The 2020 Swift Escape 675 has a layout that is new to the Escape range and includes a rear washroom, twin single beds, kitchen midships and a front lounge/dinette, with the added bonus of a flat floor from the lounge to the back.
Each area has been defined and has enough space to function properly while still looking good. A low-profile body design keeps the overall vehicle height to less than three metres.
‘Langholme’ neutral browns and beiges with tartan patterned bed headboards bring a touch of the highland heath to the interior. Upholstered with a serviceable woven fabric, the seat cushions compliment the ‘Aralie Sen’ cabinetry laminate finish.
Capable of seating up to seven, the 675’s lounge will be a popular venue for happy hour. The table leg is fixed to the floor, but the top can be located to meet diners’ needs. It also lowers by simply pushing down to form the bed base if the dinette is converted into a bed. The cab seats can rotate to face the table.
Forward-facing and fitted with two seatbelts, the dinette can seat two passengers once the seat cushions are rearranged to provide legroom.
Each window cassette in the Escape contains a double-glazed window, an insect screen and a blind for total privacy. Those in the 675 have wide upholstered side panels instead of side curtains – a durable, practical way of dressing up the windows.
While the kitchen is not large, it is very workable and certainly bigger than those found in most European RVs. Set into the benchtop is a huge circular stainless steel sink. Above is a stylishly curved shelf, part of the design theme that ties the kitchen/ bedroom/lounge areas together. Within easy reach over the stove is a microwave oven.
Below the benchtop is an 85-litre 3-way Dometic fridge with freezer, and a three-hob Thetford oven with a pull-out pantry in between. Opposite is a bench-high cabinet. The TV power and aerial connections are situated here and the TV sits on the benchtop, where it can be viewed from either the lounge or the bed area.
Twelve overhead lockers – six in the bed area, four in the lounge and two in the kitchen – provide an enormous amount of storage space. More storage with internal access is available under both beds, with the driver’s side space also accessible through an external hatch.
Under the lounge settee driver’s side is the 12-volt fuse-board and Sargent power supply, and kerbside is a large locker with internal and external access. Note that the settee and bed tops are spring-assisted, making access easier.
Altogether there is more than enough storage for all the food, beverages, clothing, personal effects, al fresco dining gear and other toys deemed essential for life on the road. Exceeding the vehicle’s GVM is a real possibility with all that space to fill.
Twin singles are favoured by many older folk whose sleep patterns are at odds with those of their partner. Generous in size (1900 x 720mm and 1800 x 720mm), they each have a Duvalight foam mattress over a Beechwood slat base. It’s a very comfortable setup. Each has a reading light but no bedside shelf.
Behind a solid, 32mm thick door at the rear of the motorhome, the washroom is large enough to double as a dressing room. It has a dedicated shower cubicle driver’s side, a central hand basin and a Thetford swivel bowl toilet kerbside. With a water-saving Ecocamel Orbit showerhead sporting its own on/off button, a shelf for shampoo etc, a bi-fold door and twin lights, it is the equal of many residential showers.
Mounted on a pedestal cupboard alongside the shower, the hand basin with a mirror above is very easy to get at. In the corner is the Thetford electric toilet. Above and behind the toilet is a very useful wardrobe with shelves down one side.
It is a well-ventilated washroom with a ceiling hatch and an opening window beside the toilet.
With its bottom step level with the bottom of the bodywork (skirt), the 675 is an easy motorhome to get into and out of. And the low floor level means just one more step and you are inside. Most buyers will get by without an external step.
The heater and switchboard controls are located over the entry door. The Swift ‘Command Control System’ provides a 7-inch (178mm) LCD coloured touch screen allowing monitoring of the battery level and power usage, inside/outside temperature, inside humidity, solar panel charge levels and water tank level among other things, and you can download an app to your smartphone to do all of this remotely.
Note here that the lighting systems are all ultra-low energy LED, the house battery is an 80amp/hr AGM model, and there are 4 x 230-volt power points and USB ports throughout the vehicle.
There are outside lockers for the toilet cassette and two 9kg LPG bottles and access hatches to storage beside the toilet under the wardrobe, under the kerbside settee and under the driver’s side bed.
To meet the requirements of Europe’s recently upgraded emission standards, the drive train in the Fiat Ducato has been improved significantly. The six-speed AMT gearbox is out. A new nine-speed true automatic gearbox is in, along with the AdBlue exhaust gas treatment. By adopting these changes, the Fiat turbo diesel engine complies with the new Euro 6D rating.
Circumstances meant I couldn’t test-drive the vehicle myself, but I understand that in its new configuration the Ducato is more fuel efficient, quicker off the mark and a lively performer under all conditions. Changing to a nine-speed auto gearbox has worked well for other brands, so it should have a good outcome for Fiat.
Along with the extra performance, Fiat have added improved control measures to help the vehicle stay on the road, namely electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), anti-slip regulation (ASR), roll over mitigation (ROM) and hill hold. With a GVW of 3500kg, the Escape qualifies for Warrant of Fitness testing and a car licence for driving.
Swift have paired the Ducato with AL-KO’s long wheelbase chassis and future-proofed the arrangement by fitting a heavy-duty chassis extension ready to take a towbar should one be needed in the future.
The large glass reinforced plastic (GRP) moulded rear panel on the Swift Escape highlights Swift’s SMART construction philosophy of using GRP mouldings for all external panels. They like GRP because it is tough, hail-resistant and easily repaired. Underneath is a timberless body frame and polystyrene insulation, and together these factors are major contributors to Swift meeting the Grade 3 Classification for operating in sub-zero ambient temperatures.
The overall result is a well-balanced, good-looking motorhome.
Merit RV make a point of supplying RVs that are well equipped with a comprehensive specification. The Escape 675 is no exception. It comes with comprehensive warranty protection; five-year Fiat warranty/six-year body warranty/ three-year internal warranty. Conditions apply but they are mostly related to owners complying with a prescribed servicing programme.
In addition to the many features mentioned above, this vehicle is fitted with Swift’s ‘Comfort Pack’ that includes reverse camera, air conditioning, electronic stability control (ESC), traction control, cruise control, central locking, electric windows, electric mirrors and alloy wheels.
The motorhome has an automatic satellite dish system, an LED TV with Freeview/DVD, 100-litre monitored fresh and 68-litre grey tanks, 200-watt solar system, 12 months registration, three-year WOF, and 3000klms RUC. It also includes NZMCA self-containment, gas and electrical certification.
The Swift Escape 675 provided me with two standout features; the new automatic gearbox and the open-plan interior layout. The nine-speed automatic gearbox reinvents the Ducato and will confirm its position as the No1 supplier of base vehicles to the motorhome industry in Europe. The 675 layout is a wonderful counterpoint to European motorhomes with their more compartmentalised approach to interior fitouts.
Swift Escape 675 specifications
2.3L turbo diesel Euro 6D 140 bhp
9-speed Automatic gearbox
140 bhp Euro 6D
Price as reviewed: from $146,995 (includes GST and on-roads)
- The nine-speed automatic gearbox
- The open-plan twin singles layout
- So much space down the centre of the motorhome
- The excellent storage capacity
- Compact but very workable kitchen
- Needs a couple of towel rails in the bathroom
- Could do with a tiny corner shelf just big enough for a 'cuppa' close to the head of each bed
For further information, go to meritrv.co.nz