With a bit of inspiration from the slick, yacht-inspired Caravisio concept camper revealed in 2013, Knaus Tabbert has developed an all-new version of its Eurostar flagship caravan. While the "motorhome in a caravan" has lost a bit of the flash and feature of the Carivisio, the Eurostar is a real camper born from the same forward-looking vision: comfortable, adaptable interior, the latest in construction technology, and a touch of "yacht for the road" feel.
Wild concept cars are standard fare at auto shows, and often we get to see those cars move from crazy, experimental stage models to toned-down, mass market-ready commuter vehicles. It's rarer to see that type of evolution in the motorhome and caravan market, but the Caravisio-to-Eurostar journey provides an interesting parallel to the auto world.
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Knaus debuted the Caravisio design study at the 2013 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, where the "caravan of the future" was put forth as a vision for attracting new faces into the fading ranks of caravanning. Knaus didn't seem to have even the slightest production intentions at the time, but as automakers often say of concept cars, the Caravisio attracted so much attention and praise that Knaus couldn't ignore it ... or at least parts of it.
"The public interest that we achieved with this project exceeded even our highest expectations", Swen Dluzak, Knaus/Weinsberg head of product and brand management, explained earlier this year. "The numerous positive responses for us were a confirmation that with this study we had hit the nail on the head."
Knaus knew that it couldn't let the Caravisio concept rust away in a dark warehouse without bringing at least some of its design to market. It also knew the futuristic 2013 concept needed some toning down before becoming a series production-ready caravan.
Knaus dropped the hitch-able bullet train shell of the Caravisio, along with the concept's cutting edge technologies - no two-way projection TV system, fingerprint entry or smartphone-controlled air suspension. The new Eurostar's body shape and styling look virtually identical to the 2013 Eurostar model that Knaus showed alongside the Caravisio in Düsseldorf that year.
A lightweight, weatherproof "Top Value Technology (TVT)" sidewall construction rises from the AL-KO tandem chassis and is insulated with long fiber injection technology. The roof between those sidewalls is made from fiberglass.
The design motif on the walls is printed with a digital imaging technique that Knaus calls "Freedom of Design" (Knaus apparently doesn't think much of succinct, specific technology names). The company explains that the technology allows it to give the caravan a textured 3D look without resorting to foils and decals, as in the past.
The 2013 Eurostar styling isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's an attractive design, as far as towable living crates go, with automotive-inspired LED taillights and chrome trim. It even won a 2013 Red Dot product design award. Still, we would have liked to see at least a little Caravisio, especially if it meant carrying over the rear drop-down deck.
It's the interior that really makes or breaks a caravan, and that's where the Caravisio's influence shines through. The square, stodgy floor plans offered on older Eurostar models have been cleared out in favor of a more open, fluid layout derived directly from the Caravisio.
The bedroom is located at the very front of the Eurostar. Without the rounded bullet face of the Caravisio to work with, Knaus had to restructure its front-end boomerang V bed into more of a squared off U bed for two. That bed includes individual adjustable-tilt headboard cushions designed for sitting up and relaxing throughout the day.
Moving back from the front-end master bedroom, the first stop is the open en-suite bathroom, which includes a partitioned fiberglass shower and toilet opposite a sink/wardrobe. The open design of the bathroom provides a nice update from the usual cramped wash closet and allows multiple occupants to use different fixtures at the same time without tripping all over each other.
As in the Caravisio, the main cabin has an open living area with a wraparound convertible sofa-bed and table opposite a compact kitchen. The living area is a multipurpose design optimized for dining, relaxing and office work and includes a secretary's desk next to the front-most couch cushion. When work calls, simply move the cushion into backrest position and get down to business on the desk, leaving the table open for other campers to use. The desk area includes outlets for plugging in electronics, and the surface doubles as a side table when not being used as a desk.
The kitchen has a worktop for preparing food and two gas burners plus single induction hob for cooking it up. Food stays fresh inside the 39-gal (148-l) refrigerator/freezer, and dishes get cleaned in the stainless steel sink with extra-high swivel faucet.
Yacht-inspired PVC flooring ties the individual rooms together, and LED lighting illuminates the interior at night. A Truma C6 gas heater provides interior and water heating. The main bed and convertible sofa provide sleeping space for four.
An 11.9-gal (45-l) fresh water tank, gel battery and electrical hardware are located under the floor. The exterior has a 230 V input, and the interior has both electrical and USB outlets. It is wired with coaxial cable, and TVs are offered optionally.
The new 31-ft (9.4-m) Eurostar 650 ES launched earlier this year and starts just under €50,000 (US$56,500). It has a curb weight of 4,916 lb (2,230 kg). Options include air conditioning, sound system selections, and increased 20-gal (75-l) fresh water capacity.
Much like a production car often loses the edge and style of its concept predecessor, the Eurostar falls quite short of the futuristic design heights reached by the Caravisio concept. It does seem to be a more comfortable, livable space thanks to some of the ideas floated on the 2013 concept, though. You can compare the two designs in our full photo gallery.
Source: Knaus TabbertView gallery - 30 images