When we took possession of this caravan on long-term test back at the beginning of the year, we had visions of being able to take it on a whole range of adventures in the months ahead.
We would never have guessed that within six weeks, touring anywhere would be out of the question, thanks to the pandemic, with possibilities for travel only opening up again quite recently.
Fortunately, we managed to take the Adria on a tour right after we picked it up, and then for another trip before we needed to return it at the end of July.
Covid-19 has had a real effect on manaufacturers’ plans for the upcoming season, but Adria is one brand that has already announced what it will be doing for 2021. We can now say that the Altea Aire you see examined in detail here – an end-washroom two-berth that was only introduced in 2020 – will not be changing that much for the season.
Not even, we are told, in price.
You can spot an Adria tourer from some distance – its sleek profile is a contrast to the British-made models that still dominate the caravan market.
The heavily curved front, in particular, is a big change from today’s more box-like creations. Some might consider that on the outside, it is all a bit too clinical and white, with just a couple of grey stripes halfway down the side for decals. The sedate font used for the word ‘Altea’ is also far removed from the swirls you might be used to.
In particular, customers might not like having just the one window to open at the front. Others could find this pared-down look in keeping with the modern feel of the whole caravan. It would, after all, be odd, confronted with a minimalist exterior like this, if you went inside to find everything completely over the top.
Being pared down has it advantages, an Adria is one of the few vans available in the UK on which it would be relatively easy to install a bike rack on the A-frame, because there is no moulding to get in the way.
We used two different cars to tow the Altea – first, a Škoda Superb hatchback, and more recently, an all-wheel drive Volvo V60 Cross Country estate. The latter felt low-slung to the ground, and had an overall length of 4.76m. Combined with the Adria’s shipping length of 6.96m, that means an overall outfit length not far off 12m. But it never felt cumbersome, even in a van with no shock absorbers. The bare, longer A-frame mae manoeuvring much easier, too.
Pitch and set-up
The designers haven’t overlooked the basic practicalities of setting up. Both the water connections and the electric hook-up are in the offside front corner, well away from any awning. On the nearside, a large door gives you access to the underseat locker, and the bright awning light makes it easy to see what you are doing even at night.
The one downer here is the front corner steadies. On Adria caravans, they are much further underneath than you might be used to. You definitely need a steady winder with a long, straight end.
Adria also doesn’t notch the edge to guide you to where the corner steady is. We had to kneel on the ground to work it out – not fun in January! Notches are, we are told, being included in 2021 Adora, but still not in the Altea.
By the entrance door there is an adaptable rack, handy for keys and fobs. The control panel for the heater and the main switches are above the door, but their old-fashioned presentation is in stark contrast to the sleek décor elsewhere. This is a look that helps to make the lounge feel very airy – although it is already larger than that of most rival caravans. The huge sunroof helps, too. You can only open this a fraction, but that is probably a good thing for security.
The mid-blue of the upholstery and the contrasting scatter cushions continue the bright theme. The settees are comfortable, and if it is just the two of you all the time in here, with no entertaining, you could probably make do with the fold-out table.
It is certainly big enough for two, and saves you having to put up the main table. This is stored in its own slot on the edge of the sideboard at the end of the nearside settee, and is a bit of a faff to pull out.
The sideboard is wide and includes the sockets for a TV. If you would rather have yours a bit closer when you are lounging on the settees, there is another set of sockets on the offside corner of the front sill.
You’re both well served with spotlights, as there is a set each at the front end of the settees. There is another set of spotlights in the ceiling, but apart from ambient lighting behind the lockers, that is all you get. Try to focus on something while sitting at the rear-end of the settees and you might possibly feel a tad short-changed.
Still, just above the offside settee at the rear, the Bluetooth receiver hangs down from the overhead locker. You do have to make sure you don’t knock it with your head, because it is a bit fragile. But it is simple to programme and the sound from the speakers fills the space well.
As usual in Adria caravans, a three-burner in-line gas hob runs across the back of the kitchen worktop on the left, with the sink on the right.
There is enough preparation space in front of the hob and it is well lit, from the window, a second roof light and a strip light at night. But there isn’t a huge amount of space or height at the back for items you might want to keep near the hob. You might need to pack accordingly.
There is a mains socket here, but you would probably be better off putting your kettle on the large sideboard behind you, where there is plenty of space to use as a secondary workspace if you need it.
There are two large drawers under the hob and sink, and two spacious pan lockers below that, slightly obscured by venting.
