Some caravans really do resemble bijoux apartments and this is one. With two rooms and two sets of solid doors you have proper privacy options. But perhaps the most important aspect of this layout is that the bedroom area is completely separate from the lounge. That means you don’t feel as if you are lounging, cooking and eating in your bedroom. It’s a real home-from-home layout.
The 2016 Swift Conqueror 560 has a heating and lighting system that you can control from your smartphone, placing this model up with the best in terms of techy appeal.
Our review begins unusually. With a phone. We download the SwiftCommand app. And switch on the caravan’s lights and the Alde heating. We set the temperature. We can check the solar panel is fully charged. We can also check the charge state of the battery. We are fully in control of our review Conqueror before we have stepped inside. Technology is a joy and we are becoming ever more enraptured by the idea of controlling caravan functions remotely.
We’re at the Swift factory for this review, so we’re not putting the remote control tech to a long distance test. The real virtue of SwiftCommand is that you can switch on your heating before you return to your caravan, and turn on the lights, including the awning light, so that you can easily see your way inside.
The Conqueror 560 is one of four island-bed Swifts introduced for 2016. There’s a vast choice of island bed models out there. But these are island bed caravans with a different twist. All four have the bed head against the rear wall and ensuite shower areas forward of the bedroom. The 560 layout also appears in the Sterling Elite range. Both Sterling and Conqueror ranges also have a longer version of this layout, the 650, on twin axles.
The 560, though, has all our attention this month. For a mid-sized caravan this layout is a masterpiece of creation. The rear section is completely separable from the lounge-kitchen area, just like two rooms in a house or apartment.
The semi-circular shower is on the nearside. A panel radiator is alongside it, with two towel hooks above; towels placed here will dry nicely in the warmed air wafting upwards from the radiator. The basin is in the centre. Lights are set into each side of the huge mirror above it. A hinged door closes off the shower-bedroom area from the rest of the caravan and two sliding doors, on each side of the washbasin, give privacy from the bedroom. It’s an ingenious arrangement which will appeal to couples looking for a caravan that’s extremely homely in character. Just like having an ensuite at home.
And the shower room is surprisingly spacious, given the modest 5.93m body length of the 560. It measures 96cm at its deepest point; that’s fully comparable with rear shower rooms.
The shower room lighting style is lovely. A pretty circle of bright LEDs surmounts the grey panel on which the shower rose is located. And single beams of light focus down above the mirror and the wall cabinet on the offside.
It’s fair to say the emphasis in the 560 is on the bedroom. That’s the caravan’s main selling point, and with good reason. This is caravan cosiness in the extreme; a bedroom you can close off with two sliding doors, on each side of a central unit equipped with a TV bracket, connection points and light switches.
The bed is 1.82m long, so not made for tall buyers but perfect for medium-sized caravanners. And its position means that your feet can’t overhang the end of the bed, because it’s bordered by a wall.
For ease of making up the bed with a fitted base sheet, you can push the mattress backwards by about 20cm, by raising a separate section at the pillow end. The mattress is now much easier to handle. And you have a slim walkway at the base of the bed.
This delightful bedroom has lots of refinements. Lights come on automatically when you open the wardrobe doors. Both doors are fitted with full-length mirrors. And the windows on both sides are flanked by upholstered panels to enhance cosiness.
And two beads of light are at floor level, on each side of the bed. There’s another of these little dots of light by the caravan’s entrance door, too.
The 560 can of course sleep four, in a two-plus-two sort of way that’s ideal for occasional grandchildren visits. Two small children can bed down on the settees, or you can make up a double by drawing out a slatted base from beneath the drawers.
The settee bases are held up on strong spring hinges; alternatively you can access contents by lowering the front doors. These are two-seater settees so the space beneath isn’t enormous but that doesn’t matter, because the 560’s greatest storage asset, the under-bed space, is enormous. And its island location means you can reach into it from three sides, when you push the mattress backwards to create space between the bed base and the wall on which your TV will be mounted.
The wardrobes each give 36cm of hanging width. Drawers and cabinets beneath give you ideal places for shoes and small items. Two cabinets are above the lounge. Overall, the 560’s storage capacity is fine for the needs of two.
The dining table stores away in the nearside wardrobe. It’s easy to get in and out for main meals when the pull-out chest-of-drawers top may not be large enough.
Feet-up reclining is exceptionally comfortable in a 560, with good, supportive right-angle corner sections. The upholstery is quite firm; it’s Swift’s new Cast Foam. We love the stark, modern combination of darkest brown and pale fawn, with near-white leaves on brown curtains. The lockers make a contribution of Conqueror décor, too, with dark brown lower sections and a glossy finish.
Time to consider the Conqueror features that you can’t see… Swift’s completely timberless SMART HT construction system, introduced last year in the Sterling Continental and Swift Elegance ranges, has now been introduced in the Swift Conqueror and Sterling Elite ranges. The roof is made of hail-dent resistant GRP.
For a 5.9m caravan the kitchen is amazingly capacious. A double-doored cabinet gives you a total storage width of 75cm. It provides shelved areas and pull-out metal basket-style shelves, with a drawer above it.
The fridge is the new 133-litre Dometic model, tall and slim, with a removable freezer compartment; it’s opposite the kitchen, with cabinets above and below it.
Storage space is good, and so is the amount of surface, when you raise the extension. That gives you an additional 36cm of width, making the total surface length 1.13m.
Equipment includes an extractor fan, and lighting style here adds to the overall very refined look of the 560. The kitchen wall is illuminated from behind the panel. A small, bright white strip light is set into the base of the top lockers below the microwave. Three little lights focus down from the kitchen ceiling close to the lockers and a fourth one is above the fridge.
The kitchen surface is new for 2016. Unique to Swift, it’s amazingly thin, at just one centimetre deep, and made of FENIX NTM, an Italiana-made an acrylic resin material with scratch resistant properties.
If you , like us, love this layout but are having difficulty in deciding whether to go for the 560 or the larger 650 version, one factor that might help you decide is towability. The 650 is of course inherently more stable because it’s got four lumps of rubber to glue it to the road. But the more nimble 560 is pushable, relatively easily. Both have ATC, as you’d expect on a caravan of this calibre. And while the 650’s geometry is an obvious stability asset, our brief test tow of the 560 showed it to be a fine performer in its single-axle class.