It’s great to see a new British entrant in the bunk bed sector. In Champagne form, the Edge is well equipped, while the layout feels surprisingly spacious. Just be sure that you are happy with the rather small fridge.
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £55,995 Berths: 6 Travel seats: 6 Length: 7.32m Width: 2.39m Height: 2.98m Gross weight: 3,650kg Payload: 599kg
Words and photos: Peter Vaughan
Introduced in the summer of 2019 as a new entry-level range, Swift’s Edge coachbuilts received an additional layout for the 2021 season – the 466. The new model is timely as it has the most family-friendly of all floorplans, featuring bunk beds – just when younger first-timers are flooding into the market, many of them with kids in tow. Added to which, most other six-berth, bunk layouts hail from the Continent and supply of some of these to the UK has been disrupted by huge demand in their homelands (as well as Covid issues).
So, Swift could be onto a winner and it’s no surprise that Nottinghamshire dealer, Brownhills, has added the 466 layout to its Swift-built Champagne range, too.
Here, then, is an Edge with much more standard equipment and a one-spec price of £55,995 – a saving of £4,120, it claims. Keeping things simple, the only decision when buying this motorhome is whether to go for a manual or automatic transmission.
Whichever preference you have for the gearbox, the engine is Fiat’s 140bhp unit, which should provide adequate performance – just don’t expect it to be sparkling if you load it up to the max. The gross weight, reflecting those six berths, is 3,650kg, so you’ll need a C1 licence to drive this motorhome, but the positive is a payload of 599kg (566kg for the auto). And you won’t have to subtract too much from that for accessories as items like the Thule 3.5m awning are already fitted as standard.
Also included are a solar panel and reversing camera, although not a spare wheel (just a Fix & Go puncture repair kit). Externally, of course, the cab comes with metallic Champagne paintwork (who’d have guessed?), as well as alloy wheels, while Swift’s SMART construction timberless GRP bodyshell (which can have up to a 10-year water ingress warranty if you’re the first owner) is fitted with mountings for a bike rack.
There’s an external gas barbecue point, an outside shower and even an outdoor three-pin mains socket, too. More noticeable than any of this is the fact that this is an overcab coachbuilt – a type that seemed to be almost extinct a handful of years ago. It has some advantages over low-profiles, as we’ll see, but a sleek shape is not one of them. The Edge is almost 3m tall, even though its luton is not the giant protrusion of some rivals.
It sits high, too, on a standard-height Fiat chassis, rather than the lowered Camper version more usually seen today. This means that external and internal steps are needed when boarding the 466 but, more crucially, it raises the vehicle’s centre of gravity.
Even a short test drive showed increased lean around a tight roundabout compared with a typical low-profile motorhome, while the height, combined with a long rear overhang, is likely have an adverse effect on stability in crosswinds.
Unlike many entry-level motorhomes, however, the Edge – in Champagne spec – doesn’t do without many of the cab toys that you want. There are insulated screens instead of Remis blinds and you’ll have to bring your own sat-nav, but the DAB radio, Bluetooth, air-conditioning, cruise control, passenger airbag and leather steering wheel are all included.
Both front seats also have a pair of armrests and height adjustment, the latter allowing a lower and more comfortable seating position than usual as swivel bases are not fitted here. Do check the driver’s seat if you’re tall, though, because a fixed bulkhead (for the rear-facing dinette seat) restricts its movement a tad.
The big issue – as in not big enough – with some six-berth motorhomes is storage for six people’s gear and especially bulky stuff like outdoor furniture. Here, Swift has addressed the subject with an external loading door on the nearside, which provides access to under the rear bunk area. In its normal mode, with the lower bed in situ, there’s a locker that’s 740mm wide and 370mm high, running right across the motorhome. Access from inside or outside is aided by lifting the slatted bed base but there’s nothing – apart from you – to hold this up while you reach for items.
If you want more capacity, remove the lower mattress altogether (you could stow it on the top bunk or leave it at home) and hinge the base against the back wall, where it locks into position. Now you have a proper garage with 1.20m headroom – just note that the base of the outside loading door is over a metre off the ground, which will mean lifting in items to load them.
You’ll need to tuck into your spinach before changing Calor cylinders, too, as the gas locker is higher still, at 1.20m from the floor.
Back to the bunks and these are, of course, the USP of the Champagne 466. Not only that, but they’ll suit even the lankiest teenagers, or adults. Each has a comfy Duvalay mattress on a slatted base and measures a generous 2.02m long by 0.85m wide. The bottom bed has slightly more headroom (780mm versus 560mm), but both beds have their own opening window (on the offside), a reading light and a privacy curtain. The upper sleeper also gets a double USB port, while oddly the lower bunk (where kids are more likely to sleep) has a three-pin mains socket.
