Caravan review: Southern Star 660

By: Bill Savidan


Southern Star 660 Southern Star 660
Southern Star 660 Southern Star 660
Southern Star 660 The line of sight through the 660 is unhindred and the feeling of space enhanced. Southern Star 660
Southern Star 660 You can have a washing machine installed in the permanent bathroom, should you wish. Southern Star 660
Southern Star 660 The Southern Star 660 features a permanent island bed. Southern Star 660
Southern Star 660 Southern Star 660
Southern Star 660 The hatches and windows are all locally supllied and double-glazed. Southern Star 660

Bill Savidan got a great deal more than he bargained for when he reviewed the Southern Star 660 caravan.

When I visited RnRV's yard in Silverdale to do this review, proprietor Paul Cook told me about a 75-year-old woman who had just bought a brand new Southern Star 660. Like some of her friends and acquaintances, she had recently lost her spouse and had decided to get on and do some of the things she had always dreamed of doing, but never got around to.

Top of the list was to sell the house, buy a caravan, and tour New Zealand. As the caravan was to be her home it had to contain the creature comforts to make it so. A small caravan behind a family saloon was not for her. She spoke to various friends, but it was the Southern Star caravan that caught her eye. Thinking it could be the one, she visited RnRV to find out more.

Confession time came when she asked if she could take Paul's Landcruiser for a test drive towing the Southern Star 660. She had never towed a caravan before. She had faith in her ability, but she wanted to try it to be sure. The test drive went well enough to give her the confidence to buy the Southern Star 660, and she bought a second-hand Landcruiser 100 Series just like Paul's to tow it.

Paul's story perked up my interest in the Southern Star 660.

The Southern Star 660

The Southern Star 660 is a dual-axle caravan with an open-plan interior. It weighs 2000kg empty and has a maximum payload of 1000kg. Not surprisingly, it is 6.6 metres long, excluding the drawbar, 2.37 metres wide, and 2.57 metres high. Most owners will tow it with a medium/large pickup or 4WD.

Experience has shown RnRV that most buyers want their 'vans supplied certified self-contained (CSC), so all are up to this standard and RnRV includes other freedom camping and entertainment items in the retail price for its Southern Star 660s (150-watt solar panel; bigger house batteries and water tanks; two LED TV sets and a Fusion sound system).

Southern Stars are hand-built in the traditional way. The timber- (treated radiata) framed body is mounted on a hot-dipped box-section galvanised steel chassis with dual axles, fitted with AL-KO's independent rubber suspension (IRS) and electric brakes. The external cladding is an unusual three-skin alloy/plastic composite/alloy membrane that offers added durability.

Roof puddles are often the source of leaks. To avoid this problem, the roof cladding is applied in one piece, front to back and side to side, in such a way that the roof is apexed so the centre is higher than the sides, allowing the water to run off. All the body frames are in-filled with insulation foam and the interior is clad with a prefinished decorative ply.

Southern _Star _4

Inside the caravan

Sitting on the cross bench seat under the sunroof at the front of the 'van, I could appreciate the visual impact of the open-plan layout. On the kerbside, the fridge cabinet intruded into my line of sight, otherwise I could see from the front all the way back to the bathroom partition and from side to side.

The U-shaped lounge easily seats six, whether for casual entertaining or, once the dining table has been erected, when dining. This seating area can be made up into a double bed if required. Storage under the kerbside settee can be accessed by lifting the cushion or via an external hatch.

LED lighting has changed the attitudes of both RV owners and manufacturers alike, as lighting is now no longer regarded as a major drain on house batteries. Southern Star is no exception and the 660 offers both bright and mood lighting to suit the occasion. And a Propex Heat Source two-kilowatt heater is ready to roll too, ensuring the mood lighting and warmth goes hand in hand.

Kitchen

The kitchen is equipped with a Thetford four-hob cooktop, separate grill and full-sized oven, along with a 190-litre Dometic two-door fridge/freezer. There is useful bench space on either side of the cooktop and a full-sized stainless steel draining area beside the sink. Should you need more bench space, an extension mounted on a decent load-bearing drawer slide provides it. A rangehood and microwave round out the list of appliances.

Beneath the RSE 21-inch LED TV DVD player is a cocktail cabinet with racks for bottles and glasses. At the end of the settee is a shoe cupboard. There is storage aplenty in the overhead lockers and under the bench.

Bedroom

A permanent island bed lights up the eyes of a host of caravan buyers, so I'm told. If that's you, put the Southern Star 660 on your must-see list, because its island bed is one of the best in the business. It is a full walk-around bed with a side table and drawers each side.

Both occupants have their own hanging locker for the 'flash' clothes and an overhead locker for clothes that fold. There is a cavern of space under the bed and tucked away in the corner of the room is a vanity top, cabinet beneath and mirror above, for those in need of an ego boost.

The second RSE LED TV (a 19-inch this time) in the bedroom, like the one in the lounge, plays DVDs, contains a Freeview decoder, and is Sky ready.

Bathroom

The rear bathroom contains all the things it should, with enough room to enjoy them all in comfort. Personally, I would forgo the mirror door on the shower stall and have an opaque screen to allow natural light into the stall. You can have a washing machine installed in the bathroom if you wish.

Southern _Star _5

The verdict

I think the Southern Star 660 is a very good caravan, well-conceived and well built by people who have faith in their ability to create products buyers want. And having reached that happy place where both buyers and sellers are in tune.

RnRV of Silverdale, near Auckland, supplied the Southern Star 660. As reviewed, it retails for $82,500. For more information contact RnRV on (09) 426 7679.

Pros

  • Open-plan interior
  • Island queen bed
  • Easy-to-work kitchen

Cons

  • Mirrored shower door

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