Peter Baber
Reviews Editor

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For 2019, Swift's Challenger line-up gets a streamlined profile and interior spec bumps. Peter Baber takes a look at the island-bed 580.

Overview

Last season, when Swift revamped the Sprite range, the results were so impressive, you might have started wondering what the future was for the next range up, the Challenger. This season such questions have been answered. Challenger stays, with a new twin-axle in the line-up, and the more upmarket Conqueror is discontinued. 

To get a better idea of why the Challenger is such a survivor, it's better to take a look at a model from the middle of the range, say, with a popular transverse island bed and end-washroom layout. Welcome, then, to the 2019 Swift Challenger 580.

Pitching and setting up

The Challenger profile has been streamlined for 2019, with a GRP front panel and a new panoramic sunroof in the hail-resistant GRP roof. It looks impressive from the front, with two horizontal chrome grab handles and a sturdy A-frame.

Our test model came with a Lux pack (£625) that includes an external barbecue point and mains socket on the nearside. But even in standard flavour, you get two external lockers here.

Lounge

As you step inside, there's a large mirror lit by one LED to the side, with two handy little shelves for mobiles or key fobs. If that's not secure enough, there is a pull-out drawer in the cupboard below the mirror. The cupboard top provides space for a small TV, with mains, 12V and aerial sockets close by.

Above the door is one of the real improvements for 2019, the colour touchscreen for the Swift Command system. Among other services, the screen also controls new, dimmable, ambient lighting. This only runs behind two overhead lockers (there are new corner lockers, too), but it makes a difference. Our test model had optional Alde heating.

The lounge probably only just seats four, as does the table that you take out from the wardrobe further back. The front chest also provides a pull-out shelf.

There's a luxury feeling to the new 'Glacier' soft furnishings, in deep purple and light grey. This looks fetching with sunlight streaming through the sunroof and the rooflight.

Two LED lights are situated between these, with their own switch while below the lockers are four spotlights.

There is the usual Swift line of sockets on the front binnacle, but on this model in standard fitting, some are ghost sockets, although new for this year there are two USB sockets.

Kitchen

The kitchen extension flap makes the lounge even smaller, so you might need to use it judiciously. There is still a good amount of workspace in here, when you are not using the removable drainer.

The sockets are well placed for a kettle and toaster, and the large round sink and four-burner dual-fuel hob are lit by a striplight and a big window.

The two overhead cupboards are large and differentiated from the lockers in the lounge. While the latter are glossy brown, the cupboards come in a grey textile effect. One houses a crockery and mug rack, the other is clear. The microwave sits between them. Below the work surface is a duel-fuel Dometic fridge; it's 110 litres, so on the small side for four.

There is a slim cutlery drawer, a larger utensil drawer, two slide-out baskets and a storage space for the drainer and sink cover.

The Thetford cooker includes a separate oven and grill, and has a pan locker beneath it. But this is partly compromised by the wheel arch and as a result, space for big pans is a bit limited.

Washroom

A varied selection of shelving and cupboards surrounds the toilet in the rear washroom.

Light from the opaque window brightens the interior, although there are also lights by the mirror in front of the square handbasin, which has its own cupboard and yet more storage space for soaps and lotions.

A towel ring is thoughtfully positioned by the Alde radiator, with a robe hook nearby.

The shower cubicle comes with a very impressive panel for the Ecocamel shower head. There's no separate rooflight, however, just a large LED.

Beds

The rear bed, with two reading spotlights, is sectioned off by a pull-out concertina divider, with wardrobes either side. The one on the right is larger and includes two shelves. There's a cupboard below this, with two drawers and a small shelf in between, and yet another mains socket.

The wardrobe, shelf (minus socket) and cupboard on the left are much narrower, although this area is easier to access than in some caravans with this design.

There is a mirror on the upper half of the small dresser located in the nearside front corner of the bedroom. This includes two triangular cupboards and a small shelf, with another TV socket.

The bed rolls back to allow more space for you to get to the washroom, but even when it is in its rolled-out position, you can squeeze by quite easily.

You make up the front bed from the two settees and pull-out slats. It is long, but not very wide.

Storage

External access to the nearside underseat area is partly blocked by the settee frame. But it does have external access flaps and is clear. Like the offside area, which is partly taken up with the Swift Command systems, this can be accessed by lifting the seat slats.

For 2019 Swift has redesigned the front chest to be one large drawer that opens out to reveal a smaller slide-out tray.

External access to the storage area below the island bed is unimpeded and you can lift up the bed to reveal a huge space, which contains a spare wheel.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1339kg
Payload161kg
MTPLM1522kg
Interior length5.83m
Shipping length7.54m
Width2.23m
Height2.61m
Awning size1020cm

Verdict

Far from being on the way out, the Challenger range seems to be as relevant as ever, providing a good spec at a mid-market price. This layout is popular, and the new look inside and out should mean this van remains a popular option for years to come.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Stylish interior
  • Plenty of sockets

Cons

  • Lack of storage space for larger pans in the kitchen