Peter BaberSee other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber
Want twin-axle luxury and space for six without the need for a massive tow car? Join us inside the French-bed Venus 620/6 to see if it ticks your boxes
For the 2018 season the whole range has been given a new look, with new graphics and an awning light on the outside, new grey ‘Aldira’ soft furnishings, brushed oak locker doors with satin handles (which were apparently the result of many hours of discussion with Italian supplier Technoform), and cream laminate kitchen worktops.
Venus is very much an entry-level brand that aims to meet the needs of younger caravanners.
At this season’s launch, there was even talk of the stereo offered as an optional extra for the range not including a CD player, something that might cause the older generation to shudder.
Here we are looking at the Venus 620/6, the biggest model in the range and the line-up’s only twin-axle, a six-berth with a rear French bed and a side dinette.
Are budget-conscious young families going to be swayed by this new look?
Pitching and setting up
So will its set-up as a twin axle. Such monster vehicles usually involve you having to find a suitably large tow car to pull them.
But even with a twin axle, Lunar has managed to keep this tourer’s MTPLM down to 1480kg, so it is still within the range of what might be considered a mid-market tow car.
That means that, put together, the whole towing outfit may indeed present a compelling proposition to budget-conscious young families.
Especially when you consider that the caravan includes a generous payload of 212kg, which should be enough for all your kiddies’ essentials.
Being a twin-axle van makes it a smooth tow on the road, and we found the corner steadies easy to locate when it came to setting up on site.
There’s no offside service light, but the electric hook-up and water connections are both relatively nearly the front of the van so you may not necessarily be fumbling around in darkness if you reverse onto a pitch late at night.
But there aren’t any external access doors to the underseat storage areas, so taking out large items could be a bit more laborious.
The door is of the stable variety, so it would contain your dogs if you leave them in the van, although it doesn't have a window.
But we weren’t very impressed at the flimsy plastic device used to keep the door open – and we wonder how long it would last.
The ‘Aldira’ soft furnishings may be new for this year, but they are still a plain colour that is close to the oatmeal of the carpets, the mid-brown of the furniture, and the beige and white in the curtains. This is a very beige caravan.
That feeling isn’t helped by there being only a single window at the front, with a wire runner underneath it to hold the curtain in place – especially when you consider that other manufacturers’ entry-level models have three windows up front with individual curtains and posh curtain holds.
But look a bit further and you realise there are some rather more classy elements here, too.
There are, for example, two different socket clusters for a TV in the living area – and a third by the French bed at the back.
You get two spotlights over the twin facing settees up front along with the usual chest that has a slide-out flap and a pair of drawers.
This chest can easily be removed and cushions inserted to create wraparound seating instead.
While you would probably want to leave the chest behind at home before you set off if you chose to do this, it is small enough (albeit quite heavy) to be stowed if you only need the extra seating for an impromptu party.
A heating vent under this central chest should keep things cosy.
There is no sunroof, because lockers (one of which includes housing for a stereo) are where it would be. Given that this is a six-berth, this is welcome extra storage.
Four roof lights down the centre of the van, including one over the lounge, let in plenty of daylight. There are also two central LED lights, one over the lounge and one close to the side dinette.
The Venus 620/6’s side dinette doesn’t have a heating vent of its own but you do get a single spotlight here.
One advantage of this kind of layout is meant to be that the cook can serve breakfast directly to whoever is sitting in the side dinette, but as this dinette is really no more than a two-seater, you lose the sense that this is a family area.
But the foldaway table that goes in the front lounge can easily accommodate six diners.
The only trouble is you have to go all the way to the wardrobe at the back of the van, past the chef in the kitchen, to retrieve it from its storage point.
In this kitchen it sits below a huge workspace, most of which is well lit from a striplight immediately above the circular sink.
There’s a mains socket here too, and plenty of room (in the less well lit section) for a kettle.
The three-burner, gas-only hob is slanted into the corner to maximise the amount of workspace, but it still gets light from the large window.
