UK Airstreams - Our Thoughts On How They Compare
During our UK visit we drove from Hamilton in Scotland (Iain's home town) to Kidderminster in England (My home town). The drive took us within a mile of the North UK Airstream dealer Adventure Leisure Vehicles and we couldn't resist stopping by to see how the European models compared to our US version.
They carry just three models in the UK, all with the International trim just like ours. The 534 is about 22 feet long (external length); the 604 is about 25 feet long and the one most like ours is the 684 at just under 28 feet, pretty much the same length as our rig.
None of the models is as wide as their American cousins. They are limited to a width of 7 foot 6 inches to comply with local transport standards. They are also built with significantly lower tongue weights and are 20-30% lighter than comparable US models since they are towed by the smaller, less powerful vehicles prevalent in Europe. To further aid with maneuverability Europeans have the option to fit their models with motorized axles and have grab bars to help get in and out of much tighter spots without a tow vehicle. Oh lordy, how many times would we like to be able to do that!?!
The interiors also have some key differences. Everything is finished to a more European focused design aesthetic. In other words, none of your grandma fabrics and oak cabinets with brass fittings here! All models are made available only in Airstream's International trim, the most modern of the available decors. Even so, there are still some key differences. The base cabinetry is similar to our darkwood but I drooled over the beautiful crisp white Corian counter tops. I have never liked the beige color installed as standard in our Airstream. It is so out of place with the rest of the modern design that have long been planning on replacing it. Seeing this design in person confirmed that the white tops are much more to our taste. The drapes and upholstery are also better quality as is the seat foam - all things we were also planning on changing in the near future.
The appliances are also of a higher grade. The swanky all stainless stove top and oven (limited to just the new Classic model in the US) is something we have had our eye on as an upgrade for our trailer. The fridge freezer is also a more attractive design. The bathroom contains a cartridge toilet, which seems to be something that is standard in Europe. I am guessing that is due to the lack of a dump station infrastructure or the sewer hook-ups found in North American campgrounds but I am not 100% sure. They have water based central heating which enables the absolute best thing for me in the whole trailer; a heated towel rail. I have been joking with Iain for months about really wanting one and low and behold, here it is as part of the heating system! I am very envious of this feature.