It was somewhere on the outskirts of Mudgee, NSW, driving a gentle dirt track towards one winery or another, when, with a glance in my side mirror, I realised this might be my perfect caravan. The Adria Altea 402 PH Sport, with its lightweight, stylish frame and its fuss-free, low-maintenance attitude, suits our foodie-inspired trip objectives perfectly. Sleek European styling, ergonomically intelligent use of compact space, an affordable price tag and an element of offroad capability to boot; where do I sign?
Diminutive in weight and stature at just 1230kg Tare and 6x2.4m (LxW), the little Altea has undeniable road presence. Its curved lines and bubble shape are reminiscent of the vintage vans that have always set my heart aflutter, yet modernised with a sleek moulded construction and visually evident offroad capability – but more on that shortly.
It’s all well and good to fit everything you could want and more into a 3000kg van you need a full-sized 4WD to tow but, from a design perspective, it’s far more innovative and requires greater skill to make use of every possible available space in a smaller footprint to cover off the basics needed for life on the road. To that end, what’s going on inside the Altea 402 is impressive indeed.
Without a huge amount of internal floor space to work with – 3.9x2.2m to be precise – those clever European designers have managed to squeeze in a fixed bed, a bathroom, a convertible dinette/second bed and a fully-equipped kitchen in a layout that, while intimate, makes sense ergonomically.
The comfy innerspring bed sits forward in the corner, and is halfway between a caravan-double and queen in size, losing a bottom corner to create a shin-friendly walkway to the bathroom. This bothered me none; some sacrifices must be made on smaller vans and I reckon footsies in bed is pretty cute anyway. But, in all seriousness, an insignificant amount of mattress is lost.
CAFÉ DINETTE & BATHROOM
Aft of the bed is the café-style dinette with seating space for four. This converts to make a second bed, wider than a conventional single and easily big enough for one adult or two junior burgers. This was the sleeping quarters of Caravan World photographer, Matt, who is six-foot-something and slept like a baby. The spiced rum might’ve helped, too.
It’s a luxury to have a bathroom in a van this petite, so the combined shower/toilet is sure to please road-weary travellers and young adventurers back from a day of hiking, fishing and tomfoolery. The electric flushing cassette toilet will get you out of trouble, while a fold-down vanity serves as the sink with its own flick mixer. Blissfully hot water comes via the 14L Truma BN14 gas/electric hot water system, pumping from the 130L water tank with pressurised mains water connectivity. There are mirrors aplenty, with the entire rear wall dedicated to seeing oneself.
Opposite the dinette is a family-friendly 190L three-way standing fridge/freezer, with a microwave above. Along the rear wall of the van is the kitchen, a smart, compact number with a stainless steel sink and three-burner gas stove plumbed to the two 4.5kg gas cylinders housed in the front external storage compartment. The three burners sit side-by-side in the rectangular stove creating a narrow bench area for food prep, while the fold-down stove lid increases bench space. But in all reality, while you’re cooking your sous-chef will be relegated to the dining table to chop the vegies.
Construction on the Altea 402 PH Sport is solid with impact resistant ABS on the front and rear walls, while the side walls and floor get structural sandwich panelling exterior and kiln dried plywood interior. There’s insulation throughout, a combination of XPS styrofoam and EPS styropor.
The Altea 402 is equipped with the appropriate running gear to get you off the beaten track and exploring some of those tempting dirt roads. The chassis is an AL-KO hot-dipped galvanised number with an AL-KO Independent Rubber Suspension (IRS) axle and shock absorbers, while excellent clearance helps navigate articulated tracks.
At the front, an AL-KO Anti-Sway Coupling keeps things steady in transit, while the AL-KO over-run braking system pulls you up without a trouble. There’s a storage locker at the front, too, home to the gas cylinders, stabiliser leg winder and whatever else you’d like to stow.
With an ATM of 1500kg, the van has allows for a 370kg payload, which is decent for a small single-axle.
The good news is you needn’t sell your first born’s kidney to afford a full-size vehicle, though; this caravan can be towed by most family SUVs and station wagons. Towing less weight also means burning through less fuel, so in more ways than one the Altea 402 is a budget-friendly caravan.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Coming in at a shade over $40K, the Altea 402 PH Sport is an entry-level caravan that will find a loving home with young couples or travelling singles, or indeed anyone who enjoys the ease and safety of towing a smaller, lighter van. If, like me, you’re a low maintenance vagabond hell-bent on keeping travel simple and affordable, you’ll love this capable little van.
HITS AND MISSES
- Lightweight and easy to tow
- Clever use of internal space
- Cool retro shape
- Not much kitchen bench space
Weights and measures
- Overall length 6.1m (20ft)
- External body length 4.77m (15ft 8in)
- External body width 2.4m (7ft 10in)
- Travel height 2.7m (8ft 10in)
- Internal height 2m (6ft 7in)
- Tare 1230kg
- ATM 1600kg
- Payload 370kg
- Ball weight 100kg
Price as shown
You can find the full review in Caravan World #562. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!