L-shaped front lounges have been back on the scene in caravans for a number of seasons now, proving especially popular in new 8ft-wide models.
This season, L-shaped lounges in the rear are making an appearance, too. Erwin Hymer launched the new 585 in its Xplore, Elddis Avanté and Compass casita ranges in July 2021.
Now Bailey has brought out something similar, once again in an 8ft-wide caravan, only this time with the L reversed.
The Bailey Pegasus Grande SE Ancona, a five-berth, won the Best Caravan for Families gong in our Practical Caravan 2022 Awards and is also included in our best caravan round-up; here’s our full verdict on the model.
Just like its Pegasus Grande cousins, the Ancona comes with dove-grey side panels and a swooping decal. All of this raises the bar on the exterior style, lessening any impression of towing a big white box.
So, too, do the corners of the roof, which are slightly curved with the Bailey badge placed centrally at the top of the rear panel.
The whole effect is only slightly marred by the grab handles still being black plastic.
One thing that sets the Bailey Pegasus Grande range apart, and makes it unusual among British manufacturers, is that although it is an 8ft-wide range, three of the models in the line-up, including the Ancona, are single-axle. This brings down the weight.
The Ancona’s MTPLM of 1600kg is at least 50kg lighter than the lightest of the twin-axle models, so it can be towed with a correspondingly lighter vehicle. It also makes the van £1500 cheaper, compared with those twin-axles.
If you are worried that having such an axle on an 8ft-wide van might make it a less stable tow, don’t be. The Ancona still comes with Al-Ko’s ATC trailer stability system, as well as an AKS stabiliser.
We took our test van, towed by a Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid, not just along the M5, known for its many ups and downs, but right to the hilly coast of north Devon, and we had no problems. So long as you don’t fill the small rear garage with anything heavy, you should be fine.
Pitch and set-up
The single axle also meant that it was much easier to move this caravan singlehandedly onto the pitch when there was nobody else around to help.
We were slightly surprised to see none of the corner steadies were heavy-duty, but they were nonetheless easy to reach and worked well, even when being almost fully wound down, due to our pitch not being level.
The two external locker doors make it quick and easy to bring out the outdoor furniture and other items (again we would strongly recommend only putting very light kit in the rear garage locker when on the road). The electric hook-up connection is at the rear offside of the caravan, nicely away from where you might want to put an awning, although there is no service light on this side.
There is an external mains socket right where you might need it on the nearside to power anything in the awning, along with a useful gas barbecue connection at the front nearside corner.
The front lounge is not L-shaped, but that is possibly because the entrance door is at the rear, well away from it, which lessens the need for such an arrangement.
In any case, an L-shaped settee would distract from the view you can see through the huge central window.
Two vents from the Truma Combi 4 heating system are at the bottom of the central chest here, so this will be a warm lounge in winter. The settees are comfortable, and the foldaway table easily big enough for six. It cleverly folds up to allow easier access along it, but even with the flaps down, there is enough room in this wide van for anyone to squeeze in.
The only issue really is that it is stored, along with the pedestal leg and top for the rear lounge table, in a central wardrobe that could also end up being the only place to put infill cushions for both sets of beds.
Along with the central window and side windows, two roof lights ensure that plenty of daylight gets into this front lounge.
At night there are two central LEDs in the housing for the windows ambient light coming from behind all of the overhead lockers, and three spotlights, although only one has an integrated USB port.
There are sockets for a TV immediately above the small cabinet at the rear end of the offside settee. From here, a TV set could be seen by most occupants of the front lounge.
The rear lounge feels more spacious than the similar layout in Erwin Hymer UK’s 585 model, and not just because this is a wider van. In the latter caravan, the ‘L’ of the settee fits around the corner of the central washroom, and you feel a little as though you are sitting in a corridor. Here, the ‘L’ faces the opposite direction, so it feels like a proper lounge.
That said, although plenty of daylight comes through the back window, there is only one spotlight here, and it doesn’t come with a USB port. However, there are two USBs next to the sockets that are provided for a second possible TV station, above the cupboard on the nearside.
If you fear that there might be squabbling over such resources, it’s good to know that this area can easily be shut away, even during the day, by a concertina partition.
But if it should come about that it’s just two people using this van, we might be tempted to leave the bed or beds made up in the front during the day, and use this as a comfortable TV watching and eating area. You still get a great view out of the window.
The kitchen in the Ancona is spectacular for a caravan in this price range. It provides a huge work surface – possibly bigger than the amount of space you have at home – even if you don’t include the matching hob top.
That work surface is well lit by LEDs and the window, and because there are already two other possible places for a TV, you don’t have to compromise this area by placing a set here. You also get a four-burner dual-fuel hob above a separate oven and grill, and a large round sink. You even get four power sockets – yes, four. Of course, there’s plenty of space for a kettle, a toaster, and whatever else you want to use on tour.
