We’ve already looked at the Fantaisy 440 CL; here, we take an in-depth look at a model in the more luxurious Liberty range, the four-berth island-bed La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA.
We reckon that before this year, there is a good chance you won’t have heard of French-built La Mancelle caravans. But the brand has a long, impressive history: owned by French giant Trigano, it was born in 1960, in the historic city of Le Mans.
Late last year, fellow Trigano Group member Marquis decided to import a range of La Mancelle caravans to the UK; these have now arrived and are available to view at three Marquis branches (Surrey, Exeter and South Yorkshire).
Design of the La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA
When you first see the island bed caravan, you can’t help but notice its distinctive but very stylish brown-and-white body, and its shape – it’s like no other caravan you’ll find on the road in the UK at present, and will certainly stand out on a campsite (see: the best caravan parks if you’re wondering where to go next).
As well as being unusual, that curvy bodyshell is aerodynamic, which should help your fuel economy on the road.
At the front of the caravan is a large, one-piece window, which takes up most of the front panel.
The windows are tinted, but look smart against the brown-and-white colour scheme elsewhere. You’ll also notice the absence of any gas bottle locker over the A-frame: the Liberty’s is located on the UK-nearside rear of the caravan.
Also on the rear of the van are fixings for a caravan bike rack, which will come in very handy if you want to take a lightweight bicycle on tour with you, and in addition, there’s an exterior gas barbecue point, a 230V external mains socket, and external satellite and aerial connections.
The Hartal habitation door, meanwhile, is located on the Continental side (the UK off-side); it’s a two-piece unit and has a handy flyscreen fitted, too. An LED awning light sits to the left of the door.
Towards the front of the caravan, on the UK nearside, you’ll find the filler point for the 45-litre onboard water tank. There’s also an awning rail on the exterior, and alloy wheels are fitted as standard.
The ‘Plaisance’ graphics on the exterior are exclusive to these Marquis caravans.
Towing a La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA
We took an exclusive look at the new UK-bound La Mancelle range earlier in the spring, and didn’t get the chance to tow the Liberty 490 SA. However, that aerodynamic shape should help reduce fuel costs.
This model has an Al-Ko AKS 3004 stabiliser fitted as standard, plus shock absorbers for smoother towing.
The Liberty 490 SA has an MTPLM of 1800kg, so to make a suitable 85% match – recommended by Practical Caravan and both of the major caravanning clubs – you will need a tow car with a kerbweight of at least 2118kg.
Suitable cars would include the BMW X5 45e M Sport (new) and the VW Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 286PS 4Motion R Line if you’re looking for a used tow car.
Pitch and set-up
Integral silver grabhandles feature both front and rear, and they’re at a comfortable height. This is a weighty caravan, though, so you’re likely to want to fit a motor mover if you’re not comfortable with manoeuvring from a standing start.
The corner steadies are Al-Ko heavy-duty examples, which should help to increase stability on site. The water filler point is set on the nearside, well away from any awning you might want to erect (take a look at our best caravan awning guide if you’re looking for one), while the toilet cassette locker is also on the nearside.
Lounge in the La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA
Step through the door and you’ll find the C-shaped/wraparound front lounge on your right – as caravan layouts go, it’s unusual, but one that will prove comfortable during an evening spent relaxing. The smart beige and green upholstery feels of great quality and is made from premium Belgian fabrics; the two coordinating scatter cushions also add to the ambience. The colour scheme is complemented by the light-oak and cream lockers elsewhere in the van.
The table itself is a distinctive teardrop shape, and large enough to accommodate everyone sitting around it – what’s more, it slides in various directions, meaning nobody will have to stretch to reach their dinner plate. You could comfortably seat four adult diners here.
Although the windows around the lounge are dark in tint, they allow in plenty of light; they also have attractive glossy-cream surrounds. All of the front windows open, and are fitted with Seitz concertina blinds and flyscreens – handy for warm summer evenings, if you don’t want to use the full air-conditioning system. There’s also a midi rooflight up above, again complete with a blind and a flyscreen.
At night the area is illuminated via the main light above the lounge, and the pair of LED spotlights. The latter feature USB sockets – perfect for charging your phone.
If that’s not enough power for you, you’ll also find a couple of mains plug sockets and a 12V socket on the nearside of the lounge, located above a unit. A caravan TV could easily be situated here, and in this position could be viewed by all occupants of the lounge.
A pair of heating vents are situated low down in the lounge, to help keep your feet warm in the cooler weather, with a further heating vent located by the floor close to the door. Two LEDs above the former provide attractive blue mood lighting.
Kitchen in the La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA
As you enter the caravan, the kitchen is located on your left, and there’s everything here to keep the chef happy.
For starters, there’s a full-size oven with a separate grill, and a three-burner hob. Just to the right is a circular sink that’s pleasingly deep. There’s not a huge amount of work surface in the kitchen, but both the hob and the sink come with attractive glass covers which can double up as prep areas. There’s also a pull-up flap by the front door, which gives an additional work area.
Above the hob is a smart, very efficient Dometic extractor fan unit, which also features a digital clock and a light. This is supplemented by a large opening rooflight situated over the kitchen area.
To the right of the kitchen is a large Thetford Series 10 150-litre fridge freezer, which should be more than enough for the fresh provisions of all occupants.
