Niall Hampton
Editor

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Read Practical Caravan's review of Lowdhams’ Freestyle SE S6 TD caravan, based on the Sprite Major 6TD, which offers more than £2500-worth of extra kit

Overview

Dealer special edition caravans allow buyers to access some of the specification and features seen in higher ranges without having to jump up from one market segment to another, for example from entry level to mid-market. Dealerships and manufacturers work closely together to come up with a compelling package of extras, and use their buying power to make these affordable to customers. 

The van we’re looking at here is a collaboration between two of the biggest players in the industry – the mighty Swift Group and Lowdham Leisureworld, a Midlands dealership with sites in Gunthorpe and Huddersfield. 

The seven-strong Freestyle SE line-up is based on the Swift Sprite, a range that received major changes for the 2018 season. It’s an award-winning range, too, as the Sprite Major 6 garnered Best Tourer for Small Families and Tourer of the Year in our 2018 caravan awards. Like the Major 6, the S6 TD is a six-berth designed for large families. It’s 7.54m long and runs on a single axle. 

Pitching and setting up

With its makeover for 2018, Sprite looks fresher than ever. Check out its sharp looks – you’d barely think it’s an entry level caravan. The single front window of previous versions has gone, to be replaced with the standard triple window arrangement, and there’s a window for the single-piece entrance door. And how about the decals on the sidewalls - they’re very classy.

At 24ft 9in from hitch head to rear bumper, this is a reasonably long caravan, and its 1550kg MTPLM is an 85% match for a car with a kerbweight of 1825kg. Al-Ko’s AKS hitch stabiliser and ATC anti-snaking system, fitted as part of the Freestyle SE suite of extras, will keep towing well-mannered, though, and arriving on site, the large grab handles and easily accessed corner steadies will allow one to get pitched up quickly.

The cassette toilet hatch, water connections and battery box are located on the offside; the external gas and 230V connections, more added Freestyle SE extras, are on the nearside.

Lounge

The major change to Sprite’s interiors for 2018 was the addition of a smart new look, which was ported over from the Swift Escape motorhome range. This sees mid-tone woods and shallow-profile white worktops fitted throughout, with white locker facings and chrome-effect handles. It’s an improvement on previous Sprite interiors, which featured dark woods and seat covers. These would have been good at hiding the wear and tear of family touring, but could have felt a tad gloomy on a wet Tuesday afternoon.

The S6 TD follows the standard configuration of parallel front sofas and central chest of drawers. Six people can easily be accommodated in the lounge, on sofas that measure ‎1.9m (nearside) and ‎1.8m (offside).

Seven windows (three at the front, two at the side, a sunroof and large rooflight) will keep this area positively flooded with light. Pleated window blinds, as part of the Freestyle SE spec, add practicality and refinement, and LED lighting is at hand for the evenings. The lounge also boasts a radio/CD/MP3 stereo unit.

Kitchen

Standard kitchen equipment in the Freestyle SE S6 TD comprises a three-burner gas hob, and a separate oven and grill, all courtesy of Thetford. A stainless steel microwave is also included, set high and to the right of the circular sink.

With the cooker lid lowered and the sink infill deployed, there’s enough food preparation and serving space for families of four or more. Work surface can be increased by means of a flap that tips up over the nearside sofa. A 100-litre fridge with removable freezer compartment completes the galley spec.

Washroom

The S6 TD’s offside central washroom fits snugly between the lounge and the rear bunks, and means that people sleeping at either end of the van can easily reach the facilities in the middle of the night. It carries the standard Swift Group design smarts – a contemporary looking sink with monobloc tap, for example – and is further enhanced by an illuminated mirror, as part of the Freestyle SE package of extras.

A swivelling cassette toilet is on the right as you enter; a fully lined separate shower cubicle is to the left, with a water-efficient EcoCamel Orbit showerhead fitted.

Beds

As mentioned, the 5ft 11in (1.8m) offside settee is the shortest single bed in the S6 TD, but will still suit many users. At 6ft 3in (1.9m), the nearside sofa will suit those of a taller disposition. Both sofas convert into a generous double bed that measures 6ft 8in by 5ft 11in (2.02 x 1.8m).

At the rear, the fixed bunks are 6ft long and each has its own window and reading light. The upper bunk has a deeper side panel to prevent occupants rolling out during night-time. Both sets of occupants can enjoy privacy at night-time thanks to a partition just to the rear of the entrance door that pulls across from the nearside.

The nearside dinette offers two additional berths, made up by lowering the lounge table and rearranging the cushions. The top bunk is 5ft 9in long, and the lower single bed is 5ft 11in.

Storage

Another boon of the Freestyle SE spec is the inclusion of external access to the storage compartment under the nearside lounge sofa, via a hatch with two catches. This space is free for use; its counterpart on the opposite side of the van loses out a little, as it houses the mains consumer unit, plus heating and plumbing equipment.

In total, nine overhead lockers are fitted throughout the S6 TD, or ten if you include the one without a door in the rear dinette. Additional storage space includes a kitchen cupboard, the small chest in the rear dinette, the front centre chest, and space under the dinette seats and fixed bunks. It all means there are plenty of places in which to load the van up to its 176kg user payload.

Technical specs

Berth6
MiRO1395kg
Payload155kg
MTPLM1550kg
Interior length5.83m
Shipping length7.54m
Width2.25m
Height2.59m
Awning size1008cm

Verdict

First things first: the price. The Swift Freestyle SE S6 TD costs £2395 more than the Sprite Major 6 TD on which it is based. Given that the Freestyle SE package of added extras is worth over £2500 and includes the range of items that most buyers purchase as part of Sprite’s Diamond Pack of optional extras (£495), the price difference narrows to £1900. 

The various design and comfort enhancements and safety equipment upgrades (including the reassurance of Al-Ko ATC) meet much of this head-on. Into the bargain, buyers of the Freestyle SE S6 TD also get access to a well-equipped family tourer for a whisker under £20,000 that will also stand out on the road and when pitched up. With discrete areas for parents and children, plus a kitchen and washroom that are large enough to meet the needs of families, the Major 6 TD is a capable and affordable van; the Freestyle SE version gives buyers that little bit extra. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • Sharp looks thanks to 2018 makeover
  • Augmented kit list features many desirable extras
  • Al-Ko hitch stabiliser and ATC anti-snaking system included
  • Separate areas for parents and children
  • Upholstery upgrade makes for pleasing interior ambience

Cons

  • Price difference over Sprite Major 6 TD may seem steep to some buyers
  • At 7.54m (24ft 9in), this is quite a long caravan

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