Lizzie Pope
Digital Editor

See other caravan reviews written by Lizzie Pope

It's lost weight and gained kit, so how does the Swift Challenger SE 480 fare in the Practical Caravan magazine review?

Overview

SE stands for special equipment and represents the revamp of the upper mid-market range to upgrade and better differentiate it from the previous season’s successful Challenger Sport tourers.

These new for 2013 SE models share the Sport’s lighter bodyshell, which significantly reduces overall weight: the 480 tested here shaves some 128kg from the heft of the outgoing model, allowing it to be towed safely by a small diesel hatchback. However, it’s also 40cm shorter and 6cm narrower overall.

Swift continues with its factory-backed 10-year warranty for all caravans it builds and these 2013 season models also have a Tracker Retrieve tracking system. Other kit upgrades include a new roof-mounted 20W solar panel and an LED awning light operated via the caravan’s key fob.

Pitching and setting up

The Swift Challenger SE 480 is based on an Al-Ko chassis, with an AKS 3004 stabiliser and the ATC trailer stability system fitted as standard. The button-free handbrake is easy to apply and release, and the heavy-duty steadies are readily accessible.

The battery box houses the hook-up point. As you’d expect of a luxurious mid-market tourer, it’s also fitted with external gas and three-pin electric points.

One of the key kit upgrades is Alde’s wet heating system, which features radiators in the front seat boxes and a heated rail in the washroom. Alde’s touch control panel is easy to use, as are all other aspects of setting the Swift up.

Lounge

The lounge space in this two-berth is comfortable and cosy for up to four people. A sunroof is fitted as standard and does a good job of flooding the lounge area with light by day. At night, over-locker lighting creates a classy internal ambience. The reduction in overall width is barely noticeable in terms of legroom for anyone seated on the sofas.

The centre chest is standard and the pull-out top provides sufficient space for two people to enjoy a meal without being too cramped; a well-proportioned free-standing table has space for four. LED corner spotlights provide battery-friendly illumination for reading.

All the windows get full pleated blinds, flyscreens and curtains. The sofa backrests also get backboards to reduce condensation against the interior walls in cooler climes.

Kitchen

It’s the kitchen area that bears the brunt of the 34cm reduction in internal length compared with last season’s model: there’s less fixed food preparation space, although a hinged extension has been introduced as a space-saving measure.

The tweaked kitchen now includes a second cutlery drawer between the fridge and the worktop. The area has also been restyled, with an attractive new LED-lit splashback, and LED strip lighting underneath the work surface’s leading edge. When combined, this gives the kitchen plenty of showroom appeal.

The fridge is the latest 110-litre model from Dometic, with an easy-to-use, push-button control panel. The hob retains three gas burners and an electric hotplate, with a separate oven and grill, and a microwave sited above.

A welcome addition to the kitchen is a three-speed, two-way Omnivent extractor fan for banishing cooking smells and cooling the interior. Storage here is a little squeezed, but if you keep your plates and cereal bowls to a minimum, everything can be accommodated.

Washroom

The full-width end washroom houses the wardrobe, which gets a new light that switches on when the door is opened. The main mirror gets new backlighting, too, which does wonders for the showroom sizzle of the van.

There’s plenty of legroom around the toilet, and a heated towel rail alongside it. There is also a large – if rather shallow – handbasin, and a spacious, fully lined separate shower cubicle, that features a hanging rail for drying.

Beds

The two lounge beds in this Swift Challenger SE 480 may well be long, wide and comfortable enough to accommodate single occupants: the nearside one is 1.86m long, the offside’s is shorter at 1.76cm. Alternatively, it makes a large transverse double – with the slide-out slats retained on a track.

Storage

The rounded, aircraft-style lockers of the outgoing Challenger are replaced by flat-faced ones on this model, which reduces their capacity slightly.

The under-seat storage in the front lounge can be accessed by raising the self-supporting seat-box lids or via the drop-down flaps at the front.

Technical specs

Berth2
MiRO1161kg
Payload121kg
MTPLM1282kg
Interior length6.06m
Shipping length7.25m
Width2.25m
Awning size877cm

Verdict

This classic two-berth layout has been cleverly repackaged within smaller, narrower confines for 2013, leading to a substantial weight reduction of 128kg.

Combine this with Alde central heating, a roof-top solar panel and thoughtfully positioned lighting, and the Challenger SE 480 looks to be more appealing to a wider audience of touring couples.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Its lower weight means you no longer need a big tow car
  • It boasts a large lounge, good looks and a spacious washroom
  • You get a factory-backed 10-year warranty and a Tracker Retrieve tracking system
  • It has a sunroof and a solar panel

Cons

  • It could do with more kitchen storage
  • Its predecessor felt more spacious front-to-rear
  • The lockers are a bit less capacious than before
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