Review: Auto-Roller 694

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


The Auto-Roller 694 is a fine entry-level motorhome with all the bells and whistles

Established in 2001, Roller Team is part of France’s Trigano Group, one of Europe’s major motorhome manufacturers. Roller Team motorhomes are built in a modern up-to-the-minute factory near Poggibonsi in Tuscany, Italy. Roller Team is now a market leader in Europe building motorhomes that are a happy blend of Italian design flair and the latest technology, resulting in reliable, functional, and affordable motorhomes.

Auto -Roller -694

Since 2015 Tourism Holdings Ltd (THL) has been importing near-new Roller Team  motorhomes from UK motorhome rental company Just Go after they had served a single summer season in their fleet. A few are sold on arrival in New Zealand, but most serve a season in THL’s rental fleet before being offered for sale by RV Super Centre. There are three models in the Roller Team range. The entry-level Zefiro, the mid-range Auto Roller, and the T-Line at the top.

Overview

Out of the Auto Roller range, the four-berth 694 features a spacious front lounge that includes the cab seats, rotated aft to face the table. Kerbside is a side settee that could seat two at a pinch allowing up to six to eat or be entertained around the table.

Windows all round help keep you connected with what is going on outside while the panorama window overhead keeps the lounge light and bright. Like most of the Roller Team ex-rentals on display, it had around 30,000km on the clock.

Storage -2Under the kerbside settee is general storage space plus the 12-volt distribution board. The fresh water tank occupies all the space under the forward facing dinette seat. This seat is belted for two passengers. A small locker beside the seat houses the water pump.

Altogether, there are three overhead lockers on the driver’s side, two over the dinette, and one above the kitchen. There are two more above the side settee. All except the forward facing rear lockers in the bedroom are fitted with shelves that in practical terms, double their storage capacity. There is a USB port mounted under the locker above the dinette table.

Kitchen needs

Kitchen

It’s a small kitchen but very ‘workable’, mainly because of its L-shaped layout that allows one to work at the bench without interference from passers-by. With the sink at the end of one leg and the oven and hobs at the end of the other, the corner of the ‘L’ remains free for use as workspace.

Lowering the glass lid over the hobs provides additional workspace. Still, the cook will need to be well organised when preparing large meals and when stowing the weekly supermarket shop.

At first glance, this looks like a challenge. There’s a cupboard with two slide-out baskets under the sink that look very useful and a shallow locker under the oven that looks less so. Next door is a cupboard set up as a wardrobe with a locker below that could be requisitioned by the cook if necessary.

Overhead lockers above the bench and the fridge-freezer will also come into play. And then there is that large fridge-freezer to fill. Perhaps supermarket shopping stowage is not such a problem after all.

Bedroom

Bedroom -1

In the rear kerbside corner is a cosy queen-sized double bed with a foam mattress over a sprung wooden slat base that promises a blissful night’s sleep. The base and mattress lift quite easily, courtesy of a powerful gas strut, to reveal masses of storage space below.

It will swallow a barbecue and outdoor furniture leaving space to spare. And it is all accessible via an external hatch. A window and ceiling hatch provide ventilation and an adjustable reading spotlight each side provides illumination.

Bathroom 

Bathroom

The bathroom is a linear affair. At the back is the shower stall. It is not large but is adequate for the task at hand, and it has a screen door to keep the shower spray within the stall. Ceiling mounted in the shower stall is a clothes-drying rail. Next in line comes the Thetford swivel bowl toilet. At first glance, it appears to impede access to the shower, but in fact, you step past it hardly realising it is there.

At the front by the door is the very smart, clear acrylic, semi-spherical handbasin set in front of a corner mirror. There are two cabinets for personal items and toiletries and a window and ceiling hatch for ventilation. All in all, this bathroom is a good example of effective, efficient use of space.

Interior

Interior

As you would expect, the 694 has LED lighting throughout—a careful blend of mood, accent, reading strip lights, and adjustable reading spotlights. There are 230-volt power points in the bathroom, kitchen, and lounge. All the windows are double-glazed and are fitted with both insect screens and blinds.

The interior decor is plain and practical with mid-brown timber veneer patterned cabinetry, ivory and caramel faux leather upholstery, and off-white curtains. The cab seats are upholstered to match the dinette seating. A combi gas heating system mounted under the rear bed with ducted outlets throughout keeps the 694 toasty warm during the winter months.

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Even though there is not an external step, getting in and out of the 694 is quite easy. The bottom stepwell step seems to be so much closer to the ground than most other motorhomes. It is a good feature, however they do it.

Exterior

Exterior

The Auto-Roller 694 has a low profile body with a crisp cheese cutter cap styled Luton over the cab. All white except for the contrasting grey skirt across the back and down each side plus the tail light housings across the rear.

Simple red and grey swirls decorate each side. There are just three hatch openings in the bodywork. Two on the driver’s side for the LPG bottle locker and the toilet cassette and a large one kerbside for access to the space under the rear bed.

Anchor points for retro-fitting a bike rack are installed at assembly time. A rear-view camera is mounted high on that distinctive rear panel that slopes forward a few degrees, immediately identifying the motorhome as a Roller Team product.

Built on a Fiat Ducato cab-chassis, it has the 2.3-litre turbo diesel motor driving the front wheels through a six-speed AMT automatic gearbox. Safety features include airbags for passenger and driver and ABS brakes. A centrally mounted media centre features an AM/FM radio, MP3 player and hands-free phone operation using Bluetooth.

The cab is air-conditioned. There is a dash mounted 12-volt power point and USB plug. Roller Team has retained the one-piece black rubberised carpet on the cab floor. It is durable and easy to clean.

LPG-bottle

Thanks to Fiat Ducato, the Auto-Roller 694 is a pleasure to drive, whether in city traffic or open road motoring. The centrally mounted rear-view mirror actually displays the view from the camera at the back of the vehicle. It can be set up for continuous display while driving. A shelf above the cab seats runs the full width of the cab and is an ideal place to stow items needed during the day’s travel—a camera, a jersey, a comprehensive roadmap book.

Above that is a panorama window set into the roof. It keeps the cab light, bright, and warm in winter and has a thermo blind to close it off during the heat of summer. Both cab seats rotate 360 degrees and have a full range of fore and aft adjustment. And, just to keep
you on your toes, there is a small step (100mm +/-) from the cab floor down to the motorhome floor.

Verdict

Motorhome -with -a -view

This is a fine entry-level motorhome. It has most of the important features found in more pricey products and has its own sense of style. The vehicle reviewed was beautifully presented and there was not a hint of its immediate past life to be seen.

RV Super Centre has confidence in the product. They offer it with a 12-month ‘RV Super Centre Guarantee’. As reviewed, it is for sale for $109,990. The Auto-Roller 694 is available for April delivery.

The Auto-Roller 694 review specifications

Vehicle make/model: Auto-Roller 694
Engine: 2.3L turbo diesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Berths: Four
Approx. overall length: 6760mm
Approx. overall width: 2310mm
Approx. overall height: 2900mm
Tanks: 100L fresh, 105L grey
Gas: 1 x 9kg
GVM: 3500kg

Read more reviews on motorhomes and carvans in New Zealand.

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