22/05/2017 Share this review   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Knaus StarClass 690 - caravan review

a25963f9-c4e4-4845-a36a-b6837a5756dc

Key Features

  • Model Year : 2017
  • Class : Single Axle
  • Berths : 4
  • Internal Length (m) : 6.30
  • Shipping Length (m) : 8.10
  • MRO (kg) : 1735
  • MTPLM (kg) : 2000
  • Max Width (m) : 2.50
  • External Height (m) : 2.57

The Verdict

Little things like push-tilt positive catches on all lockers, drawers and cabinets, track-mounted spotlights and exterior TV points. Big things like the 190-litre fridge-freezer, the brilliant design of the glass sink cover, the ‘marble’ surfaces and the U-shaped lounge and the size of the caravan. It all adds up to a fabulous package of solidly built luxury.

Score

Videos
 

AT A GLANCE

The German-built Knaus StarClass 690 has this country’s most popular caravan layout, with a transverse island bed.

Pros
  • The 2.5m width
  • The ‘marble’ surfaces
  • The U-shaped lounge
  • The excellent kitchen storage space
Cons
  • The only place to store the table is under the bed
  • The absence of Alde heating in a caravan at this price level

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

Model Year
2017
Manufacturer
Knaus Caravans
Class
Single Axle
Range
StarClass
Price From (£)
29999
Berths
4
Shipping Length (m)
8.10
MRO (kg)
1735
MTPLM (kg)
2000
Max Width (m)
2.50
External Height (m)
2.57
End Washroom
Yes
Island Double
Yes
Fixed Singles/Bunks
No
Triple Bunks
No
End Kitchen
No
Back & Front Dinette
No
Side Dinette
No
Caravan Test Date
Caravan Buyer Test Date

DETAILED REVIEW

The German-built Knaus StarClass 690 has this country’s most popular caravan layout, with a transverse island bed.

It’s long, it’s wide, it rides on two axles, it’s in the top weight bracket – and its layout is arguably the best seller of the current era. The new addition to the German-built StarClass portfolio is a big chunk of caravan destined to appeal to discerning buyers who are looking for typically continental - and very appealing – stark styling.

There are 15 twin axle transverse bed, rear shower room caravans on the British market, of which nine are in the luxury class. But none, except the StarClass 690, has a U-shaped lounge. That’s the German stamp of layout style. And it’s lovely.

Our review model came from Barnsdale Leisure, the first retailer to stock StarClass; the first two examples in the six-model range arrived early last year.

The StarClass 690 has a giant fridge freezer and lots of floor space; you especially notice this in the centre of the layout – the distance between the kitchen and the fridge-freezer seems enormous. That’s because this is a maximum-width, 2.5m wide caravan. The advantage of the extra width is also noticeable in the bedroom, where there is plenty of space to walk between the foot of the bed and the wall; no need for a retracting mechanism on this bed!

Our review day at Harrogate’s beautiful Rudding Holiday Park was harshly cold so a real test of the warm-up speed of the 6KW Truma heating system. From when it first whirred into action to feeling comfortably warm was a mere 30 minutes.

Our review model has the optional extra Dometic roof-mounted air conditioning unit that adds £2000 to the price (we won’t be testing its efficiency today!), a wind-out canopy awning (an extra £1200), a bed set made to measure by Jonic and leather upholstery (£199).

The fully-loaded StarClass looks awesomely luxurious and the more we examine it, the more we begin to appreciate the details like spotlights on tracks on each side of the lounge, plus the surfaces of the kitchen, table and dressing table that do look like black marble. There’s a detail in the shower room to add to the list of StarClass distinctive features, too.

Showering

The tap sends water cascading down a channel; it's super-stylish. Black ‘marble' makes an appearance here, too; the basin is flush-set into a marble plinth, it looks gorgeous. Practicality comes in spades in the little room, with plenty of floor space (95cm deep), a small wardrobe (25cm wide with two shelf spaces beneath the hanging area) and a ceramic toilet.

Two wall-mounted lights illuminate the mirrored over-basin cabinet beautifully. It’s a delightfully luxurious preening department, with a shower measuring 80 x 69cm; that’s plenty large enough.

Our review model is the prototype; production models will have a sliding door from the washroom to the bedroom.

