‘The All-New Sporty Compact Rio from Swift Group. With the size of a panel van in the body of a coachbuilt motorhome, the Rio is Swift Group’s all-new compact motorhome range built on a special low-line chassis from Fiat, with their new Ducato cab and Swift Group’s SMART intelligent construction system.’
So said Swift in summer 2014. Although calling the two launch models a ‘range’ was a slight overstatement, the rest was fair enough.
Rio was a genuinely new type of coachbuilt, principally because of that huge opening rear tailgate, which enabled the lounge occupants to feel ‘at one’ with the great outdoors.
Aimed squarely at sporty DINKYs (double income, no kids yet) and active empty-nesters, Rio was well-received by the motorhome cognoscenti, garnering very favourable reviews and generating a great deal of interest.
The launch offer was a brace of ‘vans stretching the tape to 6.4m (21’ 0″) and offering a good payload, at 3500kg MTPLM.
Both had a rear lounge, to take advantage of the tailgate. The 320 offered two sleeping berths (either as two singles or a transverse double), whereas the 340 had a shorter rear lounge that could be converted to a transverse double bed, and a forward half-dinette providing two extra travel seats – whose occupants probably slept in a drop-down double above the lower one. The upper bed could be left made up, which some couples preferred.
Initial interest in the Rio translated into steady, rather than strong, sales and it was thought that a better conversion rate could be achieved if the choice of layouts increased.
Thus, for the 2016 model year, the 310 and the 325 joined the line-up, and the drop-down bed was an option on the 320. The newbies were shorter, so they could compete head-on with LWB Ducato panel van competitors.
The 310 positioned the parallel-sofa lounge at the front, with a full-width changing room/shower/washroom at the rear.
The 325 boasted a forward half-dinette, with a midships kitchen and washroom ahead of an adjustable-height transverse fixed double bed over the garage.
These were great layouts, but to offer them in a range whose USP was a full-sized opening tailgate (which then couldn’t be included) did suggest slightly muddled thinking.
Rio ceased production in 2018. Shame – those with the tailgate were innovative and today, they make a very savvy pre-owned purchase.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Fiat’s X250/290 Ducato was well sorted by now, and the standard 130bhp offers good performance and economy.
Ducato’s low-line chassis gives pin-sharp roadholding without the over-firm ride of Al-Ko-equipped ‘vans.
Check for a full service history and bear in mind the earliest might require new tyres, usually because of age, rather than wear.
There was an issue with the poor visibility of the instrument nacelle on bright days. Check that the recall has been done – a rewire so the instrument backlighting operates at all times.
As always, you should insist on a habitation service and body-integrity check. Rios used SMART construction, which did much to prevent water ingress, but check just the same.
Rear-tailgate Rio models require some extra checks. Swift provided tie-down cleats, so bikes, surfboards and such can be safely carried inside. Make sure there’s no damage to the adjacent furniture and soft furnishings, though.
In addition, inspect the rear tailgate seal for damage. A good tip is to close it, then try to insert an envelope between door and aperture for its entirety. If it slides in, the seal requires replacing or the latches need adjusting.
- That tailgate
- Compact size
- Good payload
- Option of Comfort-Matic
- Swift diluted the original (brilliant) concept
The 320 if the option to sleep in single beds is important, or the 340 if four travel seats are required.
WHAT TO PAY
Most are between £40,000 and £45,000, although Wellsbridge has a 2016 Rio 310 for a dagger-sharp price of £38,995. Tailgate models (both 340): John Charles Caravans has a 2016 (65 reg) for £42,995, while BnB Motorhomes has an ex-hire 2016 (66 reg) model for £44,750. All have very low mileages recorded.
OR YOU COULD TRY
A contributor to the Rio’s demise was the upgrade of Swift’s low-profile Escape/Escape Compact ranges, so these are worth considering, but none has the tailgate. If you want an opening tailgate, or opening wall on a coachbuilt, look at Bimobil.
- Swift Rio on Fiat Ducato low-line SWB and MWB chassis-cab
- Built from 2014 to 2018 in Cottingham, UK
- Low-profile coachbuilt
- Overall length: 310/325: 5.99m (19′ 8″); 320/340: 6.4m (21′ 0″)
Those with the tailgate were innovative and today, they make a very savvy pre-owned purchase