Andrew McPheeSee other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee
Value for money is crucial for this Slovenian brand – find out if it delivers in the Practical Motorhome Adria Coral S 690 SP review
Adria remains a relative newcomer to the UK, despite having a fair bit of history but what does it offer? Value for money is the key ingredient.
Adria’s ranges encompass vehicles from basic elevating-roof campers through to stylish A-class ‘vans, and all offer a lot for your money. The Coral range of Ducato-based coachbuilts sits around the mid-market level, along with products from British and Continental manufacturers, at around the £40,000 mark. The Coral’s layout – garage with a bed above it, and a half-dinette/sofa lounge – is typically Continental. But Adria’s ergonomic and stylistic touches give this 680 SP model an unusual level of warmth and practicality, not always seen in other Continental vehicles.
The simple, predominantly white, colour scheme looks discreet, though not overly stylish. The combination of grey trim and a fairly angular rear shape further contribute to this workmanlike, but unobtrusive appearance.
One benefit of Adria’s choice of Fiat’s new, special, low chassis for motorhomes is that access to the caravan door, garage and gas locker is easy, since they are so low to the ground. Also, two large grab handles either side of the entrance provide a helping hand for the less able (although there is a 13cm step up to the lounge).
All the entrance doors have remote central locking. One key operates the cab doors and ignition. Another, automotive-style, key operates the entrance and locker doors. The caravan door has two sturdy locking points – a large handle and a firm catch that you can shut with confidence.
As the bed is at the back, behind the rear axle, the spring-loaded rear corner steadies are a worthwhile item of standard equipment.
There was little to give away the presence of a double floor, and we can only assume its effectiveness in the absence of more wintry conditions in which to test the Coral.
Insulation levels are not the highest, but the combination of a 12V heated waste tank and inboard fresh water tank should cope with temperatures below freezing, although some minor modifications may be needed if you take the motorhome away with you on, say, a skiing trip.
The waste outlet, behind the rear wheel, is set too far inside the body to make it easily accessible.
On the road
Even though we were carrying barely 40kg payload, we did have full tanks of fuel and water, which added around 200kg. Even so, for a motorhome with a relatively long overhang, the Coral felt almost sprightly. A tight turning circle and the light, responsive feel of the steering made for a relaxing drive on these roads. Also, the light clutch pedal made it easy to find the biting point for hill starts and compared favourably to the new Ford’s heavy left pedal, which has a relatively long travel.
Although you don’t get the lumbar adjustment you did on the previous Fiat, the concave shape of the seat around the lower back fitted us well.
Twin armrests take the strain off back and arms on long stretches of road and the factory-fitted swivel mechanism doesn’t add height to the seats – unlike the old retro-fitted one – so my eye level was a more comfortable three quarters of the way up the windscreen (I’m 5ft 11ins tall). Both seats have front and rear height adjustment, although the steering wheel is height-adjustable only. It’s a shame because adjustable rake would maximise the car-like feel that Fiat has striven to achieve with the more acute angle of its new steering column.
The rear-view mirrors, which were excellent on the old Ducato, are, if anything, a slight improvement. Cab storage is superb, with door pockets on either side, and two large glove boxes between the seats and on the passenger side. Four reversing sensors are fitted across the rear bumper.
Rear on-road seats are upright – typical of the half-dinette style – but with good lumbar support and a cushioned headrest. There’s something of an enclosed feel but passengers have windows on either side and an on-road heater below the table.
The new Ducato base is supplied with either a pre-cut roof or one prepared for cutting, to allow for the overcab moulding. This avoids any damage to structural integrity sometimes incurred when the roof is cut by hand at motorhome manufacturing plants. This has also resulted in none of the rattling door noise, at motorways speeds, suffered in the old-model Ducato, although we did hear a little noise from the cab rooflight, but this could be could be minimised by closing its blind.
On the motorways, we cruised at 120km/h (74.5mph) at 2600rpm in sixth and at the legal motorway maximum of 130km/h (81mph) at 2750rpm. Do bear in mind that in Slovenia the speed limit is reduced to just 80km/h (50mph) on all roads for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.
Fuel consumption was slightly disappointing. We managed 25mpg, over 228 miles (one fifth of that on the motorway, the remainder on mountainous and minor roads). Careful driving, in easier conditions, could edge you towards 30mpg.
Lounging & dining
Lounge space is important for those who cook and eat in their ‘van while on tour throughout the year – especially when it’s too cold to sit outside. This is one area where many Continental ‘vans, obsessed with storage space over living comforts, fail.
