I’ve been reviewing caravans and motorhomes since 2012, and you may already be familiar with my appreciation for the Elddis brand which I voted top-model caravan for two years running. In doing so, I thought perhaps this could be attributed to my affection for the RV Leisure team whose legendary use of humour and hospitality may have helped create somewhat of a soft spot in my psyche.
However, if that is the case, their reach is a long one. Both the Elddis brand – and the Avante model, specifically – have year in, year out, been multiple award-winners across both the UK and Europe. Whew! It was something of a relief to hear I was not alone in making this top choice.
So, why do I so highly rate the Elddis in a category crammed with top-class competition? I suppose it comes down to the general lightness of being which makes the brand approachable for potential buyers with varying skills and tastes. Elddis caravans are frequently single-axle, and generally light enough to be towed by the average family car, yet they come with strength, durability, year-round comfort and a variety of floor plans to suit most needs. In this instance, I am reviewing the Elddis Avante 550, which – while having a fourth berth in common with the other two reviews in this issue – differs in that it comes with a separate bathroom, and also a toilet cubicle amidships.
I admit to enjoying the sense of space and luxury offered by the other two caravans in this issue, both of which come with a full-length rear bathroom. However, I can happily admit that, when travelling in tandem, having a separate loo and shower is sometimes a strong advantage. Which you choose will depend on your personal preference. I like the round shower with its built-in holder stand; and the central placement creates space for an adjacent wall cabinet and mirror. This is a well-thought-out addition to the bedroom. For added comfort, it has Whale 4.3kW space-saving heating which is fast, powerful and efficient, runs on both gas and/or electric and boasts a quiet night-time setting and ducted heating throughout, including bathrooms. All Elddis Avante models have been awarded Grade III Thermal Insulation for safe and comfortable touring in all weather conditions.
An island bed is always a Kiwi favourite and in this instance the bed which fixes to the rear wall can be retracted during the day to give 400mm of additional floor-space, while still functioning as a great daybed. I like the large windows either side of the bed which create a lovely light atmosphere by day. Another huge plus, for my taste at least, is the combination of white walls with a mix of wood and off-white finishes. This is (for me) a huge step forward for a British caravan, many of which still lag behind the favoured light colours of the southern hemisphere designs. The position of the bed against the wall also enables good floor-to-ceiling storage either side of the bed, as well as in overhead lockers. Additionally you can choose to partition off the bedroom and create a master suite with bathroom and toilet. I imagine this feature will be popular with many.
Moving from the master suite to the galley, you have the three-tier oven, grill and hob to your right, with toilet and handbasin cabinet to your left. The fact that the latter juts into the galley space means that the kitchen floor has an L-shape with another handy wall and cupboard created beside the entrance. As any regular reader – or anyone with an interest in RV design – will tell you, UK and European caravans can require a bit of a compromise when it comes to bench space. It is doable, but it requires a certain skill to work in a small galley. Thankfully, the Avante 500 comes with a fold-up bench and a sink board to increase the preparation space just that little bit more. When not in use, the glass top of the attractive black gloss enamelled stove provides even more room. One aspect I particularly like is the way the microwave has been built in, flush. It just seems to be more elegant. Just a note here that the 110-litre Dometic fridge/freezer is also an under-bench version in this model, but storage has not been compromised and it extends above the windows throughout the dining area.
And Elddis has certainly kept up with modern technology; there are plenty of thoughtfully-placed power points above the bench. In fact Elddis claims that with up to seven 230V sockets it provides more than any other caravan manufacturer. Battery-saving LED lighting is used throughout. The entertainment package includes a CD Radio tuner with mp3 connectivity, USB input with charging facility and speakers to use and pre-programme, with ‘at-a-glance’ status reports. You’ll also have an up-to-the-minute Teleco Teleplus X2/39U Directional Aerial at your disposal.
One of the things which has remained constant with Elddis vehicles is the enduring comfort of the brand’s settees that convert to a second double – or will do good duty as two single beds. In between the two sofas is a cool little stack of drawers which converts easily to a small table. Sunlight floods the interior through large windows and skylights, while cosy night-time comfort is assured with blinds and screens.
All Elddis caravans are fully bonded using SoLiD Construction. This industry-leading structural bonding is proven to be strong, light and dry, and is backed by a 10-year Body Integrity and Water Ingress Warranty. The Avante Range is built on an AL-KO galvanised steel chassis and comes with ATC Trailer Control System, AL-KO 3004 Stabiliser, shock absorbers and receiver for optional AL-KO Diamond Standard wheel locks.
I could blah on all day about stone-chip resistance, overhead this and underslung that, but time and room do not permit my usual waffle. The team at RV Leisure Centre will take you through the rest. Suffice to say, for now at least, that one of the reasons I like the Elddis so much is this is the type of vehicle in which I could easily see myself cruising the country well into my dotage.
Number of berths: 4
External length: 6300mm
Overall width: 2260mm
Mass in running order: 1259kg
Maximum user payload: 153kg