This is a well-made, well-designed and well-equipped coachbuilt that is well able to compete with rival rear lounge motorhomes.
Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Base vehicle: Peugeot Boxer Al-Ko Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 451kg
The 68-2 (that’s 6.8 metres long and two berths) is reasonably compact in terms of length, but the Autograph is the widest range around. This creates a very spacious interior, but make sure it will fit in your drive at home. Think about where you intend to tour, too, and whether a slightly wider motorhome will suit. Interior design is very ‘current,’ with browns and creamy whites partnered to good effect and, here, the cream leather option adding extra sophistication.
The Peugeot base comes with the range-topping 160bhp engine. The low version of the Al-Ko chassis brings many benefits: there’s no need for an external step to the centrally locked habitation door and the whole vehicle comes in with a low stance (much better for stability on the road). A drawback is that there’s a step down from cab to kitchen and also up into the lounge, where stowage space and the water tank live below. As standard, the cab includes air-conditioning, a passenger airbag, cruise control, seats with twin armrests, traction control and even tyre pressure monitors. The Media Pack adds a reversing camera, although there is a reasonable rear view through the big rear window.
Up to eight people can get comfy in the lounge so it goes without saying that there’s oceans of room for this motorhome’s two residents to sprawl in just about any way they desire. Backrests are tall and nicely curved, increasing comfort and creating a ‘lounge at home’ feel.
Meals are taken at a free-standing table that has a home in the wardrobe. And this one’s big – plenty of space for a quartet to eat in comfort and, for two, its acreage is more than generous. Beneath the lounge there’s an externally accessed, twin-doored locker and, under the floor, there’s more storage (maybe for shoes) as well as access to top of the fresh water tank, which has a big lid to allow internal inspection.
In yet another good example of British motorhome kitchens, this one has just about everything except a barbecue. There’s three gas burners or on the mains hotplate. Below, Thetford’s Duplex stands ready with oven or grill and across the way is a microwave. Below the microwave, the fridge provides a very healthy 155 litres of volume. It’s unusual to a see a basic, push-button-to-ignite-gas, manual energy selection model at this size and in a motorhome of this price but these simpler fridges have proved to be more reliable than their more complex electronically controlled cousins.
The sink is new to Bailey for 2017 and sports a removable chopping board/cover and drainer. Both are furnished with draining spouts and designed to marry perfectly with the sink. The chopping board did the job well, but the position of the tap prevented the drainer from fitting properly.
On stowage, the news is good. Above, a divided locker is very roomy and enclosed by the wide-opening aircraft locker-style doors that are fitted throughout the interior. Below, the 68-2 fares well on one of my pet subjects – drawers. Here, there are some nicely capacious examples. And on another of my obsessions – work surface – the Bailey doesn’t do badly, either. There’s some ’twixt hob and sink, plus a reasonably generous lift-up slab to the right.
The completely new washroom design is far better than its predecessor and it’s now easily up to the standards of the mid-range competition. With a lack of wood finishes, it sets the room apart from the rest of the interior – more ‘bathroom’ in style. Partnered with black countertop, off-white, semi-matt finishes look great. Roomy cupboards up and down, plus a big mirror, leave little to complain about in the toilet/washing area, with only the bowl-type basin placing fashion over function.
The drain is located to one side, under a grating that appears to be practical, while also giving a nod to modern domestic wetroom styling. Instead of the usual square corner enclosing the washroom and abutting the cab, there’s a curved sliding door that makes the both the transition from the driving department and entering/leaving the ablutions easier.
The bed here is simple – the lounge simply converts into a transverse double. There’s some clever thinking here, too, but it does come with a downside. Those young designers have been at it again, creating Bailey’s Dreamsleep system, a bed-making design that uses horizontally split base cushions to avoid the need to use backrests as mattress-creating infills. So, sofa bases pull together and cushions unfold, filling the aisle. The resultant mattress is thin but comfy – but the rub is the fact that you have a set of backrests that have to be found a home.
Standard equipment includes an awning, barbecue point and a 100W solar panel. Last, but not least, is the excellent heating system, which is one usually found only in upmarket motorhomes. This Alde wet radiator system is fully programmable and dual-fuelled. Like a domestic system, it provides near-silent operation and an excellent spread of heat.
If you enjoyed this review, you can read the full version and more in the April 2017 issue of MMM magazine.