Packing four berths, masses of kit, bags of style and a washroom with a separate shower into a sub-6m body is no mean feat! Check out the Swift Escape 604

Overview

Compact, bijou, small… however you describe them, sub-6m motorhomes have been popular for years now.

There are downsides to them, though.

Their dimensions mean that designers have to work hard to squeeze in all the kit the modern motorcaravanner demands.

But the benefits are clear – you can park in a regular space, you’ll pay less on ferries and the vehicle is easier to manoeuvre.

So we weren’t hugely surprised to see a compact motorhome launched into Swift’s Escape line-up for 2018.

The Escape range was released in 2009, aimed at those looking for a modern budget coachbuilt.

It’s since become more sophisticated, although the fresh looks and innovative design remain.

The range was given a big makeover for 2017, so the changes this year were more modest.

However, they did include the launch of the 5.97m Escape 604, a four-berth with a drop-down bed over a lounge, a central kitchen and a rear washroom.

It’s a layout previously only seen in the upmarket Bessacarr line-up.

Design

This is a good-looking motorhome: the blue-and-white decals appear modern, fresh and attractive.

The 2018 Swift Escape 604 is based on the Fiat Ducato and, when viewed side-on, it looks every centimetre of its 2.91m height.

It sits high, too, meaning there’s a reasonable, 46cm step up needed to get inside.

There’s no electric step fitted, so owners may choose to take a separate step unit with them on tour.

The main facilities, including the toilet-cassette locker, are all on the offside, so you won’t need to access them through any awning.

The body itself is built with Swift’s SMART construction, featuring its ‘PURe’ polyurethane timberless framed roof and sidewalls.

Fixing rails for a bike rack are fitted to the motorhome’s rear panel.

On the road

The Fiat Ducato base vehicle offers a consistently good drive, so there were no complaints from our testers, and using the manual gearbox is also a smooth experience (an automatic is a £1750 cost option).

Our test vehicle featured the 2.3-litre, 130bhp Euro 6 engine. It propelled the 3500kg-MTPLM ’van with ease, and felt peppy when accelerating on the motorway.

You’ll need to take some care when approaching roundabouts because of the chunky A-pillars, but you can also see out of the side windows in the lounge, which helps at junctions on the Continent.

Our test model featured a standard DAB radio. Cab air-conditioning, reversing sensors, a passenger airbag and cruise control were also all fitted as part of the £1695 Comfort Pack.

The design of the Fiat Ducato cab looks and feels more like a car than a commercial vehicle – the materials are good quality and everything seems well put together.

Gadget charging is taken care of by one USB and one 12V socket – handily, there’s also a place to stand your tablet while it’s on charge.

Two belted seats in the rear of the motorhome mean that you can transport a person for every berth here, and the sofa cushions popper into place, so they shouldn’t slide around when you’re on the road.

Lounging & dining

Spacious lounges are popular in the UK motorcaravanning market, so it’s great to see such a roomy and comfortable example in this little coachbuilt.

Both of the cab seats swivel and, with them in place, you could comfortably seat six adults for dinner.

Everyone will be able to reach the single-leg table that sits in the centre. The top for it is in two parts, and is stored in the narrow cupboard behind the rear belted seats.

It’s heavy, but having it split into two sections does make it more practical – you can choose not to add the extension if it’s not needed.

If there are only two of you, you may choose to sit in the comfortable cab seats once they’re swivelled – reading lights on stalks are positioned on either side.

The cab seats are also a great place from which to watch a TV on the bracket above the belted seats. There’s a shelf here where you could place a freestanding unit, too – all of the relevant connections are close by.

No matter where you sit, you’re sure to stay warm – four blown-air vents pump out heat from the Truma Combi 4 boiler in the nearside seat locker.

The Nova soft furnishing scheme looks stylish and modern, and is well complemented by the light-coloured Aralie Sen woodgrains, while the four overhead lockers have an attractive matt-white finish.

The windows in the lounge feature concertina blinds that, pleasingly, pull upwards – that lets you open them a touch in the morning to peer out, without losing privacy.

There’s also a smart honeycomb-detail panel around the windows.

Headroom in the area is reasonable, even given the bed in the roof.

Kitchen

In all compact motorhomes there’s generally one area that’s compromised. In the Swift Escape 604’s case, it’s the kitchen.

That said, every inch of space has been considered. The dearth of work surface is made up for by the lift-up extension flap at the end of the unit.

You can also slot the drainer/chopping board over the 36cm, cream-coloured sink, which gives you even more room.

Elsewhere, the kit level is of a good standard. There’s a combined Thetford oven and grill, and a three-burner gas hob.

If you’re on mains hook-up, you’ll appreciate the microwave oven, which comes as standard, although it’s situated quite high up.

There’s also a 138-litre, automatic energy-selection Dometic slimline fridge across the corridor, with an American-fridge-style handle – it looks smart, and there’s a handy removable freezer compartment, too.

Work surface may be slightly lacking, but there’s masses of storage space.

Below the sink is a cupboard with a door that can be opened in two sections, each with its own catch – it’s a tidy arrangement that means the whole door doesn’t have to be opened.

Below the hob there’s also a drawer, and a further cupboard beneath – some of the latter is taken up by the wheelarch, but there’s still space to squeeze in pots or pans.

Up above the kitchen are cream-coloured lockers, one of which provides a useful rack for storing crockery.

To the left of the window is a handy shelf – 7cm at its widest – with two plug sockets. It’s a great spot to place a phone while it’s charging.

