Renault’s Master base vehicle was underused for motorhomes, but German brand Knaus did employ it, creating a superb range of stylish low-profile coachbuilts.
The Knaus Sun TI range was launched in 2004 and right-hand-drive versions were imported for 2005. Conversions continued into early 2010.
Each model has four travel seats and three or four berths. Among them are the compact 600LF (6.33m/20ft 9in) with a fixed double, and the 650 MF (6.86m/22ft 6in, with the same basic layout as the 600LF) and the fixed-twin-bed 650ME. The flagship is the 7.12m/23ft 4in 700MG, with a garage double-bed.
Those purchased through the UK dealer network were upgraded to suit British customers. Privately imported left-hand-drive models are unlikely to have the same high specification.
Note that RHD 700MG models were originally plated at 3850kg so you’ll need category C1 on your driving licence to drive that version.
Automated-manual Quickshift6 transmission was available throughout the range. It performs fully automatic ratio changes with two-pedal drive.
What to look out for
Early models of the Renault Master base vehicle arrived with the Euro-3 2.5-litre dCi, 115bhp engine as standard, while the autobahn-storming 3.0-litre, 136bhp unit is available as a cost option.
Subsequently, the Euro-4 2.5-litre dCi engine offered 120bhp as standard and 146bhp as a cost option. There were hardly any mechanical issues, although commercial van fleet operators have reported occasionally unreliable electrics on high-milers. Watch the warning lights before you start up to ensure that they all illuminate; those that should extinguish right away should do so as well. The nearly horizontal steering wheel is reminiscent of Routemaster buses; it’s not a fault, just a characteristic.
If you buy a Renault Master-based Knaus Sun TI, as with any pre-owned motorcaravan, insist on a full habitation service, including a positive report on the body integrity (no water ingress). Knaus is very good at constructing bodshells, but be very wary of any that look tired. The body looks smart with its coloured sides but it’s quite wide so look carefully for scuffs or badly executed repairs.
Likes and dislikes
So, to sum it all up, what do we like – and dislike – about the Knaus Sun TI motorhomes built from 2005 to 2010?
- The eye-candy exterior is a head-turner
- It’s built on a rugged and reliable base vehicle
- The interior furnishings look stylishly contemporary
- Quickshift6 is a peach to drive
- The payload is barely adequate on some models
- Despite being right-hand-drive, habitation entrance is on the offside
Bearing all this in mind, which models would we pick? If you need to garage a motorbike or mobility buggy, it’s got to be the 700MG. Folding bicycles and camping gear can be stored in any of the others. The most-popular when new was the 650MF, so it is a fairly common sight on forecourts.
How much should you expect to pay for a Knaus Sun TI? The rare base vehicle and a classy conversion has ensured that prices remain buoyant. RHD is available from £27,000 (dealer) and LHD from £24,000 (private). For example, a 2006 650MF with 27,514 miles, fully loaded and in immaculate condition costs £28,995 at Hayes Leisure (0121 526 3433).
Where to buy a pre-owned ‘van
Whether you decide to buy from a dealership, an auction, show or private sale, make sure you thoroughly check used motorhomes for sale before parting with your cash. Read our helpful guides on how to buy a motorhome at a show and how to buy a motorhome at auction, both of which can be intimidating situations if you’re not prepared.
If you buy from a dealership you’ll see a lot of used motorhomes in one place in a short span of time. The prices will be higher than from private sellers but the dealer must advise you of known problems and will give the ’van a pre-delivery inspection (PDI). Short warranties are available on used motorhomes if you buy from a dealer. There are also great deals to be found online, and it’s worth browsing through Practical Motorhome’s classified adverts.
Automated-manual Quickshift6 transmission makes some Sun TIs a peach to drive