First Look: Bailey Asgard

Latest Oz-built Rangefinder is a solid package for young families

Bailey Australia has come a long way since it set up its local shingle in 2012 as the importer of Bristol (UK)-built lightweight caravans.

The biggest development came in mid-2015 when the company began building its locally designed Rangefinder models in Melbourne’s ‘caravan central’ Campbellfield.

However, despite impressive results on the test track as well as the ‘real world’, the new models initially underwhelmed on their launch in October that year.

While there was no doubting their suitability for Australian conditions, thanks to the tough Bailey body with its patented Alu-Tech interlocking fibreglass sandwich panel construction sitting on a traditional local steel chassis and suspension, dealers and potential buyers were initially disappointed to find that some of the English lounge room ambiance of the British-sourced models was missing from their wider, taller Aussie counterparts.

The company was quick to respond and instated a major re-think of its décor packaging and all we can say to anyone who looked at those early Rangefinders and thought otherwise is ‘look again’.

Light years ahead

The latest Rangefinder on the market, the Asgard family bunk van, is light years away from its predecessors of more than two years ago, to the point where it must be considered as one of the best value caravan packages on the market today.

A big claim? Well consider this. The Asgard is a roomy and light-filled 21ft 7in tandem axle caravan that has a (unladen) tare weight of just 1952kg and a ball load of 163kg, meaning it can legally and easily be towed by most medium-sized 4WD SUVs and many large family cars, yet is packed with features and comforts.

The boxes it ticks include a front-central entry door with an island queen bed under a panoramic window to the left and a large L-shaped lounge, opposite a large, well-equipped galley.

Move further back and a sliding door gives access to the triple bunk rear compartment, with a good-sized separate shower and toilet bathroom opposite, with its own solid sliding privacy door.

There‘s a top-loading 2.5kg wishing machine on the back wall, a standard digital UFO-X 360-degree antenna and TV, a good-sized 185-litre Thetford fridge-freezer, a Dometic roof-top reverse-cycle air conditioner, loads of internal cupboard space in all areas, while outside you get a full tunnel front boot and a standard drop-down picnic table.

Add good ground clearance, 210 litres of fresh water capacity, a payload of 495kg,  a 10-year water ingress factory warranty (three years on everything else) and a drive-away (in Queensland) price tag of $65,500 and it’s hard not to put it on your family van shopping list.

Crowd pleasing interior

However, it’s the Rangefinder’s interior décor, which matches that of caravans costing $10,000 more, that helps it over the line.

After the market voted against the Rangefinder’s more utilitarian launch décor, Bailey Australia has worked overtime clawing back public opinion. The review van’s Silver Metallic Gloss finish on the Asgard’s cabinetry, contrasting Pearl Soapstone benchtop and Vegas Metal leatherette seating is a stylish combination, but it’s the van’s nine large windows, combined with a mirror splashback that gives the Asgard a spacious, welcoming look from your first step through its reassuringly solid, Dometic premium security door.

The layout, with its division into ‘Adult’ and ‘Children’s’ zones, combined with a front door is ideal for a long touring family holiday, while Bailey has catered for all ages with twin USB ports and individual lights for all beds. Buyers get a choice of a two or three-bunk format.

Rangefinder caravans come in three basic configurations: front bedroom, centre slide-out bedroom and rear bedroom, with a highlight common to all being the panoramic front window that soars into the roofline.

Not only does this big front window bathe the interior in light, but when cranked open, it offers excellent ventilation.

Room for improvement

Of course, not everything is perfect. The family dining is reliant on removing a folding table out of the cupboard alongside the washing machine, but Bailey overcomes this with an optional fixed table that with its eccentric pedestal stores over the lounge when travelling. You can then take the other portable table outside under the  large roll-out awning.

I’d also option the electric motor for the bi-fold aluminium step that folds away under the entry door, avoiding the drop-step built into most forward-door caravans that compromises space around the bed.

I might even consider the optional Cruisemaster CRS (Country Road Suspension) trailing arm and coil spring suspension that comes as part of a Discovery Pack and along with a smoother ride on corrugations, adds extra ground clearance, some additional under-body protection and a DO-35 off-road coupling.

This $4200 option pack also comes with a padded front ‘bra’ that zippers onto the front of the caravan, protecting the van’s façade, twin 9kg gas bottles and all those vulnerable front windows from stone and sand etching when travelling.

And if I was planning long-distance family touring, I’d go for an additional 100AH battery and a rooftop solar panel to allow more free-camping.

But I couldn’t do anything about the awning arm that sits across the left hand front bedroom window, stopping it opening until the awning is erected.

And Bailey, while I really like the quality fittings, like the cupboard hardware and those quality Blum hinges, I’d really prefer those recessed kick plates under the kitchen cabinetry that you once had, along with the recessed LED lighting.

But, life isn’t meant to be perfect!

Footnote: What’s an ‘Asgard’? In Norse religion it is home to a tribe of gods. Sound like your family?

Verdict

The Asgard is an ideal family touring caravan: relatively light, easy and economical to tow, with a well-designed interior layout and all the comfort features of a couples’ caravan at a competitive price.

2018 Bailey Rangefinder Asgard

Travel length: 8300mm
External body length: 6600mm
External body width: 2490mm
Interior head room: 1960mm
Travel height: 2880mm
Tare: 1952kg
ATM: 2450kg
Ball weight (tare): 163kg
Body: Fibreglass composite
Chassis: AusTrail galvanised
Suspension: Tandem roller-rocker leaf spring
Brakes: 10-in electric drums
Wheels: 15in alloy with 205/70 tyres
Fresh water: 2 x 105L
Battery: 1 x 100Ah
Solar: Optional, roof-mounted panel(s)
Air conditioner: Dometic Freshjet 20, reverse cycle, roof-mounted
Hot water: 28L Swift electric
Gas: 2 x 9kg
Cooking: Thetford Minigrill MkIII gas/electric
Microwave: Sphere 900W
Fridge: 185L Thetford 3-way gal/electric
Bathroom: Separate shower and toilet
Washing machine: 2.5kg top-loading Sphere
Lighting: LED throughout
Price: $65,500 (drive-away, Qld)