Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

By: Lawrence Schäffler


Bailey Unicorn Barcelona Bailey Unicorn Barcelona
Bailey Unicorn Barcelona Bailey Unicorn Barcelona
Bailey Unicorn Barcelona Bailey Unicorn Barcelona
Bailey Unicorn Barcelona Bailey Unicorn Barcelona
Bailey Unicorn Barcelona Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

Positioned at the top of its extensive caravan range, Bailey’s 7.89m Unicorn Barcelona has always been one of the British manufacturer’s most popular sellers. With a host of upgrades, the newly-arrived 2013 model is more appealing than ever.

Bailey Unicorn Barcelona
Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

With a legacy spanning more than 60-years, Bailey is one of Britain's oldest caravan manufacturers and an exploration of its product line-up over the decades reveals a healthy enthusiasm for adopting new technologies, materials and designs to advance its products.

The new Barcelona reinforces this philosophy. Despite its 2011 and 2012 predecessors collecting a variety of UK Caravan of the Year awards, the 2013 model – an attractive, spacious vehicle – bristles with new, comfort-enhancing features. Remarkably, it manages to present all of these in a lighter vehicle.

Earlier Barcelonas tipped the scales at 1756kg – the new model's been trimmed by some 70kgs, thanks to weight-saving features such as the introduction of 14-inch alloy wheels to the twin axles. Good design has also helped create better 'balance'. The gas bottles (two x 9kg), for example, have been moved from the traditional front locker to a compartment over the wheels – a move designed to reduce ball weight.

The former front locker has been replaced by a recessed chest of drawers with a pull-out table – in itself an attractive piece of work. There is also a bigger, free-standing dining table (stored in a nearby locker).

All up, these weight/balance changes contribute to greater stability, better towing and easier manoeuvring. The lighter weight also plays into the hands of the AL-KO ATC Trailer Control System – a standard feature on the Barcelona. This sees the caravan's brakes automatically activated in the event of excessive sway. The overall improved safety and performance should carry immense appeal with newbie caravanners.

The most obvious (and my favourite) upgrade to the new model, though, is the opening, curved skylight at the front. Visually, it transforms the appearance of the caravan and, with its vertical orientation, generates a sense of sleeker, aerodynamic streamlining. But the real transformation is inside.

The Barcelona's lounge is up in the front – and it's dominated by two luxuriously-padded settees. With that large skylight, expansive side and front windows and another roof skylight, the sense of airy spaciousness is wonderful – and the views are forever. There's a real sense of the external world coming into the caravan – of you being part of the landscape.

All windows and skylights are double-glazed, a specification that complements the caravan's high-tech construction and insulation system.

Bailey's promotional material really emphasises its fabled Alu-Tech build system (guaranteed for 10-years), and it's easy to see why. It's a sandwich, five-part body-shell assembly, housed in an interlocking aluminium framework that supports the high-tech thermal insulation.

To optimise that insulation, the Barcelona is fitted (as standard) with a high-end Alde radiator heating system. It's expensive technology but it offers a number of advantages. Cleaner and drier than conventional diesel- or gas-heating systems, it's less prone to promoting condensation and dampness, and thanks to its compact design, it also saves space.

Collectively, these features all add up to a top-of-the-range EN-1645 Grade III thermal insulation/heating classification.

Interior

A four-berth caravan, the Barcelona's sleeping accommodation is split between a fixed double bed (1.94m x 1.38m) at the rear (north-south), and the two settees up front (they also convert into a large double bed). The bathroom is right at the back of the caravan (full-width), and for me it's one of the caravan's most attractive features.

The 2013 model has introduced curved doors to the shower – it not only looks more stylish than its boxy predecessor, but also takes up less room. That contributes to the sense of space, supported by a large window and mirror, swivel toilet and vanity. I like the heated towel rail.

A slight taper to the bottom of the fixed bed facilitates the flow of traffic to the bathroom (lanky sleepers should opt for the far-side of the bed), and with the kitchen positioned comfortably in the middle, the layout works easily. A divider separates the main bedroom from the kitchen.

The caravan excels in its storage space, and this is best illustrated by the cavernous area under the rear bed. The bed hinges up (it's supported by gas struts) and the locker can be also accessed from the outside. A thoughtful addition is the plastic tray on one side of the locker – ideal for storing wet gear until the weather improves.

A free-standing, 18.5-inch flat screen television and DVD player lives on a shelf near the door. It's perfectly positioned for lounge viewers. But a bracket mounted onto the bulkhead at the foot of the main bed enables you to shift the TV to the boudoir. The radio/CD player is equipped with iPod/MP3 connections.

Large windows and skylights – and the 1.96m headroom – enhance the feel of the openness, and the interior's overall colour/tone composition blends well. Walnut-finished cabinetry is offset by cream ceilings and pale carpets, and at night it's all illuminated by strategically-positioned LEDs. The caravan carries a 130-amp/hr deep-cycle battery.

The new Barcelona's kitchen has also benefitted from the upgrades, and most notably it now carries a massive (190-litre) three-way fridge/freezer – plenty of catering room for extended adventures. Hooked up to powered sites, you'll enjoy the 240-volt microwave oven. Similarly, one of the plates on the four-burner hob is electric.

I like the storage lockers – in particular the curved, space-friendly one under the sink – and the curved overhead lockers. The frosted-glass lockers and wine rack above the sink are very distinctive, and complement the Corian work surfaces.

My only concern with the Barcelona is the size of its water tanks – and the standard Barcelona, of course, doesn't have any on-board tanks. Users in the UK carry their water in lift-in containers. It points, I guess, to the different kind of caravanning lifestyle in New Zealand. UK tourers tend to restrict themselves to established parks. For New Zealanders, with our greater emphasis on freedom camping, on-board tanks are vital.

To that end, the New Zealand importer (Timaru's Southern RV) fits two 90-litre water tanks under the Barcelona's chassis (one fresh, one grey). Both are hooked up to monitors, but unless you adapt the Brit approach and carry extra water in a loose container, you may find your touring range a little limited.

At $67,990 (as reviewed), the 2013 Barcelona is a very attractive proposition. It's equipped with quality fittings and presents a sensible, pragmatic layout. Despite it being Bailey's flagship caravan, its light weight and safety features should strike a chord with those venturing into the caravan lifestyle for the first time.

The Verdict

Lightweight means you don't need a V8 powerhouse to tow the Barcelona – you may be able to use your existing vehicle. That means there's a significant fuel-efficiency advantage to consider. Aesthetically, it's difficult to fault the caravan – and its good looks are supported by good equipment. But you might want to explore bigger tanks – though whether these can be fitted without major surgery is unclear.

For more information on the Bailey Unicorn Barcelona contact Blenheim's Deluxe Group Ltd on 03 578 3310 or email gary@deluxegroup.co.nz.

Feel free to make a comment or ask us a question about this story on the MCD Facebook page.

For the latest reviews, subscribe to our Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine here.

Keep up to date with news by signing up to nzmcd.co.nz's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook