As the name suggests the Roadstar on show here is an extreme offroader and it comes from one of our heritage builders. As the judges discovered the tough looks are not all for show.
Roadstar presented its Safari Tamer Extreme 18ft 6in for judging at the 2022 Caravan of the Year, and it’s a standout van for extreme offroad travel. The family-run company has built a solid reputation over the last 30 years and now boasts the third generation in the team. The high riding Roadstar may not have won this year’s event, but it won respect and some envious looks from the judges.
A quality build, meticulous fit and finish, and attention to detail are all elements that stand out with the Extreme’s all-Aussie hand-built construction. It’s designed to get you off the beaten track in total comfort.
The Safari Tamer Extreme is designed for the off-grid lifestyle. The robust build uses a monocoque sandwich panel construction for ultimate insulation in extremes of cold and heat, meaning it will be comfortable even without an air conditioner or using the heater. It’s armed with quality Enerdrive power products, including a 200Ah lithium battery and two 180W solar panels, so there’s ample power for extended stays in the bush. It’s all controlled by the reliable BMPRO Plus 35 battery monitor system and charger. We also liked the generous size 240L Thetford Compressor fridge that should keep a couple well supplied with food and drinks.
Water is also ample, with two 95L fresh-water tanks to sustain you in the bush, and there’s a 95L greywater tank for stays in National Parks. Twin 9kg gas bottles will get you through cooking and hot water with a Swift stove and Truma hot water system.
Tim Van Duyl
The monocoque composite body is the way of the future because it has excellent insulation, good weight savings, and if it’s damaged, repairs are more cost-effective than other materials. The Safari Tamer Extreme hits the mark for Smart Connect capability to monitor thermometers, gas bottles, and tyre pressure and connects to a phone — you can even tell if the hatches are open. Roadstar combines all the right ingredients into a capable and sensible-sized offroader with current tech construction, and a Cruisemaster air system is as good as you can expect
As well as bringing his design ideas to the build and oversighting the quality control, company owner Ken Nizam is heavy on the tools at their Melbourne factory, and clearly his passion for quality shows in the build of the Safari Tamer range which gained it a deserved win for Best Build Quality.
Ken spends much of his time in the chassis department and looking underneath the van, there was not a run of galvanising, a rough-looking weld or a pipe or wire out of place. Instead, it was a study of how an offroad van’s underside should be presented.
Everything hanging off and bolted to the chassis, and every feature inside impressed. The modern frameless composite build includes a 42mm composite floor and it gets a big tick from us as well. Then, there’s arguably the best trailing arm suspension in the business in Cruisemaster’s ATX-Air. But it’s not all heavy-duty. It’s also soft with what I’ve always seen as a Roadstar strength, one of the most sumptuous lounges in the industry, a welcome spot on a long day inside the well-insulated body.
Given the resources, this is the van many would-be offroad travellers would hook up for a drive off into the sunset. The Safari Tamer Extreme is very robust and is intended for rough offroad travel, and it has the goods to deliver. It’s all there — high riding Cruisemaster air suspension, bulletproof galvanised chassis, and enough room for a couple to be comfortable for months on the road. In addition, the composite monocoque body has the benefits of being light for superior weight distribution and giving excellent heat insulation.
For many, this size van is the perfect combination of liveability and drivability for couples, so you get proper creature comforts and the ability to go further offroad. Of course, not everyone likes a front bed front door layout for privacy reasons, but if you can get far from the crowds, that will not matter.
Roadstar has been around long enough to earn an outstanding reputation for quality and customer satisfaction in the market. They live on that service deliverability, and there’s a three-year warranty and a staff member on hand for any issues. Still, the market has become much savvier and more cynical in the last few years, and I’d like to see an overhaul of warranty documents and processes for such a high-end product.
As well as an online warranty portal for direct customer contact, the Roadstar owners group has over 2000 active members who guide new owners and feed back ideas to the company. A network of 100 or so authorised repair agents take care of any repairs.
