Step back some 40 years and here at Practical Caravan, we were looking at a new tourer from Sprite, then owned by Caravans International. It was a pop-top, aptly named the Compact (but sadly dropped).
Back to the present and the Compact name is back, this time from Swift, as a 6ft 6in wide, end-kitchen two-berth.
Pitch and set-up
There’s plenty of interest in smaller tourers, and the Compact has much to offer buyers with a small car (and driveway).
On the forecourt, the Compact is easy to spot, its narrower width standing out in a world of ever-broader caravans.
The GRP front and rear moulded panels are stylish and strong, but do add weight compared with ABS. The Al-Ko chassis comes with an AKS hitch stabiliser and alloy wheels. Up front there’s a sizeable gas locker, even with the narrower width.
All service points are on the offside and you also get Thule bike rack fittings on the back panel – just like the bigger Sprites.
If you need to manoeuvre the Compact, it has good-sized grab handles. New graphics have been added for 2022, but the unglazed door remains a one-piece unit.
The obvious omission is the sunroof, and this could be down to cost, with the Sprite being narrow-bodied. But a midi-Heki is fitted over the lounge, allowing daylight to flood in.
Even the cleverest manufacturers can be a bit restricted by the compact layout, but Sprite’s designers have done excellent work with the floorpan. The lounge is light and airy, helped by the Heki roof vent.
Do we miss the sunroof? Not necessarily, although the blank space here could have provided a tad more storage, with lockers or even a large shelf.
There is, though, a central chest, which gives you a drawer and a slide-out occasional table, and you’ll find a locker below, where the vent for the blown-air system is sited.
The seating is narrower, naturally, but it doesn’t feel that way – it is comfortable and you do get bolster and scatter cushions.
The triple front windows all open and it’s good to see large side windows, too. We also welcome the easy-access underseat lockers.
LED spots offer good lighting, but would be even better if they were adjustable. There’s also overhead locker storage, where the radio is. Swift has apparently paused use of the Command unit for now, due to material shortages; our test van had the original control panel.
The Compact’s kitchen is indeed compact in size, but the designers have thought things out carefully. The fridge is over the axle in the dresser, allowing more cupboard storage in the kitchen area. There is an overhead locker next to the microwave. The Compact has a three-burner gas hob plus oven and grill, and a large sink. The worktop is not huge, but the dresser offers additional surface. There’s LED lighting for night-time, and a roof vent.
The Compact offers two sleeping options – the two settees can be used as single beds, although if you are over 5ft 11in, they might be a bit short. Most are likely to opt for the main double bed, which is a generous 6ft x 5ft 11in. This is easily made up from pull-out slats and the seat cushions.
The designers have squeezed the washroom into a fairly small space, but the Compact still comes with an electric-flush toilet, neat moulded handbasin and cupboard storage.
The floor area for showering is tight, but manageable. What we particularly like in this washroom is the sizeable window. You also get a large wall mirror and good lighting.
You might think storage would be in short supply in this layout, but you’d be wrong – there are good-sized lockers up front, with corner units making the most of the space. The central chest provides more storage, as do the underseat areas.
The kitchen gains points, with cupboard storage and space above the dresser. In the wardrobe, the electrics take up room, but hanging space isn’t badly affected. For two, the wardrobe will work well. A minor niggle is that a mirror on the wardrobe door would not go amiss.
All in all, we think the new Compact is an excellent addition to the Sprite line-up. Although the omission of a sunroof would not deter us, some buyers might miss it. In our books, the Heki makes up for this.
Importantly, the new Compact should make a really good choice for couples who are looking for a small van that’s easy to tow and handle, and will store on the driveway. If you are thinking about extra space, an awning would be a simple solution.
The Compact is likely to become popular in dealer special guise, and many will find it easy to live with and eventually sell on.
Adjustable spots would be good, as would extra storage over the front windows, but otherwise we say, put it on your shortlist.
- Thumbs up: Build quality, comfortable lounge, washroom window
- Thumbs down: No adjustable spotlights, unglazed door, no DAB
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The triple front windows all open and it's good to see large side windows, too. We also welcome the easy-access underseat lockers
|Interior Length||3.68 m|
|Shipping Length||5.37 m|
|Specification list||Spare wheel; Truma gas/electric heating; Fridge; Shower; Hot water; Flyscreens and blinds; AKS hitch; Alloy wheels; Thetford electric-flush toilet; Al-Ko chassis; Oven/grill; Status TV aerial|