Then you have four more drawers and two more pan lockers under the sideboard. If you aren’t going to fill these with clothes or other items (and you might not have to, given what is in the washroom and the number of overhead lockers here), you will have a huge amount of storage space for kitchenware. It’s no hardship that one of the lockers above the main kitchen workspace is taken up with a microwave. The fridge nearby is an impressive 140 litres, too.
The huge shower cubicle on the nearside of the end washroom in this caravan is one of the largest we have ever seen. It depends for lighting on ambient light going out from behind a long mirror (identical to another mirror on the other side of the room). You also only get one drainage hole.
The see-through salad-bowl-style handbasin in the centre has a large mirror behind it and slim cupboards either side, so there should be more than enough room for cosmetics. A cupboard with four shelves below the basin will also provide plenty of room for cleaning products and toilet fluids.
The large wardrobe on the offside has a hanging space with a rail facing outwards that is perfectly adequate for two and has a shelf underneath. A small cupboard below has a door that folds back for easy access.
The toilet is by an opaque window, but you still get a roller blind for total privacy.
You can leave the settees as single beds without moving anything, although you might need to take off the backrests. These are full backrests, even if the base cushions are split where the front section begins.
If you want to make up a double bed, the seats come together with platforms, rather than slats, which you don’t always expect to find at this price point.
But because those backrests extend right to the front, to complete the bed you have to remove the cushion in the centre at the front and squeeze the front of the backrests in there. This can be a bit fiddly – it is quite a stretch – and if you keep the fold-out shelf down (providing a handy place for a cup), you have to squeeze them in under there. But it does all make for a very comfy bed.
Light switches are all within easy reach even when you are lying down, and on a summer night, good ventilation is provided by the roof light. So I enjoyed an excellent night’s sleep – once I had worked out how to turn off the flashing blue light on the Bluetooth receiver!
With so many overhead lockers (four down the nearside alone), those huge drawers in the kitchen, and the spacious wardrobe in the washroom – not to mention the large cantilevered gas bottle locker at the front – you have a huge number of options.
It’s not all immediately easy to access having the bed platforms means that reaching the underseat areas is a little tricky, because there is no internal hatch to match the one on the nearside exterior.
We were also a bit surprised that even with the Bluetooth receiver, Adria still includes fittings for an FM radio, which takes up space in one of the lockers. But storage is impressive, and it looks sleek.
That said, you have to remember part of the reason it looks sleek is because Adria’s designers have a tendency to go for locker doors with handles.
Kit and value
You might expect the spec to be fairly basic, so it is good to see some aspects where it is distinctly above entry-level.
The heater, for example, is bigger than that of some rival caravans, and having two TV sockets in a two-berth at this price range is quite impressive. The Bluetooth receiver is a godsend, too, if you have ever had to fiddle with a caravan’s FM radio.
Then there are the window dressings. People seem to associate separate blinds and fly screens with cheapness, but in many ways, I prefer them to the combined option. An optional flyscreen for the door would help, though.
There are also one or two finishes that make this out as an entry-level caravan – such as the rather brutal sliding doors and the old-fashioned main switches – and which let the side down, but only a little.
The final word
Not everyone likes pared-down style. But this is a roomy caravan for two, with a pretty good spec, so if you can get over that décor, this could be the one for you.
- Al-Ko galvanised single-axle chassis, ABS front and rear panels
- LED third brake light on rear
- Scratch-resistant polyester side walls with ABS spoilers
- Hail-resistant polyester roof, sandwich floor construction with Styropor insulation
- Double-glazed windows and sunroof
- Cantilevered front gas locker
- External locker door
- Truma Combi 4E heater
- Two TV sockets, mains socket
- Nabucco cherry furniture with Gilles soft furnishings
- Blinds with separate flyscreens on all windows
- Bluetooth amp. loudspeakers
- Ambient lighting, spotlights
- Two Heki rooflights
- Fittings for FM radio
- Status 580 TV antenna
- Three-burner in-line gas hob
- Duplex oven/grill, microwave
- 140-litre fridge
- Separate shower compartment
- Clear salad-bowl style basin
- Circular toilet
Safety and security
- AKS stabiliser
- Smoke alarm, CO detector
- Concealed CRiS data chip
- CRiS identity number sticker on windows and chassis
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This look helps to make the lounge feel very airy - although it is already larger than that of most rivals. The huge sunroof, which opens just a fraction, helps, too
|Interior Length||5.49 m|
|Shipping Length||6.96 m|
|Awning Size||946 cm|