CARAVAN TEST: ROADSTAR SAFARI TAMER

By: MAX TAYLOR, Photography by: STUART GRANT


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The Roadstar Safari Tamer caravan has luxury in spades and rough-road potential.

CARAVAN TEST: ROADSTAR SAFARI TAMER
The Roadstar Safari Tamer caravan combines offroad capability with luxurious travel.

· Kitted out for off-bitumen touring
· Decent 12V setup
· Front bedroom, rear bathroom

Luxury in a caravan is one thing. The ability to experience that luxury in far flung or remote areas is another thing entirely. This is where the Roadstar Safari Tamer comes in. This rough-road-capable tourer will willingly follow your 4WD through tricky terrain, so you'll never be without creature comforts, even when camped in the million-star park called outback Australia.

Our Roadstar Safari Tamer, loaned to us by Cobram Caravans, Vic, is suited to couples who like their comforts and their beyond-the-blacktop adventures. In this van, you get the best of both worlds. As well as a massive metal storage box on the drawbar…

 

SENSE OF SPACE

With a tried-and-tested layout, the interior of the Safari Tamer is entirely sensible. Upon entering, you can't help but notice the sense of space. With a body length of 5.96m (19ft 7in), this isn't an overly long van (at least in comparison to some of the other vans on test), but some clever design touches make it feel larger than it is. The way the overhead lockers rake backwards is a case in point; they open up the layout without really compromising their storage capacity.

Up front, the bed, which measures 1.93x1.55m, gave me a number of nights' comfortable sleep, and there's no shortage of storage options here. The wardrobes provide about 1.15m of hanging space - very generous indeed - and there are bedside tables with lockers beneath, not to mention the three overheads across the front. The lockers either side of the bed are necessarily small - you don't want to bang your head every time you enter the bedroom.

An offside locker at the foot of the bed and the cavernous space under the mattress rounds off the bedroom storage options. All locker doors are well secured, snapping open on spring struts. It was clear that Roadstar had put some thought into securing the internal cabinetry in line with this rig's rough-road touring potential.

The offside kitchen has a decent amount of bench space, aided by a sink infill that could act as a chopping board. The Swift 500 Series four-burner cooktop is recessed about 50mm, making room for a hinged 'lid' of bench that flips up when it's time to get cooking. An oven is also fitted, so you won't have to miss out on the Sunday roast, even when you're off the beaten track. The Safari Tamer also gets a microwave (Elfa brand), as you'd expect.

Beneath the bench, you'll find a decent amount of storage, including a wide slide-out pantry, and yet more storage in the form of three overhead lockers.

Between the kitchen bench and bathroom, Roadstar has fitted a massive 240L, 12V Vitrifrigo compressor fridge-freezer, great for the tropics. It's important to note that because the fridge runs on 12V only, the Safari Tamer gets two 105Ah AGM batteries linked to a Ctek charger (both located under the dinette lounges, along with the 12V fuses), two solar panels that have a combined 240W capacity, and an Anderson plug.

Directly opposite the kitchen, the dinette is one of the highlights of the Safari Tamer's interior. Fitted with matching leather-upholstered, hinged footrests, the dinette lounges are sensational spots for kicking back and forgetting your troubles, while the tri-fold table adds a touch of versatility - closed, it makes a top spot for parking your beer or wine; opened, there's room for four dinner plates.

The dinette's three main overhead lockers are nice and large, properly partitioned so your gear will not slide about, though we would've liked the left and right lockers to also have a shelf, like the one in the middle, to maximise their usability. There's a 240V powerpoint at the dinette, which is bound to come in handy, but a 12V point wouldn't go astray, though there is one in the kitchen area.

Roadstar has done quite well with the bathroom. It's not a huge space and feels somewhat confined when the door is closed. But it's worth viewing this in the context of the van's length - the bathroom's size has been determined by the spacious lounge, dinette and bedroom. So if you wanted a bigger bathroom, you'd lose out on living space, or be looking at a longer caravan… and the extra weight that entails.

The bathroom's cabinetry is well put together. Features include a Dometic cassette toilet, Lemair top-loading washing machine hidden beneath the bench, separate shower cubicle on the nearside, towel rail, and more. The hot water heater is tucked right of the way in the cabinetry next to the loo.

Throughout the Safari Tamer, there's an excellent spread of 240V powerpoints, including one either side of the bed. I know from experience how annoying it can be when there's only one powerpoint in the bedroom. There's also a pressure hatch to help minimise dust ingress, a couple of Camec ventilation hatches, an Aircommand Ibis reverse-cycle air-conditioner, and all windows come fitted with integrated flyscreens and block-out blinds.

The van gets points in terms of energy efficiency, too: there are eight LED downlights throughout, not
o mention the LED reading lights at
the dinette and bed.

As for entertainment, there's a swivel-arm mounted at the forward end of the kitchen bench for a flatscreen TV, as well as a Pioneer DVD player/stereo neatly fitted into the cabinetry near the entrance.

Overall, the interior of the Safari Tamer is not only luxurious, it's put together with an eye for rough-road vanning.

 

READY TO RUMBLE

There's no doubt that the Safari Tamer is a high-riding van. The Simplicity independent suspension and extra ground clearance should help when traversing high-crowned tracks, while the storage box on the drawbar, in lieu of a conventional front boot, is large and tough. It's also set up with a couple of jerry can holders.

The Safari Tamer has a purposeful stance on the road; it's just begging for some rough-road work. With a 490mm-high skirt of black aluminium checkerplate, which at the front extends to the height of the window stoneguard, the body is reasonably well protected.

The 6in A-frame runs back to the independent suspension. On top are 4in main rails plus a 6in riser, all of which, in addition to the 16in alloy wheels (two spares are secured to the rear bumper), contribute to the Safari Tamer's tall stature. Because of the van's height, Roadstar has welded a thick steel plate to the underside of the pointy end of the A-frame rails, to which the Hyland coupling is bolted. This setup keeps the coupling height within legal tolerances.

Underneath, all PVC plumbing is secured nice and high and out of harm's way, while the two 95L water tanks are protected by galvanised sheeting.

As for external storage, the Roadstar boasts a gal-lined front tunnel with 12V LED light inside, as well as a large locker on the rear-nearside. All of this is in addition to that large box on the drawbar.

Along the nearside, you'll find a TV mount with antenna point - a near-essential item for any luxury caravan - as well as a fold-down picnic table, a Dometic awning, and a gas bayonet for a BYO barbecue.

Under tow, the Safari Tamer was, for the most part, very well behaved, though the Hyland coupling was occasionally a little 'snatchy' on the ball.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

There's a lot of well-finished van here at a competitive price and, as rough-roaders go, it's not unduly heavy. It's ATM of 2800kg puts it within the realm of a wide range of 4WDs.

In the luxury-van stakes, it has more or less everything the others have and will get to places the others can't. The Safari Tamer would easily hold its own on the washboard tracks of outback Australia.

 

THE JUDGES LIKED...

· The extensive 12V setup

· Generous supply of 240V powerpoints

· Impressive external storage options

 

THE JUDGES WOULD'VE LIKED...

· Easier access to under-dinette storage area

· A 12V point at the dinette

· Roadstar Safari Tamer



Originally published in Caravan World #510, January 2013