Andrew McPhee

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Read the Practical Motorhome review of the Swift Kon-Tiki 659, a large, 8.67m long four-berth

Design

The 659 is big: this tag-axle, five-tonne behemoth, with its silver, one-piece aluminium sidewalls, is certainly eye-catching.
The integrated roof rack, ladder and full-length awning – which has not one but two exterior awning lights – are all standard kit and welcome additions. The roof rack would be ideal for carrying windsurf kit, kayaks or anything long and light.
The nearside gas locker allows for easy access when changing bottles, and on the offside there’s a storage locker, which reveals a 20cm-deep storage tray beneath the floor of the ’van, that stretches 1.4m across the width. Two 95Ah leisure batteries are housed here, and there’s a neat, switched LED strip light for better visibility. The Kon-Tiki also houses its fresh water container and much of its pipework in underfloor storage trays, which, while not a double floor to compare with the belt and braces approach offered by some German manufacturers, still offers decent protection against colder weather and increases storage space.
We found it to be truly a ’van for all seasons – although temperatures dipped below 0˚C outside, our water supplies didn’t freeze. And two leisure batteries, and LED lighting throughout, enabled us to camp ‘off-grid’ on several occasions.
We were rather disappointed to find the driver’s side locker was the only externally accessed storage space. Indeed, it seems a shame not to be able to get at the space under the double bed from outside the ’van.
The habitation door is excellent, with three-point locking, a fly screen, and the all the can be locked from the key fob. Both fresh-and waste-water tanks have heaters, and the drain taps for these are both inboard, with wide-bore pipes, so no more dirty hands when draining.
Internally there is a definite wow factor: Swift is outstanding at selling the sizzle with ‘showroom’ interiors, and the sense of interior light and space is amazing. The suede-effect upholstery feels as good as it looks, and is easy to clean. Facing sofas upfront, a vast kitchen facing the entry door, a fixed lengthways double bed to the rear and – the pièce de résistance – a full-width washroom across the ’van at the rear make for a unique layout where there’s really no compromise.

On the road

That 3.0-litre, 160 MultiJet engine is begins to rev freely after a good few thousand miles. The 22.4mpg fuel economy it returned – quite a bit of which was motorway and autoroute driving with cruise control set to 60mph – will surely improve with time. It’s a dream to drive: the huge footprint and twin rear axles flatten out all the road bumps, and the low-slung AL-KO chassis irons out most of the body roll when cornering. The seats are remarkably comfy, each having twin armrests.
Other Fiat cab goodies include electric windows and mirrors, driver and passenger airbags, twin armrests for both cab seats, and cassette blinds for evening privacy.
The 659 has a massive payload of 915kg, too, which means ralliers and long-term tourers will be able to holiday with everything they could possibly want.
We like the integrated reversing camera, which means your co-driver doesn’t have to ‘help’ when reversing onto a pitch. This doubles as a rear-view camera on the road, too.
The length of the vehicle is a problem when parking at supermarkets or using bays at the side of the road; the Kon-Tiki takes up two full bays.
Motorhomes of this size are also charged extra each way on ferry crossings.

Lounging & dining

The front lounge is large, with two full-length inward-facing sofas and both cab seats swivel so six can dine at mealtimes.
As with most side sofas, the backs are quite low and very upright, which is great for dining although not much fun for lounging. They are, however, press-studded in place so they don’t fly around in transit.
The 659, however, has side bolster cushions providing comfortable armrests and wonderful full-length, feet-up lounging while watching TV or just snoozing.
The 10-inch TV/DVD player above the cab seemed rather small for the size of the ’van but there is a secondary, drop-down bracket for a much larger flatscreen TV separating the lounge from the bedroom. This swivels through 180 degrees, so you can watch TV from bed should you choose; although you’d need to remove those fiddly venetian-style blinds.
A nice touch is the circular occasional table situated behind the driver’s seat. This is ideal for resting a coffee cup, nibbles or for tapping away on a laptop as there is a power socket above, just inside the cab area. There is a total of seven power sockets throughout the ’van. The larger freestanding table (100 x 60cm) is located under the bed and press-studded in place. It’s not the easiest place to retrieve it from, and we think it would have been better located in the wardrobe.
The opening, panoramic ‘Skyview’ rooflight above the cab floods the area with light, but Swift has thoughtfully added directional lights above the cab seats as well as the reading lights on the underside of the overhead lockers and two small ceiling lights. The windows get blinds and flyscreens, but also sheer drapes and full-width curtains.

