The new two-berth Merida has brilliant storage provision in all areas, especially in the kitchen. It has a spacious washroom, spanning the width of the caravan at the rear, and containing the wardrobe. Kitchen surface is more than ample, especially when you factor in the dresser opposite. The kitchen is nothing short of fantastic for a compact-length caravan. Definitely one for keen cooks.
Bailey’s new two-berth Merida, with an MTPLM of 1330kg, brings the Unicorn models to 11; that’s more models than any other range
Bailey's new two-berth Merida, with an MTPLM of 1330kg, brings the Unicorn models to 11; that's more models than any other range
Bailey unveils its second two-berth Unicorn, the Merida, in response to a rise in demand for two-berth caravans.
The Unicorn range is a dramatic success story. With Alde heating, Unicorns are designed for year-round caravanning and, since the first ones were unveiled in 2011, these models have enjoyed best-seller status.
The Merida, like all the other models in the range, is named after a Spanish town. This new model has a full-width end shower room and an offside kitchen.
Unicorn is the only range among British caravan manufacturers to have more than one two-berth layout. There are two reasons for the arrival of an additional two-berth. One reason, Bailey tells us, is a resurgence in the popularity of two-berth caravans.
Another is some owners of the original two-berth Unicorn Seville, which had a similar layout, have voiced their preference for this layout when they come to update. The current Seville has a different layout, with an end kitchen and a shower room alongside it.
Buyers are sure to compare the new Merida with the Seville. Apart from the layout, there are small differences in size and weight. The internal length of the Merida is 15cm longer than the Seville, at 4.81m, although it's the same length.
The Merida's MTPLM is 4kg more than the Seville. The payload is worth bearing in mind, too – the Merida's payload is 113kg, whereas the Seville's is 123kg.
Equipment in all Unicorns includes Alde heating, ATC stability control, external satellite connections, a power point and gas barbecue point, 100-watt solar panels, USB sockets, Tracker system and alarm.
The Merida, though, has a feature it shares with only one other Unicorn (the Cadiz). The toilet hatch incorporates a large "wet locker", the ideal place to store toilet chemicals and chocks. There's even space for welly boots in there.
The shower is on the nearside, the washbasin is in the centre and the entire offside wall is given over to a generously-sized wardrobe and a shelved cupboard. In the base of this cupboard is a linen bag suspended on four hooks; that's one of Unicorns' defining features.
Floor space in the centre of the shower room is almost a metre square. A panel radiator is on the forward wall but we think Bailey has missed a small trick here; above it would have been a perfect position for a towel hook so that towels placed here would dry rapidly in the warm air that rises from the radiator.
There is, however, a towel hook beside the shower and, inside the shower compartment, a hinge-down towel bar; good towel provision, then.
Forward of the shower is a cabinet in which the table is stowed; there's space alongside it for other stuff, plus a shelf above. The cabinet below the basin has three shelf spaces. The top shelf has a recess for the toothbrush mug that comes with the caravan – out of sight and neat!
Little features like that add up to Unicorn refinement, as does the lighting arrangement – strips of bright LEDs run above and below the mirror that spans the entire wall area between the shower and the wardrobe. This is a superb washroom with plenty of storage.
Single beds 1.93m long or a double bed makes up to 1.95m x 1.49m – the choice is yours.
The slatted centre section of the bed base pulls out from under the two front-central drawers; it's a simple and smooth operation.
Storage in the shower room is first-rate. Under-settee storage is well-planned, with front access to the space on the offside beside the Alde heating unit and, on the nearside, exterior access to the storage area, as well as the ability to raise the top.
Inside this locker is a black plastic tray, so that you can put wet or muddy items like your mains cable or a small water container in here. So, you'd use the offside locker for bedding and the nearside locker for outdoor necessities.
Seven top lockers are above the lounge, including the two, deep triangular corner lockers.
And there's a storage element which we love – a shoe cabinet alongside the door. Most Unicorns have this feature, including our long-term-test Barcelona – and we know how much we, as caravanners, appreciate this practical feature.
Then there's the 'wet locker' in the toilet hatch to factor in, plus a locker under the front drawers… Storage, Merida-style, is nothing short of excellent, hence a rare A-star rating.
Getting the table out from its store alongside the shower is easy because the cabinet is much wider than the table so it's easy to get hold of.
Most meals, though, will be eaten at the pull-out table, amply large enough, at 37cm x 62cm. Even though it's not level with the 52cm x 80cm windowsill, you have all that space on which to put serving dishes, salads, wine, perhaps.
With settees 1.91m long there's plenty of space for when guests arrive. Squashy bolster-style backrests and armrests make for comfortable relaxing.
And after dark, the plentiful lighting that's a feature of current Unicorns will be appreciated by Merida buyers, just as we do in our long-term-test Barcelona. Lights are above all the lockers, two bright lights are set into the frame of the sunroof, plus four spotlights – and all of it white light.
A nice practical touch is the two forward spotlights have LED ports set into the bases; you can place phones in the lockers above while they are charging.
The amount of surface space is amazing – a 1.63m stretch of space interrupted only by the sink, plus two areas opposite, of which more later.
Unicorns' double hob covers enable the hob to be considered part of the surface; the top cover which hinges down over the glass lid is level with the rest of the surface.
Again, referring to our Barcelona, we know just how well this works.
Three drawers, each 73cm wide and 25cm deep, are under the sink area of the kitchen. The cabinet forward of the cooker is 35cm wide and contains three shelves. Two top lockers, with positive catches, are each divided into three shelf sectors.
Opposite, the 103-litre capacity fridge has a 71cm x 66cm surface area above it. The surface forward of this is 43cm x 60cm and sits 10cm lower.
This would be the ideal place for your TV but the connections for it are on the other side of the over-fridge surface, so you'd have to stretch the power and aerial cables over it, which would look a tad untidy.
Two 40cm-wide drawers and a drop-down-door cabinet sit forward of the fridge. Above, there's a 64cm-wide cabinet. On the rear side of the fridge is a little extra storage space – two shelves in a 15cm-wide cabinet. So, kitchen storage is excellent.
Only the position of the microwave could draw some criticism; people of short stature may find it too high.
The Merida – in common with all Unicorns – is equipped with AL-KO's electronic stability control system. At 1330kg it's definitely in the lightweight class.
We haven't yet tow-tested a Merida – we went to the Bailey factory to review it before it was unveiled to the public so, understandably, Bailey didn't want us to take it out in public gaze.
But, with its cooker and fridge in the centre, we can be pretty sure it will be inherently stable and, with ATC present to correct the first sign of a snaking motion, the Merida's tow credentials merit our 'good' rating.
The new two-berth Merida has brilliant storage provision in all areas, especially in the kitchen. It has a spacious washroom, spanning the width of the caravan at the rear, and containing the wardrobe.
Kitchen surface is more than ample, especially when you factor in the dresser opposite. The kitchen is nothing short of fantastic for a compact-length caravan. Definitely one for keen cooks.