Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Base vehicle: Renault Master Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 620kg
The rear lounge is a UK favourite primarily because, with our three-seasons-in-one-day climate, we need to be able to stay warm and comfortable no matter what the weather. Hey, you can even watch the rain in panoramic fashion through windows on three sides!
So, the rear lounge design is unarguably a classic. It’s been a mainstay for many years, and that situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. We’re in ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it’ territory here, with plenty of space for a decent bathroom and kitchen up front and, in the rear, a lounge that’s super comfortable and easily makes up into a bed when the time comes for lights out. In short, a classic tourer for two that’s easy to live with, drive and park.
The motor in the motorhome here is unusual and great to see amongst the seemingly endless stream of Fiat Ducatos and Peugeot Boxers. Renault’s Master has evolved over the years – from ‘tough truck’ style, to something far more sophisticated with only a hint of its previous character in place.
The standard Renault motor pushes out 130 horsepower, while a 145bhp unit is on the options list, as is an automatic gearbox, which comes with the 170-horsepower engine. This example of the EL was fitted with the Driver’s Pack (just £1,399) – pretty essential as it contains cab air-con, cruise control and a radio with DAB and sat-nav. Notable is the fact that a passenger airbag is fitted as standard, when many rivals charge extra.
There’s a knack to easy spinning of the cab seats, but once swivelled, they face a living area that begins with the wardrobe on the offside, kitchen opposite. Next on the nearside is the habitation entrance, while across the way is the bathroom.
The lounge is U-shaped and very thickly upholstered in cream fabric, with comfortable accommodation for up to seven, so the party can continue, even if it is chucking it down outside. At dinner time the table emerges from its home in the wardrobe to stand between the sofas. Space-saving legs are fitted – cleverly unfolding to belie the space they take up when stowed. Intimate dining for two (this is a two-berth after all) will be the norm as the table is a slim affair; however, getting sat behind it is easier here because of its relatively modest dimensions.
Come bedtime, construction of a double bed is simply a matter of pulling out aisle-filling frames, sliding base cushions forwards and dropping backrests in behind. In fact, with a length that’s just an inch short of seven feet and width of just over six feet, this is a huge bed in which you might choose to sleep lengthways. Or simply removing the backrest cushions creates two singles.
Just as lounges are a forte of British motorhomes, kitchens are often a strength, too – at least in the area of cooking appliances. Cassini EL offers a pretty full complement of cooking kit – a three-burner hob, oven/grill and above, a swish stainless-steel microwave. The circular sink comes with mixer tap and washing-up bowl. Storage includes an overhead locker, a wide and very deep cupboard below the oven and, across the aisle, a good-sized drawer and a further cupboard, both mounted below the wardrobe.
Rather than try to squeeze a separate shower into the washroom, Lunar has created an integrated alternative that’s well designed. A lot of these come with a nylon shower curtain that almost always ends up stuck to wet, soapy bodies, but here a rigid screen does the job of protecting the rest of the room when the water is running. Underfoot, the shower tray goes the extra mile to help water drain away when the ’van isn’t quite level with no less than three drains.
Finally, heating is by Truma Combi, lighting all-LED and, commendably, the fresh water tank is cosily mounted inboard, under the lounge seats.
A great new take on a classic layout, the Cassini offers an arguably superior base vehicle – a fact that makes its stonking-value price even more remarkable.