Peter Baber
Reviews Editor

See other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber

Distinctive styling, an impressive kitchen and a healthy payload mark out the two-berth Knaus StarClass 480 – is it enough to shine in this crowded market?

Overview

Continental caravans don't always mark out their territory by being different.

Knaus, for example, offers a number of leftfield designs – including the funky Sport & Fun. But it also aims at something more middle-of-the-road with its StarClass range.

At last October’s NEC show, it expanded this range for the UK market with two new models. One was the mighty StarClass 690, but at the other extreme is this, the new 480.

It is an end-washroom two-berth with a shipping length of 6.72m. With such dimensions, the new van joins a crowded market. Is it a real contender? Read on!

Pitching and setting up

The Knaus StarClass 480’s exterior is very much in line with convention – it’s all white with a grey stripe down the middle. You do get a stable door, however, which many UK manufacturers have dropped.

The real break from the norm here is with the chassis. StarClass models come on a BPW VTec unit, which has BPW iDC stability control fitted as standard. This year, all StarClasses have also been fitted with BPW’s iWD Diamond wheel lock.

With an MTPLM of 1500kg, this caravan is heavier than some of its UK rivals, so you would need to choose a matching tow car carefully. You do get a generous payload of 205kg, however.

Lounge

The entrance area of the 480 feels like a domestic hall, with a large mirror directly opposite the door, a robust coat rack that can handle the bulkiest parka, and a panel behind it to stop the wood of the surrounding walls getting wet from any drips.

Turn left and you find a U-shaped lounge with sprung seat bases that could easily seat five, and perhaps more. This whole area is nicely illuminated by a skylight in the day, and by four spotlights and ambient lighting at night.

Along with cassette blinds there are proper curtains for privacy, not just the pieces of fabric tied to a cable that some manufacturers get away with.

There is, however, a preponderance of dark colours: those curtains are in grey, and the carpet is pure black. There are even all-black scatter cushions.

This is meant to contrast with the yellowy beige of the seats and, particularly under the artificial lighting, such an effect works well. But black won’t necessarily cover up dirt, of course.

The freestanding table – also finished in a shiny dark-grey colour – is heavy. But it does slip neatly into a slot beneath the nearside settee. Because this slot corresponds with the external access door, you can easily reach the same table if you fancy a bit of al fresco dining.

Two speakers in the corner, connected to a stereo system hidden in one of the overhead lockers, means that you won’t miss out on music while you are on your caravan holidays.

And the sideboard at the foot of the settee on the nearside has a TV socket next to it, so two of you could easily lounge back on the sofas when catching up with your viewing.

Kitchen

The black/dark-grey theme continues in the 2017 Knaus StarClass 480 with the chunky kitchen worktop, which is generously sized, even with its large sink and drainer.

The area around the four-burner dual-fuel hob is well lit and, along with a Thetford oven and grill, you get a microwave – unusual for a Continental van.

A huge drawer beneath the worktop should hold most of your cooking utensils, although there are two cupboards beneath this if you need more room.

Overhead there are two lockers, with a shelf underneath that is the perfect height to be used as a spice rack. Two mains sockets complete the picture.

You need to turn to the sideboard on the nearside to access the 110-litre AES fridge, and possibly some additional workspace. To the right of this is a cupboard with three further large shelves for food storage.

To the left by the door, meanwhile, are three open shelves that would be handy for keys and gloves.

Washroom

The designers of this Knaus caravan have managed to squeeze a basic separate shower cubicle in here by hiding it behind the mirror in the ‘hall’.

There’s also a large double wardrobe, with a full-height hanging space on the left and large shelves on the right.

A central washbasin with a waterfall tap is well lit by a light on either side of the large mirror, which has shelving behind.

There is more shelving in the cupboard underneath, while you get additional light coming through the opaque window by the loo, and heat from a well-positioned vent.

Beds

The sleeping arrangements in this caravan are particularly kind on the user: you simply pull out the slats under the front chest – which are held in place by plastic straps to stop them becoming uneven – and slide the seat cushions onto them.

There’s no need for infill pieces and, because the cushions are sprung, they make for a heavenly mattress.

The spotlights are in just the right position for reading, but the headboards look a little flimsy.

The latter are not necessarily there to duct air from any Alde heating: on this caravan it is only an optional extra.

Storage

Neither of the under-seat lockers is completely free of paraphernalia, but you’ll find external access to both of them and, on the inside, gas struts that hold up the seat bases.

There are four generously sized overhead lockers along the nearside of the lounge, one of which houses the stereo. You get two more on the offside, and another pair – separated off by a small partition – over the kitchen.

With that 205kg payload, you should be able to load them with ease.

Technical specs

Berth2
MiRO1285kg
Payload205kg
MTPLM1500kg
Interior length4.92m
Shipping length6.72m
Width2.32m
Awning size920cm

Verdict

The Knaus StarClass 480 looks stylish on the inside, and includes seats that make for an incredibly comfortable mattress, because they are sprung.

But unless you are particularly taken with the Knaus décor, you might really only go for the 480 if you are after a killer payload.

Otherwise you end up with a heavier van that lacks some of the standard features – in particular Alde heating – that a number of its rivals can offer.

Conclusion

Pros

  • This caravan has a generous payload
  • There's a good-quality finish to the furnishings
  • The beds are very comfortable
  • It has a high-spec kitchen for a Continental van

Cons

  • It is heavier than some rivals
  • The black interior won't be to everyone's tastes
  • Alde heating is optional, not standard
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