Andy Jenkinson

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If you're looking for micro-caravans, read Practical Caravan's review of the Pino Pi 2010, a Turkish yacht-maker's tiny caravan full of big surprises

Overview

Since caravanning began in earnest in the 1920s, there have always been tourers that were particularly small. Today, a growing number of super-compact models, domestic and imported, are available; but it’s still considered a niche market. 

One new foreign make is Pino, a Turkish brand that made its mark in the manufacture of luxury yachts. This expertise has influenced the development of its caravans. For example, Pino builds to customer specification, including colour and graphics. 

Its micro tourer, the two-berth Pino Pi 2010, is part of a range that includes conventional-size vans, and all are being introduced into the UK by a Scottish importer based in Crieff, Perthshire. We looked at the demonstrator model after it had been towed a gruelling 24,000 miles.

Pitching and setting up

As you’d imagine, the Pino’s dimensions make it a breeze to manoeuvre. It is built on an Al-Ko chassis but, unusually, its wheels are placed as far back as possible. This eliminates rear steadies; all it needs for stability is the front pair.

The example we saw had its one-piece, unglazed door on the offside, but those built for the UK will be on the British nearside, with an awning light above. Sturdy grabhandles are at each corner. A metal bracket under the window allows the folding table to be used outside or in the optional awning.

The body’s GRP exterior shell and ply wallboard flank a layer
of Styrofoam insulation. The two side windows are of tough, tinted glass instead of plastic. They also differ from those in other tourers in that they are not hinged, but are slid open – a feature common in boats.

The only service point outside is for 230V electricity. Water and gas are both connected inside. However, the exterior is robust from what we could see – there was little sign of its demanding itinerary in the UK.

Lounge

Despite its size, the Pi 2010 is rather spacious – you could even call its offside lounge impressive. The window here is the larger of the two to allow more daylight in, promote ventilation and provide a view.

The example we saw was upholstered in grey, but buyers get their choice of fabric. The cushions aren’t very thick but they offer enough support for most people and, to be honest, you’re not going to get five-star luxury at this price anyway.

At mealtimes, clip the table to the bracket between the bench seats and lower its single leg. It’s sturdy and provides plenty of space for two place settings.

There aren’t any spotlights in the lounge, which relies on the the lighting above the adjacent kitchen. At night, diners may feel they’ve been left a little in the dark. An LED strip light fitted above the window would help.

Kitchen

On the opposite side, by the door, is the simple yet practical kitchen. You’re not going to find a separate oven and grill, a microwave or any oven at all here. Nor does it provide hot water or indeed a fridge! After all, the Pino isn’t a full-blown tourer, but it does allow for simple meals to be made and for washing up. The sink is smallish but quite deep, and its tap is fed via a 12V pump from a small water container in the lower cupboard.

For cooking, the Pi 2010 comes with a single gas burner. Night-time illumination is supplied
by a 12V spotlight.

Despite the corners cut on kit in the galley, Pino does not skimp on ventilation, providing both an opening rooflight and an extractor fan! The electric control panel is here as well.

Washroom

A tourer of this size has no space for a washroom. The options list, though, includes a Porta Potti, which fits in the corner between the longer seat and the door.

Beds

You’ll be as surprised as we were when we learned that this micro-tourer had a 2.07m-long double bed. It is assembled by slotting the table between the two seats and lifting the flap at the end of the bench next to the galley. Rearrange the cushions to complete the conversion. The result is a comfortable bed, which measures 2.07m x 115cm (6'9½ x 3'9).

Storage

Just because the Pi is tiny, it doesn’t mean that it lacks any storage. The designers made
the most of every inch of space – though with one lapse.

There’s an overhead locker each above the lounge and the kitchen. A neat idea is the full-width front and rear pouches – ideal for odds and ends.

The largest storage option is the seat boxes, which can hold sleeping bags, pillows and more. In the corner between the longer seat and the door is a small drawer with empty space below. This area would have been better used as a wardrobe.

Aside from the roof locker, the galley is short on storage. A lower cupboard is mostly filled by the water container and gas cylinder.

Technical specs

Berth2
MiRO300kg
Payload100kg
MTPLM400kg
Interior length2.07m
Shipping length3.14m
Width1.7m

Verdict

Aside from attracting curious onlookers wherever it goes, this cute micro-tourer tows well. 

As a micro-caravan, the Pino Pi 2010 is up against the Going Cockpit S, £8499 (pop-top roof and classy looks), the Wingamm Rookie 35, £19,850 (better equipped, with an end washroom) and the T@B 320 Off-Road, £11,670 (cute and tough on all terrain). Each of these three rival micro-compact caravans has a different niche appeal.

The Pino Pi 2010's plywood furniture may seem dated but the options list will appeal to buyers. It’s better than a tent and easy to store. If you don’t mind keeping things simple, the Pino could be the van you’ve been looking for!

Conclusion

Pros

  • Spacious
  • Light and airy
  • Built to your specification
  • An alternative to teardrop caravans
  • Bed is 2.07m x 115cm (6'9½ x 3'9)

Cons

  • You'll miss the front window
  • There's no gas locker
  • No mains socket
  • It's short on lighting
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