s first look
s first look
upmarket
The Sundance family goes
Swift’s Sundance range enters mid-life maturity with a 2010-season overhaul that
takes it into mid-market territory. Has the company pulled it off, asks ROB GANLEY
T
he big reason to visit
the Swift Group’s
motorhome stand at
February’s NEC show
is the chance to see the brandnew Swift Sundance and
Bessacarr E400 ranges. We’ll
call them the Sundance family
for the purposes of this review
– after all, Swift and Bessacarr
are badge-engineered
motorhome brands that share
the same base
vehicle
platform,
caravan body
and interior
layouts, with
just minor
cosmetic
differences
such as graphics,
upholstery and
furniture veneers.
This mid-2010 season
overhaul is the latest in a long
line of evolutionary tweaks
that the family has undergone
down the years. Swift has
been using the name Sundance
since 1997, and E400 since
1999, but perhaps the most
significant, radical overhaul
was its relaunch at the Earls
Court Show in October 2001.
uncapped aluminium
extrusions, and ABS skirts.
It was a major sales hit,
but since then, the Sundance
family has been creeping
upmarket with every minor
specification tweak, every
improved body panel, and
every cosmetic upgrade.
By 2006 it looked
substantially more grown-up,
with a more upmarket overcab
section and
high-level
road lights
incorporated
into an end cap.
For the 2008
season it got
remote central
locking and
push-button
catches on its
locker doors. And of course,
steadily increasing prices
reflected this extra kit.
Since 2001,
the Sundance
family has
been creeping
upmarket
The timeline
I remember it well – the
Swift Group’s assault on the
sub-£30,000 motorhome
market that was under
siege from budget Italian
coachbuilts. It was a simple,
well-specified range (for the
price), with aluminium rear
panel and sidewalls joined by
The realignment
With the launch of the budget
Escape brand to huge success
in February last year (which
incidentally takes a lot of its
styling cues from Sundance
in its 2002-season glory), the
Sundance family seems to
have completed its journey
upmarket. While Escape battles
budget rivals at the £30,000£35,000 price point, Sundance
is entering its mid-market
mid-life maturity, with prices
starting at around £35,000.
Both brands will have a new
six-model line-up that includes
two new low-line models:
the rear French-style fixed
110 | April 2010 | www.caravansitefinder.co.uk
Sundance over the years
2002 season
Swift launched its attack on low-cost Italian family
motorhomes with the ground-up overhaul of the Sundance.
Simple, stylish and firmly focused on that crucial £30,000
price point, it was a big sales hit over the subsequent years.
2005 season
The most obvious changes are
the new front and rear GRP
mouldings, providing
additional high-level road
lighting. Now equipped
with a full oven and grill,
the impressive spec
list included a Heki 2
rooflight over the lounge,
blinds and flyscreens,
removable carpets, and
a solar panel plug-in
provision to the
leisure battery.
2007 season
The overcab and rear panels are
developed: rather than just GRP
caps, Sundance gets full GRP
overcab moulding and a stylish
rear panel with high-level brake
light and reversing camera
mounting position. The front
bumper is finished in gloss
white and sidewall graphics are
refreshed. Inside, a new smart
energy-selection fridge, and
push-button locks on overhead
lockers, complete the revamp.
What motorhome?
Mid-market Sundance family
Beefed-up graphics
Swift branding on the
overcab is huge, while
Sundance graphics and Swift
logos are bigger and bolder
everywhere they’re used
overcab improvements
Although the mould is the
same as last season, the
overcab gets windows on
either side, and integrates
with the rail caps neatly
Eye-catching nose
Colour-coded bumpers, a
grey insert around the grille
and replacing Fiat’s badge
with the Swift logo make
for a stylish front end
water works
The 68-litre waste tank has its
own wide-bore drain tap, but
to drain the 90-litre fresh
tank, pull its plug through an
inspection hatch in the floor
new entry
Previous Sundances had
a double electric step. Now
the door height is lowered,
the footwell is cut from the
new GRP sills, requiring
just a single electric entry
step. It’s fitted with a
buzzer and auto-retraction.
The door has a window and
flyscreen, and gets an
integral waste bin. Both cab
and habitation doors lock
with the push of a key fob
stylish new rear panel
Back in the 2002 season,
the Sundance had a flat rear
panel, and aluminium
extrusions where the walls
bonded with the roof and
rear panels were on show.
