In this review, we will be looking at the Sterling, Sterling SE and Pullman models. To be fair, there is pretty much nothing to chose between them, mainly due to the fact that a lot of the features of the flagship Pullman were available as optional extras on the Sterling and Sterling SE.
Apart from different trim levels, the primary difference between the more basic Sterling and the higher spec Pullman were the three way fridge, 12V sockets, fire extinguisher, wardrobe, shelf unit and interior light. The Sterling SE (Special Equipment) falls mid way between the two, and, as everything is available as an optional extra, the lines are blurred even further between the 3 models. For simplicity, we will mostly refer to the Sterling in this review, although it can be taken as read that the comments will apply to all models.
The Sterling is a 6 berth folding camper, with fold out double beds at either end, a fixed dinette, which converts to a further double, full kitchen, with sink, cold water system, 2 burner hob, grill and loads of onboard storage. As we move up through Pennine range, these are the first models with the fold out beds at either end, as opposed to opening out from side to side.
This means that they are the first models in the range to allow for full 4 berth sleeping arrangements, without having to use the settees to make up one of the beds. In spite of the larger size of these models, they still only take an average of 10 – 15 minutes to set up, with a further 30 minutes or so for the optional awning.
The Sterling has an ex works weight of 640kg, whilst that of the slightly higher specification Pullman is 675kg. Both have a max gross weight of 900kg. The total length of the Sterling is 4.1m, width is 2.1m and height when folded is 1.25m. The Pullman is just a cm or two larger in all aspects. All but the most basic models include a 3 way fridge, 12V and 240V electrical systems, cold fresh and waste water systems and gas fueled 2 burner hob and grill.
Review / Appraisal
The Sterling and Pullman are 6 berth folding campers, however, at the risk of being repetitive, just like the rest of the range, their maximum berth capacity is better appreciated when used in conjunction with the optional awning. Whilst offering a more than competent 6 berth layout, without the awning, it is going to feel a little cramped inside with 6 people, especially as the dinette is better suited for 4 to dine and relax in comfort.
The other minor annoyance is that the third double bed, which is made up from the two settees, is directly alongside one of the fold out double beds. This is only really an issue at night, when the occupants of one bed will need to climb over those in the other bed, in order to access the facilities. These issues, although minor, mean that the Sterling and Pullman models really come into their own as spacious 4 berth units.
In this capacity, there is very little compromise in terms of the facilities offered, once the unit has been set up, with comfortable seating and dining for 4, two fixed, permanently made up double beds, more than adequate storage and a well equiped kitchen. The level of space and equipment just can’t be matched by standard tents or caravans with a similar footprint.
As you step into the camper, to either side of you, is a storage cupboard, in the Pullman and higher level Sterlings, the cupboard on the left hand side of you will also have a wardrobe above. Panning round from left to right, we next come to the first double bed, followed by the kitchen, dinette (with sizeable under seat storage) and second fixed double bed.
The dining table can be left permanently set up, or folded away, to give a more spacious feel to the dining / lounge area.
Storage in these units is quite exceptional, with four good sized cupboards (one with cutlery drawer) two under settee lockers, and, in many cases, a good sized wardrobe.
The Sterling and Pullman really take the folding camper experience to the next level, in terms of both space and equipment levels, with each model offering both permanent fixed seating and sleeping arrangements for 4 people, as well as the option of extending this accommodation for a further two occupants, where required.
Of course, in order to achieve these additional benefits, the size of the trailer has had to be increased significantly. With a gross weight of 900kg, fully laden, these models are a good 50% heavier than the entry level Aztec, and, when folded, the footprint is some 70% larger so they do need a little more storage space, and a little more effort to move around. That said, they still fit, comfortably, into a standard garage, and can be manouvered and set up by one person (as long as the ground is reasonably level and firm). I, myself, have a Sterling SE, which I, personally, feel is worth the extra effort and money, as the feeling of space, whether for the three, or just the two of us belies the short setup time, and 15 minutes is all that’s needed for a very comfortable and spacious weekend retreat. For longer stays, the awning doubles the accommodation.and increases the feeling of space still further.
The latest Sterling models, although far more modern on the outside, had a very similar layout and equipment spec to their older siblings.
A quick pictorial guide as to the procedure for setting up a Sterling / Pullman can be found, along with plenty more pictures, on the Blue Sky Gallery Page. Also, you can find out more details on each model, download manuals and brochures and check dimensions / technical specifications on the Model Summary Pages for the Sterling and Pullman.
Feel free to check them out.