Swift’s Carrera campervan range is only just over a year old; it’s a five-model line-up of Fiat Ducato-based campervans, offering from two to four berths, depending on which model you choose. We had a look at the two-berth Swift Carrera 122 just after the range was launched and it impressed us enough to make its way into our best campervan guide. But we thought it might be time to test a different floorplan, so took the Swift Carrera 144, with front dinette and rear lounge, to Cote Ghyll Caravan Park, in North Yorkshire.
Exterior and cab
Lanzarote grey – a smart dark charcoal colour – is clearly the colour of choice in campervans at the moment, because it appears either as standard or at the very least as an option on a great many of them.
It’s the standard colour on Swift’s Carrera range, but if you are heading for off-road adventures, as we were, it’s a colour that also makes sense, because it won’t show the dirt as much. Tinted flush-fitting windows add to the smart looks.
The nearside of the ’van includes a gas barbecue point (check out our best motorhome barbecue guide if you’re looking for one), while the hook-up and cassette toilet access hatch are away on the offside, so no chance of either getting in the way when you pull out the awning that comes as standard.
The gas bottle locker is inside the rear of the ’van and is accessed by opening the barn doors. That could mean it’s a bit of a haul up for some, but the gas bottles are only 3.9kg, so it shouldn’t prove too much of a heavy load.
The cab is a standard Ducato, with drinks holders in the middle. You get cab blinds as standard, which you don’t always find in van conversions.
The windscreen blind is slightly bowed out at the top, so that it goes around the rear-view mirror. It might also lessen the chance of condensation building up: we’ve removed blinds on mornings in the past, to be met with a cascade of water. But this design does make it slightly more difficult to attach the blind at the top and keep it there.
In addition to the cab seats, there are two belted seats on the bench in the front dinette. Whoever sits here will be rewarded with having USBs close at hand in the armrests.
Lounging and dining in the Swift Carrera 144
All the controls you need to operate the living services are in a panel just above the sliding door as you come in.
With the cab seats swivelled and the clip-on table extended, the dinette has enough room for four people to comfortably enjoy a meal. It’s well lit, too, by daylight coming through the sunroof and the large Heki as well as the windows, and by subtle ambient lighting and a striplight at night.
If you are expecting the rear lounge to be a much larger space, however, you might be a bit disappointed. This lounge feels rather cramped, an impression not helped by the narrow gangway you go through to reach it, past the kitchen.
It’s possibly a result of having to squeeze everything into a van that is only 6m long; although the Carrera 184, which has the same layout in a length of 6.36m, has a similar-size rear lounge to the Carrera 144, because the motorhome manufacturer has chosen to use the extra space for a full-size wardrobe.
Four people would still be able to relax here quite comfortably, however, when you’re at your campervan campsite. And because the pedestal table, while it has space for four, doesn’t take up all of the aisle, a couple of them would have ample room to stretch their legs.
On a sunny day with the barn doors open, this would be a perfect perching space. Even on a more wintry day, there are speakers here in the locker base and the position of the TV sockets should mean everyone could watch a motorhome TV. It’s just that you might find this a bit of a squeeze if you wanted to invite more people in to join you.
Both parts of the table are stored in the half-height wardrobe under the two-way opening fridge. The storage for the tabletop is fine. But the leg has to be strapped in with rucksack-style straps, rather than just pushed into a clasp. If you are tall, you could find bending down to do this quite fiddly, given the narrow space available.
The good news is that in this ’van, there is technically a third dining area, particularly if it is just the two of you. Unlike the Select range, the kitchen unit in the Carrera includes a tabletop that you can slot into position on the outside, giving you the chance to eat al fresco when the weather permits.
One of you could sit on the pull-out step, so you would really only need to take one other chair with you.
Kitchen in the Swift Carrera 144
Another welcome change in the Carrera, compared with the Select (or with a lot of van conversion ranges, in fact) is the extension to the kitchen unit.
