It would have been difficult – inconceivable, even – back in the early 2000s to have imagined the impact that fixed-bed layouts would have on what had been, until then, a wholly traditional caravan industry focused on producing beds and bunks that had to be assembled each night.

Of all the possible variations, it’s undoubtedly the current darling of the modern caravan manufacturer’s design department – the transverse island double bed – that’s raised the most eyebrows. 

Transverse double beds have been with us for some time, though they started out filling the entire rear section of models bearing Bailey and Eccles badges. Still, they never offered much in the way of benefits over and above the more familiar corner-fixed-bed layout.

That’s not so any more. The advent of sliding mechanisms in bed bases means that occupants can get in and out of bed independently without disturbing partners. Nor is there a need for a chopped-off corner to ease access to the washroom.

Coachman has taken to transverse island double bed layouts in a big way, offering it on its least-expensive Vision, middle-ranking Pastiche and luxury VIP ranges for 2015. Which of the three offers the best balance of value and comfort?

Looking first at the design, it was a brave move on Coachman’s part to allow the entry-level Vision and mid-range Pastiche to share the same bodyshell. We can see the thinking behind the manufacturer’s decision: give the Vision a bit of the Pastiche’s flair and make useful savings on design and production costs at the same time. But has this strategy diluted the appeal of the Pastiche line-up?

We don’t think so. Only those in the know are likely to spot the most obvious differences, specifically the subtly different graphics and the Vision’s lack of a front panoramic sunroof. 

Nevertheless, the Pastiche has still got extra appeal, including in its super-smart front and rear panels, nicely contrasting black trim (tail light surrounds, grabhandles) against the glossy white flanks, and super-cool smoked-out alloy wheels.

When it comes to towing, because it’s at the top of the Pastiche tree, you’d expect the 575/4 to be quite a hefty machine. Certainly, the fact that it tips the scales at a full 1565kg when fully laden means that you’ll need a tow car weighing in the region of 1841kg if you prefer your van to weigh no more than 85% of your tug’s kerbweight.

We’ve said it before about caravans with fixed beds, but it bears repeating here: that enormous void beneath the bed may look like the answer to all of your storage prayers, and indeed it is – but only once you’re pitched up on-site. Loading it with all manner of gear before hitting the road is a recipe for tail-wagging-the-dog disaster.