Occasionally, small things catch the eyes of caravan reviewers before the more significant aspects of a tourer.
Even before we’d stepped onto the doormat, we noticed a feature that sets this range apart from others. The catch that holds back the door is magnetic and spring-loaded, meaning that if the wind catches the door and takes it back, the springs in both the door and wall elements of this catch act to bounce the door off, in a soft-close manner. When the door is open and you want to close it from within the caravan you don’t have to reach or step outside to release a catch; you simply get hold of the door handle and move the door towards you.
There are more important aspects of Continentals, though, that you can’t even see. That’s about construction. In February 2014, Swift launched its Swift Elegance and Sterling Continental ranges using a new construction system, called SMART HT, with a completely timberless bodyshell, including the floor. HT stands for High-Tech and took the SMART construction method, introduced the previous year across the entire Swift range, to a new level by introducing timberless floors.
The floor construction is a five-layer sandwich with insulating Styrofoam at the core, clad with a rigid, strong, yet lightweight honeycomb matrix. It’s covered in GRP with a special woven glass structure that gives the whole floor a tough, impervious finish.
The 630, twin-axle, fixed-bed Continental is designed for buyers looking for plenty of space, plenty of fridge and freezer space, plenty of lounge seating length, Alde heating and all the trimmings you’d expect of a flagship-spec caravan including an alarm system and extractor fan.
This caravan is also designed for purchasers looking for modern styling. Shades of dark brown and cream mingle among fabrics, curtains and cabinetry (where the dark brown panels are high-gloss, with prominent grain). And there’s a fabulous long-pile lounge rug that has a golden hue when sunlight catches its paler threads.
The kitchen surface looks like real white marble. The cabinet and table tops are white, with an irregular, geometric filigree pattern in very pale grey. The drinks cabinet has a light to illuminate the chunky acrylic shelving with recesses for bottles and goblets.
The wardrobe has a sliding door so that it doesn’t open into the bedside corridor. A bank of chrome sockets and switches, including a USB socket, are set into a console forward of the centre-front chest of drawers.
And two of the four speakers driven by the Blaupunkt system are in the shower room…
The shower is in the usual position on the nearside. The shower rose is the Ecocamel type which has an air inlet to increase water flow. The riser bar has a retainer loop to keep the hose in the corner out of your way. And a wide shelf forms part of the plastic moulding.
There are two drain holes, so that if the caravan is not 100% level the water will still drain out.
A cabinet forward of the shower contains the table, and two shelves of the perfect dimension for rolled-up towels. There are two towel hooks high up on the wall alongside the shower.
Heating in the shower room comes in the form of a large chrome radiator, very modern and domestic in styling. It’s part of the Alde heating system.
Storage accommodation in the 630’s shower room is amazing, with three wall cabinets plus a cupboard under the washbasin.
The mattress is made by Duvalay. It’s memory foam technology, and designed to control temperature. It feels springy and comfortable.
The 630’s chief appeal will be to couples but if you want to turn the lounge into a bedroom, you get single beds that are 2m long (offside) and 1.77m (nearside) or a double made by rolling out a slatted central base from under the drawers.
The bedroom has its own TV recess with a bracket and connection points, plus a shelf above, ideal for DVDs.
The mattress is light in weight and so raising the bed base is especially easy. There’s no structure to get in the way of a clear access to the whole under-bed areas. And you can reach into it from the exterior hatch, too.
The wardrobe is in the usual position for a caravan of this layout, alongside the bed, and shaped to create the corridor. But instead of having doors that open into the corridor, this wardrobe’s door slides along the corridor; sheer, simple brilliance!
The front under-settee storage areas have full-length hatches. Five top lockers, of various sizes, take care of small stuff. And a cabinet beside the door makes a useful addition to what is, overall, a well-planned storage arrangement.
For two, the front pull-out extension table is large enough for anything except major meals. You would perhaps rarely need to extract the large table from the shower room but when you do, it’s an easy process.
Sit back in the deep corner upholstery sections, get the two pairs of cushions in the right position to suit you, flick your feet up and take a look around… It’s while reclining in the lounge that you can most easily assimilate all the style points the big 630 has to offer.
Among them are vertical lights in the corners of the lounge. The style is amazing. Fibre optic tubes are mounted between two chunky chrome end pieces. The light shimmers as you move your head to alter the angle at which you view each light.
The cleverly choreographed use of very dark and very light shades from brown to almost white in the fabrics creates a caravan of immense style. Sterlings have down the years come to be regarded as icons of style and the new Sterling Continental surely takes this reputation to a new level.
In the 630’s kitchen the stark, dark element of the styling gets even darker and starker, and even more modern. The lower kitchen furniture is almost black. And it’s matt. Very IKEA and very appealing. Behind those matt doors is well-planned and plentiful storage in the form of four wire basket-style drawers in two cabinets, plus a cutlery drawer. The top cabinet is large, too, at 82cm wide and 48cm deep.
The circular sink is recessed into the worktop, so it has no surround. When the removable cover is in place, the whole surface is almost completely flat; the total surface length is 80cm (that’s not taking the hob width into account). And when you want more space you can hinge up a 34-cm square extension.
Like all caravans in this range, the kitchen splashback has hidden illumination along each side. It’s a lovely feature. The 630’s splashback has a simple white wave design on a fine mesh pattern.
A slim strip of light is concealed under the top cabinets and three tiny spotlights focus down from the ceiling; the 630’s kitchen is a delight to look at as well as being spacious enough to avoid any plate-juggling challenges.
Sterlings are equipped with the AL-KO ATC electronic stability control system. The 630 also has the enhanced stability of four wheels on the road, so we’d expect it to have exemplary tow characteristics. When we reviewed this caravan, though, the 630 hadn’t actually been unveiled to the public, so understandably Swift didn’t want us to take it out for a test tow. When we get the chance to take a 630 out on the road, we’ll let you know our impressions, though.
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