We bought a new motorhome! We are now the proud owners of a Swift Escape 685. We’ve spent a week motorhoming in France in it so far, using a mix of campsites and wild camping spots (if you want to learn where we’ve been, there’s more info in the yellow box below).
Here’s our review and reasons why this is the motorhome we chose.
Why did we buy a Swift Escape motorhome?
We wanted to find a motorhome with the following things:
- Under 7m
- Under 3.5 tonnes, so we can both drive it. (Read the pros and cons of a motorhome over 3.5 tonnes)
- Decent payload, so we can carry our gear
- Under 3m in height (better for tolls)
- Able to tow a trailer for our motorbikes
- At least two seating areas, so we can both work from the van without killing each other
- At least 4 seatbelts
- Space for the dog crate
- Decent sized bathroom, ideally with a separate shower (this was our compromise)
Swift Motorhome Problems
We already had a Swift Motorhome, and had no real problems with it, although of course there were things we didn’t like.
The biggest problem we had was the electric drop-down bed- it just didn’t work properly once there was bedding on it and stuff in the cupboards. This is a common problem with the Swift Motorhomes- which is perhaps why the drop-down beds are now all manual. Anyway, we were looking for a motorhome without a drop-down bed (spoiler- the Swift 685 has one!)
We also didn’t like the cramped feel of the bathroom on the Esprit, although we knew this was a compromise when we bought it. I also hated the cupboards in the kitchen area- they were utterly impractical.
New to Motorhomes? You might be interested in these related posts:
Swift Motorhome reviews
We visited a couple of motorhome dealers with an open mind. We weren’t sure if we wanted a campervan or a motorhome, so we were prepared to look at all options. We didn’t mind make or model, but we wanted something built within the last 4 years and ideally without too many miles- as we’re about to add a LOT of miles on!
After trying hard to find a motorhome under or very close to 6m, (and there are some fantastic options out there), we soon realised two things:
- We spend a lot of time living in our motorhome, so we carry more kit than most people
- We are both taller than average… and therefore take up more room. We need a bed at least 6ft long- and some more compact motorhomes compromise on this
We realised that by going TOO small, we were actually going to get the worst of all worlds and we didn’t want our time in the motorhome to be cramped and unpleasant. So, we decided to go up a little in size, pushing up to 7m, but we both agreed not to go above this. Enter, the Swift Escape 685.
Swift Escape 685 Motorhome review
I walked into this motorhome and was immediately blown away. Immediately. The layout was exactly like the one we had and loved- end lounge, middle kitchen and bathroom, front seating area with 5 seatbelts and the two driving seats swivelled.
Containing my excitement, I checked the stats- 6.8m long, 2.9m high and MRO* (see below) was only 2.9t, giving us a 600kg payload on its 3.5 tonnes rating.
It was literally our perfect motorhome. It has a drop down bed, but it also has two other bed configurations which can be made up at night- so there are lots of sleeping options.
See inside our Swift Escape 685 Motorhome
After a few days, we filmed our thoughts on our new motorhome, what we’ve changed, what we like and what we don’t. Watch the video below.
Buying a motorhome? Read this first: How to buy a motorhome
What does MRO mean for motorhomes?
*MRO (Mass in Running Order) means the weight of the motorhome if it was on the road. They take the weight of the motorhome once it’s fitted out, add 75kg for the driver and 6kg for a gas cylinder. They also add 90% of fuel tank capacity, which also covers coolant and other fluid weight (NOT water tank- this is not included)
You need to know the MRO AND what the vehicle is plated up to- not all motorhomes are plated to 3.5 tonnes. The difference between the 2 is the motorhome payload– the amount of weight you have to put gear, passengers, food, pets and everything else onboard. It’s always worth going to a weigh station once you’re fully laden, so you know what you weigh. Do NOT go over your rated weight limit.
Facts about the Swift Escape 685 Motorhome
|Height||2.88m / 9'5"|
|Length||6.9m / 22'8"|
|Width (cab with mirrors folded)||2.31m / 7'7"|
|Gas locker capacity||2 x 6kg bottles|
|Fresh/Waste Water Capacity||95L / 93.5L|
|Engine||Fiat Ducato 6 speed 130bhp / 2.3 ltr|
|Max Braked trailer weight||2000kg|
|Thermal Grade Insulation||Three|
|Extras we've added||Solar Panel, Rearview camera, Inverter|
|Batteries fitted:||Engine and 1 x leisure|
Layout options of the Swift Escape 685 Motorhome
Swift Escape Review after a week of living in the motorhome
LOVE this van. Sure, there are some niggles (we’ll get to them!), but overall we are really pleased with our choice. It’s easier to park, costs less on ferries or the Tunnel and still gives us the space we are used to.
It tows really well- we’ve been up and down the Alps all week and we’re amazed at how well it tows our heavy motorbikes. It seems to be fairly economic as well, which is impressive. We’ll do more research and report back with some facts.
Things we love about our new Swift 685 Motorhome
- Mr WB LOVES his swivel seat at the front (he’s always wanted one!)
- The storage- there’s loads of space left we haven’t filled… yet!
- Useable space for things, instead of weird cubby holes
- Everything is manual- no more electric beds!
- Space in the bathroom- even if it doesn’t have a walk-in shower!
- The seats can be configured to give us lots of space for the dog crate- so easy to fit in
- Size, weight and ease of use
Things we don’t love about our new Swift Escape Motorhome
- The waste/ freshwater dumping buttons – too easy to get it wrong!
- Lack of power sockets at rear- we had to fit more
- There’s no table set up permanently- takes some getting used to
- No access to storage from outside- which isn’t the end of the world as we have an external storage box, but could be really annoying!
- The wardrobe is weird. But at least there is one I suppose!
- The drop-down bed doesn’t drop down low enough for us to sit up in bed, but we’ve chosen not to use the bed anyway, so it doesn’t bother us.
All in all, it’s been a good trade. We thought losing nearly an eighth of our living area was going to be really challenging, but in all honesty, we’ve barely noticed the difference.
We’ve called our motorhome Stevie. It was Steve, as in ‘The Great Escape’, but we struggled having a boy motorhome. She’s definitely a girl. So she’s Stevie.
Have you named your motorhome? Let us know what in the comments below!
Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.
If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.