Nigel Hutson

See other caravan reviews written by Nigel Hutson

Striking looking inside and out, is this enough to overcome the layout compromises of this well-specced, mid-range, new-for-2016 Sterling Eccles 565?

Overview

As with its Swift stablemate, the Challenger, the Sport and the SE models have been dropped for 2016, and the Eccles is just that, the Eccles. Although there’s the single range of caravans, there’s a host of options available. One such option is to upgrade from the standard (but effective) Truma blown air heating system to Alde’s wet central heating. Of course this has to be done at the time of ordering.

We’ve always liked the striking body of the Eccles, with its 'graphite' coloured panels and trim, but the 2016 version is possibly the best yet, built using Swift’s SMART Plus construction methods, which now includes an underfloor GRP skin and a hailstone-resistant GRP roof. Here we review the Sterling Eccles 565, the fixed-twin bed model. And to see other Sterling caravans for sale, click here.

Pitching and setting up

We’ve already touched on what an attractive looking caravan the Sterling Eccles 565 is. LED rear lights borrowed from the top of the range Elite compound that. There’s also the inclusion of Thule bike rack bars on the rear wall, too.

The running gear is the standard Al-Ko affair, with an AKS3004 stabiliser, lightweight corner steadies, shock absorbers and a spare wheel. However, if you look a bit closer you’ll see that there are a number of omissions. Sadly, the ATC stability control is an option, whilst both an external mains socket and a gas barbecue point are absent.

At least all the services are sensibly placed on the offside and are easily accessible, and the electrical controls are sited sensibly, just inside the entrance door.

Lounge

As with most fixed-bed caravans, especially those on a single axle, the lounge is often compromised in terms of size – and the Eccles is no exception. Certainly it’s spacious enough for four to sit and dine, but the bunks aren’t really long enough to stretch out on, although the omission of a wooden end next to the door makes it more comfortable than some.

However, despite the lack of colour and physical space, the lounge doesn’t feel dingy. On the contrary. Lots of windows, a midi-Heki and a sunroof let in lots of natural light, and LEDs galore keep things bright when it’s dark outside.

The TV either sits on the front table, or on a swing-out bracket mounted in the bedroom area, neither being particularly ideal.

Kitchen

As with the lounge, space is at a premium in the 565's kitchen. Having said that, it is very well equipped, with a dual-fuel Thetford Aspire 2 hob, an oven and grill, a decent-sized Dometic fridge and a microwave. The latter is located at a fairly high 1.54m from the floor, but at least it’s above the sink and not the hob.

Although there isn’t a huge amount of work surface space, the situation is helped by having a removable drainer and a fold-up worktop extension flap.

Storage is pretty good, given the size of the kitchen. Two large overhead lockers take care of crockery and cereal boxes, whilst there are drawers for cutlery and utensils, as well as a couple of small cupboards. The large cupboard underneath the wardrobe is likely to be called into action for additional food storage.

Washroom

Despite being very well equipped, the washroom lacks floor space. In respect of the fully-lined shower that’s not a problem, and it’s possibly adequate around the sink, but space around the Thetford electric flush toilet is very tight indeed. Where the offside bed has gained, the washroom has lost.

Concentrating on the positives, of which there are many, there are cupboards and shelves aplenty, and the showerhead is an EcoCamel Orbital, so hopefully the Aquaroll shouldn’t run out every few minutes.

On our example (which was fitted with the optional Alde heating system), a radiator had thoughtfully been placed below a towel loop. A large mirror above the sink helps to create an illusion of space, whilst an opening window and a mini-Heki take care of ventilation.

Beds

The fixed-twin beds are what this layout is about, so we’ll start there. Oddly, not only are they different lengths, but different widths, too. The nearside measures 1.83m x 0.73m and the offside is 1.92m x 0.68m. The concertina-type dividing curtain is mounted at the base of the offside bed, which some might find annoying as it's likely to be constantly kicked. We suggest that you try before you buy, to make sure you’ll fit. At least there are reading lights and small shelves for each bed and, of course, there’s the TV point in there as well.

Up front, the sofas are really too short to use as beds, and it isn't practical for youngsters to use them, but at least the lounge converts into a reasonable double bed (2.02m x 1.06m).

Storage

As the Sterling Eccles 565 is most likely to be used by a caravanning couple, there should be more than enough storage space here.

Starting under the sofas at the front, the nearside one is totally empty, but the offside has the heating and electrical systems, so has no useful storage space. However, the spaces under both fixed beds are empty (with the nearside one having external access, too). The main table is stored under the nearside bed, and is cleverly attached to the lift up lid, making removal easy.

The kitchen and washroom have been mentioned already in our review, but elsewhere there’s a reasonable-sized wardrobe (the Alde header tank lives in here so does impede a little), with a deep cupboard underneath.

There are five overhead lockers in the bedroom area, with another couple in the lounge (one contains the radio). Finally, there are a couple of drawers in the front chest unit.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1325kg
Payload154kg
MTPLM1479kg
Interior length5.6m
Shipping length7.31m
Width2.23m
Awning size997cm

Verdict

If you’re looking for a caravan with great visual appeal, then the Eccles 565 must be towards the top of your list. We know that the interior décor divides opinion, but it certainly seems to be popular with many (including us).

However, there are a number of compromises, especially concerning space in the washroom. The lounge is no less spacious than many of this layout, and the kitchen, too, has been well thought out in the main. It’s certainly a very well equipped caravan, even before any options boxes are ticked.

If you are of more diminutive stature and could live with the compromises that this layout forces, and you’re after something a little different, then the 2016 Sterling Eccles 565 is definitely worth a second look.  

Conclusion

Pros

  • Striking bodywork and graphics
  • High equipment levels
  • You can upgrade to Alde heating

Cons

  • ATC stability control is not standard
  • There are no external 240V and gas barbecue points
  • The washroom is cramped
  • The fixed beds are odd sizes
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