Kay and I appreciate the fact that we are very fortunate at times. Last December, we collected our new 2023 Coachman Laser 575 Xtra from Couplands Caravans, at Louth, in Lincolnshire.
Before I go any further, full disclosure: the caravan was bought with our own ‘hard earned’, with no financial incentive from Coachman, so what follows is a true and honest reflection of our experiences so far.
Glenn Bonnor at Couplands Caravans did us very proud with the deal, although I did tell him that I wanted one of his Grandad’s deals, not one of his (we had the privilege of knowing Peter and Fay Coupland, the founders of the company). After an excellent handover by the Couplands team, within a couple of days we were off to York for a week, towing the caravan in winter and giving it a good seasonal test.
Our previous caravan had also been a Coachman – before that, we’d had Lunars, Abbeys (Swift and Cosalt) an Ace (ABI), and a 2019 VIP 545. In the main, that had been pretty trouble-free, too. One of the reasons we decided to go the Coachman route was their consistently excellent ratings in the Practical Caravan/Camping and Caravanning Club Owner Satisfaction Survey, where the standout caravan manufacturers are revealed.
However, although we had tried lying on the bed in show caravans, we still found that it was a bit too short, and we both kicked the bulkhead at the foot (it had ‘his‘n’hers’ doors) during the night. A lesson learned is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t replicate actually sleeping in a caravan without doing so!
For 2020, Coachman extended the length of the bed by a few inches. I know that some people also reported about the Dometic toilets giving problems, but we never experienced any trouble (our previous Lunar also had one, and that too was trouble-free).
So, back to our current caravan. The first thing that we noticed was the extra width. Towing, I haven’t found any problems (or at least, not yet), even though we’ve traversed some narrow country lanes.
The extra 13cm (5”) hasn’t in reality made much difference, and at 2.44m wide, the Laser is still narrower than some other caravans on the market. But internally, that extra width makes a massive difference. The 8ft-wide caravan just feels so spacious.
Considering its price point, the 575 ought to be well specified, and it is, but that’s not to say it’s perfect (even the best caravans are a compromise to some degree).
For example, I find the washroom quite a dark area unless using artificial lighting. Thankfully, it has a large, opaque, opening window, but there’s only one tiny rooflight and no ventilation in the shower cubicle.
Speaking of the shower, I believe the water pressure at the shower head is the best we’ve ever experienced in a van.
Apart from that little gripe about the washroom lighting, there are a few minor things that will require sorting out when the caravan goes for its annual service in late November, and I’ll go into a bit more detail about those shortly.
But on a hugely positive note, I have lost count of the number of times Kay has said, “I love this caravan!”, something she never said about any of our previous ones.
And as daft as it sounds, I actually find myself calling the caravan Lucy Laser (never having given any of the previous ones names) – but don’t say anything more about that, because I don’t want to appear as though I’m going soft!
We have now used the caravan in all weathers, including being away during the heatwave in June. We pushed the boat out when ordering our van and ticked the Truma air conditioning option, with a view to going to warmer places in future, and we’re so glad we did. It’s excellent and works in conjunction with the superb Alde heating to give full climate control.
So, what needs attention? Thankfully, all of the issues we’ve encountered so far have been of a minor nature and haven’t required us to take the caravan back to Couplands for immediate attention.
Couplands (hopefully with tongue in cheek) will tell you that I’m a pain! I will not overlook things, so problems must be sorted out – I am so picky.
Coachman’s Achilles heel seems to me to be wallboard joint tape. In my opinion, they couldn’t get it to stick properly in the 1990s, and they still can’t in 2023. For whatever reason, the edges of the tape have lifted, so require replacing.
An acceptable temporary fix is to heat it with a hairdryer and use a wallpaper roller to stick it back down, but this will only be temporary. Ours has just started lifting here and there, and the problem is not going to get any better.
We noticed within a couple of days of having the van that the blind over the front panoramic window has a couple of creases in it. Add to that the fact that it is very stiff to operate at times, and it needs replacing. With our previous van, we rarely lowered the blind as the bedroom was shut off, but with this one, we need to close it at night.
I also noticed some strange marks on the front shelf, which only appear under artificial light. I’ve managed to rectify one using nail polish remover and a cotton bud, but I’m not going to do any more, just in case it causes damage.
The kitchen extension flap is wonky, so will require straightening.
Finally, the magnet which should hold the door open is quite weak, so the door can be blown shut in anything more than a very gentle breeze.
That’s pretty much it (so far). Granted, in an ideal world there would be no issues, but in the real world, where caravans are built by humans, towed on our dreadful roads, and used by humans, it’s inevitable: things go wrong. Despite this, here’s to years of enjoyable touring in our Laser!
Reason to buy:
- Water pressure from shower head is excellent
Reason to avoid:
- Washroom is a bit dark without artificial light
Alternatives to the Coachman Laser Xcel 575
The Coachman Laser Xcel 850 is a comfortable and spacious tourer that is an ideal choice for a seasonal pitch. Alternatively, the Coachman Laser Xtra 665 is a van which provides caravanners with home-from-home comforts. Then there’s the Swift Challenger Exclusive 580, a model which provides comfortable and stylish caravanning.
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