The Auto-Trail is a fabulous-looking and really well-specified ‘van, and it’s very well suited to winter touring. However, there are a couple of build quality issues.
Superb styling inside and out; class-leading specification
Small washroom lacks room for the toilet
The classic British lounge makes use of a removable table which can be stored in the wardrobe (unlike the hefty, fixed tables favoured in many Continental ‘vans) to make a more open space for lounging.
The cushions are too deep to enable most people to recline comfortably against the back cushions with their feet on the floor. These cushions are also pretty flat, with reasonable if unexceptional support and no shaped corner cushions, but they offer an even surface when made into a bed.
There’s a small cupboard/sideboard, which is where the TV sits.
The Apache has a large worktop area by the sink, but there is more space on the sideboard by the cooker, even though this is much lower than the cooker itself. By positioning the cooker across the kitchen, Auto-Trail has freed up more work space but we were unsure how useful this would be if, say, you were making a dish where ingredients need to be immediately to hand. There’s an extractor roof vent to remove cooking smells.
The washroom has a separate shower compartment and looks homely. It has several functional touches, such as one permanent towel rail with a second, removable version in the shower. As a whole, however, this washroom is rather a quart in a pint pot: the sink is difficult to use for face washing because the soap dish and the glass holder get in your way and, crucially, there is a limited amount of space around the toilet.
The Apache provides a neat, flat bed at the rear, even if it is narrower than many competitors. The overcab is pleasingly tall and has one window. It also has a relatively thin, foam mattress, with no slats beneath.
The Apache has bucketloads of exterior storage. It has a dedicated battery locker and a seat-base locker, but best of all it has a huge, rear ‘boot’/double-floor storage locker – we estimate that there is just under 400 litres of storage space, which should be room enough for your folding chairs. There is no catch or stay to hold the door open, though, and there is no spare wheel.
The wardrobe is big enough for a couple’s clothes for two weeks, and there’s also a shoe cupboard.
The aircraft-style lockers look smart and are something many ’vans at this price lack. The lower lockers are very small, but would be ideal for holding books, CDs, DVDs and other, similar items.
The Sirius also provides the best access to storage space with its three cantilevered seat bases, which are easy to open. The Bessacarr provides hinged slats (with no stays) and seat-base lockers, while the Apache and Goldstar offer removable slats and seat-base lockers.
In the kitchen, you get a full-sized cutlery drawer with four compartments (surprisingly, not all rivals can claim this) and a big storage space for pans beneath the oven.
In the washroom, the Apache has two towel rails, one long and three small railed shelves, and two cupboards – one above and one below the sink.