WE’VE BEEN FANS of the Elddis Xplore 302 from the start, and although it faces stiff competition from the likes of the Venus 320/2, it remains an extremely impressive budget two-berth. With its SoLiD bonded construction, Elddis has continued to refine the design, keeping the weight down while promising improved strength and durability.
It’s the lounge which really sets the tone for the rest of the van. The L-shape layout and picture window combine to open out the interior and create an airy but cosy home from home.
Work surface in the kitchen is in short supply, and the washroom is small and functional rather than luxurious. But we can forgive the 302 because it’s so light, manoeuvrable and affordable.
Surprisingly roomy for such a compact van, light and easy to tow and the lounge is comfortable and spacious
Limited kitchen work surface, lounge headroom with the blinds drawn is very limited and the extra cost of the SE pack makes it dearer than it looks
Pitching & Setting-up
While most rivals are built on an Al-Ko chassis, Elddis continues to use BPW. Each has their fans, but we’ve no complaints about the BPW running gear or the Winterhoff hitch.
For an extra £350, the optional SE pack is a no-brainer. Most importantly, it adds a Winterhoff stabiliser for secure and stress-free towing. There’s also a steel spare wheel for peace of mind. Other upgrades include alloy wheels and a CD player.
Once unhitched, manoeuvring the 302 could hardly be easier. It’s light enough to be manhandled by one person if they’re reasonably strong. A couple should have no trouble.
The 12V control panel is easy to find on the left as you enter the van, although the controls for the Whale water and space heater are tucked around the corner in the lounge.
Elddis’s SoLiD construction system ditches screws in favour of a continuously bonded seam which is far better at repelling water and far stronger than a traditional screwed joint with mastic seal.
It’s hard to believe the Xplore 302 is less than five metres long. It feels like a bigger van inside, thanks to the open L-shaped layout and the large offside picture window, which lets in plenty of light. Two can stretch out in comfort on the sofas, and there’s room for friends to pop over for a cuppa without anyone feeling cramped.
Whale’s blown-air heating system deserves much of the credit. It’s a space-efficient under-floor system which leaves room for the fridge beneath the wardrobe, freeing up more floor space than you’d expect.
The dining table is secured in the wardrobe. It’s a sensible size for the lounge and is high enough to be well clear of your knees.
If we’re being picky headroom isn’t especially generous – you may catch your head on the blinds if you lean backwards while sat on the traverse sofa.
The Xplore 302’s small size is more noticeable in the kitchen than in the lounge. Work surface is very limited, so in practice you may need to use the dining room table to prepare food.
There are compromises in equipment, too. There’s no microwave and the oven and grill are combined rather than separate, so gourmet chefs may feel a bit challenged. However, the three-burner hob has one large high-speed burner, ideal for woks and large saucepans, and the circular stainless steel sink is a good size. There are two plugs in the kitchen so you could boil a kettle and use a toaster at the same time, and the 112-litre Thetford fridge-freezer is a sensible size for a couple.
You can’t expect a luxurious washroom from a van of this size, but the Xplore 302’s washing facilities are adequate for a small, two-berth caravan. The swivelling Thetford cassette toilet is protected from the shower by a curtain, and there’s a proper shower head and separate shower control rather than a shower you pull out from the sink.
Above the washbasin you’ll find a mirror, which conceals an angled corner cabinet with a light above it. There’s shelving on the back wall to provide more storage.
There’s not much more to be said. It’s an adequate washroom, nothing more, but given the Xplore 302’s price and size it would be churlish to be demanding. For shorter breaks or when staying at sites with well equipped wash blocks it’s fine.
The lounge converts into a generous double, measuring 2000mm x 1318mm/6’6” x 4’4”. Even if you are very tall you should be able to get comfortable. If you don’t have a TV standing on it, there’s a fold-out shelf (capable of supporting 20kg) which could be pressed into service as a bedside table.
There are down-lighters on either side of the van which can be used as reading lamps, although there’s no way of adjusting their angle.
If caravanning on your own and feeling lazy, the transverse sofa is wide enough to make a single bed with no need to mess with the cushions. However, for a really sound night’s rest it’s worth taking the time to make up the double, ideally with a mattress topper to improve comfort further.
For a short two-berth tourer, storage is reasonable. There are overhead lockers around the lounge, and further storage under the sofas although this will likely be filled with bedding, putting pressure on the other storage. The wardrobe isn’t full length, but there’s room for plenty of clothes for a week away.
Despite its small size, the kitchen is well served for storage space, with room for pots and pans under the oven, and a large cupboard beneath the sink. Two overhead lockers, one of which includes a plate rack, should take care of whatever won’t fit in the cupboard.
Externally there’s a generous gas bottle locker and floor-level access to the shower cubicle.
All in all, you won’t have to travel light, but you will have to think about what you need to take with you.
|Shipping Length||4.9 m|