/4 really does hit the spot.
Just check your tow car to see if it is a good match for this caravan.
- Large lounge
- Excellent washroom
- Lovely kitchen
- High build quality
- Sofas make a huge double bed
- Not cheap for an entry-level caravan
- No positive roof locker catches