Niall Hampton
Editor

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The Bristol brand has just launched its fourth entry-level range in 10 years. It certainly looks sharp, but will it succeed in such a competitive segment?

Overview

It's fair to say that Bailey has a tried and tested top-end tourer proposition – with each iteration, Unicorn goes from strength to strength. 

It's a compelling blend of comfort, specification and value for money. At the other end of the market, though, Bailey could definitely do with a range to capture the imagination of the British caravan-buying public as much as the Unicorn has. 

Over the past decade, the Bristol-based firm has made several attempts to increase its foothold in the entry-level market – with Olympus, Orion and, most latterly, Pursuit – but in a very competitive segment, none set the world ablaze. 

Phoenix could change all that, though. Rising from the ashes of Pursuit, which never felt completely connected to the rest of Bailey's caravan offering, this new seven-strong range borrows heavily from its Unicorn and Pegasus siblings, in terms of house style and specification level. 

To see if this new line-up could be a sales success, we took one of its core offerings for couples – the island-bed four-berth Phoenix 640 – to Bath Chew Valley Caravan Park. 

Pitching and setting up

Bailey sticks with its established Alu-Tech construction for this latest range. Timber-free upper body panels with inner and outer GRP skins fit into an interlocking aluminium extrusion framework, so there are no external fixing points to create potential paths for water ingress. The whole assembly rides on a galvanised steel Al-Ko chassis.

The handbrake is button-operated and an AKS hitch stabiliser comes as standard. Al-Ko's ATC anti-snaking system does not, however, but this is available as a dealer-fitted cost option.

The 640's front and rear grabhandles are sturdy and all corner steadies are easy to access. There's no front gas locker – it's mounted near the axle on the offside – and this is also where you'll find connections for the other habitation services. An awning rail runs along each side of the van. Inside, a control panel sits above the two-piece door.

Lounge

Bailey borrowed some interior smarts for the current Unicorn range from its motorhome line-up. Phoenix gets in on the cross-dressing act, too, with a pleasing look and feel that's positively Unicorn-esque.

Mid-toned cabinetwork is teamed with contrasting ivory-coloured overhead locker facings for a contemporary vibe. Also of the moment is Bailey's decision to offer a 'Dressing Pack' (four scatter cushions, two bolsters, two pure wool throws and a washroom carpet) as a cost option. Buyers can opt for this, the thinking goes, or customise Phoenix to their own tastes on the high street.

The stand-out feature of the Phoenix's front lounge, though, is the vertical skylight – again, a borrow from Pegasus and Unicorn. It lets plenty of light into the lounge, supported by four windows and a rooflight. LED downlighters, spotlights and over-locker lighting offer back-up for evenings.

Kitchen

The 640's offside kitchen packs a decent specification, with four gas burners atop a separate oven and grill. Opposite this, you'll find a 103-litre dual-fuel fridge with separate freezer compartment.

A utilitarian-looking square sink sits next to the cooker, above a wide drawer for cutlery.

A pair of mains sockets looks down on the granite-effect worktop; with the wooden cooker lid (another borrow from Unicorn) lowered, cooks will have a good place to work, with a window and task lights providing illumination.

Washroom

With a configuration split across the middle of the van, the 640's washroom is certainly on-trend. The nearside portion houses the fully lined shower compartment, which is accessed via a bi-fold door. A water-efficient Ecocamel showerhead is on standby for spray duty.

Across the gangway is the toilet and vanity unit area. The loo is an electric-flush Thetford swivelling cassette unit. The oval sink stands to its left, with a half-length mirror above it.

Beds

Island beds are all the rage these days, and the in-line example of the genre has to be the most practical execution – there's no need to retract and extend the bed frame, as one has to do with transverse island beds, to pass around it.

The 640's island bed is 6ft 2in by 4ft 6in (1.88 x 1.4m), so should suit the needs of most touring couples. The foam mattress uses high-density Ozio filling, designed to offer comfort at low weights.

Up front, the lounge offers a choice of 5ft 11in by 2ft 1in singles, or a make-up double measuring 6ft 2in by 4ft 7in.

Storage

Customers who choose the Phoenix 640 will have a wide choice of spaces to stow their 155kg user payload.

A major location for all of these touring essentials will be under the rear island bed, although there's no external access, so items will have to be loaded and unloaded through the caravan door.

Six overhead lockers are spread around the van (two in the front lounge, kitchen and bedroom respectively), plus a kitchen cupboard and a pair of wardrobes flanking the rear island bed. External access is available to the nearside seat box in the front lounge.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1227kg
Payload155kg
MTPLM1382kg
Interior length5.84m
Shipping length7.37m
Width2.21m
Height2.62m
Awning size1035cm

Verdict

Bailey's fourth attempt at cracking the entry-level caravan formula since introducing Alu-Tech construction is its best yet. Borrowing from higher – and more expensive – ranges, Phoenix has tons of showroom appeal, and the 640 will make an ideal starter van for comfort-seeking couples. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • Good execution of an on-trend layout
  • Great spec for the money

Cons

  • Al-Ko ATC is a cost option

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