Forget campervans, our reviewer recommends that first-time motorhome buyers and couples should take a look at the compact 2015 Bailey Approach Advance 615
Approach Advance is Bailey’s new-for-2015 range, designed to appeal to first-timers. We assess the baby of the range, the Approach Advance 615, launched at £38,515 OTR (plus £1199 if you would like the Premium Pack).
Bailey didn’t get around to building its first motorhome until 2011. And that range, the Approach SE, lives on today in the Approach Autograph line-up. But its more budget-oriented sibling, the Approach Compact, mysteriously disappeared from Bailey literature a short while back, with no mention of a replacement. Had Bailey abandoned the idea of a smaller, more affordable motorhome range?
The answer, of course, is “no”. At the time of writing, only the press had seen the new models, dubbed ‘Approach Advance’, at a low-key launch event held in late November, but by the time you read this, visitors to the Motorhome and Caravan Show at Event City in Manchester will have witnessed its public début. The question is: has it been worth the wait?
The Advance’s predecessor was smaller and more affordable than the existing Autograph, but with the new Advance, Bailey is targeting a specific customer base. Many ’vans are bought by caravanners who no longer want the perceived hassle of towing. Bailey, however, suspects that many more would make the change, if the perception of owning, running and – crucially – driving a motorhome were not quite so daunting. The Advance has been specifically designed to address such concerns.
The smallest model in the new range, the Approach Advance 615, arguably sticks to this principle the most faithfully. At less than 6m stem to stern, it should fit on most driveways with ease, and the narrower 2.35m bodyshell – which is barely wider than the Peugeot Boxer cab – makes it almost as easy to position on even country roads as a large 4x4 or MPV.
Vivid red curtains and scatter cushions in the lounge provide contrast and a dash of colour to the otherwise muted interior. We also like the stylish cab seat covers, which add a splash of red to the dinette when swivelled round.
On the road
Lounging & dining
We have only a couple of quibbles: the cab seats sit higher than the half dinette seats; and the half dinette’s inner occupant could really do with an additional reading light. As it stands, one cannot be fitted for travel seat safety reasons.
The 615’s U-shaped end lounge is pretty good. You could easily get five or six people in there – and large windows all round ensure an airy feeling of space. There are ample roof lockers in here, too, and slits in the carpet betray the handy under-floor storage.
Worktop space is rather wanting, and the close proximity of the entrance door precludes fitment of a folding extension flap. Your best bet is to use the main table as a worktop instead.
|Fresh/waste water||90L / 90L|
|Leisure battery||80 Ah|
|Gas bottle size||6kg|
|Number of gas bottles||2|
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle, Shower curtain
Minor niggles aside, Bailey seems to have hit the bullseye with the new Advance range. It’s so impressive that we can’t help wondering what – space aside – the bigger, dearer Autograph offers that the Advance doesn’t.
- All you need for two in a compact 'van
- The bed is long enough for tall people
- It's easy to drive
- Separate shower cubicle
- There are four belted seats
- 180° views in the large lounge
- The cab seats are higher than the half dinette seats
- We'd like another reading light when dining
- Lounge needs a light above the rear window
- Tiny kitchen worktop
- Space is tight around the swivel toilet