By British standards, the half-dinette dining area in the Coral is not a lounge as such, but Adria has made it feel spacious. The cab rooflight and the Midi-Heki rooflight over the lounge make it light without having to open the blinds.
The Ducato’s seats are easy to swivel as there are no obstructions – very important as they take up half of the lounge. The TV cabinet, at the front end of the kitchen, is designed for a flatscreen TV, and four will just about be able to view it if two of them are squeezed up on the side sofa. The cab seats afford the best viewing position.
The dining table, which has an insert that lives in a slot below it on the (UK) nearside wall, can cope comfortably with four diners. The well-upholstered cushions would allow all occupants to sit in comfort over the course of an evening. Some of the lighting (fluorescent strips) is concealed above the overhead lockers. All in all, there’s a warm ambience, with flexible lighting, day and night, and domestic touches such as net curtains.
Thanks to the extendable table and the large, side-facing sofa it’s a good enough lounge for a sociable couple, even on longer trips.
Adria has left the workspace in the corner so you have to reach past the hob or sink, though this ‘van does score in terms of its convenient bin – a bucket which lives under a removable piece of worktop. It can be removed via an outside locker, too.
Both sink and hob have glass covers and, crucially, the kitchen is well specified: an oven and hob with electric ignition, an extractor hood over the hob with a splashguard next to it, and the now commonplace 150-litre fridge, with separate freezer.
The large sink will need a lot of water to wash things up in it, but we like swan-neck tap for its domestic feel. The sink is big enough to wash clothes for people who wild camp.
Ultimately, this kitchen works, although most Britons will rue the lack of a grill in an otherwise well-appointed and sensibly positioned oven.
The rear bedroom is worthy of the name. It has two attractive, frosted spotlights, space to sit up in bed (on the UK offside only) and 89cm of headroom. The mattress is interior sprung (with its own cover) and there’s a Midi Heki rooflight and pierced blown-air heating ducts all around the bed.
The steps up to the bed, however, are narrow and slippery although a grab handle on the offside helps. Wider steps would have been a more sensible option.
One more small niggle is that although the windscreen has an easy-to-use, pleated blind, the cab windows have slightly awkward, poppered curtains. Why?
The shower head has a high quality chromed finish and there’s around 6ft 6ins-worth of headroom in the all-white, moulded ABS shower. The amount of space here is reduced by a ‘step’, encasing the wheel arch, although this could possibly be utilised as a very low seat.
The shower tray base felt solid, although the floor lacked grip. There is also only a single, small plug, with a drainage channel around the edge of the tray.
The washroom handbasin is big and sufficiently accessible for a comfortable wash, but the window is clear, rather than frosted as most Britons prefer because it allows a little ventilation and privacy.
The locker opening onto the back of the kitchen houses the bin and has a shelf big enough for two sets of wellies or a dozen bottles of wine.
The gas locker is low, so you shift bottles without straining your back. This locker, and the battery, take up most of the sofa base, although there is a shoe locker in it, just by the entrance. The fresh water tank occupies the space beneath the travel seat.
There are two small lockers over the cab and four, push-button overhead lockers in the lounge, two of which each have a single shelf.
In the kitchen there are two overhead lockers, although the rear one also contains extractor ducting. Beneath the hob, there’s a wide drawer with a cutlery tray and four compartments. There’s a deep drawer under the oven and a large, under-sink cupboard with a curved door and a shelf. One small cupboard sits above the freezer.
There is a large locker opening into the garage, by the steps to the bedroom, with a tiny locker in the base of the bottom step. The lit, 55cm-deep wardrobe has a hanging rail 1.24m above the base.
In the bedroom itself there are three overhead lockers on the rear wall – positioned where you are unlikely to bang your head on them – and two elasticated fabric pockets in the headboard.
In the washroom, there are two, small eye-level cupboards with rails and an under-sink tambour-door cupboard.
3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill, Extractor fan
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
The Coral S 680 SP offers a conventional layout with a human touch and value-for-money specification. The level of winterisation is good and the interior fit-and-finish seems sturdy and reflects an upper mid-market feel. The only noticeable omissions from the specification list are carpets and a grill, but the corner steadies are a welcome bonus.
- Practical layout; winterisation; single key to all doors; handy, easily accessible bin; twin garage doors; recessed strip lighting
- Narrow steps to bed; waste pipe a bit too short; confusing control panel; no carpets; no grill