Take a best-selling and very en vogue layout and give it a generous specification (with no options packs to push up the price), build it on a well-equipped Ford Transit chassis with the automatic gearbox and you’re well on the way to a winning formula. If Bailey can address the minor issues of the prototype, this compact Adamo is sure to be a very strong seller.
Base vehicle: Ford Transit Price from: £57,999 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.99m Width: 2.32m Height: 2.85m Gross weight: 3,500kg
When Bailey of Bristol applied its then six decades of caravan knowhow to motorhomes in 2011 it was obvious that the designs were heavily influenced by the company’s well-established tourers.
Marketing Director, Simon Howard, has never let me forget that I told him that the first Autograph coachbuilts were a bit too ‘caravany’.
Well, things have moved on rather a lot since my first visit to the South Liberty Lane factory and this new Adamo is definitely the most ‘motorhomey’ product yet from Bailey.
It is a range of three (with two more layouts to follow soon) Ford-based low-profiles, of which we’ve already examined one – the Bailey Adamo 75-4DL, reviewed here.
We called that model Bailey’s “best motorhome yet” but it may be a tad too big (at 7.49m long) or a touch too family-orientated (with two lounges and two drop-down double beds) for some MMM readers.
So, here is a shorter layout, aimed more at couples (although it can still occasionally serve as a four-berth). The question is, will a smaller Adamo live up to its Latin name (meaning ‘fall in love’) in the same way?
Bailey boldly states that its new motorhome range is targeting not the obvious opposition from the likes of Swift and Elddis, but continental imports, chiefly from the Trigano Group brands (including Chausson and Benimar, which have been so successful here).
With this 69-4 model, that assertion is easy to understand, for here is a layout that has taken Europe by storm (and not just with UK buyers of European motorhomes).
Chausson was the company that first cooked up this recipe of a seven-metre low-profile with a big front lounge and a spacious rear washroom that almost vies for equal billing.
However, the clever bit is not the unarguable feeling of space inside but the fact that you can load so much gear from outside.
Incorporating a garage into a layout without any fixed bed or beds was a novelty when the French firm’s 640 debuted. Now there are similar layouts from Adria, Benimar, Bürstner, Itineo, Pilote and Rimor – plus, since the arrival of the Adamo 69-4, Bailey.
As with the Chausson (in some versions) and the Benimar, the British contender is based on a Ford Transit, rather than the ubiquitous Fiat Ducato – and that’s a good thing in our book.
Inside the cab, the blue oval easily wins with a more modern fascia design, as well as better adjustment to the driving position, thanks to a seat that goes down nice ‘n’ low and a steering wheel that adjusts for both reach and rake.
It’s just a pity, perhaps, that the Bailey misses out on the iPad-style touchscreen display with multimedia functions that we’ve seen in other Ford-based motorhomes. Here it’s just a simple radio and you’ll need to supply your own sat-nav.
The rest of the base vehicle spec is hard to fault, though, and a reversing camera does come in the standard spec, along with air-conditioning, cruise control, twin airbags, remote central locking (including the habitation door), ESP, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
On the outside, a silver cab, painted bumper and alloy wheels create a premium impression, while a commendably short rear overhang on this model (combined with Ford’s wide rear track chassis) should ensure excellent on-road manners.
Sadly, we weren’t able to put that to the test on this prototype, which had yet to be homologated, but the Mendip Hills would surely have been dispensed effortlessly by the 158bhp (160PS) engine that, again, is standard equipment, along with the smooth six-speed automatic gearbox (there is no manual option for the Adamo).
This version of the Transit’s 2-litre diesel motor produces the same 390Nm maximum torque as the 168bhp (170PS) unit used by Trigano brands, but has a slightly different torque curve.
The relatively compact body of the 69-4 also means that loading the garage with your heaviest gear will have a less adverse effect on the handling (or on rear axle limits) as the big locker is not hung out way beyond the rear wheels.
It’s also impressively capacious, with an internal height of 1.28m, rising to 2.27m on the offside (where there’s a full-height door and a hanging rail for wetsuits).
The garage is also up to 0.83m wide and comes with six lashing points, 12V and 230V sockets and internal access (via a sliding door into the washroom).
There’s access, too, to the inboard 100-litre fresh water tank – useful as the external Whale water filler is not always convenient; when it isn’t, a standard hose or watering can be used via the garage.
Bike rack mounting points are fitted in case you have other uses for the internal space, while the door comes with a flyscreen and doesn’t need an external step.
As soon as you venture through that entrance you’ll be impressed by a feeling of space. The lounge, with two long settees, seems even bigger when the fixed table is not only folded in half but lowered (electrically) to coffee table height – and even better when the sun is pouring in through the large overcab sunroof.
