Best Aussie Vans Finalist 2014 Roadstar Safari Tamer Test Review
Last year’s winner, the offroad Roadstar Safari Tamer is back to compete with all guns blazing.
When Roadstar debuted its beloved flagship, the Safari Tamer, at last year’s inaugural Best Aussie Vans event, it’s fair to say it knocked the judges’ collective socks off. Beautifully crafted with precision design and genuinely tough offroad ability, the Safari Tamer romped home easily to take the win in the $80K-plus category.
So it was a no-brainer that Roadstar was invited back to this year’s showdown to show off the Safari Tamer in its latest incarnation and defend its title. It was with a great deal of excitement and a measure of anticipation that we waited to see what the newest Safari Tamer had in store for us.
Roadstar director Ken Nizam said the van had been ‘fine-tuned’ throughout the year with only minor changes taking place to the award-winning van. "We got it pretty right the first time," he said.
The van’s windows have been raised slightly, and it now has a wind-up antenna instead of a Jack antenna. The layout is also slightly different, with the café-style dinette with footrests now on the van’s offside and the large angled kitchen bench along the nearside.
Apart from that, the impressive van remains largely the same and has clearly struck a chord with Roadstar clients. The Safari Tamer is Roadstar’s top-of-the-range offroad van and its best seller.
Layout & Design
At first glance, there is no mistaking this van for a delicate on-road tourer. Head-height black checkerplate is matched to a large checkerplate storage box on the drawbar, which has a generator slide at one end and two jerry can holders. Two 9kg gas cylinders ride in front of the toolbox, and all of that is tucked safely away behind a large, two-part, purpose-build stoneguard.
The A-frame is built with 6in hot-dipped galvanised rails running back to 4in main chassis rails with another 4in rail laminated underneath for strength and rigidity. A clear sign of the clever methods Roadstar likes to employ is the way the rear bumper is attached to the main chassis rails with a U-bolt and a bracket, rather than just welding it. Cruisemaster coil spring independent suspension with twin shock absorbers per wheel ensures the smoothest ride possible out there off the beaten track.
There are no major departures from the Safari Tamer of 2013, except for the dinette and kitchen swapping sides. The result is a larger-than-average kitchen bench, angled at one end and with a huge 645mm of clear bench space at the other. The deep sink with drainer, filter and mixer tap sits at the rear end of the bench in the angled portion, with the Swift 500 Series four-burner cooktop, grill and oven in the middle. Storage is sorted with five overhead cabinets, and a huge array of 12 drawers, two cupboards and even a slide-out pantry below.
The very large 240L Vitrifrigo fridge with stainless steel finish sits opposite the kitchen, between the rear bathroom and dinette. The dinette sits below a nice long window, providing a clear view outside. It’s upholstered in black leatherette and has a white tri-fold table. Fold-out footrests allow for comfortable lounging but the under-seat storage area is only accessible by wrestling with the seat cushions.
The rear bathroom is a relatively spacious one, with an offside Thetford cassette toilet, small recessed sink, top-loading Lemair washing machine and masses of storage. The separate nearside shower cubicle has a stylish frosted door but only a tiny plastic catch to keep it in place, which will be put to the test on rough roads. I thought something a bit more robust and strong could have been used.
Bedroom & Storage
Right up the front of the van, the 1.98x1.55m (6ft 6in x 5ft 1in) bed is refreshingly longer than many and sits under a padded bedhead. The bed has rounded corners, allowing just enough room to squeeze around each side and a partition near the door will stop anyone accidentally falling down the cutaway step of the forward entry door. With three overhead lockers and bedside robes, drawers and cabinets, plus two lockers over the window on each side, there is a huge amount of storage.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s absolutely no doubt that the Roadstar Safari Tamer is an impressive van. A lot of 21st century thinking and technology has gone into its design and development and the result is a beautifully finished, well-built, extremely capable offroader.
- Enormous angled kitchen bench
- Feature-packed A-frame
- Interior styling
I would have liked…
- Easier access to under-seat dinette storage
The full test appears in Caravan World #534, February 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!