The keenest of prices and a genuinely family-friendly floorplan are the two central prongs for the latest version of this ever-popular overcab coachbuilt from Swift.
It’s the 696 that stands out as the most family-friendly Escape, from a range that will total six models for the 2015 season. It features two bunk beds across the back (always a hit with children), an overcab double that hinges up out of the way when not needed, and the facility to change the lounge seating to another double bed.
Swift offers five travel seats as standard, which means it can keep the maximum vehicle weight to 3,500kg and maintain a payload of nearly 500kg. A sixth travel berth means uprating the chassis to 3,650kg – not a problem for many, but some drivers will find their licences prevent them going down such a route.
Like all other Swift coachbuilt motorhomes, the Escape range gets the benefit of the company’s latest SMART build technology – a timber-free construction that comes with a ten-year water ingress warranty.
Insulation levels are up to to-mark Grade Three now, with ducted heating courtesy of Truma along with a separate hot water system.
Escapes go into 2015 with a changed exterior look, too. Gone is the dark cab of previous years, in favour of an all-white appearance along with the usual annual graphics changes. Sideskirting and the front bumper keep up the colour co-ordination.
Of course, it’s the latest Fiat Ducato underpinning all of this, too, with a few more refinements and offering a bit more economy (it all seems quieter under the bonnet, too). Importantly, the 130bhp engine is now the standard offering.
New in the cab are captain’s style seats as well as a stereo radio system that has MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity, plus a revised central console that sees a drinks holder panel taking the place of the previous storage locker.
Other detail updates extend to a warning to change gear to optimise economy.
Elsewhere, equipment levels are sufficient without being over-the-top, which is all part of keeping that price down as low as possible.
The kitchen, for instance, offers the usual good mix of practicality (decent storage, some worktop, including an extension piece, etc) along with equipment including a Thetford three-ring hob and combined oven/grill, plus a microwave oven. The separate sink has the usual Swift Group plastic drainer and chopping board additions. There’s also a cutlery drawer, albeit it’s tiny, between the worktop and the 80-litre fridge.
In the washroom, you’ll appreciate the water-saving virtues of the new Eco-camel showerhead, but not the clingy nature of the curtain. Nor does the rather old-fashioned wallboarding and lack of towel hooks/drying rails endear, although nearly all is redeemed thanks to the provision of a window.
Security concious owners will be pleased to hear that the 2015 Swift Escape range is again fitted with the Tracker Retrieve recovery system and will therefore qualify for a big discount off motorhome insurance.
Those bunks – and the overcab bed – benefit from Duvalay Duvalite mattresses. Bed sizes are all 6ft-plus, one quibble being the two mattress pieces in the overcab tend to slide apart. Reading lights at night time could be better, too.
It all adds up – and prices down – to a key model in what is definitely one of the most popular motorhome ranges any money can buy. It just happens to also have a bit of Swift’s sharp pricing to sharpen its appeal.
Verdict: A top-value winner in terms of pounds per berth
Plus: Keenest of prices, family-friendly layout
Minus: Pared-back build, old-style washroom
In-a-nutshell: The joy of five, optional six
Cost to insure: £257.50*
- Swift Escape 696
- Fiat Ducato, 2.3-litre, 130bhp Euro V
- Dimensions 6.92m L x 2.31m W x 2.94m H
- Maximum weight 3500kg
- Payload 485kg
- Key options: Comfort Pack – cab air conditioning, cab passenger airbag, electric step and flyscreen at habitation door, pleated windscreen blind (£1,295), Comfort-Matic automatic transmission (£1,350), Impala upholstery (tbc), towbar and electrics (tbc), sixth travel seat and chassis upgrade (tbc)
- Security and Safety Electronic immobiliser, ABS and EBD, driver airbag, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, Tracker Retrieve, in-cab attery isolator switch
- MPG estimate 25-28
Recommended retail price from £41,095**
There’s more information on the Escape 696 on the Swift website and to find out more about our low-cost premiums visit the motorhome insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Sun Living Lido A 49 DP, Roller Team Zefiro 675,
*Motorhome insurance cost based on Swift Escape 696 retailing at £41,095 fitted with a Thatcham Category 1 approved alarm and manufacturers immobiliser. UK travel only. Kept in secure storage at TD9 8ED. Motorhome owners – professionals over 50 years old with no claims or convictions 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 07/10/2014.
**On-the-road, including VAT at 20%.