A strong budget model, the Sterckeman Starlett 420 CP’s layout is ideal for a couple, but a family may chafe at the compromises. The Freestyle options are attractive, but buyers may prefer to add a cooker and a water heater.
It is light and affordable
There’s a lot of storage
The second bed is rather small
The spec is pretty basic
We often bemoan the lack of affordable, lightweight caravans for sale in the UK, and for good reason – they’re important for people holidaying on a budget and for those with smaller cars, plus they’re an ideal entry point for newcomers.
Sterckeman belongs to France’s Trigano Group, Europe’s largest maker of leisure vehicles. It combines purchasing power with volume manufacture to give customers great value for money. Britain has one Trigano dealer, Freedom Caravans in Stafford, which specialises in small, budget vans.
This Sterckeman is the Starlett 420 CP, a light, compact four-berth. In its basic form the 420 CP costs £10,995. The ‘Freestyle’ special we tested is £1,500 more.
It's billed as a four-berth, but the second bed will only accommodate two young children or a single larger one
Pitching & Setting-up
A half-height ABS panel with a large gas locker lid gives shape to the Starlett’s front. The Freestyle’s GRP sidewalls are impact resistant and easier to clean than the standard model’s ‘hammer-embossed’ aluminium. The roof is also GRP, which is common in France. There’s no A-frame cover, but it makes fitting a bicycle rack to it easier.
Sterckeman models are only available with their entry doors on the offside, so it’s wise to park them only in wide lay-bys if you plan to stop for a cuppa. You may also have to pitch back-to-front on regimented sites.
The 230V input is on the nearside, as are the cassette toilet access and the filler point for the 25-litre water tank. The 230V electric controls are easily accessible in the wardrobe base. The lights and water pump are powered from a 12V consumer unit, while a gas-powered Truma 3004 heater is below the wardrobe. Unusually, a spare wheel is fitted at the rear.
The downside of a small, fixed-bed caravan is the little space left for lounging, but the 420 CP is designed for summer and outdoor living. Two could relax on the dinette seats and they are just big enough for four to dine. The main bed is always there should you want to put your feet up.
Opposite the seating area is a low cupboard whose top is ideal for a TV. Nearby are mains and coaxial sockets for connecting your own aerial or dish. A ceiling fitting provides good general light.
All the windows open and are fitted with flyscreens and cassette blinds. These combine well with dummy curtains and nets.
The 1.2m kitchen is longer than those in most Continental tourers, which allows more worktop and storage area. The lower cupboard also has three well-engineered drawers with positive catches and a 70-litre, three-way fridge. Above are two large lockers fitted with just spring catches, so they’re not suitable for heavy items.
Cooking is restricted to a three-burner gas hob. A microwave could fit in the nearby cupboard, but many will miss the UK-style grill and oven. This Freestyle version allows you to choose an outdoor griddle or hob. A window and rooflight provide ventilation.
For a caravan in this price range, the Starlett 420 CP’s washroom is well equipped and its cream colour scheme looks good. There’s a decently sized washbasin surrounded by mirrors and plenty of surface for toiletries, plus there is cupboard space under the basin and above the cassette toilet.
A rooflight provides daylight and ventilation. To take advantage of the shower tray, you need the optional water heater.
The transverse fixed double bed is the key feature of the 420 CP’s layout. At 1.92m x 1.4m, it is slightly larger than a domestic double but it is not as comfortable, because it has only a basic foam mattress.
Access to the bed is from one side only, and that is narrow, hemmed in by the dinette and wardrobe. A central light fitting is controlled by a bedside switch.
This caravan is billed as a four-berth but the second bed measures only 1.67m x 0.97m, tapering to 0.9m. It would accommodate two young children or a single larger one, but there’s nowhere for parents to sit once the children are in bed.
The base of the double bed opens to reveal a huge storage space. It is hinged and is supported by a single stay. The standard model has no outside access, but the Freestyle model provides a service door and a slide-out storage bin.
There’s plenty of space for clothes in the double-door wardrobe and roof lockers. The cupboard next to the wardrobe can accommodate more clothes or kitchen items. Bedding for children can be stowed under the dinette seats.