Peter BaberSee other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber
Funky and fresh, the reborn Adria Action is the marque's only all-new caravan for sale in the UK for the 2018 season – can it live up to its looks?
Does this sound familiar?
A caravan on the small side but with a distinctive modern profile, designed to appeal to a younger generation of sporty types?
But this is something produced in Slovenia, not Hull.
Relatively short – it has a shipping length of just 5.19m and an internal length that’s a very cosy 3.61m – and with a MiRO of just 966kg (the MTPLM is 1100kg), this van has a slanting profile, and bold blue and grey external panelling that is bound to appeal to the sportier caravan buyer.
But this is no copy of the Swift Basecamp because the Adria Action was originally launched in 2005, to celebrate the company’s 40th birthday.
Ten years down the line, does it still add up? We took the new van to the Colchester Holiday Park in Essex to find out.
Design wise, the Action looks very much how you might expect a slightly zany cartoonist to draw a caravan, with a front that slopes sharply backwards and a sinuously beautiful rear that comes in towards the bottom and then flares out again.
Such a shape wouldn’t look out of place in TV’s Wacky Races cartoon.
It is unlike more conventional caravans in having dark blue ABS spoilers at the front and back, and thinner ones along the bottom corner of the ABS sides, that make a striking contrast with the off-white of the main body – the colour compliments the dark tint of the windows.
For those reasons alone it is hardly surprising that some will compare the Action to the Basecamp.
But there are important differences that don’t take you long to spot.
For a start, while both caravans are clearly aimed at outdoor sporty types, the Basecamp has been marketed specifically at keen cyclists – it has a door that allows you to slot your bicycles in easily, while you could lift up the parallel facing settees to find holds for the bungee cords you might use to tie down the bikes.
Those hoping for something similar with the Adria Action might be in for a disappointment.
There’s no door at the back: it’s on the nearside (so good for UK buyers), towards the back, but anyone wanting to store a bicycle in here would have to lever it down through the L-shaped aisle, and in our experience that makes life difficult if your bike is more than an average size.
The settees don’t fold up in the way they do in the Swift either, so you would need to be careful not to damage them. Nor will you find any holds.
So forget the bike for a moment and focus on what you get for your money instead.
At the front there’s one large window stretching from the roof to about halfway down the front panel, and a much smaller window underneath it.
This certainly aids privacy, but you still get a huge amount of daylight flooding in.
Such a design possibly adds to the caravan’s necessary ruggedness too, providing a more stable skeletal frame to the vehicle.
However, both of these windows only open a relatively short way – and the large one is surprisingly heavy to move.
They are some way from the large window you get to open in the Basecamp, which really does bring the outside in.
And to see other Adria caravans for sale, click here.
Pitching and setting up
Locating corner steadies on some other Adria caravans we have tried recently has been something of a challenge, but on the Action 361 LT they were easy to find, and wound down quickly so we were all ready to step inside within a couple of minutes.
The electric hook-up connection is close to hand, as is the gas-bottle locker, which is capable of holding two 11kg bottles – excellent for this size of caravan.
If you were expecting that bulge at the bottom to hold a rear boot – ideally which you can open out fully to gain access to a large area where you might be able to store outdoor equipment – then best think again.
There is a small locker to the side, but the back panel is just a big moulding that holds an especially large light cluster.
But you might be impressed by what use the designers have made of this bulge inside the caravan.
What’s it like when towing? The Action’s light weight and its construction on an Al-Ko chassis with an AKS stabiliser mean it’s a doddle to tow.
Our chosen car was well within the 85% limit, but that weight also means that you could probably use any standard family saloon here – so if you’re a company car driver you don’t need to have those awkward conversations with the boss about upgrading.
The slanting front and curved top keeps wind resistance to a minimum at high speeds. The bulky blue skirting also proved invaluable in keeping mud off the more vulnerable cream sides.
With its dark charcoal upholstery, funky scatter cushions with geometric patterns in bright yellow and orange, sleek handle-free wooden drawers and white lockers, white surfaces and pale grey blinds, this is an interior that would not look out of place in an IKEA catalogue – you would actually want to spend time in it.
We’ve already mentioned the windows, and even if they only open a short way they certainly let loads of light in.
You won’t be in the dark at night time either because in addition to the LED lights in the ceiling you get two spotlights with long stems that can easily be manipulated if you fancy a bit of evening reading.
You can even hoist the ends of the settees up here to make them more comfortable as recliners.
You won’t be lost without music in here either: the speakers link to something called a Media Controller (which is really just a Bluetooth connection) and they provide wonderful sound.
A sideboard next to the nearside settee sits below a shiny black panel that cleverly disguises a set of useful shelves – one side for the lounge, the other for the kitchen or for use as key storage.
This panel also holds a mains socket, a 12V point and a TV socket, as well as a TV bracket which swings out, so all of you should have a good view of the screen.
The only thing you might need to watch is that the heating controls on the side of the sideboard facing the settee here are very easy to nudge unintentionally.
There are two USB sockets and another mains socket near the end of the offside settee.
The foldaway table is easily retrieved from under the nearside settee – the settee’s slats stay up on struts so there is no struggle in getting it out.
The table fits snugly and could easily have enough space for four to dine. But if it’s just a quick snack you’re after, a pull-up shelf at the front, between the two settees, more than suffices.
The only odd thing of note here is that after so much modern sleekness and minimalism everywhere else, it is strange to find an old-fashioned Truma heater front.
But the unit itself, a Truma 3004 heater with Ultraheat electric heating and Trumavent ducting, is well positioned right by the nearside settee to give ample warmth to this cosy room.
