A worthy new competitor in the rear lounge coachbuilt arena, the Roadstar EL offers a proven layout, high specification, good payload (but a lack of exterior storage) and an appealing but rarely seen base vehicle.
Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Base vehicle: Renault Master Gross weight: 3,500kg (3,800kg as tested) Payload: 905kg (on 3,800kg chassis)
Time was when Lunar Caravans from Preston made a series of traditional but quite highly regarded coachbuilt motorhomes (Roadstar, Telstar, Fivestar, etc) but, at the end of the Noughties, the company returned to its core business of manufacturing touring caravans.
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Recently, Lunar returned to the motorhome market, initially with a conversion of Nissan’s little NV200, followed by the Sprinter-based Landstar. Now, with the four-layout Roadstar coachbuilt family, the company has reverted to a past favourite base vehicle, the platform-cab Renault Master.
The Master compares strongly with the opposition and has class-leading warranties (four years/100,000 miles with roadside assistance).
The Roadstar EL has immediate appeal, looking neat and sweet, and smaller than its 6.4-metres. The low-profile overcab includes a large opening skylight, while darkened habitation windows lie flush with the aluminium side panels – the roof and overcab are hail-resistant GRP, which also underskins the floor, improving waterproofing. Noticeable is the long wheelbase and short overhang, which will improve stability on the road, though the turning circle is quite large.
The cab seats have twin armrests, are multi-adjustable and very comfortable. As standard, the Roadstar has all a techie driver could reasonably wish for: sat-nav, cruise control, air-conditioning and a DAB/MP3/Bluetooth radio controlled from the steering wheel. Foglights and LED daytime running lights are fitted, as are safety features like Electronic Stability Control, Hill-Start Assist and Trailer Swing Assist. A Phantom Tracker is also included.
The comfortable U-shaped rear lounge, with six-foot settees either side, is light and bright with three windows, a large wind-up Heki, six ceiling lights, four slightly adjustable reading lights and high-level, dimmable mood lighting. There’s a pair of extra speakers, plus, in the front offside corner, a wall-mounted television bracket and connections, backed up by twin USB ports.
The free-standing table stores in the wardrobe, behind the driver’s seat. It’s sturdy and quite heavy, and the top is rather small given the generous seating space in the lounge.
You can also relax on the swivelled cab seats. There’s a slight step up into the cab, but dangling legs aren’t a problem and the seat bases adjust for full lounging comfort. Ceiling lights either side of the large wind-up cab skylight are adequate for reading and there’s a narrow surface under the wardrobe for mugs of tea. Remis cab blinds provide privacy, so it’s an ideal spot if your partner is still in bed.
The kitchen isn’t huge, but, alongside the large stainless-steel sink, there’s a full-sized Thetford Aspire cooker with three gas burners, one mains hotplate, a 42-litre oven and a separate grill. There’s a pan cupboard below and an illuminated extractor fan above, along with an 800W microwave and a modest 90-litre three-way fridge with removable freezer compartment. The lift-up flap on the end of the unit is a boon and, when raised, it’s still possible to just squeeze out through the door. There’s a mains socket behind the sink, daylight from the window, two ceiling lights, a striplight below the overhead cupboards, two small spots in the extractor housing and a Heki.
The large washroom has its Thetford swivel toilet off to the right, a fixed corner basin opposite the door and – between – a black, vertical panel edged with illuminated strips, carrying the Ecocamel shower head on a riser bar.
Underneath a non-slip cover, the shower tray forms most of the floor, with deep drainage channels and three plugholes. A bifold translucent screen protects the wooden door, and the walls are all smooth and easily cleaned, so the whole room can be used for showering without water damaging fittings or resorting to a clingy shower curtain.
There’s a mirror-doored cupboard above the basin, another cupboard opposite the loo and all the requisite fittings (loo roll holder, towel ring and mug holder), plus a ceiling light and skylight.
A rear lounge layout may not offer the convenience of a fixed bed but, if well-designed, bed-making should be a minute’s work, without breaking sweat or nails. In the Roadstar, it’s a mixed bag.
The settee bases simply slide together (the easy bit), but then you must move the rear seat cushion and two bulky armrests (we’d leave them at home) into the cab. The six-foot-long one-piece backrests go in the centre. Thankfully, the rear backrest can be left in place, because the transverse bed measures a massive 2.10m by 1.82m.
The bed, being totally flat (thanks to the lack of knee-rolls) and made with quality foam, is very comfortable, with wall ventilation boards protecting everything from night-time condensation. For single beds, you’d need to remove all three backrests, but the 1.82m length would be insufficient for many.
Aside from the lack of kitchen storage, space elsewhere is reasonable, with big, high-level cupboards all around the lounge and loads of space under the nearside settee. The offside settee still retains some storage capacity, despite housing the leisure battery, power unit and Truma Combi boiler. There’s a large wardrobe and a drawer below, whilst in the cab Renault provides a handy overhead shelf and cubbies galore.
The gas locker takes two 7kg cylinders and has Truma’s crash-safe regulator for en route heating. The inboard (so properly winterised) 90-litre fresh water tank lives under the rear central settee, whilst the 65-litre waste water tank is underslung, but heated. That rather mean waste water capacity will require regular emptying if you use the on-board shower.