You’ll need to be careful if you’re plugging in a kettle, though, to ensure the lead doesn’t trail over the sink.

Sleeping

Realistically, the Swift Escape 604 is most likely to be used by couples touring alone, but having the option of a further two berths does mean that overnight guests can be accommodated.

And despite that bed over the top, the lounge bed isn’t a bad place to spend the night.

It makes up to a reasonably flat surface and there’s 80cm of headroom, even with the top bed in place. The lockers do come down when the top bed is lowered, however.

But it’s the drop-down bed that’s the star of the show here. It’s not electrically operated, but our testers didn’t find it particularly difficult to operate.

At its lowest, this is still 133cm above the floor of the motorhome, so you’ll need to be able to use the supplied ladder to access it.

Once you’re up there, it’s a comfortable place to sleep – the Duvalay mattress (which is exclusive to Swift) is thick and luxurious. There’s also 54cm of headroom.

Washroom

Stepping to the left of the kitchen, you’ll find the rear washroom.

Its door is at an angle, to allow for the maximum amount of space inside – and this is a hugely impressive washroom in such a small ’van.

It’s well specced, too. There’s a Thetford swivelling cassette toilet with electric flush, and a deep, if oddly shaped, basin.

As in the kitchen, it’s the amount of storage space available that’s most impressive. Below the washbasin is a cupboard with a shelf for a washbag.

Up above is a really deep shelving unit, which is perfect for storing toilet rolls or towels.

There is a towel rail, but it’s pretty high up off to the left: if you’re on the smaller side, you’d struggle to reach it.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a mirrored vanity unit here, too, and a half-height wardrobe. The table leg lives here when it’s not in use.

It may be a small area, but it feels bright thanks to the small Heki rooflight, and a window on the rear wall that is darkened, but not opaque.

It’s quite rare to see a separate shower cubicle in a compact motorhome’s washroom, particularly one that’s a reasonable size.

The 604’s is narrow to access – the bi-fold door swings back to allow an aperture of 45cm – but once you’re inside, it feels reasonably roomy.

It looks great, too: it’s fully lined, and features a smart rear panel that lights up. There’s no shelf for toiletries, though, and there’s only one plughole.

Overall, there should be enough room in here for an average-sized adult to get dressed.

There’s a blown-air heating vent, too, so you should stay nice and warm.

Storage

Thanks to this Swift motorhome’s low MiRO – just 2854kg as standard – there’s a great, 646kg payload to play with.

What’s more, a huge amount of lockers and cupboards throughout the ’van allow you to make good use of it.

Up above the fridge, for example, is a really large, deep locker that goes all the way back – perfect for storing lighter bits and bobs.

To the right of the fridge is a great-sized wardrobe that’s supplemented by the second wardrobe in the washroom. Bottles can be stored in the shallow but tall cupboard below the main wardrobe.

The washroom is packed with storage space, and there are four lockers in the lounge.

The kitchen doesn’t have a huge amount of storage space, but it should prove adequate for four.

Exterior storage is less extensive: there’s just one locker. It’s not huge, but is big enough to hold your hook-up cable, muddy boots and more.

Equipment

Stick with the standard spec on this 2018-season Swift motorhome and you’ll still get a good level of kit, including that Dometic 138-litre slimline fridge, a built-in microwave, Truma Combi 4 dual-fuel heating and more.

There are four mains sockets in total. The control panel for all the Swift Escape 604’s main systems can be found above the habitation door.

The Swift Command system allows you to monitor and control various functions including the heating remotely via a smartphone app.

We were surprised to find pop-on blinds for the cab area, rather than the full cassette version – and they’re a bit of a fiddle to secure.

Our test motorhome was fitted with the optional, factory-fit Comfort Pack – as well as base-vehicle upgrades, it also introduces a waste-water tank heater, an accommodation-door flyscreen, a Status 570 TV aerial, a pleated windscreen blind and an opening sunroof over the cab area. At £1695 (and a 16kg drop in payload), this is well worth having.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM3500kg
Payload646kg
Length5.97m19′7″
Width2.31m7′7″
Height2.91m9′7″
Engine (power)130
Engine (torque)236
Fresh/waste water100L / 68L
Leisure battery80 Ah
Gas tank size6kg
Number of gas tank compartments2
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill, Microwave
Washroom
Separate shower cubicle, Bi-fold shower door

Verdict

The Escape range of Swift motorhomes has always impressed us, and the addition of this super-compact model has only made us love it more.

The 604 offers coachbuilt luxury and a high specification in a body that’s shorter than that of many van conversions, and everything inside looks and feels good quality and well put together.

It’s not perfect – the kitchen will be too small for some motorcaravanners, and it’d be nice to see cassette blinds in the cab as standard – but it’s still a hugely accomplished motorhome that packs a tremendous amount into its compact dimensions, most notably a full-facility washroom.

It’s a worthy winner of our Motorhome of the Year 2018 award.

And to see other Swift motorhomes for sale, click here.

Conclusion

Pros

  • In such a compact ’van, it’s handy to have somewhere dedicated to stack plates and keep them tidy – the rack in the kitchen does just that
  • There’s masses of useful storage space in the washroom, so you really can make full use of the large payload
  • It's great to have a separate shower cubicle in a compact motorhome
  • You get a large and comfortable front lounge

Cons

  • The towel rail in the washroom is quite high – if you’re on the shorter side, you may struggle to reach it
  • We'd like cassette blinds in the cab as standard
  • The kitchen will be too compact for some
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