Elddis is one of the oldest and best-known names in the UK motorhome industry. Parent company Explorer Group has been focusing on quality and value for money, and at first glance, the Autocirrus seems to offer both. With its darkened privacy windows and curvy rear panel, the Autocirrus makes a stylish impression on site, aided by its alloy wheels. It’s a genuine low-profile, too, with an aerodynamic overcab moulding.
Services are easy to access: the gas locker is just above waist height so it’s very easy to replace bottles and switch the supply. There are small fresh and waste drain taps behind the axle on the offside and nearside respectively, but we would have appreciated an extension hose. The tanks are underslung behind the rear axle, so there’s no frost protection, nor is the construction of the ’van geared towards sub-zero temperatures. There are two under-seat lockers; the nearside one contains the battery and an enclosed hook-up connection, while the one on the offside opens onto storage space. It is a minor hassle to have different keys for the door and exterior lockers, though some owners will be pleased with the separate loo flush tank, which allows you to add a rinse chemical.
On the road
Peugeot’s 100bhp, 2.2HDi engine was a revelation, coping admirably with hills, with the addition of a passenger and with around half the available payload used up. We had expected to be disappointed after so many miles driven with Fiat’s 130 MultiJet and its six-speed gearbox, but the only complaint was a lack of torque climbing some 20 per cent gradients. The trip computer claimed 26.8mpg, whereas our calculations gave us 25.6mpg – either figure is good in hilly conditions. Our test model had already covered 6000 miles when we took it, so its engine was fairly well run-in. Some road/transmission noise did permeate via the rear step well and there was some rattle from the glass hob-top, yet this was easily eliminated with the use of a tea towel.
Explorer’s choice of running gear did affect ride and handling – there’s no wider rear track or rear anti-roll bar which several similarly priced ’vans offer, or even the uprated rear suspension and ‘camping car’ tyres fitted to almost every Sevel-built motorhome. ABS is standard, though on the one occasion when we had to stop suddenly (for a large roe deer) the ’van seemed to skid very easily. Perhaps larger wheels and an upgraded chassis would have helped?
Lounging & dining
The lounge dominates this layout, but thanks to a large mirror facing the door when you come in, a small overcab rooflight and a none-too-narrow kitchen corridor, there’s an open feel to the living space. Explorer provides some of the best British soft furnishings: traditionally cosy, with pelmets and curtains but with contemporary colour schemes. The privacy windows are unique to this firm, as far as we’re aware, and they do make it difficult for others to peer in. However, a downside, we found, was that at dusk, you lose a lot of the colour of sunsets compared with the light streaming in through the large, clear Heki rooflight.
The seats were supportive and wide enough for lounging or sitting up to dinner. The folding table, which is stored in an upright locker at the front of the kitchen, is easy to use, unlike the bulkier, often fixed tables used in many Continental end lounges.
Despite its short length, the Elddis’s kitchen beats many of those found in much larger ’vans. There’s a clip-on plastic drainer, a basin and a chopping board which live within the sink and a massive area of worktop which is ideal for lining up your plates en route to serving up at the table.
The inclusion of a microwave as standard is extremely practical when there are limited options for shopping. Even on sites with 10A hook-up, we had no problems with the amperage draw, though we did make sure we turned off the 2000W electric Truma heater. The
77-litre fridge/freezer is no match for the larger units which are becoming more prevalent, but it will be adequate for most customers' needs.
The lounge bed makes up in around 20 seconds: just pull out the central slats, slide them over the rubber stays and bring the seats into the centre, dropping the back rests in behind them. The cushions are very supportive thanks to high-quality foam filling, with no awkward bumps or ridges. Seitz pleated blinds provide good insulation and the opportunity to let in a little bit of light in the morning.
The shower cubicle, with adjustable shower head, is as big as you could want, but with only a 45-litre capacity tank, you really need to fill up before you use it. This explains why our test ’van was supplied with an Aquaroll (a portable water container used by touring caravanners) and an impeller pump, which brings water on board from the Aquaroll, powered by an electrical contact fitted to the exterior. There’s a small rooflight, though the main window is clear, rather than frosted, while loo space is a little cramped.
The nearside under-seat locker is great for pitching kit, and with the wardrobe and seven lounge lockers there’s lots of room for clothes. The overcab space has three useful lockers and two side-bins. With the exception of the shower space, however, there’s nowhere to put folding chairs (although an optional roof rack is available).
3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill, Microwave
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
A pleasure to live in, with an end-lounge layout that demonstrates the best of British ergonomic common sense.