Peter Baber
Reviews Editor

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Refreshed for 2018, the upmarket, low-profile and rechristened Swift Bessacarr range also boasts four new layouts, so let's check out one of them, the 597

Overview

What do Autocruise and Bessacarr have in common?

Well, both were South Yorkshire-based motorhome manufacturers swept up into the Swift Group. But there the resemblance ends.

The Autocruise name disappeared from Swift’s line-up this year, but Bessacarr has been given a new lease of life.

Now known as the Bessacarr 500 series, it has had a revamp, and includes four new models. We’ve taken a look at one of them, the 597.

Design

The 2018 Swift Bessacarr 597 has fixed single beds at the back over a garage, but up front you have a choice.

The first option is a standard half-dinette with a side sofa, plus two forward-facing travel seats. Or you can go for the ‘Lounge’ model with two parallel sofas.

There’s no difference in body length (or price) between the two, but there is in weight.

The half-dinette version (tested here) has an MTPLM of 3850kg, so you’ll need a C1 licence to drive it – go for the Lounge version and you get a more licence-friendly standard MTPLM of 3500kg.

Do that and the payload also drops to 228kg, although, as you’ll only have two travel seats, that might be enough.

Whichever layout you choose, this season’s changes are immediately noticeable.

All Bessacarr motorhomes now get a black cab, with yellow and black decals on their GRP-lined sides.

Each model in the Swift stable also takes the company’s name at the start of its moniker this year, too.

Every Bessacarr comes with a roll-out Thule 4900 awning, and a locker in the skirting for a hook-up cable and water hose.

The 597 has a rear garage with two doors, which is easily large enough for bikes. But the toilet cassette locker is on the nearside, the same as the awning.

Lounging & dining

We found it a little bit of a step up to get into this 2018-season Swift motorhome, but once you are inside you can make use of the handy coat hooks, and a locker that’s the ideal shape and size for shoes.

The side sofa is very comfortable. You can easily seat six around the front lounge, and the table has a slide-on extension, so they can all dine in comfort, too.

Whoever sits at the head of the table or in the swivelled cab passenger seat will have loads of leg room.

The understated beige of the 597’s upholstery is appealing, while the striking hexagonal pattern that Swift’s designers seem fond of makes an appearance in the curtains.

TV fittings are on the panel behind the driver, so children in the travel seats could feasibly watch while you are on the move.

The sunroof lets in plenty of daylight, as does a rooflight half-way between the dinette and the kitchen.

At night-time, in addition to ambient lighting, there are two LED lights and a selection of spots, including two useful bendy ones that come out from the cab.

Kitchen

The Fenix scratch-resistant worktop on the L-shaped kitchen surrounds a stainless steel sink, and there is a handy little shelf where you can keep electrical items next to two mains sockets.

There’s also a four-burner dual-fuel hob, but its cover is opaque, which does cut out some light from the window, when the lid is raised.

There isn’t a huge amount of space for food in this Swift motorhome, just two overhead lockers next to the Daewoo microwave.

The area under the worktop opens out with a cutlery tray and three shelves, but the bottom part is taken up by the Alde heater.

The pan locker under the Dometic oven and grill is substantial, despite the wheelarch.

If you can reach, there is another locker above the slimline 138-litre Dometic fridge across the aisle.

The kitchen is also well lit and has an Omnivent.

Sleeping

The two fixed single beds in the 2018 Swift Bessacarr 597 are high, but easy to reach and very comfortable, with individual lights and speakers, and large headboards – they each measure 1.99 x 0.81m (6’6” x 2’8”).

There is a socket above the middle chest, and a fitting for a second TV on the wall.

You can extend the bed space in the middle with a pull-out panel to create a 2.16 x 1.20m (7’1” x 3’11”) double bed, but this makes getting into bed that bit more tricky.

The front double bed, meanwhile, is assembled by lowering the dining table and rearranging the cushions from the sofas. This gives a 2.09 x 1.23m/1.03m (6’10” x 4’0”/3’5”) bed.

Washroom

There is a central split washroom in the 2018 Swift Bessacarr 597.

The circular shower cubicle on the offside only has one drainage hole, and the wheelarch does get in the way a bit here.

You need to step up to get into the nearside washroom, but it is brightly lit and kitted out with a small handbasin, two cupboards, shelves above the Thetford toilet and an Alde radiator.

Storage

Clothing storage is plentiful: at the foot of the rear beds is a pair of wardrobes, both of which are spacious.

In addition, there’s a third wardrobe towards the centre of the motorhome, with a series of shelves.

As for storage in the rest of this Swift motorhome: there are two moderately sized overhead lockers either side of the dinette.

The area below the forward-facing seats houses the battery, but there is some spare space.

And you get that great garage too, of course.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM3850kg
Payload528kg
Length8.11m26′7″
Width2.38m7′10″
Height2.82m9′3″
Fresh/waste water90L / 68L
Leisure battery100 Ah
Gas tank size13kg
Number of gas tank compartments2
Kitchen Equipment
3-burner gas with electric hot plate, Oven, Separate grill, Microwave
Washroom
Separate shower cubicle

Verdict

Bessacarr was in need of a refresh, and Swift has done it proud with this good-looking ’van.

This 2018-season 597 would be great for a couple who occasionally take a grandchild or two away with them.

It’s certainly comfortable to live in, although some might think that it’s missing the odd truly luxurious touch.

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

Conclusion

Pros

  • The Swift Bessacarr 597’s fixed beds are both a generous size
  • Storage is plentiful, including a great garage

Cons

  • You need C1 entitlement on your licence to drive it
  • Some might find it quite a high step to get into the ’van
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