Claudia Dowell
Features Editor

See other caravan reviews written by Claudia Dowell

First look, July 2009

Pitching and setting up

When I moved away from my family, and my family caravan, I became a tent camper. But I soon grew tired of the compromise and wanted the comfort of a van again.

However, even in vans it seemed there were compromises to be made, be it tiny corner washrooms or high weights. But this new, fashionable layout aims to tick all the boxes. It promises to deliver a fixed bed and end washroom, plus a good-sized lounge, all on a single-axle and light enough for a small 4x4 to tow. It’s a lot to deliver and some manufacturers have done better than others.

Swift’s first attempt, the Challenger 570, got everything into the van but weight was an issue. With an MTPLM of 1595kg you need a large 4x4 to pull it. Swift’s second attempt, the Charisma 550, has resolved the weight issue. It is 220mm shorter than the Challenger, which seems to have made all the difference as it has shaved 100kg off the MTPLM. But does a shorter van mean a compromise on space inside?

Lounge

The lounge is comfortable, well-equipped and light. The seats will fit four comfortably so you can invite a couple of friends in for a natter and a coffee or take advantage of the sofas’ length and stretch out and watch a movie.

The chest table is the flip-over type and is large enough for two at breakfast and lunch. This is useful because retrieving the dining table is a bit of a hassle because it is stored under the fixed bed rather than in a cupboard. It is an unusual solution, but it saves valuable storage space in the kitchen or washroom.

Kitchen

The kitchen is the one area where space has been compromised, but not uncomfortably so. Work surface is limited, though a detachable drainer and fitted chopping board go some way to making the space more practical.

Washroom

That 220mm has been taken from the washroom. It hasn’t greatly affected it though. The only thing that has been lost is the narrow storage cupboard for the dining table.

There is still a spacious shower, excellent storage and plenty of room around the basin to get dried and dressed. Compared to rivals, such as the Bailey Pageant Sancerre, it is still the roomier option.

Beds

I worried that a shorter van would mean a shorter fixed bed. But it doesn’t. Even six-footers can stretch out here. I also like the mirror, shelves and towel hooks Swift has installed on the offside wall, although the area could do with a light above the mirror.

Storage

Storage is limited as well, especially with the awning light impeding on what should be a useful locker over the sideboard. But it has all the kit you’ll need and it does not take too much juggling to prepare a meal.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1301kg
Payload205kg
MTPLM1506kg
Interior length5.43m
Shipping length7.11m
Width2.23m
Height2.7m
Awning size963cm

Verdict

8/10

Conclusion

Pros

  • Comfortable van
  • The washroom, fixed bed and lounge are all a good size.

Cons

  • The limited work surface and storage in the kitchen
Share with friends

Follow us on

Recently added caravans for sale

Most recent caravan reviews

The Practical Caravan 2017 Swift Challenger 635 review – 1 - The four-berth, twin-axle Swift Challenger 635 is priced at £21,470 (£23,060 as tested) (© Phil Russell/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Bailey Pegasus Genoa review – 1 - This 6.32m-long two-berth has an MTPLM of 1265kg, but can the baby in this range of Bailey caravans justify its price? (© Peter Baber/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan 2017 Coachman VIP 565 review – 1 - The VIP’s looks have stayed fairly constant since 2012, yet it remains a desirable luxury tourer – plus, the front gas locker door boasts double locks (© Phil Russell/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Caravelair Antarès 476 review – 1 - The Caravelair Antarès 476's quirky, one 'eye' looks hint at the unusual layout inside – it has an MTPLM of 1200kg (© Phil Russell/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Buccaneer Galera review – 1 - The silver sides are new and give the 2017-season Buccaneer caravans a distinctive, upmarket look (© Andy Jenkinson/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Hymer Nova GL 470 review – 1 - Its external styling is a little boxy and retro, but there's no getting away from the Hymer Nova GL 470's £27,690 price and 1700kg MTPLM (© Practical Caravan)