Peter BaberSee other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber
As Swift expands its Eccles range to include several eight-foot wide models, Peter Baber finds out whether the extra width works in the buyer's favour.
Eight-foot-wide caravans have been unveiled so regularly recently that one is apt to become a bit blasé about them. But there is something a bit special about the Eccles range - which celebrated its centenary last year - being graced with its own versions of them.
The 850 we test here is one of four eight-foot-wide models that Swift is bringing out this year as an Eccles X sub-range.
Pitching and setting up
But in the wider confines of the X 850, such a scheme doesn't seem so oppressive. This could be because light streams in through the sunroof and two rooflights over the lounge and the kitchen.
But the other reason for this sense of room is undoubtedly the layout, as this front lounge adopts a layout that includes an L-shaped settee.
There's no window on the front nearside corner, because Swift has left a space here to fit a TV. Rather nicely, it has even positioned the sockets for such a set within the small cupboard that forms part of the shelf running along the bottom of this panel. So you don't need to have plugs showing. If you are the kind of person who likes to reach your connections easily, there is another clearly visible here, along with two USBs.
On the other side of the entrance door there is a small sideboard, a coat hook, and a handy shelf where you can leave fobs and keys and the like.
A very large, round stainless-steel sink is built into the work surface, but there is still space to store a kettle at least, and there are two mains sockets close by. A dual-fuel four-burner hob is on the right.
Underneath, you will find a large cupboard with a pull-out shelf inside, while up above there are two overhead lockers either side of a microwave. The one on the left has a mug rack and there's a crockery rack in the one on the right.
The opposite side of the aisle is home to Dometic's new two-way-opening fridge/freezer with removable freezer - although we found removing it a bit tricky given the position the fridge is in. There is a small locker above the fridge, and an even smaller one below it. A slim storage cupboard for the table sits between the fridge and the washroom door and, as a result, the two shelves above it are restrictively narrow.
The circular shower on the nearside doesn't have its own vent, but it does have an LED light and an Ecocamel showerhead. Outside it you will find plenty of places to leave a dressing gown, and a towel near the Alde radiator.
The other double is made up from a platform that comes out of the L-shaped settee at the front. Such settees rarely make the most comfortable solution for couples, because one partner has to put up with an odd assortment of cushions. But the bed in here isn't as complex as some arrangements we have seen, and the extra width of the caravan means that it's lovely and long, too. And with this arrangement an early riser still gets somewhere to sit and have a cuppa.
The extra width in this model should blow away any concerns about today's Eccles range being a little dark. The 850 is a stylish van to go touring in; but it does have a handful of niggles, and at this width we would prefer to see ATC fitted as standard.
- Light and airy while still modern and stylish
- Kitchen extension butts into the lounge area