Such a door would have almost certainly led to compromises in the kitchen – and possibly the corner washroom, too.
As it is you get a kitchen across the back of the van with surprisingly large drawers, courtesy of that extra space created by the bulge at the back of the van.
You only get a two-burner hob and a small square sink, but the workspace in front of the hob is adequate, and there are useful open shelves behind the sink and a cupboard you can push open with two more shelves for condiments.
The whole space is well lit not just by the offset window but also by three LED lights. There is also a mains socket up top in the corner.
Underneath there is a Thetford Duplex combined oven and grill above a pan locker that also provides access to the gas taps. As this is a rear kitchen you won’t have any issues with wheel arches getting in the way.
The 106-litre Dometic fridge with a removable freezer rests above a cupboard with shelves in the offside centre of the van.
If you choose to bring a TV you probably won’t be able to use the top of the sideboard opposite as an extra workspace. But it does include ample drawers and a cutlery tray.
And then there are always the little shelves you can use behind the black panel, too.
For a caravan this size, there is acres of space in here – enough for you to move around to make full use of the huge mirror that sits above the washbasin.
It all looks very clinical, thanks to everything being white except for the panel behind the separate shower controls on the left as you walk in.
The washbasin and the loo occupy the same space – you have to fold the former up to access the latter. That can occasionally be inconvenient.
But at least it is a bench-type loo, which is easier to clean, and as this is an offside washroom you can empty the cassette away from any awning, should you choose to fit one.
There are three LED lights to brighten up proceedings and there is a rail for drying clothes – a fairly important prerequisite if you intend to use this van for any outdoor activity in the UK.
The only downside to the washroom is that there isn’t a rooflight to vent steam away.
There is a window, but it’s a clear one, so you’ll need to make sure the simple blind that comes with it is firmly down if you want to avoid embarrassment.
When you step in and see the makings of only one double bed here, you might wonder how it can sleep three.
Well, pull the slats out from under the central part of the ‘U’, and you will see that you can make a very large double, measuring 2m by 2.04m.
That’s why Adria believes you could probably sleep up to three people here, although in reality the bed will mainly be used by two.
Perhaps it’s our British reserve, but three adults would have to be very familiar with each other to share these arrangements.
It might be all right for the odd night of crashing after a mammoth day of activities – which after all is mainly what this kind of caravan is designed for.
Plus, whoever might be sleeping closest to the front would have to face the difficulty of climbing over two people, not just one, if they needed to visit the washroom in the small hours.
If there are just two of you, however, the double bed is very comfortable, although on our test model we were careful when drawing out the slats.
Alternatively, you can just leave the settees as two singles: it’s impressive that in a caravan this small they still manage to be 2m long.
You could easily just leave the backrests in the aisle space and you can then make full use of the raising slats if you fancy some night-time reading.
These extend to the small shelves behind the black panel over the sideboard, the little shelves by the sink and the open shelving that makes great used of awkward spaces above the lounge in the curved ceiling.
True, the underseat areas could be slightly easier to access. Getting the table out is easy because the slats rest on struts, but if you need to open the slats right out to get at something bulky you have to remove the settee backrests, and that is harder than it could be because each backrest is a bulky single unit. But that is a minor quibble.
Outside, you get a sizeable front locker which can easily house an Aquaroll, a hook-up cable and a steady winder, and a large gas-bottle locker.
And while you don’t get the rear boot the shape of this Adria caravan seems to suggest you do, there is a small rear side locker that is partly taken up by a spare wheel.
What other kit do you get? The Action 361 LT, as its name implies, is designed for those who need a caravan to access an active outdoor life.
But in putting the spec level together, Adria seems to have gone for those who still want a bit of comfort.
There might only be a two-burner hob, but along with copious storage and a spacious washroom, you get extras such as the Media Controller and the fittings for you to slip in a TV.
That said, it isn’t quite as much of a pared-down bargain as you might think.
Adria as a whole had to bring in stiff price rises this season (mainly because of the weaker pound) and as a result the £17,575 starting price as tested here is only £400 less than a Basecamp with an awning and a winter pack that would include the TV fittings – and it has that potentially more convenient door at the back.
So the choice is tougher than you might think.
The Action’s list of optional extras is also nowhere near as extensive as the Basecamp’s and you don’t have anything like as wide a choice of exterior colours.
One of the three Action models currently available on the Continent includes an external gas stove as an optional extra, but sadly there are no plans to introduce this in the UK.
Like the Basecamp, the Action prides itself on its weight, and, with an MTPLM of just 1100kg that is nothing to sniff at.
But it’s also worth pointing out that, with so much in the way of comfort on board, that weight loss has partly been brought about by losing things in other areas.
You get the same sandwich floor construction with Styropor insulation, for example, but that insulation is only 29mm thick, making the floor as a whole just 40mm thick.
The walls and hail-resistant roof, meanwhile, have 20mm of insulation and are, respectively, 24mm and 23.8mm thick. That is on the thin side of anyone’s range.
The Adria Action 361 LT is a caravan for active types who love the great outdoors, but still want a bit of comfort when they get back to base.
When it first came out in 2005, it would have been truly innovative, but in the intervening years other manufacturers have caught up, and have interpreted the idea in a way that might suit better those who put action over comfort instead.
It looks great, with a wonderful modern interior. But it’s also more expensive than its stripped-down looks might lead you to believe.
- There's a roomy kitchen with decent kit
- The corner washroom is surprisingly spacious
- Storage is super
- The sofas/single beds are a generous length
- Calling it a three-berth is perhaps a bit ambitious
- Loading bikes and other sports equipment might prove tricky
- The fold-up sink can get a bit inconvenient