Alastair ClementsSee other caravan reviews written by Alastair Clements
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The Venus range had a major facelift in 2015 to offer luxury for less – now read Practical Caravan's 2016 Venus 570/4 review to see how well this works
It seems as if everyone who is anyone has a transverse island bed these days. And why not? The benefits of the layout are obvious: it means that couples who still prefer to share a bed but need to use the loo in the middle of the night can do so without disturbing each other, rather than having to clamber over your partner in a fixed nearside bed or being forced to opt for twin singles.
Until recently, however, this floorplan has been the preserve of the luxury tourer, occasionally filtering down to mid-market models. That all changed last year when the Swift Group dropped a bomb into the budget sector by launching its best- selling Sprite Major 4 SB, which brought all of the benefits of this domestic-style layout into a van that cost less than £15,000.
At the time we predicted that other manufacturers would follow suit and, sure enough, the first to enter the fray is Lunar’s entry-level brand Venus with the new 570/4. It slots into the range between the fixed-twin- bed 550/4 and the six-berth 580/6, and extends the line-up to six models for 2016.
Pitching and setting up
An unavoidable consequence of this layout is the huge blank wall on the nearside, not aided by the minimal graphics on the Venus, but all of the servicesare relegated to the offside to prevent them cluttering up your awning and it’s good to see proper cutouts to help you find your steady-winder bolts in the grey side skirts, which are matched by a grey lid for the generous front gas locker.
Like last year’s Venus it still manages to feel more upmarket than its bargain- basement status suggests, and there’s now a slightly taller freestanding table that better integrates with the front chest.
As ever with Lunar caravans, the sprung sofa bases with their pronounced knee rolls make very comfortable places to sit, but you’ll have to turn them around at night to avoid a lumpy double bed. The large single-pane front window keeps things bright inside even on a dingy day, despite the lack of sunroof, and that feeling is aided by the use of cream cupboard doors and the pale fabrics throughout the van.
All of the lighting inside the 570/4 is by LEDs, and the shallow main lamp units are augmented by new brushed-aluminium spotlights for this year, plus there are new switches, though if you use a lot of electronic devices you may find the total provision of five 230V sockets a bit meagre.
This is an entry-level caravan, so there’s the expected three- burner gas hob and a combined oven and grill, but the chrome mixer tap adds a touch of style to make up for the exposed screwheads of the stainless-steel sink. There’s no pop-up worktop extension, but this is a van that doesn’t really need it because the kitchen is a spacious affair – largely thanks to the decision to restrict the lounge to a four- seater. Bearing in mind that this is a caravan that will, for the most part, be bought by couples, that seems a sensible choice.
On the other side of the van there’s a good-sized and low-set sideboard with a TV point and a cupboard beneath, while above it you’ll find that optional microwave, sited sensibly at chest height, with another locker above.
We’re pleased to see an obscured window to add a bit of privacy, and the shower unit is enormous, with a bi-fold door and useful drying rail built-in – though it’s a shame that it isn’t fully lined.
The bedroom is well- appointed though, with a reading light and a proper shelf for each side, and above the window there’s a television mounting point and the third aerial socket in this van, joining those to be found on the front shelf and the sideboard.
Should you have guests, the front lounge can swiftly be turned into two short singles, long enough only for kids, or a very generous double using the slats that slide out from beneath the front chest.
The bed sizes are: front made-up double bed 2.01m x 1.53m and rear island bed 1.83m x 1.34m.
There are plenty of touches in this tourer that show it was designed by people who go caravanning themselves, such as the fact that you can access the under-sofa storage via large drop-down doors as well as by lifting the cushions. There’s a cavernous area beneath the double bed, too, though it would have been nice to be able to gain access to some of these under-bed storage spaces from outside the caravan.
The 570/4 has plenty of room for your clothes, too, with the usual ‘his and hers’ wardrobes flanking the bed. The unit closest to the washroom is fairly narrow, but the forward wardrobe is unusually large, with plenty of hanging space, plus a cupboard and drawer beneath.
If you are tall then you will have to check that the fixed bed in the 570/4 is long enough for you, but that is a common trait of this floorplan. The Venus is a budget van that has upmarket aspirations. And that sense of affordable luxury is only heightened by being mated with this layout, which has been opened up to buyers with lighter tow cars – and lighter wallets – with this new Venus.
- It feels special
- The price is modest
- It can be towed by a wide variety of cars
- Limited headroom for six-footers
- Only a 2kW system for the space/water heating
- The fixed bed is short