The Knaus Sport & Fun is a quirky and clever tourer for the young, active, outdoor crowd – but will other caravanners like it, too?
If you’re looking for a head-turner on site, you could do worse than the Knaus Sport & Fun, just as long as you can live up to the credentials of its target market: people of action with a youthful outlook on life. It may be hard to believe, because the model is uncommon in the UK, but this brightly coloured sporty caravan has been around for nearly 20 years.
Its raison d’être is that it has a vast amount of storage for carrying bicycles, surfboards and so on – therefore, sport and fun. A quick search of online ads reveals that some, with reinforced floors and roofs and uprated payloads, have been used to carry small motorbikes.
“In a caravan?” you ask incredulously. “How?” At the back of the van is a 920cm-wide door with a low sill, over which a ’bike can be lifted, and the van’s nose functions as a garage, accessible from either side. Plus there is the option of increasing the MTPLM to 1700kg.
The latest incarnation is a little longer – around 0.5m (20in) – than its 1997 three-berth predecessor, and the interior styling is much more fluid. Both versions come from the same designer, Manfred Lang.
The ethos hasn’t changed though; it’s all about youthful style: white, dimpled aluminium sidewalls are decorated with swooping, bright blue-and-green graphics bearing the legend, ‘Sport & Fun’. Light clusters are set in blue moulded bumpers at the front and back, and blue mudguards frame the wheels. The front and back panels are smooth metal sheeting.
On the inside, the curved furniture opens up the interior, making it feel spacious.
We used the Sport & Fun on a recent trip to Brittany, towing it behind a Škoda Yeti Outdoor 2.0 TDI. The recommended 85% compatibility figure was more in tune with the Sport & Fun’s MiRO weight, which wasn’t a problem because we weren’t carrying any heavy gear.
The drive was stable and smooth on straight roads, thanks to the Sport & Fun’s aerodynamic shape and the AKS stabiliser, but the Škoda needed a little more oomph to eliminate the slight tugging from the S&F on hills and corners. You will need a bigger tow car than our Škoda, especially if you cart bulky sports equipment.
Pitching and setting up
The van is equipped with a 45-litre fresh-water tank; its water inlet is on the nearside. Next to it is a socket for an electric pump, so the tank can be filled from a 40-litre Aquaroll. It’s a thoughtful addition that will be even more useful if you add the optional shower. Also on the nearside is the electric hook-up point and a large door to the garage space.
At the front is the long A-frame, two small grabhandles and a single vertical window towards the nearside. At the back of the van is a second, large entrance door and an aluminium ladder that leads to the roof rails, which will take up to 75kg of weight.
That door at the back of the van is ideal for loading large items and, if you’re touring somewhere warm, you can throw it open for wonderful views. Three quarters of the door is covered in fabric, but we can’t understand why it isn’t glazed to bring much-needed light into the rear of the van. It also isn’t that easy to open from inside. You must pull a lever at the top of the door and at the bottom of the door at the same time, and you need long arms to do it. It is much easier from outside. Fabric loops on the inside are for pulling it closed.
The simple rocker-switch control panel, just inside the side entrance, activates the water pump and mains lighting, and indicates the water and battery levels. Two large switches are inside the door, one for the awning light, the other for the single mains fixture.
Set in the base of the sofa are two cubbyholes for keys, phones and the like. If you don’t have springs in your feet, you can use them to step up onto the bed.
The squab cushions are upholstered in peacock-blue, while the seat backs have a zigzag in the same blue, yellow and brown. The cushions aren’t particularly thick but they’re fine for flopping onto after a hard morning’s kite-surfing. We used it for relaxing with a book and could have invited another two people to join us to dine; the long L-shape easily seats four, and a fifth can be accommodated on a wooden storage box that doubles as a seat, with a firm, square cushion on top; it is stowed under the fridge. The long, not-quite-rectangular table stands on one leg and its height can be altered to use for dining, as a coffee table or as a base for a double bed in the lounge.
A single large rooflight illuminates this area by day, and it saves the van from being gloomy – the two sidewall windows are small and the front window is narrow; glazing in both doors would have been a huge help here. An overhead mains light and two swivelling spotlights illuminate the area at night. Rather than being fixed, the spots are attached to a horizontal track under the roof locker and a vertical track beside the bed and can be slid along into the position that best suits you. Cleverly, the spots can be detached and clipped onto whichever track you wish.
The two peacock-blue-coloured shelved roof lockers curve upwards towards the ceiling, so the lower shelf is shallower than the upper one.
