Detailed ReviewTHE tag-axle Swift Kon-Tiki 649 replaces the single rear axle 645 that was dropped by parent company Swift.
Not only that, but the Swift comes with a new Low-Line overcab option that adds style and reduces the number of berths to four. Clearly more length and more space doesn’t equal big families. So who will be tempted by this undeniably impressive new beast?
Surely the real appeal of this Kon-Tiki is for those who just love to be sociable; folk who spend their weekends with like-minded motorhomers on a rally field. And if you want room to entertain, there’s probably nothing this side of a mammoth American RV with multiple slide-outs that can come close to the new 649.
The new model has a rear lounge, though here there’s a central chest of drawers with flip-over coffee table as standard, with the option of a wrap-around seating arrangement for less than £100.
If you were to choose that option then that that would bring the on-site seating total to 16! It’s up front, though, where the Swift is really different from its most direct rival, the Auto-Trail Arapaho. Both have a pullman dinette on the offside, but where the kitchen resides in the Arapaho, the Kon-Tiki has a side-facing settee.
With the swivel cab seats brought into play, that makes the front lounge even bigger than the rear one. The swivel driver’s seat is rather hidden behind the bulkhead of the rear-facing dinette bench but we’re talking maximum seating space here.
And when you’re just feeding the family it’s the front lounge that makes the best dining area. The table is engineered like the Humber Bridge (with a clever Hymer-esque swing-down-for-bed-making mechanism) and its slide-out extension leaf means five place settings can be squeezed in.
You can split the party between adults and kids, if you wish, as there’s a full-sized free-standing table for the rear. We were less than enamoured with the hinged leaf to this table or its storage location in the wardrobe, but it does add flexibility to the dining arrangements.
Of course, if you’re just snacking, the chest of drawers’ fold-out table top will be sufficient – it’s just a pity that this unit felt so flimsy (more akin to a fitting from a £10K caravan than a £62K motorhome) on our test ‘van.
At night, couples are most likely to use the near-instant single beds at the rear, and although one bed is longer than the other, they both stretched my tap measure beyond the 6ft mark. A transverse double is the alternative choice with just a bit more effort required in its make-up (the slide-out bed bases are sturdy and easy to use), just as it is up front.
This is not a motorhome for the faint-hearted. In a straight line it performs surprisingly well with the 3-litre engine endowed with enough torque to tow a small country behind you.
More impressively, the tag-axle chassis lends this seriously big behemoth unerring stability. But then you come to a town, a junction or arrive on site and want to manoeuvre onto your pitch.
Now you realise just how huge this motorhome is. Thankfully, that dash-mounted Blaupunkt sat nav (with European mapping) becomes a screen for the rear view camera as soon as you select reverse.
And the cab spec also includes air-con, cruise control and two airbags. The only option you might want to add is Fiat’s semi-auto Comfort-Matic gearshift.
New for this season are the 10-inch fold-down TV in the cab (with Freeview and DVD-player), LED lighting (including two exterior lights), two 110Ah leisure batteries, a new entrance door, seat bases that rise on gas struts for access to the vast storage below, heaters in both the underfloor fresh and waste water tanks, eight mains sockets and a new control panel that really is as easy to use as it is good to look at.
In the kitchen, the 649 has acres of worktop space (made possible by using a removable draining board) and the modern-looking domestic-style cooker has the three gas rings, one mains hotplate, grill and oven and a microwave.
Across on the offside are the bathroom and double-door wardrobe. Bathroom storage is well thought-out. The best feature is its trademark circular shower.
The Kon-Tiki 649 looks as impressive as you’d expect for your £62K – especially with its new Low-Line Luton – and it is superbly well equipped. It beats its nearest rival for living – or rather, lounging – space, while looking more up to date (if, perhaps, a fraction less upmarket inside.)
Other tag-axle motorhomes come with garages, island beds, etc, but none feel this spacious – and none have so much room for entertaining. Re-inventing the Kon-Tiki’s most classical layout in a longer body has created a real one-of-a-kind motorhome that is certain to find its market niche.