Test: Swift Sundance 532-LP

By: Peta Stavelli

swift sundance 532-lp The swivelling front seats add to the generous seating of the settee/bed swift sundance 532-lp
swift sundance 532-lp The clever bathroom screen slides easily into place swift sundance 532-lp
swift sundance 532-lp The highly functional galley has a window/splashback swift sundance 532-lp
swift sundance 532-lp The Sundance presents as “a classy wee piece of kit” swift sundance 532-lp
swift sundance 532-lp swift sundance 532-lp
Swift Sundance 532-LP Swift Sundance 532-LP

Peta Stavelli took to the hills of Hurunui with a Swift Sundance from Iconic Motorhomes in Christchurch and found five-star luxury and performance.

Test: Swift Sundance 532-LP
The Sundance 532-LP relished the Hurunui roads

We'd driven by Iconic Motorhome's Ferry Road yard the day before to have a gander at the Sundance 532-LP I was to collect the following morning. The drive by helped me to get my bearings around Christchurch, and also built my anticipation for the trip to come.

The Sundance instantly appeals as "a classy wee piece of kit", to quote the co-pilot, and our appreciation for this nifty roadster continued from the first sight, to the luxurious interior and the extraordinary on-road performance it delivered, no matter what came its way.

What did come its way was the full gamut of road conditions we encountered during two and half days of touring through North Canterbury's Hurunui District: hair pin bends, steep climbs, narrow one-way bridges and some slippery shingle on the summit road to Mt Lyford.

I'll admit right here this was the one time the Sundance faltered, however the co-pilot quickly pointed out it was more due to operator error than any fault with the vehicle. Whatever the cause, I took the first chance to turn around and put us all out of our misery.

That's another thing: the short wheelbase of this smooth operator allows a neat turning circle that would be the envy of most family car owners. The Sundance is just six metres in length overall, although the spacious interior certainly belies its compact size. The vehicle is built on a Fiat Ducato chassis with a 130bhp six-speed manual or Euro 5 Fiat diesel engine with improved fuel economy (nine percent) and emissions (a seven-percent improvement) in the 2013 models.

Leaving Christchurch late afternoon on a Friday evening, the co-pilot expressed concern we'd hold up home-time traffic, as he'd witnessed with many other motorhomes on this route. His concerns were quickly diminished — the engine has a lot of torque (320Nm at 1800rpm) and we easily kept up with the flow.

I quickly came to appreciate the rear camera supported with two extremely generous rear-vision mirrors, which no doubt added to the driving pleasure of all road users. The comfortable cab features a smooth dashboard with fully integrated factory-fit radio, CD, and MP3 player. The steering wheel is adjustable. ABS brakes come with EBD (electronic brake force distribution). There are two air-bags. Variable power steering and electric-operated tinted cab windows, heated wing mirrors, and headlamp height adjustment make for easy touch-of-a-button driving.

The passenger seats are fully adjustable for position and rake, with the driver seat also adjusting for height. Armrests lift away to allow for easy movement from the cab through to the living area. The front seats swivel easily to make for a convivial lounge set up when extra guests appear.

A free standing table stowed in the wardrobe while underway can be used inside or out. Two comfortable settees convert in moments to a double bed or two singles as required, and offer additional storage underneath.

The Swift Group prides itself on its space-frame locker construction, as well they should. There is a mass of storage options, each stylishly clad with Mali Acacia wood grain and sporting new design handles. I loved the generous wardrobe with multiple compartments, which made stowing our travel requirements an absolute breeze.

Overhead a Midi-Heki skylight with fly-net and adjustable blind, and a multi-directional clear roof light with pleated fly-screen and blind offer ventilation and light when required, or blackout for sleep-time. This follows through to all windows, which have cassette blinds and insect screens. I particularly admired the well-crafted fan-fold screens on the windscreen and cab doors.

Meanwhile, the co-pilot was hugely impressed with the new awning light which, together with an over-door interior light, switches automatically on and off as the door locks or unlocks, offering both safety and security. The step retracts or deploys at the push of a button and a deep well step has a handy rubber mat for wet days.

As soon as you step in to the motorhome, you'll be impressed by the right-hand side galley with its clever glass splash-back/rear window and round granite-look kitchen sink with removable drainer and dedicated storage. Swift now prefers Dometic fridges. This model offered an automatic energy selection 96-litre Dometic fridge.

Cooking is a breeze in the full oven including separate grill and dual fuel hob with 800W electric hotplate and three gas burners with electronic ignition and flame failure protection. If your cooking gets out of control, peace of mind comes not only with the fire extinguisher, but also with a smoke alarm. There's also a carbon monoxide alarm.

The galley is incredibly well-supported with high-end crockery, cutlery, pots, pans, and utensils, and lighting design is exceptional with well-spread LED swivel or downlights throughout and some very sexy strip low-level ambient lighting above the lockers in the lounge.

So why, with all this excellent appointment and attention to detail, is this vehicle rated with just four stars? According to Iconic's Kay Parker, the distinction comes down to the bed which has to be made up each day. Otherwise this classy little roadster could easily rate five stars.

This opinion is amply underscored in the design of the high-end bathroom with its excellent lighting and stylish, square fold-down basin. The Thetford cassette toilet and generous shower area with chrome mixer taps delivers a good flow of water from the pressurised water system with self-priming pump. Hot water temperature can be easily regulated on the touch screen control panel.

Setting this clever bathroom apart is the bi-fold screen which latches into place (top and bottom) when travelling, and folds out while showering to create a dry area for the toilet and storage — very well thought out.

Fresh water is stored in a 90-litre insulated underfloor tank. The 68-litre waste water tank has a level sensor.

New to the recent Swift models is a Truma Combi boiler with gas or electric blown air for heating, married with the Truma 'Drivesafe' regulator for en-route use of heating and water heating.

These are supported by Swift's Grade 3 classification for heating and thermal insulation, so you can be sure of a cosy and warm interior, even in the South Island's sub-zero temperatures.

Mains supply is delivered via a 25-metre hook-up cable to the fridge, microwave, oven, and heaters or through four 230-volt sockets. An easy to use 12-volt control panel above the doorway is linked to batteries stored in the underfloor compartments. The power supply also supports the satellite dish for the 230V/12V flat-screen TV.

Externally, the one-piece, 5000 Series marine-grade aluminium sidewalls finished in white and fixed to strong redwood framing provide a smooth, integrated exterior finish. The heavy-duty rear chassis is ready for an optional tow-bar and bike brackets can easily be fixed.

If we had one small grumble it was that the cab was a little noisy when underway. If we owned this vehicle we would opt for carpets to dim the echo, although this was a very minor grumble.

Overall, I'm happy to go with the co-pilot's aforementioned summary: "This is a classy wee piece of kit." However, not content to allow him the final word, I will add: this is the classiest vehicle I have so far driven. It will have high appeal to the luxury market at which it is aimed.

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