We are no professional reviewers but lots of people have asked us what we think about this and how we get on with that etc.so we thought that we should put our thoughts on the blog for anyone that is interested. So here goes
Standing at 8.7 meters long, she (we call her “Catori Halona” spirit of happy fortune) is a big beast.We thought long and hard before we purchased her and had looked at lots of other smaller motorhomes in lots of other dealerships and the on line adverts such as auto-trader. We felt that she would give us what we wanted so we went for it. I wont list all of her vital statistics or fittings as you can get these on the autotrail website if you wanted but here an overview of what she is like to live in.
This one of the most asked questions when people see the size of Catori and whilst it was a major consideration, once I had got over my initial fears she was extremely easy to drive. It took a bit of getting used to but now I have driven just over 5,000 miles in her I believe I can take her more or less any where – within reason – but it has taken several months and a few thousand miles under my belt to come to that conclusion. Everyone however is different and some would be horrified at driving something this size, Angie included, as she has point blank refused to drive her yet. It is however only 1 meter longer than many motorhomes that are purchased and driven by many with no concern whatever so I believe it is a mental issue rather than a physical concern. she will do about 25 mpg solo at a steady 60 mph.
On the motorway she can bomb along at 70 with ease and still has more under her bonnet if needed. On A roads she can keep up with most speed limits and on B roads likewise, I just need to be mindful of sharp bends or if the road becomes narrow but slowing it all down for these parts of the trip makes every journey uneventful. Hills can be a bit slower dropping down to 40 on the steepest and longest of them but she tuggs along nicely.
She is more ungainly to park due to her length but I am now confident that I can reverse her into most spots with a bit of maneuvering and she takes up two nose to tail parking spaces although I would still think twice before going into any U.K supermarket car park .
We were expecting to have a noisy rattly journey but with some carefully placed towels and cushions shoved into lockers she is surprisingly quiet.The build quality of the Autotrail may be partly to thank.on fast-ish bends she does groan like the galley of a wooden sailing ship. We always take out the racks from the oven and the grill-pan.
Generally she is very cozy but her air blown heating fails to deliver any warmth to the front what so ever which is also the coldest part of the van due to the un-insulated driver and passenger doors and paneling between the engine and floor. we resolve this with a small fan heater which does the job. having said that we have lived in her at sub zero temperatures with no concern.In the Lounge the leather swivel front seats turn to face into the lounge but not quite enough to make both of them usable without the need for foot wars.The leather bench seats are however extremely comfortable and allow us to both stretch out even lay down to watch telly or for an afternoon nap. The integrated T.V which drops down from the cab is adequate and served a purpose but the sound is awful in TV or Satellite mode blasting our neighbours with base via the cabin door speakers and leaving us straining to hear anything.On DVD playback however it proved to be very good. We have resolved this by purchasing a freestanding T.V which I will review later once we have tested it fully. The kitchen works well with the 4 ring hob and oven enabling us to cook a full Sunday roast as easily as we did at home although the work surface can be challenging at times.The sink sometimes takes a while to empty.The large fridge and freezer compartment has kept us provided with fresh goodies with no real issue. The toilet compartment is a little cramped with the door closed but is adequate and much larger when the door between the bedroom and lounge area is closed making it an en-suite affair. The shower is one of the best caravan type showers we have had the pleasure of using really hot and more powerful than many campsite showers however until we are on a fully serviced pitch it has to be a quick flick rather than a long leisurely soak. The bedroom is very comfortable with an island bed which allows either of us to get up without having to crawl over each other.It also lifts up to provide a huge storage area under it. If you do not like a hot bed then you need to sleep on the right as the left hand side is directly over the water heater so becomes very warm whatever the weather.Storage is always the issue in a motorhome but the Catori has it in abundance and so far we have been able to find a hidey hole for everything although the storage garage has needed some careful placing and planning .
Positives and Negatives
- Comfortable spacious
- Separate bedroom
- Island bed
- Great shower
- Large kitchen area
- Full size fridge and cooker
- Spacious and comfortable lounge
- Superb build quality
- Some sites will not take a van of this size
- Greater route planning needed
- Harder to maneuver and park
- less fuel consumption than smaller vans
Smart for 2
We sort of jumped into this purchase but in all honesty the car is a great little addition and has made our life on the road so much more enjoyable.
