Dig a little deeper into dealer specials – new caravans built exclusively for dealers by major manufacturers – and one thing becomes clear: not only are they based on existing models, but these are also usually from a budget range.

That makes good sense for the dealers. A budget range, by definition, will have a lower spec level, so there will be that many more opportunities to entice customers with all of those added goodies.

But some dealers offer specials on more upmarket models, and Grantham Caravans is one such example. It already provides Swift Siena, based on the Sprite. But it also offers Swift Elite, based on the Challenger.

In fact, the Swift Elite 835 reviewed here is based on the similar 835 in Challenger X, the 8ft-wide sub-range that Swift launched a couple of seasons ago. What additions does Grantham bring to that?

Pitch and set up

Elite 835 has ATC as standard, and an Al-Ko wheel lock and manoeuvring handle
Elite 835 has ATC as standard, and an Al-Ko wheel lock and manoeuvring handle

There’s mixed news when it comes to the outside of the Elite. You get ATC fitted as standard, whereas on the original Challenger X, it is only an option.

An Al-Ko wheel lock is included along with an Al-Ko manoeuvring handle. You also get a side-lift jack and brackets, and lockable heavy-duty corner steadies.

There is a 100W solar panel up top, and an ‘external entertainment pod’ – making it easier to watch TV in your awning. There are, of course, exclusive exterior graphics.

Best of all, Grantham has fitted a reversing camera, which connects to a console in your car through the towbar.

The downside is that this extra feature was only introduced this year, and it won’t be included for 2022, due to rising prices. The Al-Ko manoeuvring handle may also go.

Lounge

Plenty of storage space, with deep overhead lockers in the lounge; there's also excellent lounge lighting
Plenty of storage space, with deep overhead lockers in the lounge; there’s also excellent lounge lighting

It’s easy to dismiss exclusive décor, but it makes a difference in the 835. The copper tones Grantham has chosen for the scatter cushions warm the interior in comparison with the slightly austere upholstery of the standard van. This matters, because due to the large bedroom and central washroom further back, the lounge isn’t the biggest. It can comfortably seat four people, however.

Of course, buying a dealer special won’t get you around any slightly awkward designs in the underlying caravan. We’ve always found getting the table out of its storage slot a bit of a challenge in the Challenger X 835 and other vans with a similar layout, primarily because the washroom door slants forwards. Here it is no different. Still, the table is solid, easy to fold out, and has enough space to seat four.

Kitchen

Well-lit kitchen has a four-burner dual-fuel hob and extendable work surface
Well-lit kitchen has a four-burner dual-fuel hob and extendable work surface

The kitchen here isn’t perfect – it feels a touch hemmed in by the partition doors for the washroom. Still, Swift has done a lot to maximise the light available, with a large window and a Heki, and Grantham improves things further by adding an Omnivent.

Otherwise the kitchen is the same as that in the standard Challenger X 835 – with round skink, dual-fuel four-burner hob, and worktop featuring an extension flap.

Underneath is a separate oven and grill and a pan locker, and a double cupboard with pull-out basket shelves. The microwave is sited between two overhead lockers. Opposite is a Series 10 Dometic two-way fridge and two more lockers.

Washroom

Huge and impressive central washroom offers the addition of an illuminated mirror
Huge and impressive central washroom offers the addition of an illuminated mirror

The only extra that Grantham includes in the central washroom is an illuminated mirror. Other Elites provide a hanging rail in the shower, but that won’t fit in this circular cubicle.

However, this is a huge washroom, with a third wardrobe to add to the two to be found in the bedroom.

Beds

Bedroom is light and airy, with mirrors on large wardrobes and lights above headboard
Bedroom is light and airy, with mirrors on large wardrobes and lights above headboard

The only difference in the Elite bedroom is the illuminated headboard, and a TV station over the dresser. Otherwise this is a restful area, with plenty of light, enhanced by the mirrors on the wardrobe doors.

The front settees are 5ft 3in long, so would only suit small people as single beds. They come together with platforms to make a good-size double, but this is an 8ft-wide van, so you do need an infill cushion.

Storage

Storage is very good, but no different from what you’d find in the standard Challenger X. Along with the three wardrobes, there are two overhead lockers in the rear bedroom, and four more in the lounge, and there’s easy access to the underseat areas. The space underneath the bed can be accessed internally and externally.

Verdict

When you see a dealer special like the Elite, they start to make sense. The 835 doesn’t dramatically change the Swift original, but its warmer upholstery makes it even more inviting, and its added extras make it even more tempting to buy. Some of these will not be around next season, so why wait?

  • Thumbs up: Warm colour scheme for upholstery, reversing camera
  • Thumbs down: Central washroom could make the interior feel a bit cramped

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