Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £60,490 Berths: 2 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.65m Width: 2.26m Height: 2.78m Gross weight: 3,300kg Payload: 503kg
Words & photos: Peter Vaughan
There’s no doubting the nationality of Swift’s new baby coachbuilt, as it flies the Union flag proudly on its cab doors.
Its ‘Select Compact’ branding might also be new – along with the Lanzarote Grey non-metallic colour for the latest Series 8 Ducato cab – but this is another redevelopment of the Escape Compact, which in turn evolved from the more upmarket Rio (the one with the big lift-up rear door).
Unlike the Select range (Swift’s van conversion line-up), however, the Select Compact is a range of four low-profile coachbuilts, each slightly slimmer of body (2.26m) than Swift’s larger motorhomes. The word ‘Select’ now seems to mean small in Swift-speak, therefore, as it encompasses both coachbuilts and campervans.
The C500 is the only new floorplan in this rebranded range (the other layouts are carried over from the previous Escape Compact) and it is very closely related to the C502 (see our review in the May 2020 issue). Here, the newcomer replaces the fixed single beds in the stern with a new rear lounge.
With a half-dinette adding travel seats to the floorplan, the new C500 is not only close to extra-long wheelbase campervans in size (just 29cm longer), it has a layout more usually seen in a panel van, too.
As well as the new graphics and 15in alloy wheels, the Select Compact has a new habitation door with a window, bin, flyscreen and central locking. Also featured are an overcab sunroof while, inside, Langholme soft furnishings are mated to Aralie Sen cabinetwork. Its SMART construction features timberless upper body construction, a GRP outer skin, fully moulded rear panel and a 10-year bodyshell warranty.
It has been cold chamber tested to meet Grade III classification for heating (served by a gas/electric Truma Combi) and insulation. It comes with a 100-litre inboard fresh water tank, but its waste tank (although heated as part of the standard Winter Pack) has a rather modest 50-litre capacity. Electrically operated drain taps for both tanks are a welcome surprise at this price point.
The latest Fiat cab might not look very different, but it comes with ESC, featuring ASR, Hill Holder and Roll Over Mitigation. It has the new fascia, too, with a 7in touchscreen display including the DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It comes as standard with Fiat’s entry-level 120bhp motor but this can be upgraded to 140bhp, either with the six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic gearbox (options that cost £995 or £3,495, respectively).
There are very few other options to consider here – just a towbar (£695), awning (£695), SwiftShield stain-resistant upholstery (£495) and a bike rack (£315, fitted by your dealer – the mountings are already in situ).
Inside, it’s a pity that those fixings are so obvious above the rear window but what, perhaps, matters more is that the seating space here is not as compact as you might expect in a motorhome called Compact.
The nearside settee is 1.96m long and its opposite number isn’t a great deal shorter, at 1.83m. It’s a full ‘U’ shape, too, with windows on three sides and a mid-sized rooflight above.
The décor is typical of the brand and eschews curtains for moulded panels around the windows (each fitted with pleated blinds and flyscreens). Swift AirWave foam in the seat cushions is claimed to improve comfort for both seating and sleeping, when you can use the settees as single beds or pull their slatted bases together to make a huge (1.92m by 1.83m) double. Contrasting scatter cushions are also provided and two USB ports and a three-pin power point are mounted below the end settee. There’s good storage space under the seats, too, with an external hatch on the nearside, making this the place to keep your mains lead, levelling wedges, etc.
Although this is just a two-berth vehicle, the C500 has a second seating area up front, where swivel cab seats join the half-dinette bench and an island leg table (oddly, not the wall-mounted dining surface that you’d expect). The ‘framed’ look to the side window looks more appropriate here and it’s good to see reading lights have not been forgotten above the cab seats.
Centrally placed on the nearside, between the habitation door and the rear seating, the galley comes with contrasting slate grey worktops (including a folding extension by the door) and a white top locker and shelf. Also mounted at eye level is a built-in microwave. When you’re not nuking a ready meal, you’ll be doing your chef work with a new Thetford cooker that incorporates a combined oven and grill, three gas burners and an electric hotplate. There’s plenty of room to use the removable drainer or the nylon chopping board that are provided, but the small cutlery drawer is rather disappointing (there’s one other drawer, under the oven). Galley spec is completed by an under-counter fridge – a Dometic 8-Series model with automatic energy selection and a removable freezer section. Pity it has just an 85-litre capacity, though.
Opposite the culinary quarters you’ll find a tall and slim wardrobe and the washroom. The latter has a substantial door with domestic-style handle and lock, but inside you may be disappointed to discover an all-in-one space that looks a little outmoded today, despite being enlivened by splashes of pastel blue. You’ll need to pull the tap out to double up as the showerhead and pull a clingy curtain around before hosing yourself down.
At over £60k, the Select Compact is not as ‘entry level’ as you might have anticipated and it is spec’d accordingly, with a TV aerial, heating that can be used while you travel, cab air-conditioning, cruise control and a reversing camera. Its layout and size put it head-to-head with a number of van conversions (even Swift’s own Select), but it has a little more space for living. Only the washroom lets it down a tad.
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