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Rob McCabe is bowled over by the T@b 400 from Germany – a diminutive caravan that is packed full of surprises
So, how’s this for something a bit different? The characterful, German-built T@b 400 impresses with its looks even in its more sober guise – but add the riot of colour and extra bodywork of the Mexican Sunset option and you get something really rather dramatic. Buy this caravan, and you’d certainly stand out wherever you took it. Let’s take a closer look...
It’s small, yes, but sturdy with it – if the T@b were a rugby player, it would be a scrum half. The thick, thumping, all-aluminium exterior certainly gives the impression it would emerge unscathed from any crunching tackles it might be subjected to. Inside, the sturdiness of the surfaces, the quality of the materials and the neatness of the joinery reassure us that this caravan is in it for the long haul.
The T@b is supremely aerodynamic. With that wind-cheating profile, a modest 1,200kg MTPLM and a nice, long A-frame to aid stability, towing it should be straightforward for a wide range of cars – and it’s very easy to manhandle into position once you’ve unhitched.
Own of one of these, and you’ll be able to sell tickets to the legions of folk who will want to see what on earth it looks like inside. Given the low square-footage, many will expect little more than somewhere to sit that turns into a bed – and the means to boil a pan of water.
Instead, what you get is a caravan with the full house of hot and cold water; heating with blown-air outlets; washroom with shower; hob and fridge; several mains sockets; and an interior brimming with design flair. The icing on the cake for many will be the presence of a fixed double bed. What – in a thing this size? Yes, really.
The front seating area – we can’t accurately call it a lounge – is really nice to behold, with its sculpted clip-on table, fabulous porthole windows and highly attractive upholstery. It’s also surprisingly comfy to sit in, although I reckon I’d have to remove the pelmet, which brushed against my head too often for my liking.
If you fancy a bit of feet-up relaxing, just kick off your shoes, grab your glass of wine and flop out on the bed. This is also where you’d have the TV, either on the shelf at the foot of the bed or on a dealer-fitted wall bracket (a Status aerial is also an option).
It looks like the designers had fun making a storage opportunity out of every bit of empty space – shelves, luggage nets, cubby holes and lockers abound, my favourite being the coolly lit shelving next to the porthole on the offside of the lounge. You’ll also find a mains socket in here – one of five on board.
The big space under the bed can be accessed in its entirety via an exterior hatch that neatly secures against the side wall when open, and that old-school-styled gas locker can accommodate two 11kg cylinders (that’ll keep you going for a bit…). The Truma heating operates on gas or electricity, and there’s even a 45-litre inboard fresh water tank.
Another surprise is that the T@b can actually cater for three people at night. Unclip that chunky front table, fold the leg halfway, slot it in to make a base, rearrange the upholstery a bit and you have a very good, roomy single bed.
The main attraction, of course, is that transverse double at the back. It’s extremely comfy and features a headboard at either end, although only the nearside wall has a reading light and a cubby hole for your overnight gubbins. Everything else will have to go on the shelf at the other end of the bed.
The curvy panoramic window at the rear is electrically operated, so you can fine-tune just how much light you want to let in.
Three gas rings is what you get – so no grill, oven or microwave. Personally, I’d invest £70 or so in a toaster and a compact microwave, which could be stashed under the bed when not needed. But now the elephant in the room has been addressed, we can talk about how marvellous this kitchen is in all other regards.
Storage is great – that cylindrical cupboard under the sink is vast, and there’s an always-useful pull-out wire rack. The work surface is surprisingly generous, and there’s even a pop-up extension on the bedroom side. The hob and sink are elegantly styled and so is the fridge, which is very cleverly concealed behind a door that matches the rest of the wood on board – a lovely design touch.
Quite simply the nicest caravan wet room I’ve seen in years. It’s super-smart, boasting a porthole window protected by a swish Venetian blind, a nicely styled washbasin unit and exceptional lighting that really shows it off at its best. Storage options are almost too generous. There’s a shower if you need it – just relocate the wash basin tap to the wall bracket.
Shame about that missing reading light by the bed, but no complaints otherwise. The washroom is the star, with two switches that give you lots of options, including glamorous backlighting for the big mirror. There are ambient strips throughout the interior, three flush-fitting downlighters that take care of the kitchen and a piercing outside light. And, hey – how about that domestic-style ceiling lamp at the front?
The word ‘different’ isn’t always a compliment – but when you can add to it adjectives such as ‘stylish’, ‘clever’, ‘practical’ and ‘well-built’, it certainly is.