Having your 100-year-old cake and eating it?
Happy birthday, Eccles – 100 years old in 2019. And loads of new things to talk about.
Swift took over Eccles as part of its purchase of the ailing Sprite Leisure Group, back in 1994. Since then, it’s carefully nursed the brand to represent something a bit avant-garde, an alternative to the norm – also making its contribution to Swift’s reported 40 per cent share of all new caravan sales, making it the UK’s largest producer.
Some things don’t change. As ever (well, recent times, at least), it’s the 480 that’s the two-berth baby of the eight-strong* caravan line-up for 2019. In its latest incarnation, it’s a stunner.
The exterior styling is very much 21st century. Of course, the graphics reflect the century milestone, but underneath the glamour it’s Swift’s SMART construction, featuring GRP-clad sides and polyurethane for the framework. Swift reckons warranty claims are down since the introduction of SMART. It’s all very sleek, too, in Eccles format.
As you’d expect, the wheels are alloys (the spare is only steel, though) and it’s Al-Ko’s chassis with Euro-axle, including shock absorbers, that all bodes well for fuss-free towing.
Inside, it’s a reworking of the classic two-berth, full-width end washroom floorplan, with the lounge offering a night-time choice of double bed or two singles
Between the settees the chest unit includes a smaller trinket drawer and light pull-out tabletop. Also here are both USB and mains sockets, although the two blank panels to the side of each rather suggests you’re missing out on something.
It’s the low-level sideboard unit directly opposite the kitchen that really opens up the whole interior. There’s a real mix of furniture and soft furnishings, abetted by solid mouldings. That main furniture finish is a touch retro (you’ll want to make sure the grain matches across all doors and sections on the version you end up buying).
The kitchen also gets the latest kit, notably Thetford’s K1520 cooker with dual-fuel hob, separate grill and oven and glass lid with safety cut-out. Plus, Dometic’s slimline, 134-litre fridge with removable freezer section. It’s set off floor level, too, just to make access that bit easier.
Other kitchen features to note are the flip-up worktop extension, two mains sockets, the microwave oven location (above the sink rather than the often-less-convenient over the hob siting), the add-on drainer for the sink, and the rather-too-small cutlery drawer.
Moving back, the washroom includes a central fixed basin, plus separate shower cubicle with Ecocamel water-saving showerhead.
There are plus points for including a window and, although there’s a radiator in here (next to the swivel-bowl toilet) there’s no space for a heated towel rail. And, the dining table stows in here – it’s not the favoured location for some caravanners.
In keeping with modern times, a DAB radio (with FM) is part of the package. Plus, there are features such as the touchscreen panel for the main controls, including the stereo – all incorporated into the ever-improving Swift Command system. Heating and hot water are courtesy of Alde underlining the premium nature of these latest Eccles models. As with all 2019 Swifts, the Eccles comes with the Swift Command Tracker , you just need to pay an annual subscription of just under £100 to get the benefit of this Thatcham approved system and qualify for a sizeable insurance discount.
There’s still a little bit more on offer in the form of the £625 Lux Pack. Considering what’s on offer here – illuminated kitchen splashback panel, exterior gas and mains sockets, alarm system (which should give you a saving on your caravan insurance) – it’s hard to see anyone opting out. Holding off might be tempting, though – just in case your dealer chooses to incorporate it into a special offer.
*Watch out for more Eccles 100s next year, too, as the centenary celebrations continue.
Verdict: Worth the 100-year wait
Plus: Bang up-to-date, lots of the latest home comforts
Minus: Need to splash out on the Lux Pack
In-a-nutshell: Stoic centurion
There’s more information on the Eccles range on the Swift website.To find out more about insuring this or your current caravan visit our caravan insurance discounts page
Alternatives: Coachman Pastiche 460, Lunar Clubman CK
Swift Eccles 480 factfile
|Model||Swift Eccles 480|
|Dimensions||6.66m L, 2.23m W, 2.61m H|
|Safety & security||Swift Command Thatcham Cat 6 tracker (subscription required), Al-Ko AKS 3004 stabiliser, Al-Ko Secure receiver, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, VIN Chip, Swift Command, deadlock on entrance door|
|Key options||Lux Pack (£625), Alternative upholsteries (from £195), wraparound front cushions (from £175), Al-Ko ATC (£349), Oyster satellite TV system (from £2,293), Cytrac DX Vision (from £1,945)|