Forget campervans, our reviewer recommends that first-time motorhome buyers and couples should take a look at the compact 2015 Bailey Approach Advance 615

Overview

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.

Design

The Peugeot base vehicle is the new second-generation X/290. The Bianco white paint matches the conversion colour perfectly and comes as standard with daytime running lights, ABS and a driver’s airbag.

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

Being wider and shorter than most low-profiles helps with driveability, but Bailey has gone a step further by offering – uniquely in this class – 
Al-Ko’s ultra-low-profile AMC chassis, which lowers the centre of gravity further and provides a low-set step up into the conversion.

Lounging & dining

The 615’s main entrance door is adjacent to the cab passenger door, so you step up directly into the front lounging/dining area. This comprises a forward-facing half-dinette (which also doubles as the rear travel seats), plus swivelling cab seats. The simple clip-on table is nicely rounded to save on space and prevent visitors from hurting themselves a sharp corner, and it’s big enough to allow three people dining space at mealtimes. A fourth diner is accommodated by an extension flap beneath the table that swings out to reach the cab passenger seat.

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.

Kitchen

The kitchen makes the best of its limited floor space. It’s well-equipped, with a spark-ignition combined oven and grill, lidded three-burner hob and a 80-litre Dometic fridge with in-built freezer. The power sockets are located higher than usual, too, the better to avoid overspill from the sink. The roof lockers are easily reached, even if you’re a little short.

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.

Sleeping

The settees in the rear lounge of the Approach Advance 615 easily make up into a large, double bed, measuring 2.06m x 1.34m (6'9" x 4'4"). It’s comfortable and supportive, but leaves no floor space, so you’ll disturb your other half should you need to visit the loo in the night. A bit more knick-knack space would be welcome, too, and the area beneath the roof lockers on the rear wall is crying out for an additional light.

Washroom

Opening the washroom door reveals a large all-in-one area. The walls are fully lined and the shower curtain is there solely to protect the swivel, electric-flush toilet from shower spray, rather than cocooning you in a clingy, clammy embrace. There’s good storage space in here, too.

Storage

Storage is adequate for two people and the 'van has a payload of 804kg. You'll find removable silver screens stored in a cubby above the cab doors. Then there are overhead lockers above the dinette, kitchen and the U-shaped sofas in the rear lounge. There's room under those sofas for more of your kit, such as the bedding. A wardrobe is placed next to the lounge/bedroom area. There's lots of storage in the washroom, too.

Equipment

The DAB CD/radio with USB and Bluetooth wireless phone connection are part of the (essential in our view) £1199 Premium Pack, as are cab air conditioning, a passenger airbag and Remis windscreen night blind.

Technical specs

LayoutRear lounge
Sleeps2
Travel seats4
MTPLM3500kg
Payload804kg
Length5.99m19′8″
Width2.35m7′9″
Height2.79m9′2″
Engine (capacity)2200
Engine (power)130
Fresh/waste water90L / 90L
Leisure battery80 Ah
Gas bottle size6kg
Number of gas bottles2
External Options
GRP sidewalls, Manual step
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle, Shower curtain
Heating
Whale water heater, Whale blown air space heater

Verdict

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.

Conclusion

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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
Share with friends

Follow us on

Explore the range

Recently added motorhomes for sale

Most recent motorhome reviews

Swift Escape 604

£47,580OTR

The Practical Motorhome 2018 Swift Escape 604 review – 1 - The Fiat Ducato-based Swift Escape 604 has a licence-friendly MTPLM of 3500kg – it is £47,580 OTR, £49,275 as tested (© Peter Spinney/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome Auto-Trail Imala 732 review – 1 - The 2018 Auto-Trail Imala 732 is a four-to-six-berth, with two-to-four travel seats, depending on options (© Peter Baber/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome Adria Coral Supreme 670 SLT review – 1 - The silver 2018 Adria Coral Supreme 670 SLT is certainly a head-turner – and has a handy 3500kg MTPLM (© Peter Baber/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome Wellhouse Terrier Lux-XL review – 1 - The Wellhouse Terrier Lux-XL is priced from £42,000 OTR – this example is £44,175 OTR (© Nick Harding/Practical Motorhome)

Devon Vitesse

£52,536OTR

The Practical Motorhome Devon Vitesse review – 1 - You get an unusually high pop-top in this Mercedes-Benz-based camper van from Devon Conversions (© Peter Baber/Practical Motorhome)

Auto Campers MRV

£47,500OTR

The Practical Motorhome Auto Campers MRV review – 1 - The Auto Campers MRV is priced from £47,500 – this example with its options comes to £53,836 (© Phil Russell/Practical Motorhome)