The Swift Kon-tiki gets even bigger and even better for 2019 and this 649’s layout is a one-of-a-kind at this size and price. This Kon-tiki majors on lounging space and family-friendly credentials (including Isofix), while introducing the Swift Vision camera system and the Stargazer roof window.
Price from: £96,145 Berths: 6 Travel seats: 6 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Al-Ko Length: 9.01m Gross weight: 5,000kg Payload: 850kg
The Kon-tiki has reigned as Swift’s flagship for more than three decades (apart from during the company’s brief foray into the world of A-classes). Of late, it has been most often associated with tag-axle coachbuilts, and this 2019 model is the biggest Kon-tiki ever – almost 50% longer than the 1985 original. Its length is also nearly half-a-metre greater than its immediate predecessor, although that increased size isn’t the whole story.
This new Kon-tiki is a complete redesign with increased specification and some innovative ideas. Five models are offered (three tag-axles), of which this 649 is the only one without the typical island bed or fixed single beds and the sole model offered only in High-Line form. Indeed, this Kon-tiki is something of a one-off – notably bigger (and pricier) than its closest rival from Auto-Trail, here is a mainstream UK motorhome that can break through the £100k barrier with a couple of factory options. That puts it into competition with some very prestigious A-classes, but none of them will have a layout like this.
Could this be the ultimate in British family motorhoming? It is certainly the rarest of motorhomes, and one with no truly direct rival…
At over 9m long, this Yorkshire-built motorhome is of a size that was once the sole domain of American RVs. You’ll need a C1 category licence, of course, to drive it as the gross weight is five tonnes, but that does ensure a decent payload (850kg), which you’ll need if you use all six berths.
You’re sure to want the 177bhp engine upgrade, too (the 150bhp Multijet is standard). The test model was very new but, even with the top-spec power unit and a light load, it needed more downshifts from sixth to fifth on the A1 than we’re used to. That said, it cruised comfortably at 60mph and felt reassuringly planted on the road, despite the best efforts of Storm Diana.
Apart from some dark copper highlights on the fascia and the unexpected luxury of heated seats, the cab here is just like any other Ducato. Swift, however, has considered your safety by not only including ESP as standard but also a sophisticated new camera system.
Looking like a standard rear view mirror, the Swift Vision package includes cameras on each side of the luton, as well as the more usual twin rear lenses. In normal driving you see what’s behind, but indicate right, say to change lanes, and the right-hand camera comes into play, too. Blindspots become a thing of the past and I was able to confidently drive the Kon-tiki without a passenger’s second pair of eyes to check for cyclists, etc.
You’ll find twin USB ports in each lounge area (as well as in the luton) and discover built-in WiFi via a boosted 4G/3G signal (complete with 12-month, 12GB subscription). I also counted nine 230V sockets dotted throughout the ’van.
The front lounge has a pullman dinette – with a pair of three-point seatbelts on both forward and rearward-facing pews – plus a side-facing sofa. The cab seats join the party, too, although the driver’s chair is somewhat ostracised by the dinette’s high backrest. And the table, unusually, is fixed on a central, telescopic leg in continental style. It pulls out far enough to reach the side settee but probably wouldn’t serve more than four diners.
That’s no problem as a second table – a free-standing unit that can be stowed away – serves the rear lounge. Longer but slimmer than the front table, this one might cater for five hungry folk if one chose the central seat of the wrap-around lounge.
Curtains are eschewed, in the current Swift approach; instead there are upholstered surrounds to the blinds.
In keeping with the Kon-tiki’s status, there’s Alde ‘wet’ radiator heating, too, controlled from the main touchscreen or your smartphone and using gas and/or mains power (one, two or 3kW settings).
Another unique feature is the rear lounge’s window arrangement. I had already seen – and admired – the Stargazer roof window in the fixed bed Kon-tikis but here the usual three-aspect panorama of a rear lounge is lacking and there’s an odd alcove in the rear wall where, surely, the TV should go. It’s perhaps the least resolved feature of the 649’s design.
The rear lounge converts almost instantly into single beds or, with just a tad more effort, into a giant double in which you could sleep lengthways (less lumpy) or transverse (longer). There’s a simple concertina screen here for privacy, but this includes neither the wardrobe nor the washroom in what might be considered the master bedroom.
Or will the overcab be first choice with its luxurious one-piece Duvalay mattress and switchable blue/red mood lights? Just note that headroom reduces towards the front of that curvaceous luton.
And also that the ladder cannot be used if you make up the full-sized transverse double from the front lounge. This bed requires infill cushions but is not too much of a faff or you can, alternatively, just turn the dinette into a lengthways bed (1.89m by 0.91m), thus retaining the aisle and use of the ladder.
The kitchen is as generous as you’d hope and comes with a Corian worktop, cooker with 800W hotplate and separate oven and grill, plus an integral extractor with digital clock. Opposite, the latest Dometic fridge/freezer not only has family-sized capacity and automatic energy selection but doors that open from either side – neat!
On the offside, the practicalities of the washroom are good. That’s especially true of the large separate shower with its fully moulded, wipe-clean finish, twin drain holes, water-saving Ecocamel shower head and even a step incorporated in the design for feet-washing!
With so much about the Kon-tiki that’s either XL or XXL-sized, it may disappoint to find a rather meagre wardrobe, even if the slide-out wire baskets are a nice touch. What looks like a second wardrobe opposite turns out to be a home for the table and the sink’s chopping board cover and removable draining board.
Also standard are the VIN Chip theft deterrent and a Thatcham Category 6 tracker, while Kon-tiki spec also now stretches to a solar panel and sat-nav. The options list is short, with just leather trim, a towbar and roof rack as factory-fitted extras.