On the ceiling above the kitchen, you’ll find the Truma Aventa air-con unit.
Washroom in the La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA
The washroom sits directly opposite the kitchen, but you don’t need to worry about the door getting in the way of the person whipping up the evening meal, because the washroom has a tambour (sliding) door.
The entire washroom is smartly lined in white; the swivelling C262 Thetford electric-flush toilet is on the right, with a large white handbasin – featuring an integral chrome push-down plug – on the left. There’s a large mirror over the basin.
But where’s the shower? Cleverly, it’s tucked away behind the handbasin unit, which swings forward to reveal the shower head on a riser, as well as a soap tray.
There’s a single shower plughole located in the floor, and a well-placed heating vent will help to keep the area warm for use in colder weather. An opaque window is located above the toilet.
Beds in the La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA
The star of the sleeping arrangements is the longitudinal island bed at the rear of the van. It’s a great size, at 1.50 x 1.90m (4’ 11” x 6’ 2”), and fitted with a comfortable foam mattress. There’s a smart headboard, and a directional reading lamp on either side of the bed.
A neat touch is the pair of cubbies, one for each occupant; they will be perfect for glasses or phones, and both have light switches, a mains plug and a 12V socket.
Curtains and blinds are fitted to the large windows either side of the bed, and there’s a small rooflight. A TV could be placed on the side wall of the fridge, where you’ll find 12V and mains sockets, and a caravan TV aerial point. Beige curtains separate the area at the foot of the bed from the rest of the van.
Up front, the lounge seating makes up into a semi-circular bed. It’s easy to convert, too: simply drop the table on its single leg and rearrange the cushions. The unusual shape means it would work best for a couple where one occupant is shorter than the other, giving both the maximum sleeping space.
Storage in the La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA
The La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA has an impressive payload of 365kg, so you’ll have plenty of space for kitting out the caravan.
Starting in the lounge: unusually, there are no lockers here, although there are a couple of small shelves. There is storage under the sofas, but this area is mostly taken up by the boiler/water tank.
Things improve further back, with a large cupboard unit and a drawer. A locker above has two shelves – perfect for those lighter essential caravan accessories. There’s also a drawer by the door.
The kitchen has a great amount of storage, with a pan locker beneath the oven and a variety of lockers and drawers elsewhere.
There’s not a huge amount of room for toiletries in the washroom, but there are two small shelves and a small white locker over the toilet. There’s also a towel rail, handily located at head height.
The bedroom, conversely, is packed with storage. A three-quarter-length wardrobe (opposite the kitchen) features a mirror and hanging rail, as well as a shallow locker beneath. There are three lockers over the bed itself, and tall cupboards either side. Then, of course, there’s a huge storage area beneath the bed. It’s located at the rear of the caravan, so you’ll want to keep lighter items here, but it’s handy nonetheless.
Kit and value
This isn’t a cheap caravan, so it’s good to see an impressively high level of kit as standard. For starters, there’s the Truma Aventa air-con. There’s no microwave – and we couldn’t see room to fit one – but the extractor fan over the hob is a nice addition. Elsewhere, the Truma iNet X control panel, 45-litre onboard water tank, external gas and 230V points, and the 150-litre Thetford fridge all take the spec to a high level.
La Mancelle prides itself on its build quality, and it shows – everything is beautifully constructed. Kitchen workspace is limited, but this is an attractive four-berth that couples who want luxury should certainly consider.
Or you could try…
- Bailey Alicanto Grande Porto: this big twin-axle boasts a cross-caravan washroom.
- Swift Bessacarr 845: this is an elegant, highly-specified four-berth.
- Coachman VIP 675: a cleverly designed interior makes this a tourer which is ideal for a seasonal pitch.
Specification of the La Mancelle Liberty 490 SA
- Price: £39,995
- MTPLM: 1800kg
- MiRO: 1435kg
- Payload: 365kg
- Overall length: 6.71m (22’ 0”)
- Overall width: 2.25m (7’ 5”)
- Overall height: 2.58m (8’ 6”)
- Rear island bed: 1.50m x 1.90m (4’ 11” x 6’ 2”)
- Front bed (semi-circular): 1.50m x 2.14m max (4’ 11” x 7’ 0” max)
- Aerodynamic bodyshell
- 30mm sandwich sidewall with Styrofoam insulation core
- 43mm floor with internal bracing
- 14-inch alloy wheels
- European Whole Vehicle Type Approved (EWVTA)
External equipment includes
- Gas BBQ point
- 230V mains socket
- Satellite/aerial points
- Heavy-duty corner steadies
- Truma system, iNet X control panel
- Truma Aventa air-con
- 45-litre onboard water tank
- Fixed-single-leg table with multi-direction movement
- Domestic vinyl floor covering
- Midi rooflights
- TV stations with 230V, 12V and aerial socket
- Foam-construction mattress on fixed bed
- Fully lined domestic-style shower cubicle
- Thetford swivelling electric-flush toilet
- Gas oven/grill, three-burner hob
- Dometic extractor hood
- Thetford 150-litre fridge
- Al-Ko AKS 3004 stabiliser
- Two-year manufacturer warranty, seven-year water-ingress warranty
- Low-energy LED lighting
- Underslung spare wheel carrier
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|Shipping Length||6.71 m|