Atlantic Caravans is certainly not a company that rests on its laurels. We have seen a number of new releases and updates from this manufacturer in recent months. The latest: a revision of the Signature Series line.
Often enough, a manufacturer will make a couple of cosmetic changes to a model and call it an update. However, here we have genuine changes to this tandem-axle, rear-door rig which should enhance its appeal for 2024.
The Signature Series range includes multiple layouts in vans of different sizes, from a 16-footer to a van approaching 22ft in length. While Atlantic Caravans has a large offering of vans that can be built off the plan, the company is no stranger to customisation and can accommodate reasonable changes. If you’re in the market for family van, I reckon the S209-1 FMD layout looks pretty good.
First up, Atlantic Caravans has flattened off the front profile of the Signature Series. Whereas it previously came to a point roughly halfway up, it’s been flattened off. This van is built from a meranti frame on a 6in galvanised chassis with a hammertone finish, while the cladding is smooth aluminium and black checkerplate.
While earlier versions of this van came with a 12mm ply floor, the Signature Series now has a ‘honeycomb’ flooring system – another big change to this van that is not just cosmetic. What do you think of the red cladding at the front and rear? Atlantic offers a range of cladding colours for these sections and, I must say, I quite liked the red! Big, bold decals, new for 2024, complete the look.
On the roof, Atlantic Caravans has equipped the Signature Series with two 220W solar panels, an upgrade from the dual 170W panels previously offered with this rig. These panels are paired with two 100Ah lithium batteries, a very welcome upgrade on the two 100Ah lead acid batteries with which the van was previously equipped
Another change of equipment has occurred on the roof: rather than a wind-up AntennaTek or Winegard TV antenna, as previously seen on the Signature Series, the van now gets the excellent VanTenna. This is an omnidirectional antenna that resembles a dome on the roof. It is also capable of picking up horizontally and vertically-polarised TV signals, giving you the best possible chance of picking up a signal and with a minimum of fuss.
The final change to the exterior of this van is perhaps the most exciting, Each external lock will be keyed alike prior to handover, meaning only one key for your caravan, rather than the 50 that seem to come with each new caravan. To this, I have one word: hallelujah. On a similar topic, the fold-down picnic table requires no keys. Brilliant.
Naturally, the Signature Series is equipped with the other usual features, such as a storage box on the A-frame, complete with a slide-out tray on the offside and a jerry can holder on the nearside. The box has top access too.
There’s also a tunnel boot lined with galvanised sheeting, a rear camera, LED light bars front and rear, an entertainment locker complete with TV mount, as well as antenna and 12V/240V points.
All up, it’s a decent exterior that covers all the bases. The van looks particularly good, too.
ATLANTIC CARAVANS’ INTERIOR UPDATES
The interior certainly has that hotel-room look about it, and just like the outside, there are some changes here too.
Starting in the front bedroom, the bedhead has a new style of upholstery – padded vinyl with diamond stitching, with the flat design made possible by the van’s new front profile. The queen-size bed is surrounded by lockers and wardrobes, each with a niche complete with 12V points, while the inclusion of a Projecta PM400 battery management system has allowed for Projecta light switches/dimmers either side of the bed – not a huge development, true, but welcome all the same. The PM400 offers a number of user features, including the ability to pair it via Bluetooth to your smartphone so that you can monitor things remotely.
In the kitchen, you will find a classy black sink and a four-burner cooktop and griller. The microwave, which is mounted into the cabinetry above, has also received an upgrade: instead of a turntable microwave, it’s a flatbed unit, which provides more internal room for cooking/reheating, while still distributing the heat evenly.
The rear bathroom is quite an attractive and, more importantly, practical space. With a cassette toilet on the offside, fibreglass shower cubicle on the nearside, and a rear vanity unit, it doesn’t feel too cramped inside. The inclusion of a large linen cupboard with multiple shelves is very welcome. A top-loading washing machine is fitted below the benchtop, next to the washbasin.
The interior has all the usual necessary features, too, from a reverse-cycle air-conditioner to a 24in TV and sound system connected to interior and exterior speakers. Atlantic Caravans has also included LED strip lights below the overhead lockers throughout for a soft, elegant glow at night time.
But what does all of this weigh? The Tare of our review van was 2575kg, which seems about right for its size, build and equipment. Given its ATM is 3400kg, it offers a payload capacity of 825kg – more than enough. I found the Signature Series quite pleasant to tow at highway speeds. Although it was mostly unladen, the van felt settled on the towbar.
The updates on the Atlantic Caravans Signature Series are very welcome. I much prefer the flat front profile (notwithstanding the top and bottom angles), and new features such as the VanTenna and the upgraded 12V system add a great deal of appeal to what is quite a well-rounded caravan which should provide a couple of decades worth of happy memories.
FIT AND FINISH –
HITS & MISSES
Overall length: 8.56m
External width: 2.46m (including awning)
Internal height: 1.92m
Travel height: 3.1m
Unladen ball weight: 167kg
Frame: Meranti timber with ‘honeycomb’ floor
Cladding: Aluminium with black checkerplate
Chassis: 6in galvanised with hammertone finish
Suspension: Al-Ko Enduro Cross Country independent trailing arm coil
Brakes: 12in electric
Wheels: 16in alloy
Fresh water: 2x95L
Grey water: 195L
Battery: 2x100Ah lithium with Projecta PM400 battery management system
Sway control: Optional
Cooking: Four-burner cooktop with griller and oven
Refrigeration: Dometic 184L
Shower: Separate cubicle, fully-moulded fibreglass
Washing machine: Top-loader
Lighting: 12V LED
Hot water: Gas-electric
TV: 24in flatscreen
$93,288 (ex Melbourne)