Alastair Clements
Group editor

See other caravan reviews written by Alastair Clements

It's a top spec tourer with twin fixed single beds and an end washroom, but how does the 2015 Swift Elegance 565 fare in the Practical Caravan review?

Overview

Here at Practical Caravan, we ran a Swift Elegance 570 – with fixed double bed – for several months earlier this year and found it a joy to live with. Now the Hull manufacturer has plugged a gap in its flagship range with this, the Elegance 565, with fixed twin beds and a rear washroom. 

As we have come to expect from the Swift Group, it looks great. Former automotive stylist Chris Milburn – ably supported by aerodynamicist Rob Lewis – have built a reputation for styling some of the best caravans in the business – and this is no exception.

At the front, there are hitch steps to help you clean the front of the van, plus ATC anti-snaking control for the Al-Ko chassis and a large gas locker. This is a top-spec tourer, so there’s a full complement of external sockets – gas, electricity and a shower, not to mention both Aquaroll and mains water inlets.

The Elegance uses Swift’s SMART HT construction, which does without any wood in the sidewalls, roof and floor. Although this results in a heavy caravan, the benefits of entirely timber-free construction are obvious; the flush-fitting panelwork is designed to prevent leaks as far as possible but, even if water does get in, there’s nothing to rot thanks to the use of a bonded GRP, Styrofoam and polyurethane sandwich structure.

Pitching and setting up

Bearing in mind that Swift only introduced these SMART HT caravans – the Elegance and its Sterling Continental twin – at the NEC Show in February, it’s perhaps not surprising that changes for 2015 have been kept to a minimum. There are a couple of practical new external additions, however: standard Al-Ko Secure wheel locks, and wiring provision for the motor mover that Swift expects the majority of buyers to fit.

Lounge

Aboard, fans of Swift caravans will notice one big change: the new ‘Aralie Sen’ woodgrain. Its grey-brown colouring feels fresher than that used in 2014 models, and is complemented by the beige/brown fabrics and the attractive white locker doors in the kitchen area.

If you’re used to entertaining large numbers of people while touring, the Practical Caravan review team feel you may find the lounge a little snug. The sofas are on the small side – at 5ft 4in they aren’t long enough to make usable single beds for anyone except the grandkids – and the front chest intrudes into leg space, but they are very comfortable and airflow behind has been managed to improve the performance of the Alde wet central heating system.

There are no complaints about the atmosphere, either. The fixed sunroof keeps it bright and the trim is tasteful. It feels well put together as well, with positive catches for the solid lockers, and soft-close drawers. And it’ll be just as pleasant at night: Swift is at the forefront of caravan lighting, and the Elegance’s carefully considered LEDs and illuminated splashback give a classy feel.

Kitchen

Equipment levels are generous in the kitchen of this Swift Elegance 565, with a dual-fuel four-ring hob, a separate oven and grill, a microwave, an Omnivent and a Dometic fridge with removable freezer compartment. There’s not a vast amount of storage space, but we love the solid marble-effect worktops, which continue that classy feel.

Usefully, Swift engineers tell us that they can simply be sanded back and refinished if they get scratched or marked – and there’s a decent-sized lift-up flap to extend the preparation area, which will please keen cooks.

Washroom

As you might expect for a tourer that is expected to cost around the £25,000 mark, the Swift Elegance 565 has a fine washroom. It’s roomy and well finished, with plenty of useful storage options including a neat corner cupboard and a shelf in the fully lined shower cubicle.

Being picky, that shower is a little narrow, but there is a proper domestic-style towel rail rather than a half-hearted tube, and even a couple of speakers beside the backlit mirror so that you can listen to the radio as you shave on your caravan holidays.

Beds

This layout tends to be favoured by couples who caravan regularly and like the fact that they can use the rear washroom at night without disturbing their partner. The only problem here is that if you’re over six feet tall you may find the front double more to your liking – the longer (nearside) fixed single is 6ft long, and the offside just 5ft 4in. So make sure you fit before you buy!

Like all Swift models for 2015, the fixed berths feature Duvalay Duvalite mattresses – it’s a lightweight memory foam that’s firm yet comfortable, and very supportive.

The front double is easy to make up with the central slats pulling out from beneath the front chest, and if you decide to use the fixed twins for your kids or guests, there’s a fabric screen that’ll give you privacy for the two areas.

Storage

In addition to that excellent bathroom storage, there are aircraft-style lockers the length of this caravan, plus big storage spaces beneath the berths that can be accessed from inside and out – without having to lift up the mattresses, a nice touch.

On the nearside beside the door there’s a wardrobe and chest of drawers – though fans of Swift's Elegance 570 may lament the loss of that model’s rather glitzy drinks cabinet!

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1535kg
Payload215kg
MTPLM1750kg
Interior length5.93m
Shipping length7.49m
Width2.26m
Awning size1002cm

Verdict

This is a top-spec tourer – and the Practical Caravan review team thinks it feels like one. It falls into a highly competitive marketplace with an expected price-tag that puts it up against some quality caravans, many in roomy twin-axle form, but it’s easy to see why these Elegance models are gaining a following – and the addition of the increasingly popular fixed-twin layout serves only to broaden the range’s appeal.

To get a full rundown of all the 2015 Swift caravans, please click here.

Conclusion

Pros

  • It is a stylish, high quality van
  • The food preparation space in the kitchen is good
  • There are speakers in the washroom
  • In general, storage space is good, particularly in the washroom
  • There's class leading internal lighting
  • The caravan has a lot of sockets

Cons

  • The single beds will feel snug for many
  • There's not a lot of kitchen storage space
  • You’ll need a decent-sized tow car to pull it with ease
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