Instead of folding this up, you pull it out of its dedicated spot, then slot it in place. Although this can seem quite fiddly at first, it does feel very sturdy. It also gives the kitchen a surprisingly large work surface just where you need it, next to the travel seat. There’s even a fold-out bin immediately below the extension, so you can easily dispose of any waste from your culinary endeavours.
At the other end of the kitchen unit, safely away from any breeze, is a neat stainless-steel two-burner hob that’s inline with a rectangular sink.
Both have glass covers, potentially expanding workspace even further, and there is a mains socket close by.
Underneath this is a combined oven and grill. Swift has managed to include a 90-litre compressor fridge, one of Dometic’s two-way opening Series 10 models. So you can easily reach for another beer while remaining seated comfortably in the rear lounge.
The area is well lit, from outside and by a striplight. With everything folded away it looks very neat, too, with those curved edges that are now becoming something of a Swift hallmark.
Campervan washrooms are not usually the most enticing of places. Swift has brightened this one up with some marbling effect on the wall and a mint-green splashback behind the basin. So although the headroom isn’t the most generous we have seen, this room still feels inviting.
The basin folds away, giving you as much space as possible to shower in, given that there is no separate cubicle. The shower head is separate, which means that you don’t have to push a hose back through into the tap, as you do with some small washrooms.
Above the smart splashback panel is a large mirror, with a cupboard next to it for all your shampoos and cosmetics.
The whole room is well-lit, and it has a large roof vent, too. All in all, this washroom is pretty good.
Sleeping in the Swift Carrera 144
This isn’t really a van for very tall people – the two settees in the rear lounge are only 1.32m (4ft 4in) long, so you have to make up the double.
Even then, it is only 1.70m long. You could try to sleep diagonally, but as we have already established, there is not a huge amount of space here, so your partner might not forgive you.
That said, if you are within the right height range, this bed has advantages. Instead of using platforms that come out (and in our experience always leave you worried they might slide back in again in the middle of the night and dump you on the floor), Swift has included a very ingenious set of slats (made by Hymer). These fold out from the nearside to clip onto the front edge of the offside seat. This makes for a much sturdier set-up.
The only difficulty we had was trying to fold them back afterwards. You have to rely on gravity to fit the sides back tightly within a clasp, and this can be fiddly. If you turn over the mattresses, you have the usual problem (common in all Sevel vehicles) of having to swap them because otherwise, the little cutaway in the corner won’t allow for a smooth fit. But at least you don’t have to worry about having to deal with any infill cushions.
The front dinette can be converted into a single bed by lowering the table. Even here, you only need one infill cushion. We have struggled with some other beds where no fewer than 10 extra cushions were needed.
Storage in the Swift Carrera 144
Those foldover slats in the nearside settee are a boon when it comes to storage and kitting out your motorhome, too. They allow Swift to include a large drawer that pulls out under here, making stowing bits of kit so much easier. The offside underseat area is more conventional, however, and you do have to lift up the base cushion to reach it.
The half-height wardrobe might be a bit small for four to use, especially as the table is stored here, too. But you do get four overhead lockers in the rear lounge (15), plus two more over the front dinette and corner lockers above the cab.
The kitchen includes a large overhead locker, albeit partly compromised by the motorhome TV aerial fitting. Below is a large cupboard that, even with a shelf, is big enough for most pots and pans. There are also three drawers – one above and two below the oven.
Washroom storage, with the small cupboard, is minimal, but that is what you might expect in a van conversion.
The spec level on the 144 is pretty good for a mass market van conversion. You can’t guarantee that you will get fitted cab blinds in a van conversion, for example, so even if they are fiddly, the ones included here are a plus.
The Thule awning is fitted as standard, where on most Continental rivals, such things are only ever an optional extra. It’s good to see both a BBQ point and a cold shower on the outside.
The inclusion of underfloor heating and moving the gas bottle to the rear frees up more space for storage inside.
The oven is a matter of taste – we might prefer a microwave. But having a two-way opening fridge in a compact interior is a definite plus point.
