Base vehicle: Ford Transit Price from: £58,999 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 7.49m Width: 2.32m Height: 2.85m Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 352kg
It’s not every day – nor, in fact, every year – that a major motorhome manufacturer announces a brand-new range in a new market sector. It’s even rarer for UK marques to desert the comfort of familiar, British-style layouts and dive headlong into competition with imported brands.
But that is exactly what Bailey has done with its new Adamo range and the company’s timing might just be perfect, with Brexit-related uncertainties continuing and the German market so on fire (June 2020 registrations of new motorhomes were up more than 65% on the previous year) that some of its makers may struggle to meet demand outside their home market.
It’s not as if imports are a minor interest here, either, as recent figures suggest that they account for more than half of UK sales.
So Bailey has been working for the past 18 months on a wholly new line-up of low-profile motorhomes, adopting popular and proven European-style layouts. These are 3.5-tonne vehicles, so not restricted to those with a C1 licence and ideal for younger newbies that make up an increasingly important part of the market. Not only that but, uniquely amongst British-built motorhomes, they come with an automatic gearbox as standard.
That, of course, is typically Bailey, keeping things simple with one high level of specification and almost no options. The Adamo doesn’t even offer an alternative upholstery, although you can always personalise it, of course, with your own throws and cushions.
Every Bailey motorhome up until now has been based on a Peugeot Boxer cab with an Al-Ko chassis and, while that continues to be the case for the Alliance and Autograph, the desire to offer an automatic forced the Bristol brand to look elsewhere this time around.
Instead, then, it is building the new Adamo on the Ford Transit, putting it in direct competition with leading imported brands, Benimar and Chausson (and to a lesser extent, Roller Team). Among UK players, only Auto-Trail, with its entry-level F-Line (previously called Tribute), manufactures low-profile models on the Ford cab.
Bailey doesn’t just take a bog-standard Transit, though. Every Adamo gets a metallic silver cab, 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, cab air-conditioning, driver and passenger airbags, heated and electrically adjustable mirrors, remote central locking, ESP, a radio with Bluetooth and steering wheel-mounted switches, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
Not only that, but here it’s the 158bhp (160PS) version of Ford’s 2-litre EcoBlue diesel engine rather than the usual 128bhp (130PS) unit (or the 170PS unit sometimes fitted as an option). That, combined with the six-speed auto’, would add almost £3,000 to the cost of some rivals.
With a torque output of 390Nm (the same as for the 170PS engine but with a slightly different torque curve), we’ve long been impressed by the punchy performance of this unit and with the Ford’s smoother, more cosseting suspension (compared with a Fiat or Peugeot), driver appeal should be a strong suit for the Adamo, although the long rear overhang of this 75-4I model will need to be considered when loading.
Drivers of all sizes will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel of the new Bailey, though, as the cab seats adjust for height/tilt and the steering column has variable reach and rake. There’s plenty of in-cab storage for drinks bottles, etc, lots of daylight from the big sunroof above and production models will have a reversing camera with separate display (not yet fitted on the prototype seen here). You’ll just have to bring your own sat-nav.
The three Adamo layouts seen at launch tackle some of the most popular of all European motorhomes and this 75-4I (‘I’ for island bed) perhaps has the toughest task of all. Think of just about any continental brand and they’ll have a rival in this £60k sector with an island bed floorplan. If not two or three.
Of course, the Ford cab gives the Bailey a USP over many of those, but its side settee lounge is increasingly becoming the norm, where not long ago it was the exception. Like others of this ilk, the Bailey Flexi-lounge converts into a pair of travel seats and, just as in the past, the company has tried to ensure that these are as safe as possible.
Where rivals often have flimsy wooden seat bases, the Adamo has a steel frame under the squab cushions and these, along with the reclining Aguti backrests, have been fully crash tested. Not only that, but Bailey has beefed up its TV mountings as a result of its testing – the initial design became a missile in an accident!
There’s another important difference at the rear of the 75-4I, where Bailey has insisted that all Adamo layouts have a garage capable of accommodating full-sized bikes.
