Price range: £18,149-£21,849
The headline story for Swift Group’s 2013 models is the revamp of the upper mid-market Challenger/Eccles model to SE (special equipment) status. This is meant to upgrade and better differentiate it from last season’s successful Sport models, which stole some of its sales.
The SE models share the Sport’s lighter bodyshell, which the company claims reduces their weights by 51kg to 125kg. Inside, kit levels are much improved, with Alde wet central heating controlled by a touchscreen panel, and a heated towel rail. A 20W roof-mounted solar panel is now standard kit, while kitchens get new Omnivent fans.
A lot of effort has gone into improving the ambience with over-locker mood lighting, better floor-level illumination for finding your way inside, wardrobe fixtures, LED-backlit washroom mirror and kitchen splashback, and under-worktop lighting. The kitchen layout has been tweaked slightly, with a second cutlery drawer between the fridge and the worktop.
Among the seven models in the 2013 line-up is the new Challenger 574 SE/Eccles Jade SE, which has facing sofas up front, a wrap-around side dinette and full-width rear washroom.
Competitors to the Sterling Eccles SE range in the upper mid-market sector include Elddis Affinity and Lunar Lexon.
2013 Sterling Eccles SE range
Two berths. End washroom, offside midships kitchen floor plan. Price £18,149. MTPLM: 1282kg
Four berths. End washroom, offside midships dinette/bunks, nearside midships kitchen floor plan. Price £19,249. MTPLM: 1474kg
Four berths. End washroom, fixed twin single beds, offside midships kitchen floor plan. Price £20,080. MTPLM: 1553kg
Four berths. End washroom, rear nearside fixed bed, offside midships kitchen floor plan. Price £19,445. MTPLM: 1495kg
Four berths. End washroom, rear nearside dinette/bed, offside midships kitchen floor plan. Price £19,590. MTPLM: 1495kg
Four berths. End washroom, rear transverse fixed island bed, offside midships kitchen floor plan. Price £20,220. MTPLM: 1513kg
Amethyst (twin axle)
Six berths. Nearside corner fixed bed, offside corner washroom, offside midships dinette/bunks, nearside midships kitchen floor plan. Price £21,849. MTPLM: 1750kg
Star van: Eccles Jade SE
The all-new upper mid-sector SE ranges — Swift Challenger and Sterling Eccles — are radically improved for 2013, and we reckon the all-new, single-axle Jade SE layout showcases the bells and whistles to best effect within a practical family van.
Swift Group is one of the best for giving its vans real showroom appeal — and the SE ranges excel in this. The attractive interior lighting will help dealers’ sales efforts: backlit kitchen splashbacks and mirrors, over-locker uplighting and more are all icing on the cake.
Perhaps more substantial for many will be the real kit upgrades: these include a 20W solar panel and Alde wet central heating, a premium piece of kit previously only used in flagship models.
Other little additions, such as the new Omnivent kitchen fan, a heated washroom towel rail and 110-litre Dometic fridge tick many boxes.
The key for us in the Jade SE, though, is family-friendly layout. The genuine two-lounge layout is a must for many families, and the rear wraparound dinette, which converts into a decent double bed, is a great alternative to a fixed rear double bed. And the rear washroom is capacious.
The lighter, better-specified SE range looks to be in great shape to reclaim lost sales for the 2013 season. Our only concern: is it so good that it will eat into sales of Elite and Conqueror models?
Swift Group, Dunswell Road, Cottingham, East Yorkshire HU16 4JX. Tel 01482 847 332 Web www.swiftgroup.co.uk Dealers 61 (Sterling)