Alastair ClementsSee other News articles filed in ‘Caravans’ written by Alastair Clements
Bailey became the first of the UK’s larger caravan manufacturers to publicly show its hand for the 2015 season today, with the hotly anticipated launch of the Unicorn III.
The Unicorn range has been Bailey’s flagship since it replaced the Senator in September 2010, and proved an instant hit, accounting for up to 54% of the Bristol firm’s output.
Although it remains the company’s best-seller, some reviewers have been less than complimentary about the styling of the second-generation model, launched two years ago, and Bailey is hoping that wholesale changes across the range will address those criticisms head-on.
The first thing you’ll notice is the colour. Gone are the old Unicorn’s Magnolia sidewalls, replaced by crisp Polar White – making it the first all-white Bailey caravan for decades. It adds a much fresher look to a shape that is largely unchanged overall, continuing with the firm’s Alu-Tech construction method.
Unicorn fans will also spot the new, curved profile to the rear end, which follows the precedent of the Pursuit range, and is claimed to improve fuel consumption on tow by up to 10%.
This is the first model to feature Bailey’s all-new graphics, too, with a subtly stylised ‘B’ motif for the sidewalls, while retaining the old Unicorn’s colour palette. At the front, the new decals cleverly integrate the Unicorn II’s controversial tall front window, plus there are chromed grabhandles and a chromed ‘Bailey’ script fronting the new, cleaner plastic bumper moulding. The rear features further new mouldings and LED tail lights.
Interestingly, Bailey has decided not to offer a raft of new layouts, preferring to refine the floorplans already offered in the Unicorn range to respond to feedback from customers.
As before, all eight models feature end washrooms and are named after Spanish cities, beginning with the two-berth Cadiz. The most altered of the layouts is the rallyer’s favourite side-dinette Madrid, which is now a three-berth rather than a four.
Next come the fixed-bed models, in single-axle and twin-axle forms respectively: the in-line fixed double Valencia and Barcelona; the transverse island bed Vigo and Cartagena; and the fixed-twin Cadiz and Cordoba.
Looking at those floorplans in a bit more detail, the headline news is more space throughout – Bailey claims up to 15% more floorspace depending on the model, and the sense of space has been further enhanced where possible by paring back the fixed bulkheads.
Single-axle models all get the new Dometic tower fridge-freezer, which will be exclusive to Bailey for the 2015 season and is 30% larger than the old model yet takes up much less floorspace. Moving it to the nearside also allows more storage in the kitchen, to make up for the space taken by Bailey’s decision to move the gas bottles to the centre of the caravan.
All models get a flap for the kitchen worktop, resulting in up to 10% more worktop space – and the good news is that it’s no longer over a split level.
The front bunks, too, are up to 10% longer, allowing them to be used as single berths for kids and teens in most models, as well as forming a large double. The upholstery is the new Kensington cloth, with shaped armrests, but for an additional £199 you can specify the Trafalgar cloth and leatherette trim, a carry-over from Bailey’s motorhome range.
A common complaint of the old Unicorn was that its shower was too small, and the new model responds with a 25% larger unit in all vans. The fixed single berths in the Cadiz and Cordoba are 2in wider as well, at 2ft 4in.
There is LED lighting throughout and the washroom features a radiator instead of the old towel rail, which Bailey found wasn’t up to the task of heating the room. It makes better use of the Alde wet central heating system, which is programmable via a new control unit.
Bailey claims that the Unicorn III achieved an amazing 60˚ temperature change from inside to outside in Alde’s cold chamber.
Other internal improvements to these new Bailey caravans include soft-close drawers and lockers, plus matt and gloss finishes for the new ‘Mendip Ash’ wood-effect panelling.
A television has been deleted from the standard equipment list, and instead there’s a 100W Truma solar panel – feedback from customers suggested that they preferred to make their own decisions about the size and type of television, though mounting points, an aerial and sockets are provided, including a new external output to add to the gas barbecue point and the 230V socket of the old model. Twin-axle models also get an on-board 40-litre water tank.
Under the skin, Bailey has worked hard to improve the way its Unicorn caravans behave on the road by moving as much weight as possible to the centre of the new one-piece Al-Ko chassis – which is equipped with an AKS hitch stabiliser, an ATC anti-snaking device and wheel locks.
The battery has moved to under the floor near the axle, along with the mid-mounted gas locker, and the large, GRP-lined external storage lockers have also been shifted to nearer the caravan’s centreline.
There is further evidence of passive safety design in the wheels of these new Bailey caravans: the balanced alloys are fitted with Michelin tyres, safety bolts and sensors for a tyre pressure monitoring system. The TyrePal monitor will cost an additional £90, and additional sensors are £27.24 each for the tow car. This is 15 per cent less than the normal price of £33 per sensor.
Considering the number of revisions, you might expect a hefty price hike, but Bailey has a tradition of offering good value for money with its top-spec model and the new Unicorn is no exception, with prices up by only 0.6% (around £140).
The range starts at £19,525 for the two-berth Seville, rising to £22,795 for the twin-axle Cartagena and Cordoba.
Prices for Bailey’s other tourer ranges, the entry-level Pursuit and the mid-market Pegasus GT65, remain unchanged, and that reflects the fact that these recently revamped models have been largely left alone.
Responding to dealer feedback, however, the Pursuit does gain the cost option (£199) of the popular grey-and-purple Amara trim that is currently offered as an option on the Pegasus.
Want more? Make sure you read our review of the 2015 Bailey Unicorn Cadiz.