There was a time (not so long ago) when the Bailey Unicorn range accounted for almost two-thirds of Bailey’s caravan sales. But the Bristol manufacturers wisely concluded that there was potential risk involved in having so many of your caravanning eggs stored in one basket – even if they were golden – and so has been diversifying considerably in recent years.
The move has worked well: last season the Phoenix, introduced to replace the Pursuit, became Bailey’s best-selling range, overtaking the Unicorn.
The Phoenix is no longer Bailey’s most entry-level range, either; that mantle goes to the Discovery line-up. Nor is the Unicorn any longer the most upmarket range: there are four models in the new Alicanto offering.
The mid-market Pegaus became the 8ft-wide Pegasus Grande. And last season, to maintain the fourth-generation Unicorn a little longer, Bailey introduced the new Unicorn Black Edition, with exclusive decals and special goodies included.
So there has been much change and much that is new at the Bristol manufacturer. But Bailey is also conscious that, while it has benefited from the new customer base that emerged over the staycation summer of 2021, it can’t necessarily assume that will continue, The firm has to consider its long-term customers, too, and for many of them the Unicorn is still a highly prized possession. So since September 2021, the fifth-generation Unicorn began to arrive on your local dealers forecourt.
What can you expect to see in the latest version? A new exterior profile is one thing: the front outline is considerably more curved than before.
The enormous central window remains – in fact, it’s half as big again as its previous incarnation, in the fourth-generation vans. The rear profile has also been changed, now coming with moulded pillars down the sides and a new-look light cluster at the bottom.
Just as exciting as the new front window is what’s been happening along the sides of the exterior. The jazzy graphics make even the swirls that appeared on the Alicanto seem positively sedate. They should really give off a sense of movement when you are on the road.
As you might expect, Bailey has developed the new Unicorn models with a fair amount of customer feedback, and one comment that seems to have been consistently coming back was the need for more payload.
Although some buyers might be looking for a lighter caravan, possibly with a view to hitching up an electric or hybrid tow car, it appears that Unicorn customers still want the option of taking more on holiday with them. As a result, MTPLMs have been increased on all continuing models, with five models now coming in at 1600kg or over, with payloads of at least 159kg.
All of the previous Al-Ko fittings remain. So that includes the Al-Ko ATC trailer control system, and an Al-Ko secure wheel lock (two of them on twin-axles).
The fifth-generation Unicorns also come with Al-Ko’s spare wheel carrier. A Tracker, an intruder alarm and a new high-security exterior door lock are also standard fittings.
That large front window looks even more impressive on the inside, because for the fifth generation, it has been designed to be more integrated into the front panel. But what else is going on in the interior?
The range as a whole is still made up of seven models. The layout in the island-bed four-berths remains exactly the same: two of them (the twin-axle Pamplona and the single-axle Cabrera) have a longitudinal bed and the washroom spread out across the centre, while the other two (the twin-axle Cartagena and the singe-axle Vigo) provide a transverse bed and an end washroom.
We are saying goodbye to the only model in the range that provided a corner double bed, the four-berth Valencia. To replace it, we welcome back the Madrid, a four-berth with a second dinette down the side and a washroom at the rear. The fixed-single bed end-washroom Cadiz remains a four-berth.
Officially, the two-berth end-washroom Seville has returned to replace the Merida, but it is really more nuanced than that: the Merida was only introduced because Bailey had changed the design of the Seville in its fourth generation, to give it an end kitchen and corner washroom, but customers still wanted an end-washroom model.
The new Seville returns with a full end washroom, like it used to have, but this one is slightly different from that found in the Merida – the wardrobe located behind the toilet has been moved to the front side of the washroom and in its place, you’ll find a window – albeit still a clear one.
Furniture and upholstery
The Light Oak furniture finish provided in the fifth-generation Unicorns is significantly paler than before. The overhead lockers now run all the way to the front of the caravan, as a more practical alternative to the open shelves that used to be there.
You get a choice of two smart upholstery finishes. But whether you go for standard Chiswick, with a lavender hue, or optional Temple in oatmeal (which some might find a bit too samey with that lighter furniture finish), all of the cushion bases and the seat backrests are now fully sprung. That will make a significant difference to the comfort levels, whether you are sitting or sleeping.
Bailey has given a more sculpted design to the wardrobes on either side of the island bed, and as a result, has managed to include a double bed that is 3in wider – almost, but not quite, a queen size.
You’ll notice the eye-catching new Nebula Silver worktop in the kitchen. What you might not spot at first sight is something that to us seems a dramatic improvement.
The Dometic microwave here doesn’t need a revolving glass plate – you simply put your food in, close the door and switch on.
This means you no longer need to worry about finding a safe place to stow that plate while you are en route, or worse still, forgetting you need to remove and store it and arriving on site to find your caravan interior covered with shattered glass.
In a nod to civilisation, all fifth-generation models will also come with a four-bottle wine-rack fitted in the kitchen.
That customer research we mentioned earlier left Bailey with the impression that the washroom design needed a fair bit of change, so this has been done, too.
Quite apart from upgrades such as the inclusion of the window in the Seville, step inside the washroom now and you will find marble-effect panels on the walls, and solid Belfast-style sinks. Salad-bowl style basins do seem to be a fad that is already passing.
There are bifold doors to the shower cubicles, as well as substantial moulded shelves where you can stash your shampoo and shower gel. But one feature found in at least some Unicorn washrooms in years past, the laundry basket, is no more.
Wired for Wi-Fi
Finally, one area where Bailey has really stepped up is in provision for technology. All fifth-generation models come pre-wired for Wi-Fi installation. After investigating various options, Bailey has chosen to offer an Avtex router as an optional extra.
The designers are also keenly aware that all members of today’s families use electrical devices that need regular charging. So all of the latest models include four USB ports and up to six 230V mains sockets.
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Bailey has really stepped up in provision for technology. All fifth-generation vans are pre-wired for Wi-Fi installation