Wheel estate: Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series Merit RV’s owner Nathan Butler, right, relaxes in front of a Sterling Eccles SE Quartz Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series
Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series Sterling has moved away from all-timber interiors Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series
Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series Chocolate-coloured upholstery is flecked with gold thread Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series
Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series
Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series
Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series
Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series
Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series A surprising amount of storage Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series

Bill visits New Plymouth to find out why everyone’s talking about Merit RV’s latest import, the Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series.

The UK caravan market is highly competitive. Each manufacturer promotes features of their products they believe are of paramount importance to buyers. Alu-Tech construction technology claims to make caravans more robust, durable, and lighter. SoLiD Construction presses claims for a jointing system using bonding adhesives that evenly spread stress across water-impervious joints.

Swift has taken a different approach. Its marketing focuses on interior and exterior design style and SMART quality build. It doesn't ignore the importance of structural strength and water-tightness, just as Elddis and Bailey don't ignore design style and build quality. It's just a different philosophy. Swift holds the view its past record, combined with its warranty program (ten-year body-shell integrity warranty), is sufficient reassurance regarding structural matters, and so shows buyers the good stuff, the good looks, the new user-friendly features, and the improved durability of the 2014 models.

The Sterling Eccles SE Quartz has a distinctive appearance. The graphite-coloured, curved front panel incorporating the front locker and the panorama skylight is unique to the Sterling Eccles range. And the curved front is not just aesthetically pleasing, it's fuel-efficient as well, thanks to the work of Dr Rob Lewis, fluid dynamics expert and consultant to Formula 1 motor racing. Adhering to the philosophy that if you eliminate a join, you eliminate a potential leak, the Quartz has one-piece aluminium sidewalls, a one-piece roof, and one-piece front and rear GRP panels. The graphite and grey trim with the neon-red highlights adorn the otherwise plain white sides of the 'van.

Sterling -Eccles -SE-Quartz -2014-Series -1

With its three external hatches, the Quartz is one of the few UK 'vans I've reviewed that has sufficient access to interior storage lockers capable of housing picnic chairs, tables, a BBQ, and golf clubs. There are two kerbside hatches — one for the locker under the front settee, the other under the double bed. The front locker has room for two nine-kilo LPG bottles (one supplied) mounted in the middle, leaving room either side for smaller items. Another nice touch is the step-on GRP cover over the tow hitch that makes it easier to clean the front windows. Most of us will still need a long-handled squeegee to reach the top of the panorama window, though.

The floor (44mm), roof (32mm) and walls (25mm) are foam sandwich construction, ensuring the Quartz meets current UK insulation requirements that state the on-board heating system must be able, in four hours, to raise the interior temperature from -15C to +20C and maintain it at that level for one hour. Swift used to embed timber inserts in the walls, roof, and floor of its RVs as anchor points for cabinetry and equipment. Not any more. It has been replaced with a hard polyurethane product that is impervious to water.

Like all Swift caravans, the Quartz is mounted on an AL-KO galvanised-steel chassis with a Euro axle and shock absorbers, has an AL-KO 3004 anti-sway hitch, and is fitted with AL-KO's electronic ATC trailer control system — all features that enhance towing safety. The five spoke alloy wheels are equipped with DMack EcoXtra tyres, reputed to offer lower rolling resistance and improved fuel economy. To provide a margin for safety, they are rated to carry loads heavier than the GVW rating of the caravan.

Other nifty exterior features I liked were one key for all exterior locks; a key fob that controlled the LED awning light; external BBQ and 240v power points; the 240v inlet point and the aerial point for a portable satellite dish connection located in the exterior access battery box. All user-friendly features that make day-to-day caravan life easier.

