Niall Hampton
Editor

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It's bigger and loaded with more kit, but does this give the new-look Swift Challenger 480 the edge in this competitive sector? Let's take a look!

Overview

The mid-market segment can be a tricky one for caravan manufacturers.

It’s where there’s most choice for buyers, but it’s also where there’s the greatest competition between brands.

Swift’s Challenger range is a mainstay in this part of the market, popular in its own right and as the basis for a slew of dealer special editions.

But alongside its established rivals, it faces a new challenge from a manufacturer special edition, Bailey’s keenly priced Pegasus GT70 range.

It’s fair to say that Sprite got most of the love in Swift Group’s 2018 model year launch, so next season will surely be a crucial point in Challenger’s future development.

In the meantime, Challenger comprises eight models, after last season’s 510 was deleted.

They are all carried forward with only minor changes, with the exception of the two-berth 480, which has been lengthened by 55cm.

This van carries the classic parallel lounge, midships kitchen and end-washroom floorplan, which is widely available at this price point.

And to see other Swift caravans for sale, click here.

Pitching and setting up

Swift Challenger caravans feature SMART bodyshells (timberless frames) with single-piece GRP sides, and are based on Al-Ko galvanised steel chassis (the AKS hitch stabiliser comes as standard, but the ATC anti-snaking system is a factory-fit £349 cost option).

The corner steadies are easily accessed and services connect on the offside.

The 480’s extra length has increased its MTPLM to 1367kg, but it can still be towed by a wide range of medium-sized cars.

Climb aboard via the one-piece entrance door at the rear of the caravan to find Swift’s Command control panel up above.

This system allows you to control the caravan’s services via the panel or remotely via a smartphone app.

Lounge

The Swift Challenger 480’s parallel lounge will house up to six people, on seat benches of over 6ft long.

The van’s 7ft overall width (2.23m) means you won’t be sitting on top of your guests across the gangway, either.

Five windows, a skylight and a rooflight allow plenty of natural light to flood the lounge, and you can also choose between directional spotlights or over-locker ambient lighting to get the right mood inside.

For the 2018 season, Swift has added a new strip of LED lighting under the side window pelmets, which helps to augment the interior ambience.

Challenger’s mid-toned cabinetwork will please those who don’t like anything too light or too dark, and the gloss overhead locker facings are a nod to something you’ll find in a more upmarket range.

Mealtimes arrive courtesy of a pull-out coffee table in the front centre chest, and a folding leaf table that stows away in the washroom will cater for larger or more formal occasions.

As standard, dual-fuel Truma Combi 4 heating vents into the lounge, but any buyers who feel that they can’t do without Alde wet central heating can upgrade to it for £750, with a weight penalty of 17kg.

Kitchen

Being a mid-market range, one would reasonably expect the Challenger’s kitchen to be able to do everything.

And that’s certainly the case in the 2018 Swift Challenger 480, with a kit list that includes a dual-fuel cooker, a dual-fuel tall fridge with a freezer compartment, a separate oven and grill, a microwave and a circular sink with a smart mixer tap.

Although preparation space on the main kitchen unit is a tad limited, it’s ameliorated by the dresser’s substantial worktop on the other side of the van.

A rooflight and side window provide good levels of natural light, and that’s in addition to an LED strip running on the underside of the overhead locker unit.

For an extra £595, buyers can specify the Lux Pack, which adds a backlit splashback and a gas barbecue point, among other goodies.

Washroom

Few things are as pleasing as an end washroom, especially on a caravan with only one main room.

The 480’s washroom therefore has to double as a dressing area, and the dimensions are certainly up to it.

A shower compartment with a bi-fold screen stands on the right as you enter through the domestic-style door, with a swivelling cassette toilet under a frosted window on the offside.

In the middle, space is taken up by the vanity unit and washstand, next to a full-length wardrobe.

Natural light enters via the side window and through a small rooflight, which can also be used to vent away shower steam.

Beds

The 2018 Swift Challenger 480’s floorplan appeals to couples who consider fixed beds to be a waste of space, and who don’t mind making up and taking down the bed once a day.

Converted for sleeping, the parallel lounge sofas will give you two single beds over 6ft long, or a 6ft 8in x 6ft 1in double.

Slats that slide out from the centre chest are the preferred option here, and the cushions rearrange easily in a couple of minutes for a supportive sleeping surface.

Storage

At 132kg, the Swift Challenger 480’s user payload should be up to the needs of the typical touring couple.

Spaces for stashing kit and caboodle include the nearside lounge seat box, which offers unrestricted storage, the wardrobe in the washroom with handy shelf space at the bottom, and plenty of space in the various cupboards in the dresser.

In addition to all that, choose between six overhead lockers in the lounge for lighter items, two cupboards in the kitchen unit (one with slide-out racking) and the front gas locker for bulkier everyday touring essentials.

Technical specs

Berth2
MiRO1235kg
Payload132kg
MTPLM1367kg
Interior length4.95m
Shipping length6.66m
Width2.23m
Awning size932cm

Verdict

Routine changes for 2018 may hint at more to come next year, but Challenger offers appealing specs at affordable prices – it’s a shame some features are cost options, though (Al-Ko ATC, for example).

Swift’s trademark good looks inside and out are much in evidence on this lengthened 480, and longer single beds will please many prospective buyers, but Swift’s rivals are running the Challenger 480 close.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The extra body length means longer single beds
  • Storage is great
  • It looks good, inside and out

Cons

  • Al-Ko ATC isn't standard
  • Some nice-to-have features on our test van are cost option upgrades
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