Claudia DowellSee 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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- You get a lot of kit
- The shower is fully lined
- The transverse island bed/end washroom layout is popular
- You'll need a big tow car to pull it