Like most forward-thinking marketers, the Swift Group is big on customer surveys. Feedback indicated buyers were becoming tired of timber interiors. They were looking for RV interiors that reflected modern living. The 2014 Quartz interior reflects this thinking, with hessian effect cabinetry, white locker doors with detail lines in chocolate, Laval chocolate textured fabric accented with subtle gold threads, and red cushions. In the kitchen area, the granite effect bench and illuminated splashback continue the theme. The only timber to be seen is the French Oak board patterned vinyl flooring and that is mostly covered with loose fitting carpet. Thoughtfully chosen wall coverings — Ocean Wave in the lounge, an embossed pattern in the bedroom, and Singapore in the washroom — round off this up to date presentation. I found it very appealing.

While the Quartz is marketed as a four-berth caravan, I believe it will appeal mostly to couples with guests staying just occasionally. The bathroom, full width across the rear of the 'van, is a perfect en suite beside the bedroom, but I'm not sure intrusion from guests 'dossing down' on the lounge settees using the toilet at all hours can be tolerated as a long-term arrangement.

Bathroom

The bathroom is arrangement is practical, with a separate shower cubicle at one end and the toilet at the other. The vanity has an oval basin of useful size and shape with a back-lit mirror above. Alongside is a generous cabinet with a larger cabinet below. The Alde heated towel rail tucked in behind the toilet is a nice touch of luxury. Another welcome feature is the Eco Camel showerhead, that delivers both water pressure and water economy all at once.

Bedroom

The bedroom, with its near queen-size double island bed, is fitted with a Duvalite mattress. Duvalite mattresses are exclusive to RVs built by the Swift Group. Developed by the innovative bedding manufacturer Duvalay, creators of the memory foam sleeping bag, the Duvalite mattress incorporates lightweight memory fibre technology for ultra comfortable sleeping. And the bed has a headboard, reading lights, and a small shelf for the morning cuppa! What more could you want? With a bedside cabinet and hanging locker on each side of the bed, and overhead lockers and more storage under the bed, there will be no excuse for not keeping things ship-shape.

Sterling -Eccles -SE-Quartz -2014-Series -2Kitchen

Caravan kitchens are always a compromise. There are so many things to consider: buyer preferences, large or small; designer parameters; allocation of space, lots or little; number and size of appliances, big or small — the list goes on. The Quartz kitchen is visually balanced and inviting. It looks like a nice place to work. It's medium in size but having the fold-up bench extension makes it appear larger. Cupboard and drawer space is adequate but keen cooks, or those who shop up large once a week, will want to commandeer the cabinet beside the entry door and a couple of lounge overhead lockers to store all their 'stuff'. I like the way the appliances seem tailor-made for the cabinetry.

Lounge

Up front is the twin settee lounge. Comfortable for four or more at a pinch, it accommodates a freestanding table for dinner groups, but for just two the slide-out cabinet top will suffice on most occasions. Storage under the kerbside settee is easily accessed, either by lifting the sprung hinged slat base or opening the one-piece front panel of the space-frame construction seat base. The power supply and water pump are housed under the driver's side settee. There are a couple nice surprises in the overhead lockers — a rack for wine glasses and a bottle in one, and the radio CD/MP3 player with an iPod connection in another.

These are the main features of the Sterling Eccles SE Quartz, but there are many more. If you're seriously interested in viewing the Quartz, be sure to allow enough time to uncover them all.

Sterling Eccles SE Quartz 2014 Series SpecsMerit RV currently sells the Quartz for $65,995 incl GST on the road costs. Included in this price are extras valued at over $5000, being:

  • water tanks, 80 litres fresh, and 88 litres grey;
  • mains pressure water feed;
  • AL-KO 50mm high-rise tow-ball and anti-rotation plate fitted to tow car;
  • tow vehicle 13-pin wiring to service fridge, house battery, and caravan ATC system;
  • nine-kilo LPG bottle;
  • 110amp/hr deep-cycle house battery;
  • LED TV; and
  • portable satellite dish

Thanks to Belt Rd Holiday Park for allowing us to take the photos for this story in its beautiful campground.

For more information contact Merit RV on (06) 769 5540 or 021 179 1164.

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