Here’s an all-new model from Swift that should have you sitting up and taking notice. Not just because it’s a narrow-bodied, low-profile coachbuilt, but let’s go to the main talking point – at the back, an all-GRP top-hinged tailgate that takes up nearly the whole of the rear, literally opening up a world of possibilities.
It’s a rather high step up in here – and you lose the electric retractable step altogether if you go for the towbar option – but you enter a rear lounge comprising twin settees facing each other. This also leaves space for carrying items (bikes and boards etc) for travel – with Swift providing handy lugging points at floor level.
The sleeping arrangements are straightforward, too. Choose between two singles (1.84m long on the offside; 1.80m, nearside; both 70cm wide), or pull the settee bases together for a transverse double that’s a generous 1.95m x 1.80m. Cushions are commendably flat, too.
There’s also proper habitation door access – on the UK nearside, of course – with a mid-‘van area that’s split between a proper kitchen (nearside) and a washroom directly opposite.
The former centres around Thetford’s new Caprice 2 full cooker (with easier to operate controls). The sink butts onto this, allowing space for the add-on drainer and/or chopping board. Complementing all this is an under-the-counter Dometic 8-series fridge (with removable freezer box) and, overhead, a microwave oven flanked by two large cupboards. It definitely adds up to a proper motorhome kitchen, with no need for added extras.
The washroom, too, has a swish new look to it, with special mouldings for the sink and wall units. There’s a Caraflo mixer tap here that also extends out to be the showerhead, with water-saving trigger operation.
The clingy curtain is a bit of a throwback, however, as is the use of wallboard. And there’s only a rooflight for ventilation.
Meanwhile, the front end more than makes the most of Fiat’s latest Ducato cab. In latest guise it not only looks that bit sharper, it also comes with an improved stereo (including Bluetooth and USB connectivity).
There’s sufficient automotive power from the standard 2.3-litre, 130bhp engine allied to a six-speed manual gearbox. Automatic transmission, too, will feature on the options list. It’s the long-wheelbase chassis, which promises a good ride and keeps tail overhang fairly minimal.
Also upfront, there’s a second lounge – both cab seats (note the captain’s styling) swivel and an offset oval table on a single pedestal leg can be added here.
Indeed, the furniture unit immediately behind the driver is also handy as an occasional countertop, especially for a TV (you can also watch the box in the rear lounge, thanks to appropriate sockets and a flatscreen holder fitting).
Furniture has the glamorous sounding Aralie Sen finish, while the soft furnishings (called Loxley) get a lift thanks to a cornflower blue piping and patterning.
The standard specification goes on to list such sought-after features as concertina blinds, rear speakers, LED ambient and direct lighting (with dimmable adjustment for the individually switched reading lamps), proper locking to all interior doors etc. Truma’s Combi 4 heating and hot water system with CP Plus controls, including a timer, in conjunction with a Winter Pack (fresh and waste water tank heaters, drain insulation and fridge vent etc) mean this vehicle reaches the highest Grade Three insulation levels.
With Swift now adopting its SMART bodywork technology for its motorhomes – it’s just enjoyed its first full season on its tourers – there are all the benefits of a wood-free construction that uses polyurethane and comes with the backing of a ten-year warranty.
Look out also for sister model Rio 340 – it’s elevated to four-berth status thanks to an electric drop-down bed over a shorter lounge that includes travel seating for two.
Best of all, Swift has kept the pricing not just simple, but highly competitive. You could say it’s spotted a whole new opening in the motorhome market…
Verdict: Stylish newcomer brings something new to the low-profile sector
Plus: Stylish looks and practicality, clever tailgate, generous equipment/price
Minus: High rear step, washroom not as avant-garde as the rest
In-a-nutshell: Sports star
Cost to insure: £257.50
- Swift Rio 320
- Fiat Ducato, 2.3-litre, 130bhp Euro V
- Dimensions 6.40m L x 2.26m W x 2.78m H
- Maximum weight 3500kg
- Payload 610kg
- 2 berth
- Key options: Lux Pack – cab air conditioning, cruise control, Status 550 TV aerial (£995), Impala upholstery (£tbc), towbar and electrics (£tbc), reversing camera (£tbc), Comfort-Matic automatic transmission (£tbc)
- Security and Safety Electronic immobiliser, remote central locking to all doors, ABS and EBD, EBA (emergency brake assist), twin airbags, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, Tracker Retrieve (category 7 tracking system)
- MPG estimate 28-32
Recommended retail price from £44,400**
There’s more information on the Rio 320 on the Swift website and to find out more about our low-cost premiums visit the motorhome insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Burstner Brevio T640
*Motorhome insurance cost based on Swift Rio 320 retailing at £44,400 fitted with Thatcham Category 1 alarm. UK travel only. Kept in secure storage at TD9 8ED. Motorhome owners – professionals over 50 years old with no claims, convictions or health conditions in last 3 years. 4 years no claims bonus mirrored from car policy and 2 years motorhome driving experience. Members of motorhome club doing less than 5000 miles annually. £300 excess applies. Premiums include insurance premium tax at 6% and are correct at 05/08/2014
**On-the-road, including VAT at 20%