2014 sees Bailey dipping its toe with two Compact additions to what has been a very successful Approach range so far – the drop-down bed 540 here and the transverse rear bed 520.
It’s the former that intrigues most, not least because it’s the first time a UK motorhome manufacturer has attempted a drop-down bed model of any kind, let alone something that’s a smidge under 6m in overall length.
But this is no mere copycat. Like all Bailey’s motorhomes to date, the running gear is courtesy of Peugeot’s Boxer with an Al-Ko AMC chassis extension, complete with spare wheel and carrier as well as outriggers (side extensions to the main chassis that help keep overall rigidity etc. It is also prepared to take a towbar.
The one-stop Peugeot/Al-Ko offering keeps the manufacturing logistics highly efficient, but the downside is you get what you get (hopefully, also, to the agreed delivery time rather than the long waits sometimes encountered when you order something a bit different to the standard specification): there are no engine or transmission options.
Indeed, everything you see here is standard specification (with just a very short list of factory-fit options). That includes the graphite cab, while inside the fittings extend to air conditioning, cruise control etc.
The floorplan offers safe travel (Bailey has been particularly forthcoming about its rigorous safety-testing procedures, for all of its motorhome range) for up to four people, although sleeping is confined to the drop-down bed over the lounge and a third, slightly awkward berth from the lounge seating. True, it’s accepted a motorhome likes this will see its main service as a two-berth, but it’s always nice to know you have extra bed space, just in case…
That main bed glides down electrically at the touch of a switch, to whatever height you wish – the ladder, which attaches unobtrusively to the back of the washroom door when not needed is yet another neat touch. The Froli base under the one-piece mattress is another star fitting, just offering that bit more in terms of comfort and support.
Another stand-out feature of the interior has to be the Alde “wet” heating system – again, it’s something none of its rivals offers. With such compact living surroundings as this, there is absolutely no reason for not staying cosy.
You certainly get a “British” kitchen, too. Or rather, one with a specification more suited to our expectations rather than a reworking of a continental design with items such as oven/grill levered in for us Brits.
It’s a galley kitchen here, with a three-ring hob and oven/grill plus sink with add-on plastic drainer on the offside. Across the galley is an 80-litre Dometic fridge with removable freezer box, with work surface alongside.
The washroom occupies the rear section of the Compact 540, but, despite a roomy enough shower cubicle, actual changing room space is at a premium.
This is still an impressive enough newcomer. As you can see from the data panel, the Compact 540 is far from free of rivals… although Bailey has that one trump card: it’s the only British-built model in this sector.
Verdict: Compact, yes, but homely too
Plus: Drop-down bed, superior ride and handling of Al-Ko chassis,
Minus: Washroom space, lounge cupboard, exterior looks may divide opinion
In-a-nutshell: Small, yet perfectly formed
Cost to insure: £267.50*
- Bailey Compact 540
- Peugeot Boxer, 2.2-litre, 130bhp Euro V
- Dimensions 5.99m L x 2.35m W x 2.79m H
- Maximum weight 3500kg
- Payload 759kg
- Key options: Piccadilly upholstery (£199), Bedding sets (£209), microwave oven £149), warranty extensions (from £199)
- Security and Safety Electronic immobiliser, remote central locking to cab doors, ABS and EBD, EBA (emergency brake assist), twin airbags, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
- MPG estimate 25-30
Recommended retail price from £44,460**
There’s more information on the Compact 540 on the Bailey website and to find out more about our low-cost premiums visit the motorhome insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Adria Axess 590 SG, Bürstner Ixeo time 590, Chausson Flash/Welcome 510, Pilote Aventura P606 LA, Rapido 600FF, Roller Team T-Line 590
**Motorhome insurance cost based on Bailey Compact 540 motorhome retailing at £44,460. Motorhome must have an immobiliser and Thatcham Category 1 alarm fitted. UK travel only. Kept in secure storage at TD9 8ED. Motorhome owners – professionals over 50 years old with no claims, convictions or health conditions in last 3 years. 4 years no claims bonus mirrored from car policy and 2 years motorhome driving experience. Members of motorhome club doing less than 5000 miles annually. £300 excess applies. Premiums include insurance premium tax at 6% and are correct at 06/02/14
**On-the-road, including VAT at 20%