In an island bed design that’s not easy without compromising bedroom comfort, so a number of rivals install (either manual or electric) height-adjustable rear beds, which require you to extract your cycles when you get to your overnight site unless you want to sleep with your nose close to the ceiling. Putting those expensive bikes outside won’t be ideal if you’re wild camping.
The Adamo, however, has a garage that’s 0.87m wide and 1.05m high at all times, as well as featuring six lashing points, lighting, heating, drain holes and both 12V and 230V power. For some, this will be the biggest selling point.
Of course, if you raise the garage height, then the bed has to be higher up, too. So there is a step up from the lounge/kitchen area into the split en suite, then another step up into the bedroom, and you go up another level at each side of the mattress in order to make access to the bed easy, even for those without long legs.
There’s still (pretty reasonable) 1.81m headroom when standing at the foot of the bed and, sensibly, Bailey has not fitted any overhead cupboards above the bed, so there’s plenty of room to sit up with your morning cuppa.
All these steps won’t suit everyone, of course, but the Adamo does copy another best practice feature from certain rivals – the wardrobes which are shaped to make the bed wider. It also has the toilet and shower sited on either side of the vehicle and with dual separation (both from the living area and the bedroom).
The bed itself is a good width – few will beat its 1.60m across – but length is a more modest 1.83m in the centre and less at the sides as the mattress is quite radiused. That at least gives more room for getting disrobed, along with the bed sliding back into a daytime position. At night, space is very limited to move around the foot of the bed.
Just about all the continental competition now adopts this shower on one side, toilet on the other design and Bailey has wisely followed the same philosophy. The cassette toilet has surprisingly good leg and shoulder room with the toilet door closed and, although the lavatory itself is high up on a plinth, the extended floor section in front means you won’t sit there with dangling feet.
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There’s an opening window here, too, but the cupboard needs retaining straps to keep your toiletries in place.
Possibly more of an issue is the substantial wheelarch intrusion into the shower tray opposite, which could be awkward if you have very large feet. There’s a drying rail fitted here for wet clothes but nowhere to put your shampoo while you shower.
Forward of the washroom facilities, the kitchen has the sort of cooker you rarely see in imported motorhomes, featuring a mains hotplate as well as a separate oven and grill. The galley here is a straight run of furniture, rather than the more common L-shape, and low-level storage is quite sparse, although a folding panel creates sufficient worktop (overhanging the offside sofa).
The top lockers above are especially deep (headroom here is a massive 2.12m), so you might need a step to reach the contents if you’re not tall. There are no such access issues, though, with the 142-litre automatic energy selection fridge opposite.
The comfortable front lounge, which has a pleasant contemporary feel with a restful mix of grey tones, as well as armrests and scatter cushions to increase your comfort.
There’s room for five people around the table but couples are more likely to be the 75-4I’s demographic and twosomes will rarely have to unfold the fixed table to its full size. A TV bracket in the entrance area is well placed for viewing from the cab seats but, although a Status 550 directional aerial is fitted, you’ll need to fork out for the television itself.
Other dealer-fit items include an awning and microwave, while a Kitchen Pack of washing-up bowl, drainer and chopping board is also offered. Everything else is standard, including Truma Combi 4kW gas/electric heating, 100-litre fresh and waste water tanks (the former inboard), a 100W solar panel and a 110Ah leisure battery.
However, if you want to use this Adamo as a four-berth, you’ll need to convert the settees into a bed the ‘old-fashioned way’. Surprisingly, this is the only Adamo without a drop-down bed because, Bailey says, fitting one would have compromised the kitchen. The front transverse bed measures 2.22m by 1.20m, according to Bailey.
At under £60k with all the bells and whistles, the Adamo 75-4I looks great value and its big garage gives it an equally big plus over most rivals, especially if you want to carry bikes. You’ll probably soon get used to the different floor levels inside, while the huge headroom up front makes the Bailey feel extra spacious.
Be sure that the island bed is big enough, though, and, if you always tour with your family, you might prefer a rival with a drop-down bed over the lounge.
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