The sofas, complete with armrests and scatter cushions, are of unequal length (1.30m nearside and long enough to sprawl, at 1.65m, on the offside), but that’s of no real consequence as you’d easily seat six here.
Of course, that includes the Ford cab seats and, while you’ll notice that the floor is higher in the front, the low seat bases and height adjustment mean that you can comfortably sit here with your feet on the lower lounge carpet.
In fact, these will be the best pews for watching the telly, which is mounted very high adjacent to the entrance and slides out into the centre of the motorhome on its bracket (note that the TV itself is a dealer-fit accessory, although a Status 550 telescopic directional aerial is included).
Under the TV station is a smart recessed area with a small mirror, hooks to hang brollies (they’re too low for coats), the control panel and two USB sockets. This is just one area where Bailey has tried hard to evoke a more contemporary style.
The use of wood is notably restrained, there are various shades of grey (less than 50!) and the fabrics feel classy and modern – there’s no alternative upholstery, so Bailey is trusting its judgement.
It has certainly judged the interior lighting well, with six spots built into the underside of the drop-down bed, two reading lights in the cab and a further pair of lamps on flexible stalks (with integral USBs) on the offside.
During the day, you’ve also got the benefit of two large side windows with padded surrounds (rather than curtains) and pleated blinds.
Then, when it comes to dining, the unfolded table is huge, measuring 0.82m by 1.06m, but beware if you serve soup because it’s rather wobbly.
If you come over all Gordon Ramsay and want to prepare something special for dinner, the Adamo has the equipment to make that possible (without the swearing) – and the headroom (2.13m) to allow you to wear a chef’s hat.
The cooker is Thetford’s K-Series with a separate oven and grill, three gas burners and a mains hotplate.
There’s no microwave but a kit is available to allow a dealer to fit one in the top cupboards. These are rather high, so that might not suit shorter cooks (who may also struggle to reach the salt if it’s at the back of one of the eye-level lockers.
There’s more storage up top than below counter height but an extra-large cutlery/utensils drawer is provided (albeit as the only kitchen drawer).
What you won’t be short of is space for chilled food, with a 142-litre fridge opposite the galley featuring a bottle drawer as well as automatic energy selection. There’s a small cupboard above the fridge but most of us will find that too high to be useful.
Headroom is not quite so lofty in the washroom; you step up 150mm as you go through the giant tambour door. Mini LED lamps highlight the change of floor level and, once in the washroom, you’ll realise that this is a key selling point of the 69-4.
On the nearside is the usual cassette toilet, next to a stylish square basin with a useful amount of worktop. There’s an opening window as well as a mirror-fronted cupboard that contains a toothbrush mug. One towel ring and a toilet roll holder are also fitted.
Opposite, the separate shower is a very generous size and has twin drains. There’s nowhere to place your gels except on the floor (which flexed in this test motorhome, but hopefully that was just a prototype issue).
The washroom also includes a ginormous wardrobe – so you won’t need to decide what clothes to take with you, bring them all! The hanging rail – surrounded by huge U-shaped shelves – is over a metre long and has a drop of 880mm.
This Adamo works best as a two-berth; the main bed simply whirs down from the ceiling when you press the button. The table needs to be lowered first (if it isn’t already in coffee table mode) and the armrests and scatter cushions have to be tossed into the cab, but the settees’ backrests can stay put and the bed then comes right down to seat height – a very convenient 730mm off the floor.
The bed is generously wide (1.52m) and its usable length between the backrest cushions (around 1.95m) is rather greater than the mattress length of 1.83m.
There are well-placed reading lights and little corner shelves for specs or a glass of water.
Better still, your duvet can be left on the bed when you stow it in the morning, although we left the R&D people checking the ‘parked’ position of the bed so that it can accommodate a thick, winter quilt and possibly pillows when raised.
It’s also possible to stop the drop-down bed at a mid-position (accessed via a ladder) and convert the seating into a second double bed below.
We’ve quoted the brochure figures in the Fact File for this bed as we couldn’t arrange the cushions – and neither could the Bailey staff who tried to assist. It’s likely we’d been given the wrong infill cushions although this didn’t appear to be the easiest bedtime conversion, so it’s best considered to be for occasional use only.
Much easier, fortunately, is rearranging the twin settees into a pair of forward-facing travel seats and, here, we were pleased to hear that, once again, Bailey is leading the way with its crash-testing programme.
First instigated with the original Approach Autograph, the company has been back to MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) to prove the safety of its latest models, resulting in a rethink of the way the TV is mounted and some careful design of the sturdy steel seat bases.
It’s great to know that your loved ones can sit safely in the back of this new Bailey.