As Elddis’ first foray into the luxury market, the Aspire is impressive. We like the spacious, well-designed accommodation and quality fixtures and fittings, and it’s extremely comfortable to live in and to drive. The payload is poor, though, without the £1140, 4000kg chassis upgrade. With it, the 240 becomes truly tempting for two to tour in luxury.
Fantastic kitchen; wide passage between washroom and kitchen; washroom styling; wet central heating system
Proximity of towel rail to toilet; low payload
Until October last year, Elddis was primarily known as a motorhome manufacturer of solid-but-basic overcab coachbuilts aimed at the budget market.
During 2010, however, the British company expanded its remit with the introduction of an all-new three-model range named Aspire at the NEC show. It faces tough rivals, though, with the continued success of the Swift Group’s luxury Bolero range, Auto-Trail’s Apache range (particularly now that they’re available with a super-low-line mould) and Auto-Sleepers’ Mercedes-based County line-up. Here we test the 240 – an end-lounge, well-specified two-berth, and a pre-production prototype, so not quite the finished model, to find out if it can take on the stalwarts.
The Aspire 240 offers a UK-friendly layout of a rear lounge with twin good-sized facing sofas. At the end is a touring-caravan-style chest of drawers. From this, a pull-out unit provides a small dining surface. The four-person (84cm x 56cm/2ft 9in x 1’ 10”), heavy freestanding table is stored in a locker in the kitchen. A full U-shaped lounge – with the drawer unit replaced by seating – is a £150 cost option, and should seat five in comfort.
Attractive upholstery and concealed lighting above and below the cream overhead lockers create a very pleasant area. At 1.88m (6’2”), the sofas are long enough to stretch out on, and have back boards to prevent condensation. There’s a Freeview TV with DVD capability located at the foot of the offside sofa.
Lighting consists of four LED spotlights and strips, and these can be dimmed, too. Natural light floods in through both the three windows – fitted with both concertina blinds, and smart and functional curtains on a stylish chrome rail – and the large Heki rooflight above.
In our test prototype the sophisticated LCD control panel was located above the TV; but in production models it will be fitted beside the entrance door. Rear speakers will be fitted above the lounge. Production models will get six mains sockets: two in the TV area, three in the kitchen, and one in the external battery locker. Sadly, there will be no mains socket near the rear chest of drawers.
Heating is provided by an Alde hydronic radiator central heating system: rare in a ’van at this price. It has a 24-hour, seven-day timer, and provides en-route heating, too. We found it very efficient in heating the water and keeping the van warm.
Those who enjoy cooking in their ’van will have their needs well met – the 240’s kitchen unit is 2.18m (7’2”) in length and has a great amount of storage. There’s a 175-litre fridge with separate freezer across the corridor.
The worksurface and appliances are domestic in style, with a huge dark sink, and lights on the kickboards. Up above you’ll find three lockers, a lit drinks locker, and a crockery cupboard. To the far right is a small microwave. Other cooking facilities include a Thetford three-burner hob with electric hotplate, small oven/grill and an extractor fan.
Storage is plentiful: there’s a large cutlery drawer, a spice rack, and a set of wire baskets in one of the floorstanding lockers. A chopping board and drainer are stored here, too.
The lighting here is excellent, with downlighters over the kitchen. Elbow-room is good, too – at 85cm (2’9”) in width, there’s plenty of room between the kitchen and opposite units.
We think a luxury motorhome should have a well-equipped washroom, and the Aspire 240 certainly does. There’s a full-sized shower cubicle, 83cm x 63cm (2’9” x2’1”), but we were disappointed to see just one plughole, which could mean standing water. A useful seat is located on the offside.
Elsewhere, the washroom is smart and bright, with mirrors above the Thetford ceramic swivel toilet, a large opaque window and trio of LED down-lighters. The small rectangular basin and dark granite-look surfaces may divide opinion, as may the towel rail – an Alde radiator – alongside the toilet. Its position, almost touching the toilet, isn’t ideal, however.
Storage here is excellent: multiple cupboards, a toilet-roll holder, small cubbyholes, a soap dish and glass-holder. Removable carpets line the floor.
Finally, we think that many motorcaravanners will choose to keep their Aquaroll – supplied by Elddis as standard – in the washroom. Bear this in mind if you often use the washroom when out and about, as there’s no other obvious place to store it.
You have a choice of two arrangements in the Aspire, both of which are made up from the sofas. The side cushions can be removed to form two fixed single beds (1.88m x 75cm/6’2” x 2’6”); or simply pull the two slatted sofa bases together (which lift on gas struts) to create a double of 2.15m x 1.45m (7’6” x 4’9”).
The drawer unit at the rear of the ’van acts as a bedside cabinet. A trio of windows that surround the lounge does mean that there’s no headboard to lean on while reading in bed, however.
Storage is one of the Aspire 240’s strongest cards. We love the full-length locker doors under the sofas, and clothing can be stored in the chest at the rear of the ’van, or in the full-length wardrobe in front of the offside sofa. This has two hanging rails – at the top and halfway up.
However, what is noticeable by its absence is external storage space – there’s nowhere to stow chocks and cables, which means they’ll have to be kept inside the ’van.
Our other concern is the low payload. The Aspire 240 has an MTPLM of 3500kg, and a MIRO of 3240kg (including driver, fuel, 90% water and gas), leaving a payload of 260kg. Upgrading to the 4000kg chassis, thus increasing the payload to 760kg, costs £1140.