Claudia Dowell
Features Editor

See other caravan reviews written by Claudia Dowell

Putting a well-specced tourer with the popular transverse bed/end washroom layout into a SMART HT body means buyers get a lot with the Swift Conqueror 580

Overview

The layout may be familiar but the Swift Conqueror 580 is an all-new tourer. Like the rest of the Conqueror range it has received a major revamp for 2016 and it’s all down to the way the caravans are built.

Swift has borrowed the SMART HT – an acronym for Strong, Modern, Aerodynamic, Resilient, Tested – construction system used in its flagship Elegance range for its popular, luxury line-up. Timber is no longer part of the make-up; instead the body is made from a resilient polyurethane-based product that is impervious to water.

Those who hanker after the luxury of a top-of-the-range Elegance will find pretty much most of what they need in the cheaper and lighter Conqueror. The 580’s layout has the transverse fixed bed with end washroom so hits the Conqueror’s target market of those wanting a fixed bed and looking for a bit of luxury. As with all 2016 Swifts, the rear panel has fixing bars for an optional bike rack. And to see other Swift caravans for sale, click here.

Pitching and setting up

The Conqueror rides on an Al-Ko chassis and comes with a suite of goodies – an AKS 3004 stabiliser, an ATC trailer control system and shock absorbers – to improve the towing experience. It looks good, too: the aerodynamic body has smart new red and grey decals, alloy wheels, a triple double-glazed front window and a panoramic sunroof.

The front gas locker is a good size and will take additional touring paraphernalia. Light clusters are neat and there are LED running lights. The glazed entrance door, which has an excellent handle on the inside and a waste bin, is ahead of the axle with an awning light positioned to the right of it rather than above it

On the nearside is external access to two lockers, plus gas barbecue and electric mains points. The remaining services are on the offside, and include a satellite aerial connection in the battery locker.

This is a fairly heavy caravan so the grab handles are necessarily sturdy, and those at the front have been beautifully integrated into the body shape. The steadies are the heavy-duty type and are easily accessed, with guides for those at the front. And to help get things on an even keel is a small circular spirit level below the front window, which is visible from the outside.

A secure wheel lock is an optional extra, but you do get a remote-controlled infra-red alarm and Tracker Retrieve. The spare wheel is kept under the fixed bed.

The space inside is warmed with Alde heating and illuminated with LED lighting throughout. All the windows can be opened and have flyscreens and blinds.

Controls for water, heating and lighting are courtesy of Swift’s new Command system, which includes meters for the battery level, internal humidity and charging levels for the roof-mounted solar panel, and is found above the entrance door.

Lounge

There’s nothing here to shock the colour-shy. The parallel sofas are two-toned with cream squabs, and cream and chocolate-brown backs. The contrasting brown in the sofas is picked up in the cushions and curtains, and again as a strip in the glossy locker doors, which have chrome detail strips and handles, set off against mid-toned cabinetwork. The neutral scheme creates a calm ambience.

The sofas have built-in bolsters at the front of the van and at the end of the nearside seat, but not on the offside, and the seats are long enough for lounging if there’s just the two of you. The bases have convenient front flaps as well as access from above.

A large central chest with two drawers and a locker in the base separates the sofas. The occasional table, which pulls out from the chest, has a textured cream top that looks a bit like porridge. A dining table, which happily is not that heavy, is stored in the nearest wardrobe.

The presence of the panoramic sunroof, while flooding the area with daylight, along with the Heki rooflight, limits overhead storage space to just two roof lockers in this area. There is hidden space in the corners, but it is difficult to access. The offside locker houses the radio/CD player.

Lounging here you will have everything to hand: on the bulkhead below the triple window there are two mains sockets, a TV point and a 12V socket, plus light switches. And there you have plenty of options for illumination at night, with four spotlights for reading, a long mains light above the panoramic window and LED strips above the lockers.

Kitchen

The Swift Conqueror 580's kitchen area is defined by a colour change in the cupboard doors to cream. The worktop is slate-effect, with a neatly recessed stainless-steel sink, and has a good-sized extension flap increasing the available preparation space. A chunky, domestic-style chrome tap adds a touch of luxury, as does the black patterned-glass splashback surrounding the window.

Appliances comprise a dual-fuel hob, a separate oven and grill, and a microwave positioned between the two overhead cupboards. The microwave is sited a little high, but we like the fact that it is set above the sink rather than the hob.