For the 2010 season these
joins are capped, and this
one-piece GRP rear panel,
with integral road lights
and built-in reversing
camera viewfinder, gives
the motorhome a much
more upmarket feel
www.practicalmotorhome.com | April 2010 | 111
first look
corner-bed Sundance 620FB/
Bessacarr E450, and the 630G/
E480, a familiar-enough
transverse fixed bed over rear
garage floorplan, only this
time in low-line form only.
High line:
the exterior
We enjoyed an exclusive preNEC show preview of the
Sundance 630L, and credit
is due to Swift Group as the
changes are substantial. On
first, external impressions
it looks a good deal more
upmarket. A large part of
that is to do with the stunning
new rear panel, which always
seems to be an indicator of
a motorhome’s status: flat
rear panel equals budget ’van;
scoops and swoops worthy of
a supercar equal upmarket
’van. The latest panel is fullGRP and has new road light
clusters. The sidewall graphics
are a burgundy and silver
swoosh. We’re told the
E400s have classic green
Bessacarr graphics.
Up front, the overcab mould
remains the same as that of
The star turn
The kitchen has real showroom
impact: its lockers have a
cream veneer, there’s a new
granite-look GRP sink, a 112litre fridge, and a chrome-finish
tap under which a kettle will fit
CABIN COMFORTS
The 630L is powered by
the 2.3-litre 130 Multijet
engine as standard, with
six-speed transmission. Cab
air conditioning and cruise
control are on the options list
Overcab opulence
The one-piece mattress is
supremely comfortable. The
aluminium ladder stashes
neatly beneath the bed base
when not in use, which itself
raises on gas struts
Kitchen extension
The kitchen is compact but
highly useable thanks to this
hinged worktop extension.
The clip-on plastic drainer is
a standard, very useful item
in Swift Group motorhomes
heavy duty extension
In some ’vans the lounge bed
extension is too flimsy to take
an adult’s weight. Not here:
the solid steel bars, with infil
cushions, grow the bed by
31cm, so are suitable for all
Dedicated double
The lounge double measures
1.82 x 1.23m when extended.
But there’s the problem of
using the ladder to the overcab,
and nowhere dedicated to stash
the table when not in use
Credit is due to
Swift Group as
the changes to
the Sundance
are substantial
last season, only carrying
bigger and bolder
manufacturer graphics
and getting windows either
side, instead of just one.
Under the skin, stronger
body panels and an improved
jointing system are new to
both ranges, and there’s
a stepwell at the lowered
entrance door now, rather
than a double electric step.
New, smooth and colourcoded GRP sills complete the
seamless floor-to-roof look.
The 630L is one of two
family-orientated models
based on the long-wheelbase
Ducato, powered by the 130
Multijet as standard (the other
is the 630G) and with an
MTPLM of 4005kg, that may
112 | April 2010 | www.caravansitefinder.co.uk
first look
require the drivers in some
young families to retest and
gain the extra C1 category
on their licence.
The 620FB/E459 is also on
the long-wheelbase Ducato,
but is powered by the 100
Multijet, and has a 3500kg
MTPLM. The 580PR/E480
and 590RS/E435 are on the
MWB Ducatos, and are also
powered by the 100 Multijet;
the 530LP/E410 is on the
SWB Ducato, with an
MTPLM of 3300kg.
The interior
sunken storage bins
The leisure battery is housed
in a plastic bin under the rear
bunk, which raises on struts.
There’s a second storage
bin, too. Notice the rear freestanding table also stashes here
Rear-lounge living
As well as a free-standing
table, the 630L comes with a
dresser that extends as a place
to put your coffee mug. Drop-in
carpets, and wallboards to back
the cushions, are nice touches
rear sleeping
A slatted base pulls out from
beneath the dresser. The bed
measures 2.04 x 1.34m, and is
partitioned off with a curtain.
Alternatively, it can be used
as single beds of 1.87 x 0.66m
Concealed TV bracket
This concealed, slide-out,
adjustable bracket can
accommodate a 15” flatscreen
TV. It’s well-sited for an
evening’s viewing from the
comfortable rear lounge
lined washroom walls
A 35mm-thick door with
mortice lock opens onto the
washroom, where the walls
are lined, and a partition door
keeps the rear wall dry. The
shower tray has two plugs
washroom storage
The large circular basin
houses storage underneath,
by removing the whole fascia.