Driving :- for such a small car the drive is unbelievably comfortable. The offset seats give a feeling of space and you have to catch yourself in a reflection to realise how small the car is. She is extremely nippy and at traffic lights can beat most cars from 0-30. Motorways can be driven at 70 – 80 with ease but she is really comfortable at 60- 65. Push your foot to the floor and the automatic gearbox drops a gear or two and she sounds like an expensive sports car and the burble from the rear engine right behind you is lovely to hear. The soft top roof is lovely to have and when down allows mountains to be appreciated and you to get wind in your hair (well Angie’s at least) but it can become noisy at speeds or in high winds. There is no power assisted steering but once moving this provides quite responsive and solid control.
Parking :- this is funnily enough the worst part of the car and takes some real getting used to. The lack of Power assisted stearing makes it hard work to manoeuvre at slow speed and it dosnt have an amazing turning circle either. The automatic gearbox makes slow driving more or less impossible and no matter how long you drive it you still can not get used to the fact that there is no boot behind you or bonnet in front so a jerky stop-start to and fro manoeuvre to get in to a large spot often entails. The size however does mean that with practice even the smallest parking place is a possibility.
Day to day use :- Great – we can fit two of us a dog and a weeks shopping (with a bit of care) into it and it a really is a go anywhere car.
Tow bars for Tow cars the “A” frame
To sum it up this is an amazing piece of kit that allows us to tow the car trouble free anywhere and at any speed. We don’t know it is on the back and the car follows us faithfully wherever we go. You can’t reverse it so beware of tight corners (see our blog page “Huge traffic jams thanks to Gids”) Huge traffic jams – thanks to Gids!and very occasionally, perhaps once every 1500 miles or so and at very very low speeds (less than 5 miles per hour) you can get a wobble if the road is un even. If so Stop and drive off again – no problem. This Doesn’t happen on any other car apparently just the smart due to how light the front end is.
There is however one huge issue. Spain and Portugal do not allow you to tow it on their roads so you have to find a way around their stupid laws. We un-hitch on the French side of the border and Angie follows, simple.
Kampa Air Pro 400 Blow up awning
This is not designed for motorhome use and is really only for caravans however we checked and double checked and the dimensions worked for our motorhome however the awning rail must be max 2.5 meters from the floor and at least 4 meters long. It’s also worth checking where your door would be as the roof air bars could scupper the whole thing however if you think it would fit your motorhome or you have a caravan of any size then we can’t recommend this item strongly enough.
Firstly let’s get the issues out of the way. This is not designed to be a four season awning and as a result when it is being used constantly and due to the lightness of the fabric it does get condensation on the inside. This will turn into mildew if not dealt with. We learnt too late unfortunately and should have put a small dehumidifier in the awning to keep things at bay. As we didn’t we had to rectify a mildew issue at the end of 7 months constant use. We did this by way of a mould remover and then cleaning the awning with a specialised cleaning product and then reproofing it. It came up as good as new and we expect to have many more years use out of it. 7 months in the sun faded the colour but it still looks as good as new just a lighter shade. It was extremely easy to put up the air poles lasted the seven months with only a quick additional pump up twice, it came down easily and packed away into its small bag (for the size of awning) ready for winter storage. It is an impressive thing to look at and got so many comments from onlookers. Inside it feels like a luxury conservatory rather than a fabric awning and the space it provides was second to none. It is the best awning we have had in high winds and rain as there are no poles to smash about and no large areas of roof to capture rain or snow, everything just runs off and it bends and bounces back in a storm. Would we buy another when the time comes YEP!
Garmin camper 760 LMT sat nav
We affectionately call her Margret, after the book keepers wife in the comedy “Little Britan” she knows everything but sometimes is a bit slow to respond. Where would we be without her? Answer – Lost. I admire my parents who navigated Europe by using a map but I think I would be fraught with fear.
We have plugged in Catori’s vital statistics length, height, width and weight and so far Margret has not got us stuck although there has been some near misses. A second and third profile is also possible and we use this for the smart car. This is a quality bit of kit that we can rely on (although I always check the route first and now often double check some of the smaller roads on google maps when using it in Catori especially if I am towing the smart car behind). My only complaint is that the options to change the settings to cover more scenic routes does not really exist. Margret just always wants to get you there as quick as possible, sometimes giving a second option but never a choice of a third longer and perhaps more attractive route. The only way to get over this is to plot your route yourself making itenary markers en-route. The GPS is always spot on and whilst many others complain that their sat nav has taken them down a wrong turn, so far Margret has not let us down. She does however love to cut a corner off here and there taking us off of the easy main road onto narrow but navigable roads only to rejoin the main road a mile or so later. It probably saves a second or two but adds some trepidation to the journey. All in all a great addition to our kit. The stick on holder for the windshield is however awful and keeps on falling off. We have a screwed on one in the motorhome so thankfully only have to use the sucker one in the smart car.