Check out the Practical Motorhome review of the Autocruise Starfire, an entry-level low-profile coachbuilt from the Swift Group

Design

The baby of the Star range, the Starfire is a 5.9m-long (19’4”) end-kitchen model. We managed to get a sneak preview prior to the line-up’s official public launch at the October 2010 NEC show. The name and layout aren’t completely new – Starfire was a pioneer of the end-kitchen layout, but fell out of the Autocruise line-up for a couple of years. Now it’s back – 
a classic two-berth layout: 
end kitchen, corner washroom and facing sofas upfront, behind swivelling cab seats.
It’s clear that the Star range borrows heavily from the design of the Swift Sundance, re-launched earlier this year: the low-profile mould and shapely rear panel are shared. However, the silver cab and bold red graphics give the range a real point of difference from the Sundance and Bessacarr E400 siblings.

On the road

While the Swift Sundance and Bessacarr E400 are built on the Fiat Ducato at Swift’s Cottingham factory, the Star range will be built on the Peugeot Boxer at the Autocruise factory in Mexborough, near Rotherham. So it gets steering wheel radio buttons, and they’re a welcome addition 
for the driver.
All models in the star range are powered by the 100HDi turbodiesel engine with five speed ’box. The option of a 130HDi with six speed ’box is only available on the largest model, the Starstream. On the road, the 100 MultiJet engine is perfectly fine for a compact ’van.
The cab and habitation doors can be locked remotely from the key fob. There’s external access to storage beneath the nearside sofa, which contains an underfloor storage tray for up to two leisure batteries.

Lounging & dining

Step inside the caravan body and, again, the styling is a notch more upmarket than that found in the sister brands: the lockers over the lounge area have traditional dark walnut effect trim, all with push-button positive locking doors.
Drop-in carpets overlay the vinyl flooring. The lighting throughout is LED, including two directional reading lights over each of the facing sofas, extra lights above the cabin B-pillars for those seated in the cab seats, and one ceiling light over the lounge. And we were pleased to see that backboards reside behind the backrest cushions, to avoid condensation in colder climes. An adjustable bracket for a 15-inch. flatscreen TV is neatly concealed above the dresser. By day, then, it’s a sociable layout suitable for up to six people, with a free-standing table 
that stashes in the wardrobe.

Kitchen

The end kitchen layout is hugely popular, and it's well specified: there’s a granite-look moulded GRP sink with clip-on drainer and chopping board. A microwave is fitted as standard, while the fridge gets a wood-look face to match the furniture. A full oven, grill, three gas burner hobs and one electric hotplate should satisfy most cooks.

Sleeping

By night, the sofas slide to meet and make-up into a double bed across the width of the ’van. Alternatively, they make two generous and comfortable single beds, thanks to two moulded overlay cushions that rest on the squabs of the swivelling cab seats to form a flat sleeping surface.

Washroom

In the washroom, a toilet bench seat is backed by wood-veneered doors to shelved storage space, with a plastic partition door to deflect water at shower times. Small practical details, such as two plugs in the shower tray to aid draining and the white, waterproof lining to the washroom door interior are welcome touches.

Storage

The low-line mould is specially designed to create internal space for a large locker for bedding. There’s external access to storage beneath the nearside sofa too, which contains an underfloor storage bin for up to two leisure batteries. Elsewhere, under seat benches, in the wardrobe and in the overhead lockers, there's plenty of space for a touring couple's camping kit.

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats2
MTPLM1090kg
Payload422kg
Length5.9m19′4″
Width2.24m7′4″
Height2.9m9′6″
Waste water68L

Verdict

The all-new Autocruise Star range is the biggest news for the 2011-season from Britain’s leading motorhome manufacturer, the Swift Group. The baby of the three-model, entry-level line up of low-profile coachbuilts is set to cost around £37,000 OTR at launch. This brings ownership of an Autocruise – still a prestigious brand – within reach of a new audience. Definitely a hit!

Conclusion

Pros

  • Well specified for a mid-market motorhome
  • It's the welcome return of a classic layout

Cons

  • We're nit picking, but we've never been fans of wood-veneered lockers in washrooms
  • We've found shower water finds its way past partition doors...
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