Welcome back, Sterling Elite. A nine-strong line-up joins the Swift Group fold for 2016 and this, the 560 is one of two island bed models – there’s also the 650 twin-axle; or, if you prefer your bed set transversely, check out the 580 and 645, again single and twin axles respectively.
Models match Swift’s Conqueror line-up (so, of course, there are same-format Conqueror 560, 650 etc), but there’s no mistaking the more distinctive (and hence just a bit more controversial) styling of the Sterling-badged variants.
It all starts on the outside, with bold red and black graphics. This is the kind of tourer for those who like to make a bit of a statement. Even something as seemingly insignificant as the plastic cover over the drawbar, in black (Swift prefers to call it Graphite), hints at something a bit different. You’ll note, also, the curved leading edges of the GRP front – not just for looks but greater streamlining/fuel efficiency. Those vertical grab handles seem to be a triumph of design over practicality, though.
Under all of this, these latest Elites are produced using Swift’s SMART HT timber-free construction, with GRP outer and inner skins and a multi-layer floor with Styrofoam insulation. It’s all backed by a six-year bodywork integrity warranty, extendible to ten years.
There’s a neat magnetic stay for the door. Step inside and OK, so the interior has a bit of love-it-or-loathe-it about it. But, it’s a brave step away from the brown bland rut which so many manufacturers are happy to rest in.
If the standard interior styling shown here isn’t radical enough for you (and it’s tempting to argue some will find it too much), there’s always the Winchester Black leather-trimmed option.
Talking of comfort, there’s Alde’s “wet” central heating and hot water system, with the added bonus that it – and indeed almost everything else about these Elites – can be controlled via Bluetooth or an app on your smartphone and/or tablet. That also includes timing when you want everything to come on/turn off (not just the heating but also the lighting, but also monitoring the state of energy levels and more).As here, though, it’s a complementary blend of plenty of browns and creams, highlighted by a bigger than average sunroof over the lounge, where the shag won’t win many friends for practicality, but it’s another mark of character as well as underfoot comfort.
As you’d expect, it’s a full feature kitchen, starting with Thetford’s latest Aspire cooker, complemented by a microwave. That slate-style worktop, with the sink inset, adds to the contemporary theme.
Across the corridor, the narrow fridge/freezer is a real space-saver, especially as you can remove the freezer section altogether if you wish, and just use it all as a larder.
A single door from the main living quarters opens into what is effectively a full-width washroom forward of the bedroom. The sink is in the middle, set against a bulkhead at the foot of bed. The shower cubicle on the nearside is part-circular, with the latest Ecocamel water-efficient, soft-delivery showerhead. There’s no shelf or hanging rail, and just the one plughole, but plenty of ventilation is provided by the rooflight over the centre of the whole washroom area and the opaque window behind the Thetford swivel-bowl toilet.
Either side of the sink, sliding doors give access to the bedroom. That island bed is 1.80m x 1.33m, which is just possibly going to be too short for some (especially bearing in mind there’s not the facility to dangle your feet out of the end). There are no arguments with the comfort of that hypo-allergenic, memory foam-backed Duvalay Duvalite mattress, though.
Up front, you can have two singles – 1.63m and 1.53m long, offside and nearside respectively, and 0.67m wide; or make it a double at a generous 1.98m x 1.63m.
There are just a couple of points of criticism from the bedroom. First, the free-standing table for the lounge stows in the rear nearside wardrobe – not only does it take up clothes storage space, it’s not an easy journey bringing it through to the front each time you pitch up on site – there’s a propensity to knock something en route.
Next, there’s a clear plastic shelf above the foot of the bed that just looks like it might get knocked accidentally when you flip it up to access the storage below – especially if you have your sheets and duvet in place.
Four-berth sleeping accommodation apart, this is definitely more of a couple’s ‘van. It’s also of a weight where something like a Range Rover will be most at home tugging it. But, as we say, it all adds to what is a bit of a bold style statement.
Verdict: Comfort and style make for a match
Plus: Pin-sharp styling, latest wood-free construction
Minus: Bed only just makes it to 6ft
In-a-nutshell: Contemporary caravan
There’s more information on the Sterling Elite range on the Swift Group website (www.swiftgroup.co.uk). To find out more about our low-cost premiums visit the caravan insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Buccaneer Argosy, Coachman VIP 545/4, Compass Rallye 550
Sterling Elite 560 factfile
|Model||Sterling Elite 560|
|Dimensions||7.49m L, 2.26m W, 2.61m H|
|Safety & security||Tracker Retrieve, Al-Ko ATC trailer stability control, receiver for Al-Ko Secure wheel lock, infra-red alarm system, AKS 3004 stabiliser, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, internal deadlock on main door|
|Key options||Guetta upholstery (£195), Swiftshield fabric protection (£296), Winchester Black leather interior (£745), Al-Ko Secure (£255), wraparound seating (£175), Thule cycle rack (£215)|
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Note: All details correct at time of publication but may be subject to change.
*Cost based on Sterling Elite 560 caravan retailing at £ 25,495 fitted with hitchlock and optional axle wheel lock plus standard fit Tracker Retrieve tracking device, infra-red alarm system and AL-KO ATC. Kept on drive at HX4 0BE. Caravanners over 30 years old, claim free for 3 years and a member of a caravanning club. £100 excess. 180 days European cover and up to £75 per day for up to 15 days emergency accommodation cover included. Legal expenses cover, extended European cover and other emergency accommodation expenses cover options are available at extra cost. Quote includes 10% online discount and 6% Insurance Premium Tax and is correct as of 23/09/2015.
**On-the-road, including VAT at 20%