The Dometic microwave underneath the overhead lockers has a built-in non-moving ceramic plate, so that is one less thing to remember to remove when you’re on the road (although the unit is only 70oW).
Perhaps the only disappointment is the fridge. It’s half-height, to give you all that workspace, but at 103 litres, it is possibly only just big enough for the food of five.
Immediately outside the washroom door, there’s a large lit mirror with hooks next to it. Useful, although anyone standing here might get in the way of the cook.
The shower cubicle is huge. It’s well lit and ventilated with a roof light – one of two in the washroom. It doesn’t include any racks, but you could easily use the shelving in the main washroom, which also houses a sizeable basin, a towel ring, two hooks on the door, and a circular toilet.
The settees in the front lounge are long enough to make comfortable single beds for most people. If you want to make up the double, it’s vast, at 2.23 x 1.46m. You do so by pulling slats out from the central chest; you also require an infill cushion to make up the gap.
If you are travelling with just one child, and they are small enough, you could put up the bunk and leave the L-shaped settee as it is. The bunk can easily be reached by the ladder, and there are safety guards, too.
If you have more children, you have to assemble the double below. This is a slightly finicky operation involving cushions put in the right way – and more infills. The ladder can’t be used in such a set-up, so whoever is in the bunk has to be good at climbing.
We would consider carefully who will be sleeping where before setting off with this caravan. You might decide you can afford to leave at least some of the infill cushions and possibly the bunk guard behind. That would free up a lot of storage space.
We’d be inclined to leave the nearside underseat area in the front lounge for external use only. It is clear, although because this lounge is nowhere near the door there is no waterproof area, as there often is in Bailey vans at this point.
But there is no internal access flap, so to reach here, you have to remove all of the cushions. The same applies to the space under the offside seat; although there isn’t so much room here, because of the heater.
Happily, there is a good selection of lockers and open shelving up above. You might value the shelving, because there is no sill at the front.
The wardrobe offers limited hanging space for the clothes of five, even with the infill cushions taken out. But there is a set of drawers under it and cabinet to the side.
There are two large overhead lockers in the rear lounge, and here you do get internal access to the garage area that runs under the back seat. There is also a corner cupboard, which could have included a rail to provide more hanging space. Two drawers and a locker under the TV area complete the picture.
Kitchen storage is great, and here you see the advantage of only having a single axle, because the wheel arch is less intrusive. There is a drawer and a huge cupboard with an internal shelf below the sink.
The overhead lockers are a good size, and one is shelved; there is also a little locker above the microwave and a tall shelved cupboard between the oven and the fridge. The pan locker under the oven is only adequate, but with so much space elsewhere, we’re not really comparing. Two cupboards and plenty of shelving in the washroom should be all you need.
Kit and value
You get Truma Combi 6 if you go for a twin-axle, one disadvantage of the Ancona (which has Combi 4). We would have liked to see a few more spotlights, perhaps and internal access to the front underseat lockers. But otherwise this caravan is very well-appointed for its position in the market.
The final word
The impressive Ancona adds a comfortable layout to the range, on a single axle. This spacious and attractive van is a worthy winner of the 2022 Practical Caravan Awards. The tourer also made it onto the shortlist for the best caravan for under £30,000 and the best caravan for seasonal pitches categories.
- Al-Ko one-piece galvanised chassis
- AluTech bodyshell
- Upper panels timber-free construction; composite skeleton, high-density polyurethane insulation, GRP inner and outer skin
- Truma Grade III tested
- 15-inch alloys
- Awning light
- Front gas bottle locker
- Exterior BBQ and mains socket
- Truma 100W solar panel
- Truma Combi 4
- Bailey ‘Light Oak’ furniture finish
- Standard Goldhawk upholstery with spring base cushions and two scatter cushions
- Status 570 TV aerial
- Two TV points
- DAB radio with USB and Bluetooth
- Stereo speakers
- Slat bed bases
- 12V interior LEDs
- Four USBs
- Dual-fuel four-burner hob
- Dometic K-series oven and grill
- 103-litre Dometic fridge with 12-litre freezer
- 700W Dometic microwave
- Nordic Stone worktop and hob cover
- Perspex splashback
- White gloss shower cabinet with bifold door and integral lighting
- Shower unit with ceramic ball mixer tap and EcoCamel head
- Thetford C-260 cassette toilet
Safety and security
- AKS 3004 stabiliser
- Al-Ko wheel lock receiver
- Steel spare wheel
- Tracker system (with three-month subscription)
- One-key operation
- CRiS labels attached to windows and inside gas locker
- Concealed security data chip
- Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Our tow car
The Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto we had as a tow car has a kerbweight of 1842kg, so is an 86.9% match for the MTPLM of the Ancona.
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The kitchen in the Ancona is spectacular for a caravan in this price range. It provides a huge work surface - possibly bigger than the amount of space you have at home
|Interior Length||5.90 m|
|Shipping Length||7.38 m|