A bold interior but superbly equipped van that performs well in each area – 8/10
The kitchen boasts lots of the latest equipment as well as enough work surface for two to prepare a meal together
The kit throughout is impressive considering the price
Two TV points, four spotlights and great kitchen storage are also welcome.
The interior of Oregon-pine cabinet work is too cold to be considered cosy
In addition, there is a problem with mismatched trims
Hanging space in the wardrobe is reduced by the directional aerial
This is also the heavier of the two vans on test.
Pitching & Setting-up
An Al-Ko chassis, AKS stabiliser, 13-pin electrics and a buttoneless handbrake make up the Sterling’s running gear. It has alloy wheels that are pre-prepared for the Al-Ko secure wheel lock, which is a cost option. There are no guide channels for the steadies, but the front ones are easy to reach as they run flush to the side of the van.
The waste pipes are sensibly located at the front offside corner and the new digital control panel is well placed above the entrance door. The front locker lid lifts high on one single gas strut, providing good access to the space from all angles.
Inside there is a door mat and concertina flyscreen, but the only mirror is inside the washroom.
This is not a cosy place to spend an evening. The light Oregon pine woodwork might feel cool when touring hot climates, but it felt cold to us. The upholstery is tasteful and the dark wood strips on the lockers look upmarket. However, they do not match the silver strips of the corner lights, which is indicative of the mismatched feel of the interior.
There are two scatter and two bolster cushions, plus two speakers and four spotlights. Knee rolls make the sofas comfy and dark drop-in carpets hide spillages. The sofa bases have sprung slats and hinges to hold them up, as well as front access to the bed boxes. The table extension is the flip-over kind, which can be a problem if you want to leave the TV set up. But with two TV points, one over the nearside sideboard and another on the centre chest, you have choices.
There is a Heki rooflight providing light and ventilation, and an extra rooflight over the Avante 362 between the lounge and kitchen. This is a lounge with all the practical kit that you need, but without the homely feel that you want.
An intelligent piece of design makes this the more usable kitchen on test. By extending the work surface beside the sink there is a lot of work top to prepare food. To compensate, the sideboard loses a few centimetres making it 18cm narrower than the Avante one, measuring 65cm x 59cm. This does mean that two people can easily walk past each other even if one is preparing dinner. Work surface is also freed up by dispensing with a recessed drainer. The draining board stows below the sink, alongside the chopping board. The new GRP sink does not show up scratches like the steel ones, but its granite effect is an acquired taste.
The Thetford cooking unit has a separate oven and grill, a three-burner hob and an electric hotplate, and an electric ignition switch. A microwave completes the tower of kitchen appliances. The mains plug is well placed in the nearside corner for a kettle.
Storage is good with one overhead locker that has crockery racks and two shelves beside it, plus another big locker over the sideboard. Below the sink and work surface is a huge food cupboard, with shelves and plenty of room for a couple’s food. The 107-litre Thetford fridge is also big enough for stashing groceries.
Sterling solves the problem of fitting a washroom into a tiny corner with a swing wall arrangement. This is a little awkward when you want to shower, but it does afford you room for the new Thetford C250 toilet. There is plenty of legroom around the toilet, but it does not have a level indicator.
Equipment levels are good with a light in the shower unit and one above the toilet, as well as toothbrush and soap holders by the sink and a toilet roll holder well placed beside the Thetford. There is a soap dish in the wall of the sink unit for use when showering, but no other storage for bottles. The shelf above the toilet is handy for gels and shampoo, but reaching this is awkward when showering. The shower head doubles as the sink tap and the domestic-style door will be popular.
The softwood slats pull out quickly and easily, and the cushions fit together well to make a large double bed. With two spotlights on both sides of the van, there is a reading light for each sleepy caravanner. The single beds are just over six foot long, so are big enough for all but basketball players.
The wardrobe opposite the fridge has two doors and feels big. But inside the directional aerial gets in the way, limiting the section of the rail that is actually usable.
The lounge lockers are deep and have shelves, so and good for storing clothes. The offside bedbox is largely taken up by the fuse box and battery box, but the fuses are easy to reach. The nearside bed box is completely free of obstacles.