Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696

Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696 Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696
Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696 Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696
Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696 Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696
Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696 Motorhome review: Swift Escape 696

The six-berth Escape from British manufacturer Swift is sure to find favour with families looking for a practical and roomy vehicle for a great getaway.

Swift motorhomes are usually associated with the higher end; however, I was recently introduced to the six-berth Escape which is designed to be a practical vehicle for family holidays. And while it did not have all of the luxury finishes I've previously associated with this brand's 4.5 star vehicles, the Escape comes from Swift's four star-rated entry level range and is designed to be perfectly suited to the target market.

I recently took one for a spin and concluded that this motorhome makes up for the lack of 'posh' with a host of practical features. And it's all delivered at a very competitive price.

In fact, after driving it and having a good gander at its insides, I had to check again that the price of this large family van was – as I had written in my notebook earlier – just a fraction under $125,000 (as a show special for the recent Camper Care Show in Christchurch). That's a lot of bang for the buck.

The Escape

The Escape was introduced to Iconic Motorhome's fleet in 2013 to give families an option for a large, well-built and practical motorhome they would be hard pressed to beat. The unique standout feature for many will be the large rear bunks. Not only do these provide the younger members of the family with their own 'room', it's possible to alternatively deploy the rear bunk for use as a very generous garage which is sure to take all your toys, if there is only one child on tour.

If the second or third child is aged up to around six, there's a good-sized side settee just inside the door that will make a perfect possie for a young one, without the need to make up the double bed into which the table and surrounds convert to make the second double. I say "second double" because another permanently made up double bed is over the cab.

The aerodynamically designed over-cab is by necessity shallow, but the lack of headroom is offset both by the convenience of the permanent bed and the luxury of a private adult space. So, you will have by now deduced that the Escape offers six berths; and naturally has seat belts for the same number of people.

A really sensible feature of this over-cab bed was the option of increasing the above cab head room by lifting up the wooden base. This is a real safety feature too, as while it presented no problems for me to step through from the cab to the lounge, I understand that most people are a tad taller than I.

Additionally the galley is designed to cater for the crowd with an 80-litre Dometic fridge, three-burner hob with stove and a good-sized bench. I concluded that this was a very workable kitchen with a granite look finish. And nor did the amidships bathroom, with its half-round 'dry' shower, disappoint.

Swift _Escape _3

This motorhome had heaps of storage options including a tall wardrobe opposite the entry door – essential when there's a family on board. Swift-designed vehicles always have a good deal of light options and I was pleased to see that many were multi-directional swivels and all were LED. All windows had the usual clever and practical Swift window treatment of combination blinds and cassette fly screens; as does the Heki skylight.

Another thing Swift does exceptionally well is beds as these feature the intelligent and super comfortable Duvulay system. Settees are sprung for comfort and all are covered in durable, hard-wearing fabric.

But if all of this bedroom talk is making you nod off, I'll cut to the boy bits without delay: the new Euro 5 130bhp Fiat Multi-jet engine with six-speed auto gearbox drives like a dream and offers a nine percent increase in fuel efficiency.

Taking it for a drive

I would have loved to get this one on the road. Instead, I was only able to take it for a tour of Christchurch's inner city and suburbs – all of which presented challenges and opportunities to assess it for performance and drive-ability.

The first challenge was turning into the first of two lanes of heavy traffic while negotiating rain soaked roads. Thumbs up: it was a breeze. The second was the numerous road cones and road closures in Christchurch at present: thumbs up for that, as well. And the third? Finding a suitable place for a scenic photo shoot.

By the time I reached the Sumner waterfront I hardly hesitated to head up a narrow gravel drive to find a suitable posse, because I knew that this vehicle would take whatever I threw at it: gravel, wet roads, road blocks, small turning circles, dense city traffic and a first-time driver . Yes, I was well pleased with its performance.

The verdict

Time and space do not permit me to tell you a great deal more about the amenities of the Escape, although I'm sure the New Zealand importers, Iconic Motorhomes, will be more than happy to fill in the gaps.

Let me just conclude by saying that this is an excellent starting point for a family keen to enjoy holidays on the road. Where else would you find a fully-functioning bach or crib which will go where you want it to for such a modest outlay?

For more information phone Iconic's Christchurch Depot: 260 Ferry Road: (03) 366 4364

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