Bailey launched a pair of compact low-profiles for the 2014 season. Practical Motorhome’s Rob Ganley tests the drop-down-bed Approach Compact 540
When Bailey launched its compact low-profiles at the October 2013 NEC show, it had been building motorhomes for just two years, but in that time had produced more than 1000 ’vans. This puts it in the top handful of UK motorhome manufacturers by volume.
It started in 2011 with the launch of its Approach SE range, and replaced this for the 2014 season with the Approach Autograph range. The exterior styling was improved, with a rounded rump and an overcab with subtly inward curving sides. The range also starred the 765 – a six-berth low-profile with a drop-down bed over the front lounge. Two compact models followed.
Both Approach Compacts are low-profiles that measure a shade under 6m, so they’re no bigger than most panel-van conversions. Under scrutiny here is the 540, with four belted seats and three berths. It has a central kitchen, a full-width end washroom, and an L-shaped lounge with an electrically operated, transverse drop-down double bed above it.
The body is narrower than that of the previous Approach SEs, but at 2.35m it’s still roomy inside. The Al-Ko chassis is the ultra-low version, which helps it hug the road. The gas locker is sited toward the rear on the driver’s side. It encroaches
a little on washroom space, where it sits in a sealed unit beneath a large wardrobe.
Also on this side are the water inlet, the electric hook-up point and a waste water drain tap. The toilet cassette is accessed through the ’van’s rear wall.
The fresh and waste water tanks are underslung, with the former insulated and fitted with a heater. There’s another insulated box under the floor, with space for two leisure batteries, accessed through a hatch in the habitation floor. There’s also a wind-down spare wheel underslung at the rear.
On the road
Lounging & dining
There’s a step down from the cab to the living quarters, which allows a shade over
6ft of headroom beneath the ceiling bed. The lounge features a forward-facing two-seater bench and a side sofa. A table, with an extension that brings the side sofa into play at mealtimes, clips onto the sidewall and is stashed in the wardrobe in the washroom when it’s not in use. It folds at the knee to double as the base for the single, transverse bed, and the side sofa slides out to meet it. Plug a key into a panel above the entry door, and the double bed lowers at the push of a button, with a ladder to access it that’s otherwise stored in the washroom.
Heating and hot water throughout come courtesy of Alde’s Hydronic boiler, which feeds a wet-radiator heating system, operated via a touchscreen control panel above the entry door.
So where's the single bed, I hear you ask? Well, the dining table folds at the knee to double as the base for the transverse single bed. The side sofa slides out to meet it.
|Fresh/waste water||90L / 90L|
|Leisure battery||110 Ah|
|Gas bottle size||10kg|
|Number of gas bottles||2|
3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill, Microwave
Bailey’s good-looking low-profile features real innovation and a strong kit list. Its compact dimensions affect storage, but what’s provided is thoughtfully proportioned. What’s more, the Approach Compact 540 is competitively priced and it won Best Compact Motorhome in our 2014 Motorhome of the Year Awards.
- Compact motorhome
- Comfortable double bed with sprung mattress
- Alde heating
- Rear washroom
- Alu-Tech Construction
- Restricted legroom around the toilet
- Nocturnal toilet visits involve climbing
- Not much storage capacity – but the duvet stays on the drop-down bed