Rory White

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Swift hasn't been in the compact market for some time, so the introduction of the Charisma heralds a crucial time for the company. Can it compete effectively with the existing players?

Pitching and setting up

An Al-Ko stabiliser and buttonless handbrake both feature on the list of standard equipment, which is just as well because, fully loaded, there's 1200kg of bulk to set in position here. The digital control panel is located just inside the door, and the mains cut-off is under the front bench seat, accessed through a drop-down locker front.

The drains are sensibly located on the offside, which makes for a tidy set-up and appearance on site.

Lounge

Walk in to the Charisma and you'll find the feeling of space is as good as any rival in this class. The lounge is comfortable, too, but it's on the detailing that Swift scores the bulk of its points.

Owners can position their television above the fridge or the centre chest. The Charisma also has spotlights in all four corners of the lounge, automatic ignition for the heater, smart corner mouldings with integrated lighting and a clock.

The dining arrangements are good too, but there's one niggle that blots this Swift's copybook. The centre chest has a flip-top table rather than a slide-out extension, so you have to remove everything from the top of the chest before you can extend it. Still, nobody's perfect, apparently.

Kitchen

You can't fault the general layout of this Swift's kitchen or the level of equipment included, but we'd prefer it if the microwave were positioned somewhere other than directly over the hob, as this makes the kitchen area feel a bit congested. A shortage of lighting on this side only serves to accentuate the problem.

Otherwise, the cooker's central position on the back wall next to the washroom is sensible, although the washroom door is left-hinged, so anyone slaving away at the hob will have to move to allow access to the washroom.

Work space is plentiful, thanks in part to the removable drainer which adds flexibility, and we like the fact that the hob includes an electric hotplate.

Our only criticism would be that the Charisma doesn't use its storage space as well as some rivals. The big under-sink locker has a wire tray that occupies loads of space but is of little practical benefit. Still, the provision of two mains sockets is some compensation.

Washroom

The Charisma’s washroom has a reassuringly substantial feel to it, with its show-stopping swing-wall that effectively creates a separate shower cubicle. With the exception of a tiny soap dish, however, storage is at a premium and that’s a big problem, particularly as it’s difficult to crouch and pick up your potions off the floor without popping your posterior into the kitchen.

Beds

The small space available in a two-berth limits individual interpretation by manufacturers, so the Charisma's front lounge makes up into a double bed in the conventional way. Slats are withdrawn from under the centre chest and pulled toward the foot of the bed to support 
the centre area, then the sprung cushions form a double bed across the van with the centre section infilled by the seat backs.

Cleverly, the Swift has a cut out in the side of the fridge pedestal. This provides vital extra length to the bed if used as a single, or becomes a very handy bedside shelf if you are sleeping across the van. It also has separate spotlamps for each side of the bed, while rivals often make do with just one at the head of the bed. If one of you wants to read in bed and the other doesn’t, separate lights will give appropriate illumination.

A nice, big double then, and a well-lit one at that.

Storage

Six roof lockers around the Charisma mean that you're not going to be short of space to put things. And the seats have space underneath too, front-accessed via drop-down panels.

One nice touch; the spacious gas-bottle locker has a clever single strut that allows the locker door to lift well out of the way without obstruction.

Storage options in the kitchen and washroom have their limitations as we've seen but, those aside, the Charisma has no obvious failings in the storage department.

Technical specs

Berth2
MiRO1005kg
Payload174kg
MTPLM1179kg
Interior length3.83m
Shipping length5.52m
Width2.23m
Height2.7m
Awning size815cm

Verdict

Despite its weight, this is a very impressive two-berth tourer. It signals a commendable return by Swift to compact touring, and is sure to unsettle the more established players in the two-berth market.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Genuinely competent in every area, and well made with it
  • Impressive specification for such a small caravan.

Cons

  • This is a heavy van, and one in which the washroom and kitchen could do with more storage space.
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