Claudia Dowell
Features Editor

See other caravan reviews written by Claudia Dowell

Practical Caravan’s experts review the 2013 Swift Challenger Sport 442 – its sunroof gives this caravan plenty of showroom appeal

Overview

The two-berth end-washroom layout has enjoyed huge success since it first appeared in mainstream brands in the late 1980s and Swift was one of the manufacturers at the forefront of the ’90s development of the layout. The end washroom was particularly popular with empty nesters who appreciated the luxury of a spacious area in which to shower and dress.

The layout’s popularity waned when fixed beds were introduced and space was stolen from washrooms and kitchens to accommodate them, but new designs and lower weights have returned it to the best-seller lists.

Swift dropped its Charisma range for 2012 and replaced it with a radically different design that carried the Challenger Sport name. Design is unchanged for 2013 but juicy items of kit have been added.

Pitching and setting up

The Challenger Sport's refined shaping and front sunroof, now standard for 2013, has undeniable showroom appeal. The Al-Ko chassis has an AKS3004 stabiliser and shock absorbers, but not the company’s Delta axle. However, Al-Ko’s ATC stability control system is fitted as standard.

The gas locker door is wide and lifts up to 1.45m, making it easy to swap cylinders. The mains unit, unusually, faces upwards from under the offside seat. This prevents access when the bed is made and takes up a lot of space.

The 12V and Truma Combi controls are over the main door. The heater warms the caravan rapidly, using gas and electric power together.

Lounge

Despite its dark wood and strongly coloured, contemporary fabrics, the Challenger’s sunroof makes the lounge feel spacious and open. The rooflight is a Midi Heki. The locker space lost to the sunroof may be missed when packing for a long holiday.

There’s plenty of lounging room and a wide front shelf offers space in the front corners to put things. Two mains sockets next to the central chest’s top are ideal for charging phones or PCs, but the only TV point is by the midships dresser. It’s good to see reading lights in all four corners.

Kitchen

The Swift’s kitchen is a little on the short side but compensates with a worktop extension flap, a sink cover-cum-chopping board and good storage details, such as a cutlery drawer and slide-out wire baskets.

The 113-litre fridge is the latest electronic model from Thetford, as is the dual-fuel hob. The microwave is positioned a little too high and there’s also only one mains socket.

The Truma Combi heater fits under a seat, so the dresser no longer loses useful storage space to it, as in earlier models. A two-door unit would have made better use of the new space than the single door fitted.

Washroom

As you enter the washroom, you see an elegant vanity unit with a double cupboard. The large basin has an integral flat area on which to sit toiletries, but there are no open shelves or overhead cabinets.

The room accommodates the wardrobe, where the hanging and shelf space are readily accessible. The shower is
a good size, while the rooflight and window provide daylight and ventilation.

Beds

The Challenger’s single beds measure 1.9m and 1.8m, so one taller person can be accommodated. The double bed is easily made up with pull-out slats that are retained on their tracks. At 2.03m x 1.5m, it’s big enough even with the chest of drawers in place. The seat cushions have knee rolls but these can be placed at the head and foot for a flat sleeping surface.

Storage

The Combi boiler, water system and mains power supply leave little space for storage in the offside seat, but the nearside one is empty and a tough, injection-moulded support frame makes room for big items. Full-length drop flaps and well-supported seat lids improve access, but the heating pipe along the front edge is vulnerable to damage and would be better placed against the wall.

The Challenger’s wardrobe lacks a large base area and some roof locker space is lost to that sunroof, but storage is sufficient for most couples. Only two shelves are provided, though, and they have open ends, so the contents are likely to slide off while in transit.

Technical specs

Berth2
MiRO1114kg
Payload121kg
MTPLM1235kg
Interior length4.4m
Shipping length6.06m
Width2.24m
Height2.64m
Awning size879cm

Verdict

The two-berth end-washroom is the biggest sector of the market and such vans are the basis for a number of big-selling dealer specials. 

The Challenger Sport's shower and wardrobe work well, as does the lounge seating, which can be used as two singles or a double bed at night. 

The Challenger’s sunroof, standard-fit ATC system and Tracker give it showroom appeal. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • The sunroof and refined profile pile on showroom appeal
  • The washroom, kitchen and wardrobe all work well

Cons

  • The microwave is fitted higher than convenient
  • The heater, water system and consumer unit take up storage space in the offside seat box
  • Only one mains socket in the kitchen
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