The Truma blown-air heater under the wardrobe is gas-only, though electric back-up is an option – as is a heated floor!
Kitchen kit comprises a longitudinal, three-burner gas hob with a glass lid towards the back of the worktop, a circular sink and, across the gangway, a tall slim fridge with a removable freezer compartment and bottle storage in the base.
There is no oven, grill or microwave and none is offered on the options list; because of the curved design of the lockers, there is no obvious space to fit them. The circular stainless-steel sink is perfectly adequate, and boasts a domestic-style mixer tap. However, there is no space for a draining board, so you’ll have to dry as you wash.
Beneath the sink is a cutlery drawer, which is also where the gas inlet controls are located. Below this drawer is a second one for pans and, under that, locker space. A large two-door cupboard below the hob offers plenty of space for groceries and crockery on its shelves.
Above the hob are three sloping, shelved roof lockers. The middle one has three hinges, while those on either side have two each; all are very robust. Beneath the wider middle locker is the window and, on either side, are two open bins rather than shelves, which could be used for vegetables.
A covered socket is fitted to the ceiling of the right-hand bin. Under both are LED lights that provide the only illumination in the area. Worktop space in front of the hob is quite narrow.
Above the toilet is a frosted window. There is no shower, but a shower ‘cabin’ can be optioned. A drawer below the washroom can be fitted out as a shower tray.
Because it is above the garage, the bed is as high as the top of the sofa’s backrests; you will either have to step on the sofa base, where the cubbyholes are, or on the sofa to climb in. However, it is supremely comfortable and has its own sliding reading light, on the vertical track; there’s just the one, but you could steal a spot from the lounge and set it higher for the further occupant. The removable headboard sits in front of the larger garage door; one of our testers complained of a draught coming from the door.
A small triangular shelf behind the curve in the sofa and next to the bed is ideal for resting a cuppa or a book. Another shelf is higher up, to the side of the roof locker, and has a mains socket.
The person sleeping towards the front end of the van is stuck with the acute angle of the ceiling and nowhere to put a book or glass of water.
The sofa can be made up into a narrow double – 6ft 3in x 4ft, tapering to 3ft 3in – by lowering the table and bringing an extra cushion into play. It’s not ideal, because the cushion slides around on the table; Velcro or studs sewn in place would stop this. The sofa backs can be stored in the garage.
For outdoor types, the large garage is ample for bikes, fishing tackle, a kayak or skis; for those who prefer to relax, the space works just as well for picnic chairs and table, a portable barbecue and an awning. Beef up the chassis weight and option the lashing eyes and you can take a motorbike or mobility scooter.
To accommodate taller items, lift the bed on its hinges; this is also the way to access the area from inside, which is made easier by removing the headboard. Otherwise, it fouls the sloping ceiling and interferes with the hammock shelf above. Replacing the headboard can be fiddly; it is easier to put it back in place from outside.
The wardrobe is large with plenty of hanging space and room for a suitcase. That sloping front has put paid to any overhead lockers around the fixed bed. Instead there is a removable storage hammock that runs the width of the van and is in the same material as the sofa’s backrests. It’s a great solution for light items, but it may get in the way if you want to sit up while reading in bed.
The water tank and the electrics take up much of the space under the long section of the sofa, but there is storage in the short leg beside the bed. We like the ingenuity of the storage cube that can be pulled out to serve as a stool, rather than just using the space as a cupboard.
The covered back door – even the opening devices are covered – has a handy storage pocket
and a place for magazines and umbrellas. Still, a bit of glazing would have made all the difference at the rear.
If there’s a van that is designed to draw in the younger user, then the Knaus Sport & Fun is it. The styling, the storage, the social space and the minimal cooking facilities with large fridge all point to sociable, more adventurous caravanners who love outdoor activities.
We wonder whether the Knaus would also suit the less-mobile caravanner. There’s an option to increase the chassis weight to 1700kg and that huge garage will take a mobility scooter.
With a little adaptation, the back door would be wide enough for a wheelchair; remove the table and the interior would be wide enough, too. The high bed might be an issue, but a little design nous would find a way around it.
Natural light is an issue, which the optional rooflight can improve. If the next version of the Sport & Fun has glazed doors, the problem will be solved.
The lack of an oven will be a problem for some, but you could lose a kitchen locker in favour of a microwave. Still, we reckon this is a breakfast van; all other cooking will be on the barbecue.
- Room for bikes and surfboards
- Eyecatching design
- Stylish and practical lounge
- Surprisingly good bed sizes
- Could be adapted for wheelchair access
- Small washroom
- Make-up bed cushion slides
- No oven