Review: Swift Voyager 674

By: John Bristow, Photography by: John Bristow


Merit RV owner Nathan Butler loves promoting the 2019 Swift Voyager 674 to New Zealand buyers. He tells John Bristow the reasons why.

The Voyager 674 is exactly what Kiwi motorhomers are looking for," explains Nathan Butler. "We know, because we asked what our customers wanted, then gave the specifications to the Swift factory to build it.

Swift-Voyager-674---As-Kiwi-as-pavlova_1.jpg

It’s as Kiwi a motorhome as you can get." Remembering that Swift motorhomes are built on the other side of the world and are popular in Europe, it came as something of a surprise to me that a UK-based company would be so agreeable to the consumer requests of a New Zealand-based agency like Merit RV.

Merit has enjoyed a unique relationship with Swift since about 2010, though the company had been the go-to force in central North Island motorhomes and caravans for a few years before that.

Merit owner Nathan started with his father back in 2003 and since then has kept up with and, in some cases, been ahead of the local trends when it comes to Kiwi motorhomes.

Nathan worked hard to find an excellent product which is tailored specifically to the New Zealand market and found it, in the Swift Voyager 674. "It was a bit of a leap of faith," admits Nathan.

"When the Voyager idea first came up, it came with a pretty hefty commitment on my part to take a specific number of vehicles, but I’d decided the Swift name and product was the best option for Kiwi motorhomers, took the plunge and it’s been a very successful and enduring arrangement."

And the 674 is the flagship of the Swift Voyager range. It’s common for motorhomers to come and see what all the fuss is about, then trade up once they see what the 674 has to offer, and how well-suited it is to the Kiwi motorhome lifestyle.

Even the Voyager name is a Kiwi one. Merit RV is the only Swift dealer with a licence to use it. Any given customer enjoys the advantages Merit has negotiated with Swift for optimal engine, drive-train and body configuration, based on Nathan’s not inconsiderable experience with what his customers want.

Alt TEXT HERE
The Swift Voyager 674 can be driven on a car licence

As Nathan points out, "New Zealanders expect bang for their buck when it comes to motorhome ownership, which is why Swift has put everything we wanted to see aboard the Voyager 674.

"It is the complete package without any sneaky ‘oh, and by the way, you’ll need…’ extras. The TV, automatic satellite dish, awning, solar panels, electrical and gas certification, road registration, including road user charges, are all included."

The Voyager 674 can be driven on a car licence and is subject to the less stringent Warrant of Fitness, rather than the more invasive CoF, which makes it especially appealing to first time motorhome buyers. 

Italian underwear

It came as no great surprise to see the Fiat badge on the 16-inch alloys, which means this motorhome has tried and true Italian underpinnings; need we say more? Well, actually, yes.

In addition to the stronger than strong AL-KO motorhome chassis, the Voyager has Fiat’s six-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) to give all the advantages of an automatic with the constancy of a manual.

The AMT is a very sophisticated unit; it gives a shift sensation of driving with a clutch, but of having that clutch operated by a professional driver. You have the manual Tiptronic option as well of course, but for the most part, Fiat’s little robot which controls the gearbox does an impressive job around town.

Alt TEXT HERE
The very user-friendly control panel

Then there’s the awesomely powerful – and Euro 6 compliant – 2.3-litre, 150bhp Multijet turbo diesel. That’s right; 150bhp not 130, which is normal.

For the technically-minded owner, this means you have 380Nm of torque (30Nm more than the 130) available from 1500rpm pretty much constantly through to 2500rpm.

And this is good why? All of the extra torque hits peak much earlier; you have more power to play with and yet the fuel efficiency is the same. The larger output of the engine makes for effortless open road cruising and contributes to the impressively car-like performance in metropolitan areas.

As does the car-like level of specification: cruise control, traction and electronic stability control, steering wheel audio controllers, an excellent rear-view camera to complement the parking sensors and more besides.

Living in space

Alt TEXT HERE
The upholstery can be reversed

And the technical stuff takes us neatly into the elegant cab, with its superstars: a pair of fully swivelling and adjustable captain’s chairs for the helmsman and admiral.

Given Fiat’s commercial vehicle roots, these are chairs you can sit in all day long. The fabric is modern and works in well with the living area upholstery.

Alt TEXT HERE

The elegant cab features two fully swivelling, adjustable Captain’s chairs

Yes, the captain’s chairs are different by way of their adjustability and functionality, but they also make a statement as to the high quality found throughout the rest of the vehicle.

And if the chairs weren’t enough to capture the Swift’s comfort and sophistication, I was impressed, as I’m sure you’ll be, with the level of natural light – with the cab’s overhead skylight complementing the panoramic windshield.

This combination gives the cabin a quality of light and space to inspire a science fiction author, making ‘Voyager’ somewhat appropriate, especially for Star Trek fans.

Alt TEXT HERE
The motorhome has plenty of natural light

Natural light is a big feature of the 674, which goes by the in-house moniker of ‘the party bus,’ testament to its true nature of being a motorhome for the socially-inclined traveller.

