It's easy to forget that just eight years ago, Bailey only made trailer caravans. But since their 2012 launch, the firm's motorhome sales have grown exponentially and today Bailey is a major player in this market.
The Bristol company's motorhomes kicked off with a wide-bodied range of coachbuilts monikered Autograph SF, and then Approach Autograph.
Well received by the specialist press, dealers and the public alike, sales were strong. However, some commentators criticised the range as being too wide.
Ridiculous really, a bit like criticising Smart cars for being too small.... both Smart and Autograph are what they are!
That said, in 2013, Bailey unveiled a brace of compact narrow-bodied coachbuilts, the Approach Compacts. Built to the same high spec as the Autograph, the only things pared down on the Compacts were their dimensions. All wriggled into the sub-6m class and body width (excluding mirrors) was reduced from Autograph's 2.41m/7'11" to a svelte 2.36m/7'7".
Compact wasn't just compact, it also added two new layouts to the Bailey offering: the 520 featured a permanent transverse high-level double bed above a rear garage, while the 540 had two extra travel seats, a drop-down ready-made double bed and a full-width washroom/changing area.
Two years later, Bailey decided to offer greater choice in narrower-bodied coachbuilts, although this time with a slightly lower spec, but very sharp prices.
The Approach Advance range comprised four 'vans of various lengths, all on the low-line independently sprung Al-Ko chassis and all under 3500kg, so drivable on a normal car licence.
The Compact 540 layout continued - the 520 was, puzzlingly, discontinued.
The Advance range begins with the 6m, four-berth, forward half-dinette and rear-lounge 415. The longest - at 6.96m/22'10" and clearly aimed at families - is the six-berth 665, with a forward double Pullman dinette and rear lounge.
The two-berth 635, at 6.63m/21'9" long, features two long settees, ahead of a midships kitchen and a full-width rear washroom/changing area. Its settees convert into easy-access singles or a huge double.
The 640 has a fixed rear corner double bed, with the shower compartment and toilet alongside. The settees can be made into another double, but there are only two travel seats.
- Bailey Approach Compact and Approach Advance on Peugeot Boxer Al-Ko
- Built 2013-2018 in Bristol, UK
- Low-profile overcab coachbuilts
- Overall length 5.99m/20'0" (Compact 520/540 and Advance 615) to 6.96m/22'10" (Advance 665)
What to look out for
The Boxer was well sorted by the time these were built. Although all were fitted with 130bhp engines, there were actually two completely different units. The 2.2-litre models used Ford's Puma engine, and later 2.0-litre models used Peugeot's own unit. Both drive well, but if you live in or regularly traverse through, an ultra-low emission area, be aware that 2.2-litre models are Euro 5 and 2.0-litre are Euro 6.
All Bailey motorhomes have been built using the firm's immensely strong Alu-Tech method of construction. In addition, Bailey has always offered extended warranties (up to 10 years) for body integrity. These are transferable, but dependent on them being paid for at time of ordering, and an annual habitation service and damp check being carried out on time and by an approved agent.
- Narrow body
- High spec (Compact)
- Fabulous value for money (Advance)
- All under 3500kg
- No automatic transmission available
- Passenger airbag was an extra-cost option (part of the Premium Pack)
Compact 520 for its garage. Advance 635 for couples. For families, Advance 665 - but load carefully for six of you.
Most are north of £35,000. Compacts are rare and carry a price premium. Marquis is advertising a 2014 Compact 540 for £38,995. Advance are easier to find. 4Front Quality Motorhomes has a 2018 665 for £39,990. A 2017 635 at £38,995 is available from Somerset Motorhomes, and Lincoln Leisure Vehicles have a 2015 635 for £32,995.
Or you could try...
Nearest to the Compact is going to be the Elddis Accordo or the Swift Rio ranges. Swift Group's Sundance and Escape motorhomes compete with the Advance, as does the Elddis Autoquest.