British-built Swift caravans have established quite a presence in Australia over the last few years. During that time, the vans have evolved from a van built for the British market van with no changes (apart from compliance issues) to a van built specifically to suit Australian conditions.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
Large, tinted, double-glazed acrylic windows are an all-round feature of the van, while the new Dometic security door with ‘hourglass’ insert is a refreshing change from the previous British stable door arrangement.
External bin capacity is often an issue with small European caravans but the Swift Explorer 4 offers not only a front boot but a rear offside bin door, which has access to the under-bed area. The front boot already has the spare wheels and gas cylinders in residence but there is still room for items such as hoses, power leads, camp chairs and wheel chocks.
One of the internal features that will attract interest is the front dinette, with its two sideways-facing lounges featuring windows all round and a large Skyview hatch above. It’s multi-functional, with a freestanding table for eating and also a smaller table between the lounges for drinks and snacks. The almost-floor-level 240V/12V/5V USB sockets are not in the most convenient location but at least they are there and they’re certainly handy in relation to the table above.
Filling most of the under-seat space on the opposite side is the Truma Combi water/space heater, as well as the water pump and associated pipework, with a bit of spare storage room leftover.
BEDROOM & STORAGE
Measuring 1.89x1.32m (6ft 2in x 4ft 4in), the master bed is fitted into the rear offside corner. It’s not the oft-preferred island bed but it’s a good fit in a van of this length, and it allows for a nearside corner bathroom. Ventilation for corner beds can be an issue but the offside wall window is a good size, and there is a roof hatch above.
Bedside shelves are fitted above the bedhead in each corner and are directly under the overhead lockers but they are better than nothing. There is also a pelmet shelf above the offside window.
Generally speaking, the internal storage of the Explorer 4 isn’t too bad, with overhead lockers in all the right places. This is aided by the full-height wardrobe which sits between the bathroom and entry door and offers plenty of hanging space.
The mid-offside kitchen is definitely on the compact side. Benchtop space, or lack thereof, could have been an issue but it has been alleviated somewhat by the 115L under-bench fridge, a hinged flap on the end of the bench and a simple round sink. This kitchen has the full cooking kit, including four-burner cooktop, grill and oven, which takes up a bit of benchtop space, but that’s one of the compromises – you get a bit more cooking capacity but a little less storage. One cupboard, one floor locker, one drawer and three overhead lockers are available for your kitchen essentials. I’m told by Swift Australia that future Explorer 4 caravans will have a microwave fitted, presumably in the overhead lockers.
In typical Euro style, no space is wasted, so the air space between the kitchen and the rear offside bed is used for shelving. The flatscreen TV is fitted to the rear of the overhead compartments and can be swung around so it can be seen from the front seats.
The nearside rear bathroom layout works well in the Explorer 4. It’s not quite a full bathroom but it has a flexible-hose shower and cassette toilet which aren’t on top of each within the cubicle. Outside, the vanity cabinet has a washbasin, cupboard and a couple of small shelves. It’s all fairly functional, although the washbasin doesn’t have much in the way of surrounding benchtop space.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Swift Explorer 4 has a lot to offer anyone looking for a lightweight, relatively inexpensive caravan.
It has a very European design style, which will be one of its attractions for many buyers but, as noted above, the local importers have incorporated a number of modifications to make it better suited for Australian travel. Undoubtedly, one of its more attractive features is its weight, or lack thereof, which makes it a very attractive towing package.
HITS & MISSES
- Front lounge/dining layout
- Electrical setup
- Battery/solar panel capacity
- Relatively lightweight van
- Dometic security door
I would have liked…
- Double instead of single 240V powerpoints
- Drainer with sink
The full test appears in Caravan World #536 April 2015.