Roadstar presented its Safari Tamer Extreme 18’6″ for judging at the 2022 Caravan of the Year, and it’s a standout van for extreme off-road travel. The family-run company has built a solid reputation over the last 30 years and now boasts the third generation in the team.
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 high riding Roadstar may not have won this year’s event against cheaper entrants, but it won respect and some envious looks from the judges.
“Armed with plenty of power and water, the Roadstar is kitted out to sustain you in the bush.” Caroline Jasinski (Judge)
Value For Money
At $165,000, the Roadstar is the most expensive entrant at this year’s event.
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 chequer plate. 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 Mk-2 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.
Towing any Roadstar is a breeze. The lightly-modified Landcruiser 200 was a good fit for the tall offroader. It had the power to keep up with traffic and the weight to keep the van in check. The clearance under the chassis is impressive, and that’s before you raise the suspension, which allows for around 200mm of articulation by remote control.
Given the recourses, 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 off-road 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 off-road. 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.
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 , gaining 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 off-road van’s underside should be presented. Everything hanging off and bolted to the chassis and every feature inside, all impressed. The modern frameless composite build includes a 42mm composite floor and it gets a big tick from us as well. Then, 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.
The Safari Tamer Extreme is designed to satisfy all the senses and stand the test of time. The most well rounded off-road on the market today
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 pretty essential to make the front bed, rear bathroom layout practical, which it is. The central space area features the offside kitchen bench and a nearside café 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 up against the bathroom wall is a Thetford 274L compressor fridge. It’s a well-equipped kitchen, but for a van of this size, you have to expect 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 and a Fusion sound system is integrated at the dining table
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 off-road luxury lifestyle this van is designed for. Because Roadstar is a custom builder there are many layout options for customers.
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 feedback ideas to the company. A network of 100 or so authorised repair agents take care of any repairs.
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.
And 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 BM Pro 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 2 x 95L fresh-water tanks to sustain you in the bush, and there’s a 95L grey-water tank for stays in National Parks.
Twin 9kg gas bottles Gas will get you through cooking and hot water with a Swift stove and Truma hot water system.
The monocoque composite body is the way of the future because it has excellent insulation, good weight savings and if its 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-size off-roader with current tech construction, and a Cruisemaster air system is as good as you can expect
Safari Tamer Extreme oozes an X-Factor any off-road enthusiast will embrace and winning best build quality at COTY 22 adds to the zing
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.