This is a great, cost-conscious caravan for couples who want a bit of luxury, but it also works for young families who are prepared to be flexible at bedtime, when the kids need sleep but the parents want to relax in the lounge.
It has strong competition from models offering the same floor plan in the entry-level sector, such as Bailey, Elddis and Venus – it is more spacious but heavier than them. Find it too basic? There are loads of options to choose from and, if you shop extensively from this list and include items such as the factory-fitted sunroof (£325), it could rival its cousins in the Swift Challenger Sport range.
In addition, the Swift Group is confident enough to offer a factory-backed, 10-year warranty for all caravans it builds.
The spacious washroom is the top feature
There is plenty of storage
It has a tracking system
It comes with a factory-backed, 10-year warranty
The shower isn’t lined with plastic
The front double bed could be stronger
Sprite’s Major 4 FB is a super and affordable caravan for couples who want a bit of luxury, but it can also meet the needs of young families. It was introduced to the line-up for 2013 and has a strong, contemporary look, thanks to its curved front, colour-coded awning rail, single-piece aluminium sidewalls, GRP front panel and ABS rear panel.
Its graphics are fresh, although the single front window marks it out as entry-level. In addition, a long list of optional kit continues to be available for those who find the Sprite a little too basic.
Stretching across the full width of the van, the end washroom is the Sprite’s star feature
Pitching & Setting-up
The gas locker is generously proportioned and simple to access. The A-frame fairing has a stepping plate to ease cleaning high up.
On the nearside, a hatch opens to the massive storage space beneath the double bed. It’s an inviting area in which to stash all your kit, but novices should ensure they load safely for the road. You’ll find the water inlet, hook-up point, drain valves and a locker to access the toilet cassette on the offside.
The Tracker Retrieve system joins the list of standard kit. It brings extra peace of mind and should lower insurance premiums.
At 2.25m, the Sprite is considerably wider than key rivals at this price point, such as the Elddis Xplore 504 (2.15m), Venus 490/4 (2.09m) and Bailey Orion 430-4 (2.19m). It’s heavier, though, which will impact on your fuel economy. Nevertheless, on site it offers a truly spacious lounge.
There’s ample room for four to relax in comfort and the lighting is effective, with four directional rollerball-style reading lights up front and halogen ceiling lights throughout. The free-standing dining table easily seats four at mealtimes. It attaches to the offside inner wall, facing the double bed, when not in use.
For 2013, all Sprites were upgraded to the dual-fuel Truma Combi boiler, which replaced the previous Truma space heater. Warm air circulates throughout the van via ample ducts. There are also plenty of three-pin 240V sockets – an impressive five in all.
The hob, atop the separate oven and grill, has just three gas burners, and no electric hotplate. The removable plastic drainer, a trademark Swift Group feature, fits neatly in its own storage space.
A good-size wire basket is great for condiments and the like, while there is a choice of places to store food, crockery and utensils. The 113-litre Thetford fridge-freezer, the latest version, boasts touch-screen controls and automatic energy selection. Your supplying dealer can fit a microwave in the middle overhead locker.
Stretching across the full width of the van, the end washroom is the Sprite’s star feature. The Thetford C-260 swivel toilet gets lots of legroom around it, and the separate shower cubicle is spacious, although it’s encased in wallboard rather than fully lined in plastic.
The window is opaque, there’s ventilation overhead, and vented heat to the washroom keeps it warm in cold weather. There’s also a chrome-effect towel ring and coat hook.
During our test we tried various permutations for sleeping arrangements – children in the single beds at the front, mum and dad in the fixed rear double. But when the five-month-old’s night feeds disturbed the three-year-old, father and toddler took the made-up double bed up front, which measures a substantial 2.02m x 1.42m, while mother and daughter slept in the fixed bed (1.92m x 1.32m). The new arrangement worked well until the end section of the pull-out slatted base gave way under dad’s 15-stone frame when reading a bedtime story.
The areas are separated by a concertina partition.
The premium storage space is, of course, beneath the rear bed. The bed rises on a gas strut and is self-supporting, so you’ll be able to step into the area while on site to lift out heavier items without risking your back. Again, though, take care to load your caravan safely for the road, and do not stash all your gear here, rear of the axle.
Up front, the space in the seat boxes is easy to access thanks to front locker flaps and sprung, hinged tops. These are self-supporting but won’t support the weight of the squab and cushions when open. However, only the nearside box offers real stowage – the offside one houses the boiler and the mains consumer unit.
The Truma Combi frees up what would otherwise have been the housing for a space heater, meaning there is a tall wardrobe for hanging clothes. A shelf and storage area are below, and there is a nearside dresser next to the entry door. We’re also pleased to find positive-locking mechanisms to the overhead storage.