The separate shower hose and the foldaway basin elevate the washroom, while USBs in the armrests should keep kids content on a long journey.
The bed system should give you reassurance, too, even if, like the windscreen blind, it is a bit fiddly to set up and take down.
Perhaps it is just the wardrobe that would be a bit small for four. And we might have preferred to see a metal clasp for storing the table leg.
Verdict on the Swift Carrera 144
The 144 is a smart, clever van conversion with plenty of storage and a good spec level, with a couple of clever extra features. The washroom in particular is enticing for a van conversion. The one let-down, perhaps, is the rather small rear lounge. But if you need to stick at 6m long, and you definitely need the extra bed, your choice will be a bit limited.
Take a look at our best luxury campervan to see our pick of the standout high end options on the market at the moment.
Or you could try:
- Wellhouse Misano 4.1: a superb level of spec is packed into the the Ford Transit base vehicle here.
- Leisuredrive Renoir: this is a smart campervan with sensible design.
- Campaway Casa: this eye-catching camper has a lot packed into it, including a toilet.
Buy the Swift Carrera 144 if…
In a word, if you are short, or rather not tall. It is possible to get a bed longer than this in a motorhome (if not a van conversion) that is only 6m long.
Other than that, this is a perfectly respectable van conversion for a couple who might need to use it as a day-to-day vehicle as well. It also has one or two innovative features that should appeal to buyers.
Reason to buy:
- Great little washroom
- Impressive storage
- Kitchen workspace is a good size for a van conversion
Reason to avoid:
- Rear lounge a bit cramped, with narrow gangway
- Table leg storage could be better
- Beds not ideal for taller people
- Price: £73,495
- Sleeps: 3
- Belts: 4
- Length/width/height: 6.00/2.26/2.72m (19’7”/7’4”/8’9”)
- MTPLM: 3500kg
- Payload: 571kg
- Water (fresh/waste): 93/58 litres
- Leisure battery: 90Ah
- Gas: 2 x 3.9kg
- Chassis: Fiat Ducato Engine 2.2-litre, 140bhp turbodiesel
- Power: 140bhp @ 3500rpm Torque 350Nm @ 1400rpm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual
7-inch touchscreen dashboard colour display, cruise control, DAB radio with Apple Carplay, Android Auto, USB and Bluetooth, cab air conditioning, driver and passenger airbags, ABS, reversing sensors, electronic and heated wing mirrors, captain’s seats, drinks holders
Lanzarote grey exterior with body-coloured bumper and black cab trims, 16-inch alloy wheels, roof-mounted Thule awning, 22mm insulated floor, 14mm insulated roof panel, body insulated with 3M Thinsulate, flush-fitting tinted acrylic windows, LED awning light, external barbecue point and cold shower, sliding door flyscreen
Lounging and dining
Sangella Elm woodgrain in interior with Oxford Canvas and Graphite furniture, Sangello Elma and cream gloss locker doors with graphite strip, chrome inlay and concealed handles, dark-grey Savoy fabric wall covering with stain-resistant finish, French Oak effect high-impact, scratch-resistant floor, loose fit carpets, moulded window surrounds and storage pockets in diamante fabrics, front sunroof with chrome trim and door section to match side lockers, USB sockets in armrests
Dometic stainless-steel two-burner hob and combined oven and grill, Dometic 90-litre compressor fridge with two-way door, lift-out worktop extension
- Rear double bed: 1.86 x 1.32m
- Front single bed: 1.70 x 0.54m
100W solar panel, roof-mounted speakers, EcoCamel shower head, Thetford cassette toilet, Whale underfloor and water heating, EC400 control unit for monitoring battery, lights and water level, LED lighting throughout, Status 570 aerial, two TV points, VIN CHIP identification system within construction, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, why not get the latest news, reviews and features delivered direct to your door or inbox every month. Take advantage of our brilliant Practical Motorhome magazine SUBSCRIBERS’ OFFER and SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER for regular weekly updates on all things motorhome related.
|Shipping Length||6.00 m|
|Engine Size||2200 cc|