t’s little over 10 years since the concept of the rooflight transformed caravans, creating lighter, brighter interiors than ever before. Now, by the introduction of sun roofs into its two top-end ranges, Swift has taken light and bright and turned it into brilliant.
The first day of the Elite Amber’s stay with us was just about as good a test of the sunroof idea as you could get: dull weather in which a caravan interior could look gloomy. Yet the Amber’s lounge was a bright, cheerful, delightful environment.
Light, bright and fantastic though the sun roof idea is, there is something perplexingly plastic that intrudes into the quality look. Two mouldings, below each of the front-side windows look out of kilter with the rest of the creation. And they’re held in place by screws – with no plastic caps to disguise their heads.
Any more brickbats? We might as well get the biggest one out of the way – and it has nothing to do with appearance. It’s the absence of the AL-KO ATC trailer stability control system; at this price and with this level of equipment, we’d have liked to see ATC as standard, especially on a single-axle model. It’s on the options list, though, at £444.
But the Amber scores points with us in other areas of its ample array of equipment. Top of this list comes the internal fresh water tank. Its capacity is only 15 litres (twin-axle models in the range have tanks double that size), but it does render the Amber truly suitable for year-round use, even if you have to be vigilant about topping up the tank frequently.
The other major feature of the Amber that’s hidden from view is the Alde heating system, secreted away inside the wardrobe to send warm air silently circulating around the caravan.
So, the Amber is toasty and we are chalking up its high points. Even before we’d stepped inside we were noticing that the entrance door is higher (by 7.5cm) and wider (by 5cm) than previous years’ Sterlings and indeed most other caravans. Six-footers will still have to duck – but five-feet seveners can walk straight in.
The shower room is across the rear. The shower is rectangular and large; there’s plenty of space for dressing and ample cupboard and shelving. But we think Swift has missed an opportunity in the shower room. In most Alde-heated caravans there’s a heated towel rail as part of the system. There isn’t one here. There’s an outlet for the warm air to rise – but not even an ordinary towel rail or loop to take advantage of it.
We see-saw back to the positives as we get to know the Amber better. Just forward of the bed is a real star feature. It’s the TV housing. When you click the buttons to release the catch, you just stand back and watch your TV descend at a slow pace, to watching height. How refined!
The positives continue when we load our things into the wardrobe. The doors hinge completely back, so that you can still walk alongside the bed when the wardrobe doors are open. The hinges are enormous, giving you the impression that, like many things about this caravan, heavy engineering had played its part in the construction.