From the class-leading insulation and heating (not all Alde installations are the same!) to its comprehensive standard spec and myriad details, the Travel Master is a class act. It’s probably the best motorhome we’ll test this season; just be sure you’re comfortable driving such a wide motorhome.
Base vehicle: Mercedes Sprinter Price from: £108,500 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 8.06m Width: 2.47m Height: 2.96m Gross weight: 4,500kg Payload: 850kg
Words and photos: Peter Vaughan
Hull-based caravan manufacturer, Coachman, has had aspirations to move into motorhomes for some years and its acquisition by Swedish parent, Kabe, has opened the door for it to offer a range of high-quality British-designed coachbuilts.
This Anglo-Swedish association has resulted in the very first Coachman-branded motorhome, designed to suit the UK market – from NCC approval to having the habitation door on the left. The three-model Travel Master range made its debut at the NEC show in February and now here’s the first road test.
A twin-bed version and shorter French bed model are also available, but here we have the one that’s chalked up the most initial sales – the island bed 545. It’s over eight metres long and, like all Travel Masters, comes on a 4.5-tonne Mercedes Sprinter with Al-Ko chassis. At £108,500, it’s also a step up from other mainstream British flagship coachbuilts, such as the Auto-Trail Frontier and Swift Kon-tiki.
Coachman says that it also combines the very best in both UK and European motorhomes, with features such as side settees and a microwave mated to German-style build quality. Where it immediately plays its ace card, though, is with its construction methods, developed over many years.
These include non-porous Ecoprim insulation, a double overlap where walls and roof meet and aluminium-skinned walls inside as well as out for better heat distribution. Internally, the walls are finished in a breathable carpet to help eliminate condensation, which can freeze and cause damage.
The motorhome roofs are said to be able to support four tonnes of snow and the manufacturer even stores 10,000 gallons of rainwater for vehicle testing, just in case tap water behaves differently! In development, vehicles are subjected to jet sprays for 24 hours, before going into a cold chamber. The goal is for every motorhome to be able to go from a temperature of -21°C to 21°C throughout the interior of the vehicle in under an hour.
Naturally, the new Travel Master takes advantage of all the Swedish expertise of the parent company and, bodily, it is all but identical to Kabe’s Royal range – graphics and the sizes of the bedroom windows being the key changes. It’s a distinctive-looking motorhome with a pronounced hump in the roofline up front and roof rails to the rear, while the flush, framed windows are expected at this price.
Where it differs from most European rivals, however, is in the length of the factory options list. You can add an awning for £1,300 but everything else is standard. So, the spec includes not just the alloy wheels, 140W solar panel and exterior shower, barbecue and TV points, but also roof-mounted Dometic Freshjet habitation air-conditioning. And the habitation door is not only on the UK side but linked to the Mercedes’ remote central locking, too.
On this model, there’s a generous rear garage – 800mm wide at floor level and 1.06m high – complete with modest illumination, tie-downs, 12V and 230V sockets and some useful shelving. This space also includes servicing access for the Alde heating and all the habitation electrics. It is the only external storage, though, because there’s no double floor.
The fit and finish of the exterior makes a great first impression but what might not be immediately obvious is the Travel Master’s width. At 2.47m, it is broader even than Bailey’s Autograph and between 12 and 17cm wider than most rivals.
That extra width is clear to see when you step aboard. The front lounge just seems so open and wide. Part of that, of course, is down to the UK-style side sofa floorplan and the lack of a fixed table, but excellent lighting and headroom of 1.94m (even under the drop-down bed) play their part, too.
The settees are well-judged for comfort and attractively finished in a plain grey fabric (no options here, either), while the cab chairs contrast in black faux leather with silver stitching – very automotive.
Above the Mercedes cab, there’s a wind-up sunroof that’s relatively modest in size, but the storage here is amongst the most practical we’ve seen, featuring proper cupboards at the sides and handy pockets with nets at the front.
There are chrome-finished reading lights (incorporating USBs) over the cab seats, and more spotlights, as well as a ceiling light and ambient strips over the sofas. Some of the lighting is also dimmable, so you can achieve exactly the right mood.
At first, there doesn’t appear to be provision for a telly, but there is a TV bracket hidden in the nearside top cupboard and the screen then drops down through a hatch for viewing. A Status TV aerial is a standard fit but not the television.
The cab chairs will probably be the best place to watch a movie and you can comfortably stretch your socks out on the settees, while pop and popcorn can rest on the neat circular coffee table.
When it comes to dining, the main, free-standing table slides out of its cupboard next to the fridge. It’s lightweight and stable but the higher level of the cab floor means you now need to sit on the sofas and the width of the aisle makes the table (950mm by 550mm) seem too narrow for the space. You can (just) turn it the other way, but then the legs get in the way. This, though, is the only negative aspect of a super-comfy lounge. In fact, it’s especially appealing when the weather outside isn’t great.
