It’s true to say that fashion can be as transient and fickle in the caravan industry as it is anywhere else. But no-one could have foreseen the impact that the fixed bed – for so long a mainstay of the European caravan market – would have on the once unadventurous UK market.

Those with sufficiently long memories will no doubt recall the intense debate that surrounded the first fixed-bed from a British volume manufacturer – built, perhaps predictably, by Swift during the 1990s – and whether the British buyer would entertain such a seemingly outrageous waste of living space.

Time has given us the answer, but there is more than one take on the fixed-bed theme. Initially it was a French bed only, but then a couple of manufacturers dabbled with transverse rear doubles and even island beds. Then we’ve had the more recent trend for twin singles and – as here – the transverse island bed.

Very much an import from the motorhome world, it was arguably Fleetwood that initially dabbled with it the most in some of its top-spec models, back in the day. But it’s taken until 2015 for a genuinely affordable example to hit the showrooms. And, perhaps fittingly, it’s Swift Group that has taken the big step, with its new Sprite Major 4 SB, priced at considerably less than £15,000. The standard model is £14,850 and the model we tested is £15,325 at the time or our live-in caravan test in Spring 2015. 

It’s an inevitable consequence of the layout hiding within, but like all transverse-island-bed caravans, the Sprite Major 4 SB does look a little forward-heavy in profile when viewed from the nearside. The huge expanse of blank sidewall betrays where the bed lives, and the effect is magnified still further on the budget Sprite by the lack of a window in the entrance door.

If you can see past this (and we certainly can), then the rest is very much business as usual, with a trademark single-pane front window, imposing frontal styling and a stylish rear that bears a close resemblance to the much more expensive Swift Challenger range. 

The offside wall is rather better balanced, thanks to the additional windows and the minimalist graphics. As with our test model, the optional alloy wheels add a dash of class that belies the Sprite caravan brand’s value origins.