With two huge lounges, ample sleeping for four and enviable flexibility, the Compass Corona 564 appeals to all caravanners – not just large families
You could be forgiven for thinking that modern-day families looking to buy a suitably accommodating new caravan would have to look to a model with fixed bunks and/or one built on a twin-axle chassis. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. A healthy percentage of British manufacturers in particular are increasingly returning their attentions to caravan layouts that were huge sellers as recently as the mid-1990s, but whose popularity has since been gradually eroded by the relentless march of the fixed bed.
Explorer is one of the leading lights in the return to previously popular caravan layouts, and the Compass Corona 564 is a good example, packing as it does the age-old double-dinette floorplan. But there’s more to the 564 than first meets the eye, because eschewing a fixed bed of some type cranks up the flexibility factor in a way that you simply wouldn’t believe.
Pitching and setting up
With this is mind, the Corona 564 caravan should tow extremely well. Explorer Group used to favour BPW chassis equipment, but today (Buccaneer aside) Al-Ko equipment predominates throughout, from the chassis to the hitch-mounted AKS 3004 stabiliser. Impressively, too, the ATC system is fitted as standard and shock absorbers further help in ensuring that your outfit stays shiny side up out on the road.
Come pitch-up time, all four corner steadies are easy to reach, with the increasingly standard-issue rubber-lined guide holes present up front. We like the robust foot plates on the A-frame to ease the pain of cleaning the front windows, too, and while the nearside wall is hardly clutter-free, it’s nothing to worry about – the locker affords access to the nearside settee bedding locker, and the flap near the front conceals the gas barbecue point. Everything else, including the loo and hook-up point, is on the offside wall.
Explorer has wisely gone for the increasingly ubiquitous oatmeal caravan upholstery colour scheme; it’s hardly envelope-pushing, but we suspect it remains popular with buyers because of its very neutrality.
Matters are enlivened a little by eye-catching scatter cushions and matching curtains, while the front lounge has the added benefit of an opening Heki 2 rooflight. There’s no panoramic window or rooflight, though, which seems a curious omission on a caravan costing not far short of £19,500.
Equipment levels are on a par with rivals and include a domestic-standard cooker complete with electric hob hotplate and separate oven and grill areas, together with an eye-level 800W microwave oven. The 110-litre fridge is a good size, too, and Explorer has thoughtfully provided two high-level power sockets, placed safely out of the way of sink overspills.
There’s no roof extractor fan, but the opening ceiling rooflight in the area makes up for this, and brings with it much-needed daylight, to boot.
Not so in the Corona 564. Sure, opening the door reveals nothing more than a toilet to your right and a washbasin/vanity unit in front of you, but a glance to the left reveals a wholly separate and fully lined shower cubicle. There’s no rooflight, and the offside wheel-arch moulding does intrude a little on shower tray space, but there’s still plenty of room in there, and it’s far preferable to some clumsy folding door arrangement or, worse, a clingy shower curtain.
We do, however, have a couple of reservations. Firstly, the very welcome heated towel rail's close proximity to the swivel loo does make us wonder if you might inadvertently catch your lower back on it while sitting on the loo. And secondly, why doesn’t the washroom door open a full 180 degrees so that it can fold flat against the wall? As it stands, the door’s opening angle is heavily restricted by a fitted fabric strip, which really strangles the already fairly narrow walkway between the kitchen and the washroom.
Families will obviously gravitate naturally to this caravan, given that it can sleep two adults and two children (or even two gangly teenagers) in comfort, space and complete privacy. The double up front is the obvious place for mum and dad (the settees aren’t long enough to serve as singles), and with 2.03m by 1.67m (6ft 8in by 5ft 6in) to stretch out in, they should be perfectly comfortable.
Out back, the 1.85m (6ft 1in) long settees are big enough to accommodate a couple of teenagers (children will probably feel almost lost on them), while visiting couples have the option of a double that’s even bigger than the one up front.
And if your family is rather more king-sized, then opting for the Corona 566 – a little heavier and barely more expensive, but essentially the same caravan – brings with it a pair of rear cantilever-type bunks.
But the story doesn’t stop there. This may be a family caravan, but we suspect not a few couples will have a keen interest in this caravan too. The rear lounge may be a great place for entertaining guests, but it’s also big enough to offer the flexibility of either two ‘fixed’ single beds or an enormous ‘fixed’ double – and that’s rather more than those caravans with genuinely fixed single or double beds can offer.
Factor in the pull-across concertina privacy blind (either to give the kids some privacy, or simply to hide away your ‘permanent’ beds), and the 564’s remarkable sleeping credentials are sealed.
Elsewhere, the kitchen benefits from sundry lockers and cupboards and the wardrobe, while a little on the narrow side and slightly hindered by the presence of the Alde heating system's header tank and folding table, has such a huge amount of hanging space that there are hanging rails at both high and low level.
With its twin king-sized lounges, ultra-flexible sleeping arrangements and generous kitchen and washroom provisions, our main criticisms of the Compass Corona 564 really amount to little more than nit-picking. It’s not a cheap caravan, and you’ll need a fairly beefy tow car to match it, but in most respects, the Corona 564 impresses across the board.
- Layout has broad appeal
- Generous kitchen
- Good washroom
- Separate shower
- Large beds
- Privacy for each bedroom
- Alde heating
- High price
- Compromised washroom door