With fixed twin-single beds back in fashion, read why Practical Caravan's expert reviewers say the four-berth 2011 Swift Challenger 565 is best for couples

Overview

The Swift Challenger name has been synonymous with mid-range comfort for years. It’s an important range for Swift and getting Challenger right is often a sign that there is a good season in prospect. As well as benefitting from the same body upgrades as the rest of the Challenger and Conqueror ranges, the 565 is a new layout. It puts twin-single beds with a rear washroom into the line-up. Although Swift has done single bed models before, it’s the first time a rear washroom version has appeared in a single axle.

Pitching and setting up

As standard, Challenger models don’t come with the sunroof, but the review model has it fitted as a cost option. It has tremendous showroom appeal and floods the front of the caravan with natural light.

Swift has taken some of its experience from the motorhome market and has used it to make a warmer, more stylish caravan. Walls and floor thicknesses have been increased to give better insulation and the GRP panels Swift uses to offer an edge to its motorhome products have been used here to integrate the design of the front with the roof panel.

All the main services and corner steadies are very easy to reach and work as you’d hope. The front locker is enormous and cleaning the show-stopping roof window is made easier by the adoption of a step-up A-frame. External gas and mains sockets are fitted on the nearside.

Lounge

The lounge feels fairly small but in reality, it is exactly the same size as that fitted in the best-selling 570 fixed-bed model, so it isn’t a problem to most buyers. Natural light is excellent thanks to the roof window and large Heki rooflight, but the LED spotlights, ceiling light and concealed rooflighting ensure that the lounge will be well-lit by night too.

The centre chest pulls out rather than flipping over, so extending the surface for a light lunch is a breeze. The table is easy to extract from its kitchen storage area when more dining space is required.

Swift's decision to put mains sockets on the front shelf rather than at floor level means you haven’t got cables trailing everywhere and is a sensible piece of design. The familiar blown-air Truma heating system is installed in the nearside cabinet.

Kitchen

As with the lounge, on first inspection the kitchen seems a little on the snug side. But once again, the 570 has an identical set-up and sold stunningly well over the last couple of seasons. On that basis, there is not much wrong with it.

Equipment levels are good, but one big improvement is the lowering of the microwave. It is no longer right up at roof level, having now been dropped down by a few valuable centimetres.

The kitchen cabinets are finished in a cream-coloured leather-effect finish which distinguishes the cooking space from the rest of the van. This detail improves the feel of the van significantly.

Washroom

The rear washroom is a clever piece of packaging. Having the door in the centre means the layout is unfamiliar. The toilet is on the left-hand side, with a small wardrobe above it and the shower is on the right.

The washroom is quite compact but for a couple, there should be few complaints.

Beds

The twin-single beds at the back of the Challenger are 70cm wide, which is wide enough for most to get comfortable. The beds are 1.92m long, which is a fraction over 6ft 2in, so once again they will suit most.

Storage underneath the twin single beds is pretty generous, and seeing as they are fixed beds, bedding will stay in place by day, meaning there really is a wealth of available space.

The front double bed is over 6ft 6in long, although with the drawer chest in place, it is fairly narrow. As an occasional bed, it is fine.

Storage

The underbed storage areas are huge, but the most limiting aspect of the layout is definitely the wardrobe. There is no full-height hanging space in the traditional sense. Instead, there is a short wardrobe over the foot of the bed on the offside, and another half-height space over the toilet. Most people don’t use full-height hanging spaces, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Swift has moved the fuse box and trip switches to an offside roof-level locker at the front, which frees up space in the front bed box.

The review model we tested is fitted with the optional sunroof and this means the front lockers are replaced by ones in the corners. These are pretty big and there are also small storage areas for when you're on site, in front of the sunroof and in the trinket tray on the front shelf.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1441kg
Payload164kg
MTPLM1605kg
Interior length5.6m
Shipping length7.32m
Width2.31m
Height2.62m
Awning size998cm

Verdict

Fixed single-bed models are back in vogue for 2011 and Swift’s approach has really been thought about. If you can cope with the small wardrobes, everything else works very well.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Bags of showroom appeal
  • Clever new layout

Cons

  • Limited wardrobe storage is the main gripe
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