Niall Hampton
Editor

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Upmarket and discreet, the Bessacarr 494 is a class act for those who need a four-berth with a fixed island bed – here's what you get for your money

Overview

So farewell, then, to the Swift Esprit range – deleted at the end of the 2015 model year, despite enjoying a strong performance in its first season. Conceived to replace the Swift Sundance, which had started to fade, Esprit was arguably overshadowed by sister range Bessacarr, which featured the same model numbers and layouts but with a bump in style and specification for just £1500 extra. 

And buyers clearly regarded Bessacarr as a more tempting offer, as a sales uplift last season saw it almost outsell Escape, the Swift Group’s wildly popular entry level offering.

Eight models feature in Swift's Bessacarr range for 2016, covering two-berths all the way up to six-berths, delivered via make-up or fixed beds.

One of two new models unveiled at the start of 2015, the Bessacarr 494 sports a desirable island-bed floor plan, with a half-dinette reached after passing through the midships kitchen. 

Design

Bessacarr motorhomes have an upmarket exterior, with ‘house style’ colours of dark green, black and grey set against a white bodyshell and skirts. Other design highlights include the large tinted panoramic window in the roof of the cab, which follows the vehicle’s pleasing front profile, and the GRP rear panel with sculpted edges, automotive road light clusters and ‘Bessacarr’ spelt out in almost-full-width extruded letters.

Inside, you’ll find Swift Group’s mid-toned ‘Aralie Sen’ cabinetwork, with gloss locker facings, oak inlays and chrome handles. It combines well with Swift’s distinctive plastic mouldings. Soft furnishings are cream and grey, with sewn-in ‘Bessacarr’ tags. The overall feel is very agreeable, with over-locker ambient lighting adding a touch of class.

On the road

The Bessacarr 494 is based on the Fiat Ducato with a 3700kg chassis, so you’ll need C1 entitlement on your driving licence to drive it.

The engine is a 2.3-litre turbodiesel producing 130bhp, which will also power the ComfortMatic robotised gearbox, available as a £1695 cost option.

The 494 handles well, with little noise from the habitation area, and the twin-lens reversing camera is very welcome on a vehicle that’s 7.75m long. Four travel seats come as standard, with two on the forward-facing dinette seat bench.

Lounging & dining

With seating for up to six, the front lounge is a sociable environment. The default layout is a half-dinette, although a parallel lounge can be specified instead, free-of-charge, if required. Windows on both sides, plus the large cab sunroof, allow plenty of light to enter the area. For mealtimes, a folding-leg table can easily be inserted; an extension can be added to include diners on the nearside of the ’van.

Kitchen

Galley provision is generous and the specification comprehensive. A long work surface can be extended if necessary via a tip-up flap – ideal for serving plates to the dinette area. Cooks get the benefit of dual-fuel hobs, separate oven and grill and a microwave oven, with a circular sink standing by for washing-up. A dual-fuel fridge with freezer compartment completes the equipment count.

Sleeping

The 494’s rear bedroom features a transverse island bed to save space. This has a ‘day’ and ‘night’ position – insert the filler cushion to extend the bed for sleeping, and remove it to increase space around the foot of the bed when not in use. Like all Swift Group fixed beds, it gets a Duvalay memory foam mattress. The Bessacarr 494's fixed double bed is 1.95 x 1.33m (6’3” x 4’4”).

Other bedroom fittings include a ‘dressing table’ with task lights and half-length mirror, on the offside.

Another double bed is provided, in the lounge, and makes up easily using pull-out slats and the lowered dinette table. It measures 2.13m x 1.23m/1.04m (7’ x 4’/3’5”).

Washroom

Next to the master bedroom resides the washroom, split into ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ zones. Enter through the domestic-style door to find a swivel toilet and vanity unit, next to a dedicated shower compartment. There’s plenty of illumination in both areas, and a blown-air vent.

Storage

A payload of 505kg means you can take a fair few items on tour with you, and the Bessacarr 494 has plenty of places to put them. The rear fixed bed is the top storage location, ably supported by eight overhead lockers, two wardrobes and a generous smattering of cupboards and drawers. You even get a cubby in the floor, to keep valuable items out of sight.

Equipment

Your £50,000-odd outlay on the Bessacarr 494 will leave you wanting for little. A cab stereo with DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity (but not a CD player), drop-in cab and habitation carpets, cassette blinds and flyscreens, dimmable LED lighting, concertina cab blinds and dual-fuel Truma Combi 4E space and water heating are all included, as is the Winter Pack, which adds heaters to the water tanks (90 litres and 68 litres for fresh and waste, respectively), underfloor waste pipe insulation and fridge vent covers, and a twin-lens reversing camera.

The optional Lux Pack adds cab air con, cruise control and a TV aerial for £995.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM3700kg
Payload505kg
Length7.75m25′5″
Width2.38m7′10″
Height2.76m9′1″
Engine (capacity)2300
Engine (power)130
Fresh/waste water90L / 68L
Leisure battery100 Ah
Gas bottle size13kg
Number of gas bottles2
External Options
GRP sidewalls, Directional TV aerial, Omnidirectional TV aerial
Kitchen Equipment
3-burner gas with electric hot plate, Oven, Separate grill, Microwave
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

Upmarket without being ostentatious, it’s easy to see the appeal of Bessacarr motorhomes.

The Bessacarr 494 has lots to offer buyers who are tempted by an island bed, a sociable lounge and fully equipped kitchen and who won’t mind the substantial rear overhang. This ’van feels well screwed together and the specification is worthy of the £50,000 price tag. And to see other Bessacarr motorhomes for sale, click here.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Comfort and convenience of an island bed
  • Pleasing interior ambience and sociable lounge
  • Well-equipped kitchen with work surface
  • Generous equipment levels for the price
  • Double leg for dinette table to quickly facilitate operation at two heights
  • Extendable dinette table
  • Excellent storage

Cons

  • Substantial rear overhang is not ferry-friendly
  • Extension cushion means fixed bed has to be adjusted rather than being left in situ
  • Lack of CD player will inconvenience those who prefer physical audio media
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