It’s a surprise these days to find a motorhome that lacks luxuries such as a big sunroof and an electric step but Swift has simplified the spec to keep down the price. Whether the near-£50k figure is low enough to attract first-time buyers we’ll have to wait and see, but this is a freshly styled 3,500kg six-berth motorhome with the backing of Britain’s number one manufacturer. That should be enough.
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £47,990 Berths: 6 Travel seats: 6 Length: 7.32m Weight: 2.39m Height: 2.98m Gross weight: 3,500kg
The Edge is a new range of coachbuilt motorhomes for 2020 from the UK’s largest leisure vehicle manufacturer, Swift. Its introduction is a response to the company’s feeling that the Escape had crept upmarket of its traditional competitors, leaving room for a new model below.
Swift describes the newcomer as ‘specifically designed as a starter motorhome’, so it’s no shock to see family-friendly layouts with up to six berths and six travel seats.
What does surprise is that three of the five models come with an overcab body, a type that some pundits considered to have received the last rites, especially after both Bailey and Elddis left the sector to focus on low-profiles.
Here, though, the luton lacks the usual baseball cap-style peak, with just a modest jutting prow over the windscreen. Thus, when lowered into position, the bed sits partially above the lounge (60cm aft of the cab), but without restricting the use of any seats (unlike a drop-down bed in a low-profile). The bed is also simply on a hinged base, supported by gas struts, so (probably with an eye to the ham-fisted hire market) there’s no mechanism to go wrong, no motor to fail, no fuse to trip.
Equally, though, there’s more restricted headroom in the bed (a maximum of 54cm, reducing noticeably towards the front) and the Duvalay mattress sits on a solid plywood base, while ventilation comes from a small window in the nearside. This shows just how far Swift has been prepared to go to keep the Edge’s pricing competitive. This 476 model starts at £47,990.
It’s the latest Fiat Ducato cab that underpins this motorhome, though, complete with 2.3-litre diesel engine designed to meet the latest Euro 6d emissions standard. As you’d expect, it’s the new entry-level 120bhp unit here, but the only clue to the chassis update is when you refuel and spot the AdBlue filler under the diesel one.
The Ducato still boasts good road manners and is easy to drive; it’s in the cab where its age is showing, especially without any of the fancier fittings that Fiat offers. Height/tilt adjustment and a pair of armrests apiece do allow front seat occupants to get comfy and the Driver’s Pack adds the essential passenger airbag, as well as cruise control, DAB radio and reversing sensors.
The new engine provides adequate performance, and will suit most owners as its torque figure is comparable to the previous 130bhp unit. On the road, rattles from the living area weren’t absent but the Edge certainly seemed surefooted, if a little more susceptible to crosswinds than lower-slung motorhomes.
It sits on a standard-height chassis, so the floor is quite high, with a consequent effect on weight distribution – and the need for an external step at the habitation door. In this case, the step is manually adjusted, which is a sign that this motorhome is built to a price.
It’s not all back-to-basics, though, as the Edge has a stylish, fully moulded rear panel (with separate rear corner sections for easier repair), as well as a neat shape for the luton and bold, sporty orange graphics.
There’s a bin on the door and a flyscreen here, too, plus an awning light. Bike rack fixings are factory-fitted, and it’s great to see that the chassis frame has been extended right to the back, supporting a garage with 200kg load limit.
However, the waste tank is small (68 litres) and looks vulnerably low to the ground, as well as having a slow-to-drain small bore outlet.
That garage will be a key reason to buy – if you want generous storage this is the Edge layout to choose (the island bed model, for example, has no externally accessed locker space). Here, there’s a huge void for all your sporting or camping paraphernalia – it measures up to 1.12m wide and 0.97m high.
It’s heated, too, and there’s a small LED light just inside the door, although there are no power sockets here and just one loading door (on the nearside). This door comes with a convenient single handle and two-point locking.
Note, too, that, as the floor is high, the lower lip of the garage door is around 850mm off the ground – quite a height to lift anything really heavy.
No one is likely to buy a coachbuilt motorhome on external appearance, so it’s the interior design where sales will be won or lost.
Here, the Edge gives off a plain and simple vibe with grey being the predominant colour (a darker, charcoal for the lower kitchen cabinets) and contrast provided by top locker doors in a dark wood with heavy grain pattern.
Overcab bed aside, the layout is pretty much what you’d expect…if the badge on the outside was of a continental brand!
Neither Bailey’s Advance nor Auto-Trail’s Tribute budget ranges currently include a direct competitor, although Elddis offers a single-bed-over-garage floorplan in its Autoquest line-up and there are, of course, countless alternatives from European entry-level ranges, including vehicles from Benimar, Carado, Chausson, Etrusco, McLouis, Rimor, Roller Team, Sunlight and Weinsberg.