Kitchen

The kitchen is massive and well-equipped. There’s a full-size cooker, with three gas rings and an electric plate, and an oven and separate grill below it. The 112-litre fridge is sensibly sized, with a separate freezer compartment, but additionally there is a large 12V/230V (40-litre) compressor freezer built into the chest sited opposite the kitchen.
The good-sized, granite-look sink has a clip-on drainer, and an inset cover to maximise working surface. Above the cooker is a microwave and the kitchen also comes complete with an extractor fan. The lighting above the kitchen area is also very good. However, the crockery storage isn’t particularly useful.
Between the fridge and the cooker is a storage cupboard with slide-out racks, which are very useful. Opposite the kitchen is a large double cupboard handy for pans and tins, and the top can be used for additional work space. The kitchen is also well supplied with electric points. Although this is a ’van for two people there would be no problem cooking a large meal for a family group.

Sleeping

The two sofas in the front lounge make up into a relatively flat, large, full-width double bed without the need for infill cushions; it measures 200 x 90cm. Alternatively, if two single beds are the order of the day, then slide the sofa bases out a fraction and swivel the cab seats to bring them into play – they each measure 205 x 140cm.
Of course, the first-choice bed is the rear double, which measures 190 x 136cm at its widest, although the cut away is not excessive and with a domestic-style mattress it’s extremely comfortable. As there is no washroom alongside, which you find in most French bed layouts, it is much easier to get in and out of, and with a window both sides it makes the whole area feel very spacious.
Opposite the bed is a good-sized wardrobe with 130cm hang-height and shelved storage, too. A light comes on when you open the wardrobe door. Next to the wardrobe is a cupboard with an underwear drawer, and there are three large lockers above the bed, all shelved and wide enough to take folded shirts. In the corner is a useful little shelf for spectacles and watches, as well as two larger shelves above for books. The whole bedroom area can be closed off with a screen to make an ensuite bedroom (although the Venetian-style blind is somewhat see-through). We also liked the dedicated headboard and headroom at 80cm.

Washroom

This area is extremely spacious. It’s a shade over 1m wide and stretches accross the full rear of the ’van. There’s a large, fully-lined, separate shower cubicle with two shelves for shampoo and the like; this area measures 84 x 61cm. There’s only one drain plug, though, and no vent directly above the shower cubicle.
If the perspex door had been opaque it would have provided more privacy for someone to use the toilet at the same time.
The rest of the washroom is carpeted and wood-panelled and has a washbasin and swivel-bowl Thetford toilet with separate flush tank. The storage space for toiletries is superb, with three large, shelved cupboards, as well as numerous other shelves and ledges. The icing on the cake is an opaque window, a locking door and a proper handle on the washroom door.

Storage

Internally there’s oodles of storage; cupboards, cubby holes, shelves, underbed, undersofas, and overcab storage areas. There is ample storage for two people to ‘full time’ in this ’van. Outside, however, is a different story, with only one locker under the offside sofa to take chairs, tables, levelling ramps, a generator, hoses, cables, walking boots, buckets and all the other paraphernalia that you don’t want inside the ’van.
Access to the lounge seat boxes and the area under the bed is simple, thanks to framed tops that raise easily on gas struts and are self-supporting. Anyone with anything large, such as a wheelchair, has nowhere to store it, even when dismantled. There is a roof rack but it would be difficult and impractical to put heavy items up there, so those with cycles or a wheelchair would have to invest in a cycle rack.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats2
MTPLM5000kg
Payload915kg
Length8.67m28′5″
Width2.35m7′9″
Height3.09m10′2″
Waste water100L
External Options
Awning light
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas with electric hot plate, Oven, Separate grill, Extractor fan
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater
Security
Immobiliser

Verdict

With just two travel seats, the 659 is primarily a two-berth ’van, with capacity for overnight visitors. It offers loads of space, internal storage and enough payload to swallow all your wordly possessions. It’s lavishly equipped, with a comfy and stylish lounge, a large ensuite bedroom and a superb washroom. However, its size and weight could prove as much a headache as a luxury. It’s utterly uncompromising, though, and for that we love it.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Interior styling; reversing camera; panoramic skylight

Cons

  • No offside exterior access to storage; poor crockery storage; size
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