How’s this for value? In Swiftspeak, Sport denotes more wallet-friendly – and, just as critically, lighter – versions of its ever-popular Challenger SE series. However, the two ranges do not mirror each other and, as a big “for instance” – the 514 reviewed here is an exclusive layout to the 2015 Sport line-up.
Indeed, 2015 sees Swift cropping the Sport to eight models – there were ten last time around, but only the fittest survive here. This is not a layout you’ll see so much these days generally, either, although it’s very much the floorplan that got the UK market interested in the concept of permanent beds.
The rear double here – referred to as a French bed because of its cutaway lower section, which allows easier access to the washroom adjacent – took some time to be accepted in the UK, despite huge success in other caravanning countries. Perhaps of more import is the acronym SMART, for the latest way Swift makes its bodyshells. The timber-free construction technique, with ten-year warranty, is into its second season now.
The distinctive Challenger Sport looks remain, too, and the decals have had but the slightest of changes, although these Scorpion alloy wheels are new (and exclusive to Swift). Also new here is the one-piece door, while there’s a 40W solar panel on the roof for this season. You’ll also notice some further updates as soon as you enter. There’s the new Aralie Sen furniture finish, complemented by a chrome finish to the electrical switchgear and locker door handles. Latest upholstery is called Zimba, although there are a couple of alternatives, too. But it’s also the measurements that matter. That rear double is a generous enough 1.98m x 1.33m (6ft 6in x 4ft 4in), and it benefits from a super-comfy Duvalay Duvalite mattress (another Swift exclusive).
At the front, you’ll also get a double of 2.02m x 1.53m (6ft 8in x 5ft), although as singles they’re just 1.53m (5ft) and 1.60 (1.53), nearside and offside respectively. That, of course, means short settees in day mode, although the angled cushions at the far ends are ideal for lying back on, for example for watching TV. Interior lighting is all LED now, too. Heating and hot water are courtesy of Truma’s Combi 4 system.
The kitchen gets the latest Aspire 2 full cooker from Thetford, alongside the usual Swift sink with add-on drainer arrangement. There’s also a Dometic fridge here (capacity is up to 110 litres, with removable freezer section), while general storage space also includes a dedicated cutlery drawer and handy worktop extension. And there’s a microwave.
Further along, and beyond the wardrobe, putting the handbasin outside the washroom of course frees up more valuable toileting and showering space. A folding door for the latter is an improvement, as is the more powerful, yet water-saving Eco Camel showerhead. The security conscious amongst you will be pleased to know that once again all new Swift caravans, including this one, are fitted with the Tracker Retrieve system, meaning it does qualify for a lower insurance premium. Somewhat surprisingly, although Swift competes almost head-on with the likes of Bailey and Elddis across the whole tourer market, there are no direct rivals to the Challenger Sport 514 from its usual adversaries.
Maximum weight here is 1,384kg, putting the 514 in reach of plenty of capable towcars without you having to go down 4×4 routes.
Despite its four-berth status, a layout like this will always find more favour with couples. That’s not to deny its appeal to families with two young (ie short) children. Or, perhaps most likely of all, you might want to invest in such a ‘van so that you can take your young grandchildren away. Or at least promise to! There’s also the Sterling Eccles Sport 514 – same ‘van, same maker, different looks inside and out. However, do look out for a generous choice of special editions versions from leading Swift dealers across the country – they may weigh a bit more, but more often than not they offer even greater value for money.
Verdict: Keenly priced but far from missing out on specification
Plus: Logical layout, modern updates
Minus: Short settees make for short single beds in the front
In-a-nutshell: A more than competent all-rounder that keeps weight down and specification up
Cost to insure:£217 *
- Swift Challenger Sport 514
- Dimensions 6.88m L, 2.25m W, 2.65m H
- Internal length 5.23m
- Berths 4
- MTPLM 1,384kg
- MIRO 1,234kg
- Payload From 150kg
- Key options: Alarm (£260), Al-Ko secure Wheel Lock (£255), Wraparound lounge (£149), alternative upholsteries (from £295), Al-Ko ATC trailer control (£285)
- Safety and security Tracker Retrieve, receiver for Al-Ko Secure wheel lock, AKS 3004 stabiliser, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector
Recommended retail price from £17,820**
There’s more information on the Challenger Sport range on the Swift Group website and to find out more about our low-cost premiums visit the caravan insurance discounts page. Alternatives: None from other manufacturers! It’s Swift Group stablemate the Sterling Eccles Sport 514 provides an alternative look in the same layout.
*Caravan insurance cost based on Swift Challenger Sport 514 retailing at £17,820 fitted with tracker retrieve, hitchlock and optional axle wheel lock. 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 16/09/2014. **On-the-road, including VAT at 20%