Mike Le CaplainSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Motorhomes’ written by Mike Le Caplain
It’s perhaps too easy to dismiss special-edition motorhomes as marketing exercises designed simply to increase footfall through dealer forecourts. But as reports seem to confirm that the average age of buyers is in positive freefall, chucking in a few different scatter cushions, applying a couple of stickers and trying to call it ‘special’ just isn’t going to cut any ice with increasingly savvy customers.
Marquis Motorhomes has proved itself to be something of a leader in the field of special editions, and regular readers will doubtless remember our live-in test of its Elddis Accordo-based Majestic 125 in our May 2014 issue (see our Marquis Majestic 180 video review on our website, and Marquis Majestic 125 video review on YouTube. Well, Marquis also offers special editions based on the popular Swift Escape. They're called 'Lifestyle' and are the biggest-selling dealer specials made by Swift.
There are six models and prices range from £42,495 for the smallest two-berth Lifestyle 622 to £46,495 for the biggest six-berthers. Each is based on the latest X/290 Fiat Ducato, and powered by a 130bhp 2.3-litre Multijet diesel engine bolted to a six-speed manual gearbox. An upgrade to the ComfortMatic automatic transmission is also offered as a cost option.
The cheapest model in the line-up (the end-lounge Lifestyle 622 motorhome) is also the newest, and only marked its debut back in February – the others were first unveiled at last year’s October NEC show.
Externally, the Lifestyle belies its budget underpinnings with a comprehensive makeover, not least of which is the increasingly trendy metallic-black cab, with matching graphics stretching back onto the conversion – a marked difference to the Escape’s plainer all-white exterior.
Alloy wheels are not offered, and the chassis remains the same as that of the standard Escape, necessitating an electric step to climb up into the conversion. However, spec levels are high, and stretch to a roll-out awning, reversing camera, 60W solar panel and external shower and gas-barbecue points.
Swift’s popular Winter Pack is also standard fitment, and includes insulated plumbing and heated fresh- and waste-water tanks. Interestingly, the fresh tank is smaller than the waste tank, at 65 and 68 litres respectively.
The base vehicle, meanwhile, comes specced up as standard with traction control, daytime running lights, improved captain’s cab chairs, an automatic tyre-pressure monitoring system and a DAB digital CD/radio with integrated satellite navigation and wireless Bluetooth phone connectivity. Twin airbags are provided, along with cruise control, pleated night blinds and climate control.
The range kicks off with the all-new Lifestyle 622. At the time of writing, we’d yet to see this particular model in the metal, but in essence it comprises a simple two-berth layout with a parallel end lounge (which converts into a double measuring 6ft 10in by 4ft 5in – no singles are offered) and central kitchen and washroom. One of only two 'low-line' models within the line-up, the Lifestyle 622 shares its 6.3m-long body with the dearer Lifestyle 624 and 644.
An additional £1000 bags the five-berth Swift Lifestyle 624. Aimed specifically at small families, this ‘high-line’ model packs overcab sleeping for two, allied to a second double ‘downstairs’ and a single by the main habitation door that can accommodate six-footers with ease. The rest of the conversion is filled by the increasingly rare sight of an end kitchen, with the all-in-one washroom tucked into the offside corner.
Next in the line-up, the £43,995 Lifestyle 644 offers four sleeping berths and travel seats, but would suit couples. The U-shaped end lounge is spacious – although the seat by the far rear window is a little short in the squab and rather upright – and converts into a colossal 6ft 10in-long double bed. The overcab bed is the same length and marginally wider.
The nearside washroom is a little on the small side, but the forward half-dinette is a good size and, thanks to the swivel cab seats, capable of seating four adults.
The 664 is next, and it marks the first of the low-line Lifestyles. It also has the most spacious washroom, thanks, in the main, to the longitudinal French double bed alongside; although the layout (with the toilet in the far corner) means the loo is out of commission whenever anyone’s taking a shower. The wetroom-style open-plan floor is spacious and well-lit, however.
Like the Lifestyle 644, the 664 has a forward half-dinette and swivel cab seats, although this is the motorhome’s only lounging/dining area. As such, it’s good to see the small two-seater settee by the main habitation entrance door. This configuration is convertible into a double bed, but we suspect it will be reserved by most buyers as an occasional bed for visitors, rather than one that is employed every night. The 664’s OTR price is £44,995.
The two six-berthers in the Lifestyle range – the 686 and 696 – both cost £46,495, but approach accommodating six people in different ways. Each has a full four-seater Pullman dinette up front, complete with four travel belts, which also serves as a double bed thanks to the two-seater settee opposite. Each, too, has a large overcab double bed, but the very nature of a Pullman lounge precludes the fitment of swivel cab seats.
There’s little to choose between either model's kitchen or washroom, but where the Lifestyle 686's additional sleeping berths emerge from the large U-shaped end lounge, the 696 has twin permanent bunk beds stacked along the rear wall.
Now that you've met the Lifestyle family, you'll understand why the motorhome that it's based on, the Swift Escape, was voted the best pre-owned motorhome in our Practical Motorhome Owner Satisfaction Awards 2015.