Lunar caught the eye of visitors to last year's NEC show with its newest eight-foot-wide family tourer. Andrew Jenkinson discovered there's good reason.

Overview

There seems to have been something of an explosion in the market for eight-foot-wide caravans of late. The sector is gaining momentum rapidly and, for the likes of manufacturers such as Lunar, that's a blessing.

The Preston-based company is no stranger to this arena. With an eight-foot Quasar - the 686 - already in its repertoire, Lunar now has a second eight-footer; the new 696 twin-axle six-berth, launched at the last NEC show. The 696 has been well received and, now that we've had a close look at it, we can see why.

This Lunar has a rear room with fixed side bunks and a side dinette - ideal for children. The washroom and kitchen are both midships and there's a nicely appointed L-shaped front lounge.

This is one big chunk of well equipped tourer for less than £24k, yet it's also lightweight. It's stable and well behaved on the road, too; sure, you need to be aware of its width, but it tows beautifully.

Pitching and setting up

The 696 comes on an Al-Ko chassis with an AKS stabiliser hitch. There's no ATC but we don't see this as a major omission at this level.

Bold yet smart exterior graphics give the Quasar real presence. The front and rear have full-height ABS moulded panels, while a small front sunroof and large skylight let plenty of natural light into the bright and breezy interior.

There's a largish gas locker at the front and the side door is, of course, glazed. The offside of the 696 carries all the service points (plus cassette hatch etc) while the nearside front offers an external storage locker with mains socket. Other standard equipment includes a Status TV aerial and smart alloy wheels.

This is a sizeable van but once level it's easy enough to set up, even on your own.

Lounge

That L-shaped lounge works a treat. Lunar has a knack for making its tourers feel more spacious than their size actually suggests, and the 696 is no exception. It feels wide and that helps make the lounge a very comfortable spot to be.

There's plenty of legroom and the floor area feels ample. The large triple front windows add to the spacious, bright feel while, for the evenings, there's LED lighting and corner spots, each of which has a USB point.

There's lipped shelving on the nearside, above which is a TV fixing point capable of taking a 32-inch screen, hence no side window - something some buyers will surely miss.

The upholstery is all-new for 2019 and very comfortable and supportive it is too. With the free-standing table in place, meal times for four will be a comfortable breeze.

Kitchen

Lunar's designers have really used their heads here. Rather than go for a conventional side kitchen, they've used the Quasar's width to create an L-shaped space. This arrangement gives the user a good deal more worktop space as well as extra storage. It makes cooking for six a lot easier than it might otherwise be.

We particularly liked the plentiful cupboard storage as well as the added drawers and overhead roof lockers. One slight quibble: there's only a single plug socket - a twin would have been better.

As you might expect, a full oven is part of the spec, together with a dual-fuel hob and deep sink with clip-on drainer.

Opposite this is the separate fridge/freezer and the microwave, the latter placed at a helpfully practical height. There's more worktop on this side too, plus a second mains socket (hooray!), spacious shelving and more lockers.

There's a lot to like about this kitchen and we feel that, for many buyers, it could be the deciding factor that convinces them to plump for a Quasar.

Washroom

The washroom in the 696 is amidships. In other words you have to walk through it to get to the rear bedroom or (coming from the rear bedroom) to the front lounge.

The shower cubicle has shelving to its left and the electric-flush loo on its right, while the hand basin is opposite. It's quite a tight arrangement but perfectly usable.

We like the washroom - all its elements work well - but understand that it won't suit everyone. Its only real issue is that front-to-rear access, which just needs good communication between occupants.

Beds

The Quasar works well as a place to spend your waking hours, but what about when it's time to sleep?

The front lounge is easily made up into a double bed using the slide-out section, but it's the kids that get all the fun with their two bunks at the rear. Each bunk has its own window plus wall-mounted storage pouch and LED reading light.

Opposite, the dinette makes into a large single bed with a fold-up bunk above it. Once they're made up, all these beds look and feel comfortable.

Storage

The 696 comes with a large front locker and good overhead storage in both the lounge area and rear bedroom. The lounge has corner lockers on both sides, one of which houses the radio. The wardrobe isn't that big but ample for weekend jaunts.

Additional storage under the rear bunk and a kitchen that offers plenty of drawers and cupboards both count heavily in the 696's favour.

We feel there's ample storage here for five people, but with six on board, everyone would need to be a little more organised.

Technical specs

Berth6
MiRO1499kg
Payload181kg
MTPLM1680kg
Interior length6.32m
Shipping length7.89m
Width2.44m
Awning size1090cm

Verdict

A nicely designed kitchen, a light, spacious lounge and a generous level of spec: there's a lot for larger families to like here. That washroom arrangement might be an acquired taste, but the 696 is good value and tows well. It's a big chunk of tourer with a lot to offer.

Conclusion

Pros

  • L-shaped lounge
  • Bunks
  • Brilliant L-shaped kitchen

Cons

  • No nearside window
  • No twin socket in kitchen