Sleeping

The bed is 1.9m long and 1.4m wide at its widest point, tapering on both sides to 90cm. The double taper gives you more floor space, but it does diminish sleeping area. At first glance, we were not sure that's an excellent idea. But, lying on the bed (only briefly, you understand!) we decided we wouldn’t notice the taper.

The bedroom is a star, especially regarding storage. There’s a wardrobe, 42cm wide, forward of the bed, and a full-height, four-shelved unit, 25cm wide, on the aft side. A beautiful dressing table (with marble-look top!) creates a 68cm-wide cabinet), with a power point close to the mirror. And the 2.5m width of the 690 makes the bedroom exceptionally spacious.

We love the position of the mains socket here, on the shelf which runs the width of the bed; it’s perfect for phone-charging, this is one of six mains sockets (plus a USB socket in the lounge).

You can transform the lounge into a bed, of course; it measures 2m x 1.47m.

Storage

The bed base is in two hinged sections. It's quite easy to reach inside, but you have to hold the bases up; the gas filled struts are not designed to take the weight of the mattress (hence a B rating not A here). There’s an exterior hatch to this area.

You get into the under-lounge storage areas by raising the tops; sturdy, gas-filled struts support them.

With two wardrobes and plenty of shelves in the washroom, dressing table and bedroom cabinets, plus lockers above and below the fridge-freezer, the 690’s storage capability is up there with the best.

Dining

The 690’s table is a big (93cm x77cm) slab of the gorgeous ‘marble’ that defines the high-end character of the StarClass. Once it’s in position amid all that luxurious leather seating, this area takes on a private dining room look with a distinct level above a converted lounge, which is superb.

But there's a downside.

What do you do with the table when you want the lounge to be 100% lounge? It will fit under the bed. But getting it in and out can only be described as hard work.

And its presence would compromise the under-bed area’s storage function. So, if we bought a 690, the table would stay in position. We’re judging the dining element of the 690 through British-caravanner eyes of course; comparing it, as will the majority of potential purchasers, to the dining configuration and convenience in the majority of UK-made caravans.

And the conclusion is that it works brilliantly as a dining room, with the ability to seat at least five with ease around the table. But with the table in place, this space works less brilliantly as a lounge.

Lounging

At the start of our review day, with the table still under the bed, we’d fallen really in love with this lounge for its generous width and spacious feel. We so much wish we could get the table out of the way easily when we’re not eating, though, to enjoy that spaciousness.

Maybe we’ve yet to get our heads around the German caravanning style of sitting around a table to watch television (there’s a robustly engineered bracket by the door) Pulling and pushing the table in and out of the under-bed space is not an option. But there's something else at play here.

Continental caravanning style involves spending more time in an awning than in a caravan, and the 690 is very good at catering for that scenario. There are television connection points and a mains socket on the outside, plus an outlet for the Truma blown air system.

Kitchen

Lots of features set the 690 apart from its British competitors. Among them are its recessed drainer and the cleverly-designed sink-drainer glass cover, with an aperture to allow you to use the tap while the cover is down. That’s important, for with the cover up, surface space is limited, hence only a C rating. With it down, you have 91cm of area to work on.

Lower storage is amazing. A unit 83cm wide gives you a two-shelf cabinet plus a 26cm deep, full-width drawer containing a seven-recess cutlery tray. Add in the two top cabinets, a slim cupboard alongside the fridge-freezer and those atop and beneath the 190-litre fridge-freezer and this kitchen really does impress.

Towing

The 690 rides on a BPW chassis equipped with iDC stability control. The high winds of our test day demonstrated the advantage of twin axles in terms of extra stability. The 690 didn’t twitch once.

Of course the driver isn’t always aware of when the electronic, automatic system has momentarily taken control to correct the first signs of snaking. All we can say is that the StarClass was a real star on the road, with positive handling and an all-round excellent feel.

Verdict

Little things like push-tilt positive catches on all lockers, drawers and cabinets, track-mounted spotlights and exterior TV points. Big things like the 190-litre fridge-freezer, the brilliant design of the glass sink cover, the ‘marble’ surfaces and the U-shaped lounge and the size of the caravan. It all adds up to a fabulous package of solidly built luxury.

Anything we don’t like? For our money, at this price, we’d want the silent, all-enveloping warmth of Alde heating – but that costs an extra £2000.

Also consider

There’s nothing quite comparable with this layout because it has a U-shaped lounge

Options to go for

Alde heating at £2000; Leather upholstery at £1499.