The tap doubles as the shower
head on a nylon-lined
extension cord
We’ll let our pictures here point
up the real detail changes, but
let’s take an overview here.
Inside, Sundance models have
Tanganica walnut furniture
with attractive matt nickel
inserts. Overhead lockers
have push-button catches,
while lighting throughout is
the same LED system we’ve
already seen in Swift’s more
expensive ranges. One of
the more interesting design
details is the decision to give
the kitchen its own distinctive
colour treatment. That is,
rather than the wooden
furniture throughout the
Overhead lockers
have push-button
catches, while
the lighting is
LED throughout
rest of the ’van, the kitchen
gets cream locker doors and
new work surfaces, with an
attractive granite-look sink.
There is a full oven, grill, dualfuel hob, large stainless steellook smart energy selector
fridge, and a built-in
microwave as standard.
The washroom has a folding
partition door to keep the
wood panelling separate and
dry from the lined shower. The
latest Thetford electric cassette
toilet with electric flush and
wheel holding tank is fitted,
along with a thick, locking
washroom door.
Lots of small standard-fit
extras throughout add up
114 | April 2010 | www.caravansitefinder.co.uk
What motorhome?
Mid-market Sundance family
to a decent specification: new
additions include a passenger
airbag, slide-out storage and
adjustable bracket for a 15”
flatscreen TV, LED lighting
throughout, and a microwave
oven that’s built into a kitchen
locker. There are also
concertina cab blinds, a new
door and flyscreen, remote
central locking, plus en route
and on-site heating. All
habitation windows get
flyscreens and blinds, but
not of the pleated variety.
All-new low-line
Low-Line Sundance 620FB
The all-new low-line mould is
a massive visual improvement
on the outgoing low-line model
620FB interior This dedicated two-berth motorhome has parallel sofas up front, and a substantial
overcab locker for bedding; the corner bed and corner washroom layout is hugely popular
swift sundance &
bessacaRr E400 layouts
April
630L/E495 low-line; overcab,
front dinette, rear single beds
630G/E480 low-line; overcab,
front dinette, rear double bed
620FB/E450 low-line; fixed
bed corner bed, front seats
590RS/E435 high line; overcab,
new end kitchen detailing
530LP/E410 low-line;
new end kitchen detailing
580PR/E460 low-line; wraparound rear U-shaped lounge
Pricing
The E400 range, nominally
the more prestigious, will
be around £200 more
expensive than Sundance,
thanks to more expensive
upholstery and different
dash trim. On-the-road
pricing ranges from
£35,000 to £44,000
Key factoryfitted options
■ Roll-out awning
■ Cab air conditioning
and cruise control
■ New winter pack: water
tank heaters, insulated
pipes, fridge vent covers
■ Roof rack and ladder
■ Detachable towbar
We also managed to get a sneak
preview of one of the all-new
layouts at the factory as it
approached completion. The
620FB, pictured here, has a
fixed, French-style corner bed,
with parallel facing sofas up
front. Unlike the overcab
models, the low-line mould
is completely new. Looking
at it face on, it has a gull-wing
shape, rising higher to meet
the roof and sidewalls, and
rounding toward the nose.
Visually, it’s a massive and
stylish improvement on the
flat, horizontal line of the
previous low-line mould. And
like the new low-line mould
for sister brand Autocruise,
it’s not just form over function:
it’s designed to create a large
internal locker for bedding
and the like. This locker is set
within a moulded, leatherlook fascia, giving it the
appearance of the luxury KonTiki range. For other low-line
layouts, see our table, left.
practical
motorhome says...
Swift Group, more than any other
manufacturer in our industry,
knows how to sell the sizzle, right
from its upmarket advertising and
microsite campaigns, down to
the immediate-impact, showroom
‘wow’ factor that all its motorhomes
possess in abundance. The
question is whether it has done
enough to the Sundance family,
and added enough quality, to
justify the hike in price that such a
market realignment demands. We
think Swift has pulled it off, but it’s
what you think that matters most.
www.practicalmotorhome.com | April 2010 | 117
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