If we had to pick out a newish motorhome range that had succeeded most in capturing the hearts and minds of readers, saloon bar sages and other know-it-alls it would be something European, A-class and very expensive.
That’s despite such ’vans actually selling in very modest numbers in the UK.
According to our annual Owner Satisfaction surveys, the most appreciated volume-selling range is the Escape from the Swift Group.
The Swift Escape was launched in late 2009 with the tightly focused aim of providing value for money for those who thought they could only afford a heavily used example.
Here we’re concentrating on the multi-berth models, because Escape has become a favourite with young families.
Family-friendly motorhomes for sale
Originally an eight-model range, Swift Escape motorhomes could be recognised by their dark-blue cab and dark-grey skirts.
The flagship 686 offered six travel seats and six berths at 3500kg. Enter and turn left for the nearside kitchen and offside double Pullman dinette, turn right for the nearside wardrobe and offside washroom, both ahead of the triple-aspect rear, U-shaped lounge.
Both seating areas converted into double beds, while an additional double was available in the Luton overcab.
Tagencia Walnut was the chosen finish for the cabinetwork. By the 2013 model year the decision had been made to move to a white cab and Mali Acacia furniture.
Other changes include an upgrade to the 130bhp engine across the range and the option of the ComfortMatic (automatic) transmission.
At the same time a six-berth Luton overcab model (the 696) was launched, featuring twin transverse bunks at the far rear – perfect for families.
In 2015, the skirts were changed to match the body colour and the award-winning Smart construction was introduced, upgraded to Smart+ the following year.
By 2017, all Luton overcab models had been dropped in favour of low profiles.
In addition, the multi-berth range had increased to five, all differing at the far rear: the 674 has a U-shaped lounge; the 684 has twin longitudinal permanent singles; the 694 features a peninsula double-bed and the 695 is the bunk-bed model.
A drop-down transverse double bed over the lounge with an extra travel seat was an option.
- Swift Escape, five-six berths on LWB Fiat Ducato chassis-cab
- Built from 2009–present in Cottingham, UK
- Low-profile and Luton overcab coachbuilts
- Overall length: 685/686/696 – 6.92m (22’ 8”); 674/684/694/695 – 7.41m (24’ 4”).
What to look for
Are you tempted? If you have spotted one on the used motorhomes for sale pages, here’s what to look for.
They have generally extremely reliable underpinnings and mechanicals.
Early models had the 100bhp engine with a five-speed manual gearbox, with the 130bhp motor mated to a six-speed gearbox as a cost option on the 686 only.
Always buy on condition, not engine power. A ‘plug-andplay’ tuning box will boost power and torque for around £400.
Take a good look at the grey front bumper, which can discolour over time, especially if polish has dribbled onto it from the bonnet – budget for a professional refinish because DIY products that are supposed to address this are frequently not up to the job.
The ride should be firm, so walk away from any that wallow in corners, or sit tail-down.
Make sure that all the blinds/flyscreens and the bed conversions work as they should.
As with any coachbuilt, check carefully for damp ingress (use a meter if possible) and ask for evidence of a recent habitation service, or at least get the dealer to do one for you.
Escapes are very popular on hire fleets and ex-hire ’vans can make a savvy purchase, even if they are a bit high on miles.
- Value for money
- Practical and straightforward
- Big accommodation at 3500kg
- Plenty to choose from
- Some think that Luton overcabs look dated now (Gentleman Jack disagrees)
- There is no automatic gearbox option on 100bhp examples
What to pay
Early ex-hire 686 models are available from £20,000 (but don’t have any warranty).
Fully warranted privately owned examples can be found at dealers from £25,000.
At the time of writing, Phoenix Motown Ltd (Paisley) had a 2010, privately owned example with 33,000 miles at an asking price of £28,795 – it looks like new in the pictures.
If you’re struggling to scrape the pennies together, our pick would be the original 686 (pre-2013) with the Luton bed and blue cab.
Or you could try an Auto-Trail Tribute 726 (six-berth, four seatbelts) or a Swift Sundance 636L (six-berth, six seatbelts).
The Swift Escape was launched in 2009 with the aim of providing value for money