A unicorn in oz? It ain’t a myth

ByRV DailyMarch 1, 2019
4 MINUTE READ
A unicorn in oz? It ain’t a myth
It may look British, but there’s no denying this van is all-Aussie

Bailey has celebrated 70 years in the business and is reported to be the best-selling brand in the UK. They’ve been around in Australia for ages with local manufacturing beginning in 2014. Big news recently though, is that this new Unicorn Pamplona IV will be locally-built for the first time and Aussie-tuned to have DuraGal steel chassis, longer drawbar options and larger wheels with higher ground clearance.

All these elements mean this van of European origins will be better-suited to our local conditions. The Unicorn Pamplona is designed for the tarmac, but even our bitumen highways are a lot rougher than those autobahns of Europe.

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A big difference between European and Australian-designed caravans is the ball weight, with Euro vans being a lot lower than their Australian counterparts. Bailey has done extensive research on this and designed their vans with the heavy components over the axles. The two 120-litre water tanks can be seen under the van sitting squarely over the dual axles.

When it comes to towability, the Pamplona, hitched up to an Isuzu MU-X, showed some instability at 100km/h down the M1 towards the Gold Coast, so I reduced speed to 80km/h. Once on the country roads, the van seemed to handle better, so I assumed it was strong crosswinds that had effected the towing stability.

OUTSIDE
One of the striking features of the Pamplona is the collection of windows/skylights on the front of the van. These are made from double-glazed Polyplastic and have an optional stone cover. Other notable features include a spare wheel housed under the body to bring that weight closer to the axles, and the standard short drawbar. The gas bottles are housed internally behind a hatch, accessible in front of the dual axles.

On the other side of the axles is the hatch to the cassette toilet. There is only one externally accessible hatch for storage of camping equipment; this has a waterproof tray to allow for wet/dirty items to be stored. This area can also be accessed from under the lounge.

The body of the Unicorn Pamplona is constructed of composite panels, which provide strength while being very light and providing good insulation from the elements. On the roof are four skylights that can be fully opened and screened to provide plenty of insect-free ventilation. The roof also houses the Belaire HB3500 reverse-cycle air conditioner and HDTV antenna. The van has one 150-watt solar panel as standard, but an additional 150-watt
panel can be optioned. 12V DC power is supplied from a 100Ah AGM battery. Lights are LED and there are four USB charging outlets throughout the van.

A 12V radio is housed in one of the front overhead lockers with two speakers inside and two outside. The battery can be optioned to be either 120Ah or include an additional 100Ah AGM battery. The battery is housed in a locker beneath the floor at the foot of the bed to keep the weight centrally located. I was concerned, however, when I looked underneath the van that it could take a hit from rocks or other obstacles.

There is an external 240V input plug, which is connected to up to seven 240V outlets. This is important as you will need to be connected to 240V to run the air conditioner, washing machine or the microwave. There is a Dometic roll-out awning to provide shade and a fold-down table off the side of the van. The door is a Dometic quad-lockable exterior door with security screen, and below this are two fold-down steps.

INSIDE

Those large front windows really come into their own when you are inside the van. They provide expansive views, light and airflow. There are also windows above the spacious lounge. The English certainly know how to make a cosy van – it’s exactly the place you would want to be when the weather outside is less-than-ideal.

The lounge can be used as two single beds or slide-out slat base, becoming a very large sleeping area. There is a slide-out table at the front of the van or, alternatively, you can use the larger table stored under the bed if there are more than two of you; this table rests on brackets under the bed, so is easily accessible even when you are storing other items there.

The kitchen bench is supplemented by a pull-up bench extension next to the lounge. Standard equipment includes a 3&1 stove with griller/oven underneath, a 700W microwave and a Dometic two-door 190-litre three-way fridge/freezer. Above the bench are the main electrical switches and gas hot water controls.

On the ceiling in the kitchen area is the air conditioner, and the four skylights/vents in the ceiling provide excellent ventilation when the weather is warmer. High cupboards above the kitchen and lounge provide good, accessible storage. The two drawers below the kitchen bench are large enough to store food items as well as cooking utensils.

The ensuite is well-equipped for a van of this size. On one side is the separate shower and on the other is the toilet and vanity. There is a hinged door between the main area and ensuite, and a concertina fabric door to close off the bedroom. These provide a good level of privacy and separation from the other areas of the van.

The queen-size bed has tapered corners so you can conveniently squeeze ‘round between the foot of the bed and the wall. There’s a large amount of storage under the bed and on either side of the bedhead there are wardrobes with hanging space. An optional television is on one side above a storage area that houses the Sphere 2.5kg washing machine.

The MU-X and Pamplona make a good couple

VERDICT
Bailey states that it wants its vans to feel like a home-away-from-home. The Unicorn Pamplona does deliver on that with the large lounge creating a space that is both comfortable and lets the outside in. The curtains are a nice feature too. If you haven’t looked at a Euro van before, maybe it’s time to look at this one.

SPECIFICATIONS
Travel length: 7.91m
Internal length: 6.38m
Travel width: 2.28m
Ball weight: 125kg
Tare weight: 1900kg
ATM: 2400kg
Price from: $69,990

PROS
• The lounge area and large windows
• Can be towed by medium- size vehicles
• Composite panel construction qualities

CONS
• Short drawbar but can be optioned to be longer
• Susceptible to crosswinds
• Only one externally accessed storage area

Click here to visit Bailey’s website.