Above are two large lockers (the one on the right has a crockery and mug rack inside it), with a Daewoo microwave between them – again, that’s something you still don’t always see in an entry-level van.
Below the workspace, at the opposite end from that large double cupboard, is a Thetford combined oven and grill, with a cupboard beneath it that’s large enough for most pans, although some heating ducts intrude.
You also get a Dometic electronic fridge with a removable freezer. Its 95-litre capacity could be a bit on the small side perhaps for a family of six but, generally speaking, this kitchen is well above what you would expect at this level.
That might seem a compromise too far in terms of privacy, but it makes perfect sense if you are touring with a family, particularly a family with image-conscious teenagers, because one can be using the shower while the other uses the washbasin.
That basin is a salad-bowl design and has a decent-sized, well-lit mirror behind it, and a large shelved cupboard underneath it with a towel ring alongside.
That said, without the washbasin, the washroom itself looks very bare. And you have to pass through the shower to reach the toilet, which is not the best arrangement.
As well as this unusual, awkward layout, space round the toilet itself is pretty tight – oh, and watch the step up into the shower tray. There’s also only one shelf, sited high up, above the loo.
But at least the room is well lit with an opaque window and a rooflight, and there’s an LED light over the shower and a second towel ring.
There is a fitting for a TV at the end of this bed, plus a shelf for glasses and so on above the headboard, although this could be quite a stretch for some.
The front make-up double bed uses platforms, not roll-out slats, which is a perhaps surprisingly classy, non-budget feature, and one we're very happy about.
So you don't have to struggle with slats when making up the bed and, at 1.98 x 1.86m (6'6" x 6'1"), it is a good size, too. Alternatively, use the sofas as 1.86 x 0.68m (6'1" x 2'3") single beds.
Berths five and six are in the dinette, the seating creating a 1.71 x 0.65m (5'7" x 2'2") bed, with a 1.65 x 0.58m (5'5" x 1'11") bunk above.
It’s easy to make the Venus 620/6’s side dinette into a single bed by lowering the table and using the backrests, while the upper bed simply folds out above.
Such a system is used by many manufacturers, but Lunar seems to have had a keen eye for safety with large wooden barriers on the inside side of the upper bed, and a cloth barrier on the other side that almost completely shuts off the window.
The only trouble is that, partly because this is an entry-level van that still aims to be relatively lightweight, you will need to get used to hearing each other snore.
The only thing separating the adult’s bed from the main part of the caravan is a flimsy plastic partition, while a curtain encloses the dinette.
The underseat areas in the front can only be accessed by lifting up the bed platforms, but at least these stay up on gas struts – the nearside one is completely clear, while the offside space is partly taken up with electrics and heating ducts.
Unusually, both the areas under the side dinettes are also clear, which is useful, although reaching these cavities is a slightly laborious process because you have to push back the slats.
In the lounge, dinette and French bed areas, overhead space is shared by large lockers (three up front, one in the side dinette and three over the rear bed) and open shelving.
The wardrobe (on the offside, just behind the dinette) is large enough for dresses and, even with the freestanding table being stored here and the TV aerial base, it should be adequate for a family.
What looks like four drawers underneath the wardrobe is actually two drawers with a panel beneath them that folds away to reveal an odd space that is partly taken up with the wheel arch.
Even with an image revamp for 2018, the Venus range may still look a bit too much like the entry-level van it is, in a market where rivals do a better job of disguising their status.
But look a bit deeper and you should be pleasantly surprised at what is included at this price.
Large families will find that the 2018-season Venus 620/6 is a comfortable tourer for up to six.
With the waning popularity of French beds and this van’s slightly quirky washroom arrangement, it might not be for everyone.
However, if you are after a twin-axle caravan and all the stability that brings, with six berths and a spacious kitchen, you won’t find a similar new model with such a relatively lean MTPLM at this price.
- It has a great, family kitchen
- Its weight means it's a match for a good range of tow cars
- There is no externally accessed storage and there are no access flaps for the undersofa areas
- We think the interior is a bit drab and there's just a single front window
- The washroom layout might not suit everyone