So, the kids are well catered for, but what about mum and dad? Well, perhaps, the easiest solution is for parents to occupy the overcab. After all, this is a fairly big bed. The mattress – another very comfy Duvalay Gravity Luxe – measures 1.90m by 1.33m, and you can stretch your toes beyond that as the measurement from wall to wall is up to a maximum of 2.15m.
Unusually, the luton bed extends back partway over the lounge but it doesn’t stop you sitting comfortably below it (unlike drop-down beds in most low-profiles). It’s also ultra-easy to deploy as you just hinge it down into place (and push it back up with the aid of gas struts), with no motors or mechanism to fail.
You will need to try this bed for size – or rather, headroom – if you’re even slightly prone to claustrophobia. From mattress to ceiling it’s 540mm at most, reducing to around 350mm at the front of the luton. In the very hot (31 degrees) weather of our road test, the overcab also seemed to lack ventilation, which is provided by a single (nearside) opening window. There’s no venting for the mattress, either, which rests on a solid plywood base – something we rarely come across now.
If you don’t fancy going up a ladder to bed, the alternative is to convert the lounge into another transverse double (if you do this, then the luton’s ladder cannot be used). It’s not too complicated a transformation, simply requiring the table to slot in between the dinette benches and the nearside sofa’s base to be pulled out. Rearranging the cushions is logical, although it does require some extra infills, and the resultant bed is very long (2.14m) and fairly flat, albeit with numerous joins.
The final option is to use the overcab as a single and turn the lounge into another smaller, lengthways single (1.80m by 0.94m), which preserves the walk-through and use of the ladder.
As important as providing space for six to sleep, of course, is having seatbelts for all and the 466 does this by adopting a pullman dinette with a pair of three-point seatbelts on both the forward and rearward-facing benches. That’s a big plus over some models that have lap belts for those facing aft.
Then, on site, you also have a side-facing sofa on the nearside, while the wall-mounted table can be extended with a simple slot-in panel that’s kept in one of the wardrobes.
In truth, it might be a squeeze to accommodate six around the table, unless several are quite small, but it would be easy to add a swivel base to the passenger cab seat and, generally, this motorhome feels surprisingly open and spacious inside – probably a result of the wider-than-normal 2.39m overall width. At the same time, the lounge feels quite cosy (because the windows aren’t large) and seats (with high-performance Swift AirWave foam) are more comfortable than in many entry-level models.
What you might miss is a large rooflight (there’s no vent over the lounge), while artificial lighting seems a little sparse.
More important, maybe, in a family motorhome is cupboard space and the 466 impresses with large eye-level lockers above the seats (not possible in drop-down bed low-profiles) and a generous locker under the side sofa. There are two wardrobes, too – one on each side of the motorhome, with the nearside one having a shelved locker above and the offside one sitting alongside more cupboard space for folded clothes.
You can also easily rustle up instant grub for hungry little people in this Champagne Edge, thanks to the fitted microwave, while more serious cooking can be carried out on the three-burner hob, or in the combined oven and grill.
Storage is, once again, pretty good in the 466’s galley, although neither of the drawers (one in the central cupboard, the other below the oven) has a holder for cutlery. What you do get is a removable draining board, a chopping board and lots of practical worktop space, even before you deploy the extension flap in the doorway.
There’s an extractor/blower fan in the galley area roof vent, too, but the fridge seems small for a six-berth motorhome, at just 85 litres. At least you can remove the freezer section to increase cooled capacity.
Opposite the kitchen is the washroom and, as soon as you twist the domestic-style handle (with lock!) and open the door, you’ll spot a difference compared with most European motorhomes of this size – there’s no separate shower, nor even folding doors to create a showering space. Instead, you’ll have to pull a curtain around, which is sure to be a clingy experience.
The rest of the little room seems quite, err, roomy, with plenty of space to wash at the corner basin or sit on the throne. There’s a roof vent, as well as towel hooks and a toilet roll holder, while the basin’s tap doubles up as the showerhead. Just one drain in the shower tray may result in water pooling towards the basin area.
Finally, storage comprises a high open shelf above the swivel loo and a small cupboard that’s part of the plastic washbasin unit. Fresh water comes from a 100-litre inboard tank – great for winter camping – underneath the forward-facing seat), but the waste water tank (underneath and heated) is rather small at 60 litres. That will soon need emptying if you use the shower.
It’s also worth noting that the waste tank hangs quite low beneath the vehicle, looking vulnerable.
We have created a fully searchable library of every issue of MMM from January 2012.
Our archive partner provides the searchable database to help you find, download and read any and every issue instantly, on any device, on any topic, wherever you may be, including the latest editions!
Why not try searching for more great motorhome articles now?
Tel: 0345 366 6579