The hunt for the perfect caravan involves more than the quality of the construction, how well the van performs under tow, its size and weight, and all of the onboard features. Important as these criteria are, the liveability factor figures just as highly but, in the excitement of the moment, it’s arguably the factor that’s overlooked the most.
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The question to ask yourself is simple and unscientific: sure, this van suits our budget and ticks all of the boxes, but could we actually live in it for extended periods of time?
In terms of size, weight, towing performance and comforts, the largest rig in the Golf Savannah Maxxi rage, the 584 Slide-out, puts a good foot forward. But, to me, its greatest appeal is in its clever layout.
The Savannah Maxxi line-up consists of five rigs in different sizes and layouts, all of which are pop-tops save for the 584. The ‘Savannah’ in the moniker refers to the rough-road capability of this range of Maxxis; a range of bitumen-only Maxxis is available, too.
The 584 offers two fold-out beds either end, an offside slide-out containing a club lounge, a nearside kitchen, an offside bathroom behind the fridge and full-height pantry, and yet another dinette opposite the bathroom. A fold-out bunk is fitted above this second dinette, which itself can be converted into a single bed. The result: an additional dining area that in moments transforms into bunks for the kids or grandkids. Not bad.
As you’d expect, the slide-out adds significantly to the van’s living space when open and, importantly, it doesn’t meaningfully impede the layout when closed. Access to the battery and related electricals, underneath the club lounge, requires the removal of the cushions in the usual way.
The kitchen has a four-burner cooktop and griller, with a sizeable draw underneath in lieu of an oven, which could be fitted as an option. Personally, I’d prefer the extra storage. Considering the Savannah Maxxi 584 is designed for off-bitumen travel, I did wonder if the hinges of the doors on the kitchen cabinets needed an upgrade. The overhead lockers throughout have substantial hinges, though.
The bathroom, with its Thetford cassette toilet, stylish washbasin, cabinet beneath, as well as a moulded-fibreglass shower, is somewhat reminiscent of a combo unit, in that the facilities are all together in one room. However, the shower is distinctly separate and, overall, the bathroom feels surprisingly spacious.
Opposite, the tri-fold bunk above the secondary dinette takes next to no time to set-up. Two sliding bolts hold the folded bed base in the ‘closed’ position; it’s simply a matter of sliding them open and extending the bed. Then, put the mattress on top, and that’s it. It’s equally easy to pack away – obviously, the dinette below couldn’t easily be used with the bed folded open above. But the kids will try, no doubt.
And that leaves the beds either end. Surrounded by canvas, with zippered windows for ventilation and a view, the foam mattress of each is comfortable enough but it might be worth investigating something more supportive if you’re planning long hauls around the country.
First impressions of the Savannah Maxxi 584’s interior, however, are very favourable. Split into distinct living zones, the layout has a lot to offer. The luxury of living space should not be underestimated, and this van delivers in spades. All things taken into account – the price of the van, the size and the weight – this van has a lot of offer. There were one or two issues with the finish that I noticed, one being a small metal rail for a shelf in the entryway cupboard had come loose of its moorings. On balance, however, the interior works very well.
Though it might look involved, with components that open and close, setting up the 584 should take no more than five minutes. The fibreglass bed-end ‘lids’ lift on gas struts, the bed bases lower easily and the canvas bed walls and roof (with the fibreglass lids acting as a secondary, hard roof) automatically fold into position. It’s then just a matter of securing four elastic ‘clips’ to keep the canvas in position, and heading inside to drop the mattress of each bed. The slide-out, meanwhile, opens at the push of a button in the usual way.
There is a lot of steel beneath the van, with a 6in drawbar, 6in main chassis rails and steel cross members. The van also gets independent coil suspension. For a van designed to tackle rough roads, I would’ve liked to see some more underbody armour plating, lest the grey water plumbing and various components suffer from gravel rash. To be fair, much of it is strapped up high against the chassis rails, but I’m a cautious fellow.
The slide-out kitchen, fitted to the front nearside, is a welcome addition and I loved the mini Waeco drawer fridge on the end. The sink can be plumbed directly to the side of the van – just attach the supplied hot and cold water hoses – and the gas for the Smev stove is sourced from the nearby bayonet fitting. The water taps and gas fittings are integrated properly into the side of the van, rather than, say, added to the drawbar/chassis rail as an afterthought.
Up front, you’ll find a couple of 4kg gas cylinders on the A-frame, along with an Ark offroad coupling, which until this review was a piece of hardware I was somewhat unfamiliar with. It’s marketed as a ‘quick hitch’ coupling designed to suit a regular 50mm towball except those with a flat flange. It offers complete vertical and horizontal articulation, has an inbuilt handbrake, and a version with hydraulic over-ride brakes for suitably-weighted vans is available.
The Savannah Maxxi 584 represents decent value for money. Considering its towing footprint and weight, the living space is more than generous and the level of features, from the slide-out dinette to the many onboard berths and the bathroom, is about right for the price. It’s certainly one to consider, especially if you’re touring with a family or friends.
FIT AND FINISH –
HITS & MISSES
Overall length: 7.6m
External cabin length: 5.86m
External cabin width (incl. awning): 2.49m
Travel height: 3m
Internal height: 1.96m
Ball weight at Tare: 160kg
Cladding: Composite aluminium
Coupling: Ark offroad
Chassis: 6in hot-dipped galvanised
Suspension: Independent coil
Wheels: 15in alloy
Fresh water: 2x95L
Awning: Thule Omnistor
Battery: 1x95Ah deep-cycle
Gas cylinders: 2x4kg
Sway control: Al-Ko ESC
Cooking: Swift four-burner cooktop with griller plus slide-out external kitchen
Refrigeration: 17L Thetford three-way fridge/freezer
Toilet: Thetford cassette
Shower: Variable-height, separate
Washing machine: No
Lighting: 12V LED
Hot water: Swift gas-electric