At $165,000, the Roadstar is the most expensive entrant at this year’s event, and to say the least, this is a very well-appointed caravan with a very distinctive and purposeful look about it. Inside, it’s very much a luxury van. The CNC finished lightweight ply cabinetry is impeccable, and the team has designed it to handle rough roads. Features like soft closing drawer runners, leather seating, and premium acrylic finish all create the feel of a luxurious interior, one that offers a welcome ‘sit down and relax’. Additionally, Roadstar hasn’t skimped on any of the fittings and appliances.
The sub-chassis area is not usually a thing of beauty in most caravans. In many cases, it’s functional, but that’s about it. Roadstar has gone a bit further and, in American fashion, enclosed most of the area between the chassis rails with alloy checkerplate. This is a functional feature and helps add to the value and practical impression. A lot of the value in the van are unseen features like the intensive labour process used for the Mk2 fibreglass sandwich panel body construction and intricate engineering of the chassis that adds strength and reduces weight where possible.
This van was one off the factory floor, not prepped for the event, which did impact its overall position as I found it lacked a few touches a buyer would expect, but it also meant we were looking at the real thing, a van the way it left the factory and boy, did it impress.
With a van with such a high reputation in the upmarket category, you’d expect a high level of appointment and comfort, and that is what you get. The living space sits relatively high off the ground, and even with the double step, you need to be reasonably agile to step in and out of the van. Given the 5.86m (19ft 3in) external length, the forward door entry is essential to make the front bed, rear bathroom layout practical. The central space area features the offside kitchen bench and a nearside cafe dinette.
Fitted into the kitchen bench are a Swift 4-burner hob, grill and oven, stainless steel sink and the overhead locker located dLuxx microwave oven. Fitted against the bathroom wall is a Thetford 274L compressor fridge. It’s a well-equipped kitchen, but for a van of this size, there are some space compromises.
Upfront, the island bed has pride of place. With windows on both sides, there’s plenty of airflow. Access to both sides is quite good, but the nearside is quite tight because of the partition adjacent to the entry door.
The general layout is quite user friendly and what works quite well is the multi-fold table that gives easy access to the upholstered leather seats when it’s folded back. The bathroom fit-out includes a washing machine and a ceramic bowl toilet.
Outside the Safari Tamer Extreme are features like a front tunnel storage and an external entertainment unit. In addition, there’s a toolbox, two jerrycan holders on the drawbar, a Carafan Sahara pressurised hatch and two spares wheel mounted on the rear bumper that includes a mesh cage for firewood. For entertainment, there are Fusion soundbars fitted inside and out. All in all, we have an offroad luxury lifestyle this van is designed for.
The colour scheme matches its name with a sleek slice of camo on the exterior for a distinctive killer impression away from its rivals’ drab grey and black. The high stance and well-proportioned lines mark the van as a serious getaway proposition for tackling the hardest road.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 5.86m (19ft 3in)
Overall length 8.6m (28ft 2in)
Width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
Height 3m (9ft 10in)
Ball weight 250kg
Frame Mk2 fibreglass sandwich panel construction
Chassis Hot dip galvanised BHP steel and underbody checkerplate
Suspension Cruisemaster 3.5t ATX Stage 3 Airbag
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Brakes 12in brakes
Wheels 285/75 Mickey Thompson AT tyres on 17in LandCruiser stud pattern wheels
Water 2 x 85L freshwater, 1 x 95L grey water
Battery BMPRO Battery Management system with 200Ah lithium battery pack
Solar 2 x 180W Enerdrive
Air-conditioner Truma Aventa low profile roof
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control N/A
Cooking Swift stove with 1 x elec 3 x gas, with wok burner, grill and fan forced oven
Fridge Thetford 240L Compressor
Microwave Swift dLuxx
Bathroom Ceramic vanity and Thetford ceramic bowl toilet
Hot water Truma Aqua Go Hot Water System
PRICE AS SHOWN
828–830 Cooper St, Somerton VIC 3062
Ph: (03) 9301 8700