Naturally, it is fitted with a wealth of LED (low power-draining) lights, the bulk of which are dimmer controlled, and when the party’s over in the wee small hours, the plethora of windows can be closed off with either security blinds, insect screens or both.

Alt TEXT HERE
The L-shaped couch has seat-belts for additional travelling passengers

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Not unexpectedly, considering how easy it is to see just how versatile the 674’s living areas – yes, areas, plural – really are. Directly behind the Voyager’s ‘flight deck’ is the first of the living areas.

Being a four-berth, here is where you’ll find the seat-belted positions on the L-shaped couch for additional travelling passengers, along with the requisite stowable and swivelling table and a double settee to complete – in this case – the second lounge.

Alt TEXT HERE

The aft section can be configured with a queen or king-size bed or with twin singles

The design allows for either a condensed bedroom with provision for a queen-size bed or an intimate lounge up the front, should you wish to have ‘permanent’ sleeping arrangements in the rear.

Or you can go the other way – with the larger lounge at the rear, suitable for group gatherings around a second stowable table which is otherwise stored away. If travelling as a twosome, however, you may find the attraction of a larger, more permanent sleeping arrangement more appealing.

The U-shaped aft section can therefore be configured with a queen or a king-size bed or with twin singles and a wealth of storage space in locker-type compartments above and below the beds. There are cupboards just about everywhere you look, and most are considerably larger than their outer panel-work suggests.

The necessary room

As a result of the excellent storage, there is much more room to move around inside the main cabin and there are no complaints when moving fore and aft.

The twin lounge design places the emphasis on living and/or entertaining, though there are some essential areas which I would call compact to allow for the greatest amount of living space.

Even so, the Voyager’s centre section demonstrates thoughtful consideration. First up is the functional galley with four-hob gas grill and oven and, above that, a mains-powered microwave.

The extendable bench space is workable, but necessarily limited as it is also home to a shallow but generous sink, with a slip in and clip in cover and drainage board, both of which are easily stored when the Voyager is in holiday home mode. 

Alt TEXT HERE
The overhead crockery cuboard

Given the compact nature of the kitchen, it stands to reason that there are some smart design ideas. The rubbish tidy is neatly moulded into the habitation door.

There is a generous under-bench pantry with utensil storage, and a cleverly designed overhead cupboard for crockery.The star of the kitchen though, is the 138-litre, three-way fridge and freezer unit opposite. 

Alt TEXT HERE
Clever design makes up for the small size of the kitchen

Alongside this is the ‘necessary’ room with its basin and under-bench vanity cupboard. A shower curtain gives the suggestion of privacy between the Thetford cassette toilet and the shower with its ‘halo’ showerhead.

This uses air to amplify the water pressure and reduce water consumption. Not that this is an issue, given the Voyager’s monitored 120-litre fresh and 100-litre grey water tanks.

Alt TEXT HERE
The bathroom with its halo showerhead

Monitoring is a significant consideration of the Voyager, which features a carbon monoxide detector as standard. Handy, given there are two gas bottles, along with 200 watts of solar power, a deep cycle AGM battery and mains of course, for light, heating and cooking options.

A motorhome in the truest sense

There is extensive double glazing throughout, giving a well-balanced quality to the natural light in order to complement the neutral interior palette.

Where the walls are not a comfortably soft white, light tan panel veneer provides a pleasant counterpoint to the anthracite greys and charcoals of the upholstery, which can be reversed to reveal a smoother fabric on the underside, better suited to providing a sleeping surface.

The golden warranty years

Alt TEXT HERE
Even the light switches are stylish

"The colour choices give owners the ability to add their personal touches easily," Nathan explains.

And on the subject of personal touches, Nathan and his team go that little bit further when it comes to the finer points of what customers require, adding extra USB ports and modifying the light switches to something more sophisticated, that sort of thing; it is after all, the details that make a home.

Alt TEXT HERE

The 674 is the flagship of the Swift Voyager range

As if all of the above isn’t enough there is one more, intangible, benefit. Or at least one would hope it stays an intangible benefit – and that is peace of mind. Normally, motorhomes from overseas are only provided with a two-year factory warranty on its Ducato product.

Nathan felt this was shy of the mark, so he negotiated a five-year Fiat factory warranty, which complements the Swift body warranty of six years and a three-year internal warranty, all of which is included in the ready-to-tour price of the very drivable and desirable Swift Voyager 674.

Specifications

Year 2019
Make Fiat
Model Ducato
Engine 2.3-litre Multijet turbo diesel
Gearbox

6-speed AMT

Berths 4
Length 7.4m
Width 2.3m
Height 2.95m
Tanks Fresh 120L /Grey 100L
Power 150hp
GVM 3500kg

Reviewed price: $143,995

For more information, visit meritrv.co.nz, or call Nathan or any of the Merit RV team on 06 769 5540 or 021 1791164.

Keep up to date with news by signing up to nzmcd.co.nz's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook