Alastair ClementsSee other caravan reviews written by Alastair Clements
Fancy fixed-bed luxury without a traditional look? Don't miss our Sterling Eccles 510 review – and at under 7m long with a 1407kg MTPLM, it's compact, too
If you’re a couple who does a lot of touring, there is little doubt that the most significant upgrade you can make to your caravanning comfort is to switch to a fixed bed.
It means no more making up the bed every evening, and no need to take it down each morning before you can sit down to breakfast – plus it usually brings with it a proper sprung bed base and mattress to give a restful night’s sleep.
However, it also brings compromises, most notably in the internal space, which is often squeezed.
And in size and weight, which tend to go up – not ideal if you have only a relatively compact tow car, and don’t want to buy a new one.
If that’s the case for you, then this Sterling Eccles 510 might be the answer: the small corner wetroom in place of a full-width washroom means that it can squeeze a decent lounge, kitchen and a large fixed double bed into a van that measures less than 7m from hitchhead to tail-lights, and weighs just over 1400kg.
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Pitching and setting up
As does the price, with that option adding £995 and the essential Lux Pack – with external gas barbecue point, 230V socket and locker hatch, plus an alarm and smart illuminated kitchen splashback – another £595.
That takes the price of this van, as tested, to £20,475. And you’ll need to find another £325 if you want ATC.
But there the negatives end. This is a van whose light weight and compact dimensions should mean that it’s easy to tow and to manoeuvre.
And once on site the steady bolts are easily reached, plus the services are sensibly placed on the offside.
It looks the part, too, with a carbonfibre-effect gas-locker lid and sharp graphics package, while the new glassfibre sidewalls should resist dents and dings better than the old aluminium.
A mixture of white, hessian and the odd splash of piano-black wood gives a sense of openness and, thanks to the large front sunroof, there’s plenty of light.
The sofas are roomy enough for four, but if you want more you can swap the front centre chest for wraparound seating (£175).
At night, a mixture of ambient lighting, ceiling lamps and spots provides plenty of options, and for gadget junkies there are two 230V sockets on the front shelf, plus another – along with 12V and aerial points – on the sideboard, which is the ideal height for a television.
The standard microwave sits over worktop rather than above the dual-fuel hob, and is flanked by a pair of lockers.
Beneath that hob you’ll find a separate oven and grill, as well as a pan cupboard, with a fridge alongside plus cutlery and utensil drawers.
Storage space is at a premium, but there’s plenty more above and below the dresser opposite, though its surface is a little low to use for food preparation.
That said, there’s decent worktop in the kitchen itself, and a lift-up flap should you need more.
The backlit splashback comes with the Lux pack, and looks great, but it’s a shame there’s just the one socket in here.
In the main bedroom area you’ll find a vanity unit with a sink, cabinet and shelves, along with a large mirror lit by downlighters and a towel loop over the Alde radiator.
The electric-flush toilet and the shower are housed in a small, fully lined wetroom in the offside corner of this Sterling caravan.
Here, the shower tray acts as the floor and the moulded liner includes a soap dish, plus you’ll also find an EcoCamel Orbit water-saving showerhead, a rooflight to avoid it feeling dingy, and a bifold shower door to prevent the loo – and the useful shelf above it – from getting wet. It’s much nicer than a clingy shower curtain!
It is far better to make the front lounge up into a generous 6ft 8in x 4ft 11in double, by pulling out the slats from beneath the central chest and rearranging the cushions.
Whichever way you set it up, you’ll each have a reading light, because there’s one in each corner.
The fixed nearside double bed is a shade smaller, but still far larger than most of the more fashionable island beds available today, at 6ft 6in x 4ft 3in.
It has a comfortable Duvalay mattress, a padded headboard, a good-sized window, plus a shelf and reading light for each occupant.
However, the fixed bed won’t be ideal if you have limited mobility, particularly if you’re in the window rather than aisle berth, because there’s a fairly narrow entrance gap.
Leading the way is the huge void under the bed, where you’ll also find the spare wheel – and, usefully, an access hatch from the inside, too.
There are four overhead lockers in here, joining the pair in the lounge, and a couple more over the large nearside dresser, which also boasts shelving, a drawer and a double cupboard.
The full-height wardrobe is opposite the bed, and is where the lounge table is stored.
This is not a new layout – we’ve used and enjoyed a variation on it before in the Sprite Alpine 4 – but it works particularly well in the Eccles, whose modern style boosts the sense of space.
It may not be cheap, but manageable dimensions and a good spec – particularly with a few choice options – make the 510 tempting for those who fancy fixed-bed luxury without a traditional look.
- It's a flexible layout
- The interior finish is stylish
- Its dimensions are compact for a fixed-bed van
- The washroom facilities are minimal
- Options will bump up the price
- ATC is not fitted as standard