Where the Edge differs is in being a true six-berth – and not one of those ‘on paper’ family models where the children have to travel separately as there are not enough belted seats or sleep in a tent when they arrive because there are too few berths.
Instead of the usual half-dinette lounge and swivel cab seats (with belted places for four or, at most, five), the Edge has a pullman dinette with a pair of three-point seatbelts on both the forward and the rearward-facing benches.
The cab chairs stay facing forwards and you simply walk through from the cab into the lounge with no step to trip you up.
There’s a small side sofa in addition to the dinette, so six could sit here if several are youngsters. Whether they could all reach the table is a moot point but it’s pleasing to see that (unusually) the table does stow away (in the rear nearside wardrobe) for safety when travelling.
The main 90cm by 53cm tabletop is supplemented by a simple slot-in extension (46cm by 32cm) when more than four place settings need to be accommodated.
The Vitatta soft furnishings look well-finished and the AirWave foam ensures comfortable seating, but you can’t help noticing that, without the big sunroof that has become so much the norm in modern motorhomes, the interior does feel a touch dark.
The main lounge window is rather small, too, although the return of curtains (rather than Swift’s padded window surrounds) adds a homely touch and lighting includes dimmable ambient illumination over the top lockers.
Crucially important in a layout like this is the rear bedroom and immediately there was a hurrah from me as I discovered that the lack of any top cupboards back here allows you to sit up in bed without any risk of bashing your head on the furniture.
More plus points come in the form of the Duvalay mattresses and the fairly generous bed sizes, the small shelving unit with USB and 230V sockets and the easy conversion to a long transverse double, if you prefer.
There are ventilation panels to keep you away from the side walls in your sleep but, strangely, no slats or springs under the mattresses.
With four berths instantly available, it’s only larger families that will have to rearrange the lounge at night.
An easy option here would be to create a lengthways single (1.79m by 0.93m) on the offside, but the full conversion to a ‘double’ is more convoluted, requiring use of the table, a pull-out support from the nearside sofa and a loosely stored panel, as well as four infill cushions (which you’ll probably have to store in the garage).
Once created, the resultant bed is a slightly odd shape, nearly double the width on the offside compared with the nearside and with the ladder to the luton now rendered out of action.The bed’s size/shape will dictate that the sixth berth is for a small child.
We expect that most Edges will have both the Drivers and Living Packs fitted, with the latter adding a microwave to a galley that is already one of the 476 model’s best features.
The Thetford Triplex cooker is an old favourite because it includes three gas rings and an oven/grill without taking up too much space. There’s also a decent amount of worktop here, especially with the flap by the door deployed, and storage includes plate and cup racks as well as a couple of drawers. The fridge capacity is modest, at 85 litres, but you can increase cooling space by removing the freezer section.
Opposite the galley is the washroom, with a simple all-in-one design that will be familiar to owners of some Escape models.
There’s a white plastic corner basin with a small moulded cupboard underneath and an open shelf high above the loo providing the storage.
The basin’s tap doubles as the showerhead (with a trigger release) and you’ll need to pull a curtain around to cover the toilet and door, leaving it close enough to you that you may find it sticks to you.
The swivel cassette toilet is mounted on a plinth, so long legs are required for comfortable sitting. A toilet roll holder and towel ring are fitted and covering up their fixings on the outside washroom wall are stick-on pads that look out of keeping. A small roof vent caters for ventilation.
With Swift’s SMART construction and a hail-resistant GRP roof, there is no wood in the bodywork of the Edge and its maker is confident enough to back-up the build with a 10-year water ingress warranty.
For security, it comes as standard with a Category S7 tracker and the VIN Chip vehicle identification system – and, if you’re still worried about the cost of insurance, Supersure offers half-price cover to Swift owners.
Unlike many British motorhomes, the Edge also has its (100-litre) fresh water tank inboard – by far the best bet if you’re serious about winter camping. It has fairly generous storage, too, and a payload of over 500kg on a licence-friendly 3.5-tonne chassis.
There are wardrobes under the foot of each rear single bed, both with access from the front or via a hinged lid at the top.
The nearside one has a drop of 64cm, while the hanging rail in the offside wardrobe is just 42cm above the false floor over the Truma Combi gas/electric boiler – better, perhaps, to keep folded clothes here but enjoy the fact that they will be kept toasty in winter.
There’s more useful storage under both the side sofa and the lounge’s rear-facing bench, as well as in the various upper cupboards.