Above, the padded ceiling helps with both insulation and acoustics. Below, the Alde system includes underfloor heating, which feels oh-so-luxurious. You can control the internal temperature via the Dometic touchscreen panel over the door.
This must be the most comprehensive system we’ve ever come across, operating everything from the drop-down bed to the waste water emptying (grey water is actually pumped out) and dimming the interior lights. It also clearly displays water levels and not just battery condition, but power usage and input from the solar panel. You can even limit the power draw from the mains hook-up here, so not to trip campsite electrics.
Those who usually stay on sites may welcome the fitment of the latest plateless microwave but, at 1.63m off the floor, I’d be extra careful when lifting hot soup from here. This is maybe one step too far in ticking off those UK features.
That aside, though, the Coachman’s kitchen impresses. Under the microwave is the biggest of fridge/freezers – a 177-litre Dometic 10 Series with automatic energy selection and doors that open from either side. The main galley unit is opposite and has a full cooker (three gas rings, mains hotplate, grill and oven). There’s even an extractor hood above.
Where this kitchen really scores, though, is with its storage. The top lockers are neatly divided with different-sized sections for different items and fiddle rails to keep items in situ. Below, similar attention to detail means that there’s a pull-out rack for tins and packets as well as a stack of three drawers – all locked for travel with a single twist catch. The cutlery drawer is a good size, while the bottom drawer houses a pair of bins.
Beyond the kitchen, the toilet door does the usual trick of closing off the rear of the motorhome as an en suite bedroom, while a concertina screen can make the bed itself private. In continental style, the loo is on one side, the shower opposite.
The toilet is a Thetford plastic swivel-bowl, but the space around it is generous and the basin is surrounded by loads of useful worktop. The mirror-fronted cupboard includes the necessary (but too often omitted) fiddle rails but Mr Clumsy managed to pull the towel rail off the wall – Coachman has promised to ensure customers don’t have the same issue.
It’s hard to fault the shower, which seemed to deliver a strong jet of plentiful hot water, while a pump actually sucks soapy suds out of the shower tray at the same time. It’s all about ensuring there’s no water left in pipes that could subsequently freeze.
After the ablutions, the floor steps up and there are further steps on either side of the high-mounted island bed. The mattress here is huge and very, very comfortable, while once again the lighting is superb and there are some great design details.
Features I loved include the bedside recesses with USBs to charge your phone while you doze, and his and hers wardrobes with baskets for your smalls. At the foot of the bed, you’ll find a second TV station, too, but I was more enamoured with the switch to turn off all the living area lights from the bedroom. This stylish boudoir includes more clothing storage (cupboards and drawers) below the bed and rear speakers, too.
Downsides? Lopping a couple of inches off the length of the mattress would make for easier moving around at night, while one of those ratchet systems to raise the head of the bed would be appreciated for sitting up in the morning.
This isn’t just a motorhome for couples. The offside settee has the cleverest of mechanisms to turn it into a forward-facing double passenger seat with no extra or leftover cushions. Then, discreetly hidden in the lounge ceiling, is a drop-down bed.
Operated from the main control panel, the bed whirrs down to 1.42m off the floor. A ladder is, therefore, required for access, but headroom above the mattress is an impressive 800mm. The bed’s size will suit one adult or a couple of kids, and it scores on a number of fronts – it doesn’t obstruct the kitchen or doorway, it has its own (huge) rooflight as well as two spotlights, and, best of all, it comes with an array of bedside shelves complete with 230V socket and twin USBs. Like so many aspects of this motorhome, it’s a cut above the norm.
That applies to the base vehicle too. It’s not just the badge snobbery of the three-pointed star, because this one comes as standard with the 170bhp motor and nine-speed automatic gearbox. That ensures plenty of performance in a smooth hushed fashion that is matched by a welcome lack of din from the habitation area.
As if that wasn’t enough to put a smile on the driver’s face, the cab chairs come with adjustable lumbar support and three-stage heating. Then, there’s the 10.25in MBUX display with DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its sat-nav maps are crystal clear and the same screen serves the reversing camera, too.
The chassis spec also encompasses plenty of safety features and even access to the cab is easy, thanks to the wide running board steps. But those are possible because this is an unusually wide motorhome, which will not suit every potential owner, nor every touring destination.
Motorhome supplied by Coachman Caravan Company
Tel: 01482 839737
We have created a fully searchable library of every issue of MMM from January 2012.
Our archive partner provides the searchable database to help you find, download and read any and every issue instantly, on any device, on any topic, wherever you may be, including the latest editions!
Why not try searching for more great motorhome articles now?