Practical Motorhome reviews the Bessacarr E480 – as well as a generous fixed bed, what more can it offer?

Design

The E480’s habitation body sports what our testers dubbed a ‘modern low-line design’. Despite not being as low a low-profile as they would have liked, Vera and Peter were impressed with the looks.

They thought the prominent brow of the habitation mimics the Ducato cab design, making the whole design look quite cohesive and classy. They also liked the high-gloss sides and tasteful decals that make the ’van look very stylish.

Our testers found that entry into the habitation area was slightly challenging, especially for those with mobility problems, due to the standard-height chassis and single entry step (prior to the relaunch, the range had a double step). The flipside to this is that the habitation floor has only one level, so movement within the ’van is very easy. The interior was praised for being restrained and elegant, without seeming too cold in the style of many Continental ’vans. Swift has made use of contrasting colours and matt nickel inserts to keep the interior looking fresh. Our testers were particularly fond of the cream-fronted kitchen furnishings and the uniform use of warm LED lighting.

The only aspect of the interior design that left Peter and Vera unsatisfied were the wood-look dashboard inserts.

On the road

If you want an E480, then you’ll have to have Fiat’s 130 MultiJet engine, since no other engine options are available, no doubt in order to keep base vehicle costs down for Swift. Our testers didn’t find the ’van lacking for power or torque, though, and they loved the civilised motorway cruising offered by the sixth forward gear. In fact, they found the E480 to be a comfortable drive in all conditions.

On the subject of the E480’s four-tonne MTPLM, Swift have taken a bold move by building this ’van on the Ducato Maxi base. This will prove an inconvenience to those who passed their test after 1997, and will need to retest to gain their C1 license category in order to drive it but it gives the ’van a mammoth payload of 701kg.

Considering that this is a ’van for two people you should have no problems taking everything you will need on tour.

Lounging & dining

The ample clearance provided around the swivelled cab seats allows up to six people to lounge comfortably in the E480’s lounge. With this new E400 range Swift Group has been very conscientious about its occasional tables, so we weren’t surprised to learn that our testers really liked the one in the E480, which is stable and light, and resides in a dedicated secure spot in the wardrobe. It’s easy to retrieve and stow, and can be used for al fresco dining as well.

The light veneers on the furniture and light upholstery garnered a lot of praise from our testers. Peter felt that it helped create a greater sense of space in what is already a sizeable lounge.

On the other hand, our testers singled out the lack of arm-rest bolster cushions for the lounge sofas as a negative point. However, this is an inevitable side-effect of a design that seeks to create as much clearance and space in the lounge as possible, particularly for those lounging in the swivelled cab seats.

Kitchen

Our testers were “very impressed” with the E480’s kitchen. There were no complaints about the levels of equipment provided – a three-burner hob with an electric hotplate comes as standard, as does an oven with a separate grill and an eye-level microwave.

Our testers found the sink to be highly useable as well. It’s very deep, although it’s so big that it eats into workspace a bit. They also liked the fact that it comes with a separate clip-on drainer that stows in a dedicated slot under the sink when not in use.

They did have one complaint about the kitchen, though - the 107-litre fridge/freezer provided only just enough space for all the sundries that they used during their tour.

Sleeping

The fixed bed is a generous 6’8” in length, which means even taller occupants should find it comfortable. The height of the garage means there are two steps up to it, however, which could pose a problem for some.

Once you get up there, though, you find a cosy area with numerous amenities: a TV point, a power socket and shelves for mugs and books.

Swift’s designers have proved quite adept at designing lounge beds, and the E480 is no exception. The two sofas join easily to form a flat bed and spare bedding can be stored in the generous locker above the cab, too.

Washroom

Unfortunately, the space allocated to the E480’s roomy facing-sofa lounge appears to squeezed space in the washroom, which bore the brunt of our tester’s criticisms.

They thought it was too small for the size of the ’van and comes across as a sea of white plastic. They also didn't like the fact that you have to rely on the pull-out shower head to supply water to both the sink and the shower. They also found the fittings – such as the sink and toilet – to be a little flimsy, and the shower curtain is likely to do little to keep the toilet seat dry.

Storage

Swift has positioned the fresh-water tank under the ’van which means that the space under the two lounge sofas is largely free for storage. Beneath the farside sofa is where the boiler is located, but even there there’s significant room for storage.

Our testers found ample locker and cupboard space around the ’van, although the half-length wardrobe wasn’t entirely to their liking.

They were big fans of the garage, though, which has lots of cubby holes in which to store cables, levelling blocks, walking boots and other paraphernalia.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats2
MTPLM4005kg
Payload701kg
Length7.49m24′7″
Width2.24m7′4″
Height2.9m9′6″
Waste water90L
External Options
Aluminium sidewalls
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas with electric hot plate, Oven, Microwave
Heating
Truma Gas/Electric heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

Our testers were very pleased with the E480 and thought it was well made – apart from a few niggles – well–equipped and available at a sensible price. The underslung, relatively small water tanks and the small gas locker capacity mean that it isn’t ideal for ‘heavy duty’ distance touring, though.

Conclusion

Pros

  • A well-made and sensibly priced motorhome for a touring couple

Cons

  • The small water tanks and small gas locker capacity mean it isn't suited for long-term touring
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