The designers at Compass should be commended for sticking by a layout that still has plenty of potential.
In this slightly stretched version, the Compass Casita 462 proves a compelling proposition for two on tour who don’t mind having to make up the beds at night if it means that they can enjoy more fine cuisine courtesy of a larger kitchen.
The exterior is a bit sparse in terms of kit, but this is still a van worthy of consideration that also holds its own with the rest of the competition in terms of price.
There’s a great spec level for this price range
The sofas are super-comfy
Both the kitchen and shower cubicle are large
There’s no external access to the lockers
It lacks a services light on the offside
The wardrobe could be bigger
Up until this year, end-kitchen two-berth caravans were supposed to be on their way out, as more and more people opted for the luxury of end washrooms or a space-consuming fixed bed.
Improvements in campsite restaurants possibly helped as well.
But for the 2018 season, the company that was The Explorer Group, now Erwin Hymer UK, seemed to have bucked the trend by launching a more luxuriously spaced version of the end-kitchen two-berth layout in a number of its ranges.
And Affinity’s strongly contrasting colour schemes of dark wood and pale upholstery might not suit those more attracted by the cooler, more Continental look of the Compass.
So how does this set up work in the more keenly priced Casita range?
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A compelling proposition for two on tour who don’t mind having to make up the beds
Pitching & Setting-up
As this is an end-kitchen model, you need to be a bit careful how you load it as the kitchen, by definition, is relatively far from the axle.
In this van it has a fair amount of storage space, but you would need to be careful how you load it.
The Compass Casita 462 should look good on the road thanks to swirling decals down the one-piece aluminium sides.
It’s also worth noting that Compass includes both ATC trailer control and shock absorbers on this model, something you don’t often find in a range at this price. This means it should be relatively smooth on tow.
We also found the caravan easy to manoeuvre thanks to a solid pair of grabhandles at both the front and back. The corner steadies were relatively easy to locate, too.
The services – cassette loo cabinet, electric hook-up and water connection – are all on the offside, so they shouldn’t get in the way of any awning you might want to put up.
But Compass hasn’t included a service light here, so you will have to take your torch if it’s after dark.
The extra length Compass has given the Casita 462 really pays dividends inside.
Step through the stable door with its own window and hang your jacket on the coat-hook – although due to its trendy cube shape, we’re not sure how useful it will prove.
To your left is a welcoming pair of settees that will easily accommodate four, so there’s space to invite friends to dinner.
The soft-furnishings scheme disguises this caravan’s price, with a pleasing contrast of pale grey for the main upholstery with a blue-grey floral pattern on the scatter cushions.
You also get three windows across the front complete with concertina blinds and curtains.
There is a sunroof, too, which helps this area feel bright, with speakers in the corner lockers either side of it.
These pump out whatever you have playing on the CD player/radio that’s hidden inside one of the lockers above the sideboard.
Thanks to three conventional rooflights plus the front and side windows, there’s plenty of natural light in here.
In terms of artificial illumination, there are three LED lights contained within the housing for the sunroof and you get four directional spotlights over the settees, too – more than usual for a two-berth at this level.
A pair of heating vents on the rear end of the offside sofa from the 4.3kW Whale heater are clearly intended to do the dual job of heating both the front lounge and the sideboard area, which is perhaps a bit of a stretch.
That large nearside sideboard includes sockets for a TV, and two people seated towards the end of either sofa could easily watch it from here.
There is another mains socket in the offside corner of the large windowsill at the front.
The central chest with two drawers has a flap that pulls out to draw level with the top. It is certainly big enough to use for dining if there are only two of you.
If you’d rather have more space, there is a freestanding table which is stored in the wardrobe at the end of the offside settee.
In any case, the table only extends the dining area by an extra two places at best, so there’s still plenty of unrestricted leg-stretching space even if you do set it up.
The Compass Casita 462’s end kitchen is L-shaped.
This provides a huge amount of worktop space on the nearside and it is well lit by a trio of LEDs and the rooflight above.
There is plenty of space even with two sockets that are clearly meant for kettles, toasters and so on.
There is a round sink, which is one of the most noticeable things that differentiates the Casita from the other Compass ranges, all of which come with domestic-sized rectangular stainless steel sinks for 2018.
But you still get a four-burner dual fuel hob on the left-hand side.
Above are two double cupboards, with the one over the hob including a crockery and mug rack, plus a single cupboard in the corner.
The L-shaped kitchen allows for a huge cupboard underneath it with one shelf, although reaching to the back underneath this shelf is quite a stretch.
There are two drawers under the sink, one of which holds a cutlery tray, and beneath this a cupboard that, thanks to both its size and an accumulation of pipes and cables, could probably only hold medium-sized pans.
There is a larger pan locker under the Thetford Aspire 2 oven with its separate grill.
The nearside sideboard that stands apart from the main kitchen has two drawers and a cupboard with shelves which could certainly take a lot of crockery, although the right one at the bottom is largely taken up with the wheel arch.
Above is a microwave, still something of a rarity for an entry-level van.
However, its presence means that the small locker above it is fairly pointless – it’s too small for much and too high for most people.
The full locker to the right of the microwave houses the CD player/radio.
The three-way 110-litre fridge with removable freezer sits opposite all this, under the wardrobe – that makes it a fair stretch from the main kitchen, with the washroom door in between.
The largest mirror in the Compass Casita 462 is right next to this washroom door.
It is ideally placed if you are about to head out for the evening, but it can be a bit disconcerting if you are busy doing a fry-up on the hob and forget that it is there!
The elegant new door handle that Compass has fitted to most models this season should tempt you inside the washroom, however, and the vent that is immediately inside the door should persuade you to stay there.
The shower at the far end is a good height with a folding door and nothing obstructing the tray – as a result, there’s almost as much space in here as you’d get at home!
There is no roof vent but there is an LED light close to the standard (i.e. for once not EcoCamel) showerhead.
In front of this is a medium-sized salad-bowl washbasin with a chrome tap and a mirror, and a towel ring way up high in the corner.
There is a shelved cupboard under the sink and another shelved cupboard above the opaque window which sits over the circular toilet.
One advantage of the end-kitchen layout is that there’s usually nothing to get in the way of you having a large double bed to luxuriate in.
The bed in the Compass Casita 462 is a case in point.
It is easily made up with the help of slats that you pull out from under the chest, and because the sofa’s backrests are split, both they and the base cushions can easily be turned over to make an Ozio mattress that is over five foot wide and 6’ 10” long.
You would really need to be unusually sized not to find that comfortable.
The four spotlights mean there is plenty of light to read in bed, with the ample scatter cushions providing head support, while if you sleep facing the nearside you can still easily view the TV.
Another sign of this caravan’s sophistication, given its market position, is that you can access the areas under the sofas both through dedicated flaps and by lifting up the slats, which stay up on gas struts.
That said, neither of these areas is externally accessible. The offside space is mostly taken up with electrics and the heater, while the nearside one is completely clear.
The wardrobe above the fridge is at best only half height: you would possibly struggle to fit a really large waterproof in here. It also has a rather obtrusive central support pole and, of course, the table storage.
Only one of the four overhead lockers in the front lounge is shelved, but they are all a good size. The two drawers in the central chest are probably only suitable for small items – and there’s a clear locker immediately beneath the slats.
Outside, the gas-bottle locker at the front is more than adequate for all your towing essentials.
But as there is no external access to any internal storage, you would have to drag any really large item into the van to get it stowed under the nearside settee.