Adria Altea Dart

The handsome Altea Dart would be a leading contender in any beauty contest but does this attractive four-berth have much else going for it apart from looks? Rob McCabe gets up close and personal to find out.

I can’t help but smile every time I wander up to a new Adria – the latest generation of models to come out of the Slovenian factory have fantastic-looking bodyshells and this new, fixed-island-bed Altea Dart is no different. Would-be buyers may well smile too, when they see that such a fine-looking vehicle comes in at under 21 grand. 

Build quality – 91%

The Dart’s polyester sidewalls are attractively sleek – and the ability of such a material to resist all sorts of damage, from carelessly abandoned bikes to stones thrown up from the road, means those good looks should last a very long time. The modular construction offers great resistance to water and, as with all Adrias, the Dart comes with a 10-year water ingress warranty.

On our test example, I was impressed by the fit and finish inside. The lack of any visible handles on the lockers is a nice design touch that really lifts the ambience. I did have one ‘here we go again’ moment when the big, single-piece front window blind crumpled on one side the first time I used it. I managed to smooth it all out again, but I remain ambivalent about these fitments.

Towing – 84%

The hefty body does come with strings attached – stick the Altea on the scales and the needle whizzes around to 1,454kg unladen, so it’s bigger towcars only for this one. The extra-long A-frame you get on Adrias is a boon to stability, and there’s also the helping hand of the expected hitch stabiliser. Al-Ko’s ATC electronic trailer control system doesn’t come as standard on the Altea range, although you can ask the dealer to fit it when placing your order.

Daytime – 93%

The Dart offers very agreeable living quarters indeed. The combination of the wraparound seating’s restrained but smart blue upholstery and quartet of different- coloured scatter cushions looks great, and the absence of a front chest means you can lounge deep into the front corners. There’s plenty of room for four to recline in comfort – it’s a fine set-up for entertaining. 

The arm rests on the edges of the sofas nearest the kitchen and entrance door respectively are cunningly attached to the backrests by concealed – and very powerful – magnets, meaning you can comfortably lean into the nearside one, which doesn’t have any furniture to support it. It’s a good idea, well executed. That huge panoramic sunroof gets a handsome pleated blind – it would look first-rate in the evenings if the front window underneath it had one too.

On caravans minus a front chest, the pop-up shelf you get in its place is often a bit of an afterthought. Not here, though – it’s usefully large and substantial-feeling, so should be fine for serving up snacks and drinks. The freestanding table’s bespoke compartment is in the bedroom at the back.

Like most fixed-bed models, the Dart will mainly sell to couples looking for the much-desired en-suite accommodation; and there’s plenty of on-board storage for two. The huge space under the double bed is the headline act. In our test caravan, it gave a home to the loose-fit carpet (still tightly wrapped, so I left well alone). The flooring is certainly smart enough to remain uncarpeted, maybe with a couple of fluffy rugs as a finishing touch. The front seat lockers are fiendishly awkward to access from above due to the heavy upholstery and lack of any hydraulic support for the bases: thankfully, the nearside one has a wide exterior hatch, which is definitely the better way in.

There are two TV viewing points – on the deep front window ledge and in the bedroom – while opening one of the overhead lockers reveals pre-installation for a stereo. Again, the dealer can supply a unit or you can just fit your own. Adria’s Media Controller comes as standard – it’s basically a Bluetooth system that allows you to play your own tunes from your phone or tablet through the caravan’s built-in speakers, but there are also auxiliary and USB ports so you can attach a device directly.

Night-time – 90%

There’s much to like about how the bedroom has been planned. Either side of the island bed are wardrobes, each of which has a neatly designed open hatch that serves as a huge and totally secure bedside table. The bed itself – a generous 6ft 5in long – is firm, supportive and comfortable, and is backed by a headboard that is as handsome as it is substantial. The only mains socket in here is at the TV point on the front wall – it would have been good to see one accessible from the bed.

The room closes off from the centre corridor by means of a sliding door, which is surprisingly devoid of a magnetic latch to secure it in the closed position. As such, it leaves a tiny but irritating gap – I’d certainly be looking for this to be sorted out before taking delivery.

The double bed that results from rearranging the front lounge is outstanding – playing-field vast, tightly fitting and firmly comfy, once you’ve rearranged the prominent knee rolls to be at each extremity. And hey – no slats, thanks to the two base sections that pull out from under the sofas.

Kitchen – 85%

Doesn’t it look great? The one-piece, L-shape, stainless-steel hob/sink structure is lovely to behold. Lifting the dark hob cover reveals a ‘Three Bears’ trio of gas burners – a little one, a middle one and a big one – while there is a microwave in the locker directly overhead. Another sharp dresser is the glossy, piano-black, built-in fridge-freezer that wouldn’t be out of place in the smartest designer kitchen.

Two compromises: the oven/grill is a combination job and it’s a bit small, which may not be too much of an issue when cooking for two. And the paucity of work/preparation surface will underwhelm those who like to get creative at mealtimes.

Washroom – 91%

Walk through the caravan from the lounge and you’ll come to the little corridor in the middle that contains the washroom with loo and wash basin on the left, the shower cubicle on the right. Fully open the door that closes off the loo and it snicks into place to close off the corridor to the front – this is how you’d configure it if you had family or friends overnighting. It’s a well-thought-through arrangement.

The facilities themselves are excellent – the shower cubicle is nice and roomy, with a foot shelf big enough to host toiletries, although I can’t figure out why you would fit a shower screen that isn’t completely frosted or opaque. The washroom is fresh and modern-looking, with decent storage provision. There’s a wall mains socket in the corridor, easily within hair-straightening distance of the mirror in the washroom. 

Lighting – 87%

It’s a perfectly functional set-up that stops short of offering the near-bewildering lighting permutations of some other caravans. The lounge has to make do with just two reading lights, bolstered by above-locker strips and a trio of little roof-mounted lamps that can also be directed towards the kitchen. Not that the cooking area needs extra illumination, mind – the LED strip on the underside of the lockers does a brilliant job of lighting the whole area.

The washroom and shower each have a powerful ceiling lamp, while the bedroom is well served by above-locker strips and, of course, a pair of bedtime reading lamps.

Verdict – 89%

If you’re looking for a centre-washroom/end-bedroom caravan and have a car with the necessary towing heft, I can think of no reason why you wouldn’t want to include the Adria Altea Dart on your shortlist. If your final decision comes down to a beauty contest, here’s your winner. 

More like this