A tall slim-line Dometic fridge-freezer, with a cupboard above and below, is located opposite and allows space for a wide drawer with a cutlery tray under the worktop. Below that is a large cupboard, which is shelved on one side and has pipe work on the other, but still has lots of useable space.

A small LED striplight under the cupboards and three LED lights above illuminate the space at night, while an omnivent deals with any odours and steam.

Washroom

The transverse island bed layout frees up the back wall making perfect sense of a sliding door entrance to the washroom. The washroom is quite narrow but is well endowed with storage. Next to the electric-flush, swivel toilet is a heated towel rail with three shelves above.

The nearside shower is fully lined and has a bi-fold door, a chrome showerhead and a moulded shelf for shampoos and shower gels. It also has two drain holes – a boon if you haven’t got the van quite level. A large mirror adorns the wall above an angled plastic basin with a smart-looking chrome tap.

Other washroom accoutrements include a toothbrush/mug holder and two towel hooks. Daylight enters via a frosted window behind the toilet and a small rooflight, but with so much woodwork containing storage, it is still a little gloomy.

Beds

A concertina door separates the Swift Conqueror 580's living space from the bedroom area, which contains the raison d’être of this layout: the transverse island bed. It’s a shame, then, that the view from the lounge is not pretty: the side-on aspect of the moulded grey plastic bed base is ugly and is not alleviated by the plain wood-effect wall behind. A long mirror on the sliding door into the washroom or on the wall would have helped here. It detracts from the otherwise luxurious feel of the van.

That said, the Duvalay mattress will give users a comfortable night’s sleep, as long as they are not more than six feet tall. The bed frame retracts for daytime access to the washroom, so a little cushion juggling with an infill is still needed when it comes to bedtime. But the chocolate-brown headboard will provide plenty of leaning comfort if you are using the area as a day bed.

Things improve with the corner vanity unit behind the kitchen bulkhead. It has a mirror above, concealing a corner cupboard with three shelves. Below the worktop is a TV point, two mains sockets and a 12V socket, plus switches, and then below that is a shelved corner cupboard, which sits over the wheel arch. The area has an LED light above.

Padded panels either side of the window soften the décor, but a shallow shelf above the window is, perhaps, a missed opportunity. Either side of the bed are half-length wardrobes: that on the left is narrower, with a shelved cupboard below, that on the right has two drawers and a locker below. As well as accommodating the freestanding table, the larger wardrobe houses the TV aerial and Alde heating system. Above the bed are two shelved roof lockers and below them are two spotlights for reading. There are small shelves below the wardrobes to put a book and specs. The whole area is lit by a large rooflight above the bed.

Storage

If you want to take outdoor chairs on tour with you, with the Conqueror 580 you can. There’s plenty of space below the fixed bed, where the spare wheel is stored, and access is easy with the mattress and frame lifting on gas struts. However, be sure to stow heavy items like awnings over the axle while the van is being towed.

The bedroom’s wardrobes, drawers and lockers will take two people’s clothing, but may struggle with any more if you use this caravan regularly as a four-berth.

In the washroom there’s more than enough space for toiletries and towels with two cupboards adjacent to the toilet, plenty of shelving, plus a shallow cupboard below the basin.

The kitchen is reasonably well catered for with a large cupboard below the sink and a wide drawer that is only half taken up with a cutlery tray, small cupboards above and below the tall fridge, and racked crockery cupboards above the worktop.

In the lounge, the offside seat base is occupied by the plumbing and heating systems, while the nearside is free to stow gear and has exterior access.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1494kg
Payload156kg
MTPLM1650kg
Interior length5.93m
Shipping length7.49m
Width2.26m
Awning size1002cm

Verdict

It’s 40kg lighter and £2000 cheaper than its Elegance-range equivalent and, essentially, you are getting Conqueror spec – and there is plenty of kit – in an Elegance body. But it’s still a hefty caravan, and to tow it you will need a two-tonne tow car.

The 580’s transverse island bed/end washroom layout offers a very comfortable van for two, with an elegant lounging area, but if it were ours we would find a gorgeous throw to hide that ugly, grey-plastic bed base. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • You get a lot of kit
  • The shower is fully lined
  • The transverse island bed/end washroom layout is popular

Cons

  • You'll need a big tow car to pull it
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