We road-tested a brand-new Bailey Alliance 59-2 motorhome for the weekend. Yep, two adults and a dog used to a lot of space found themselves in a small motorhome which is… well, under 6m.
When we said we were thinking about downsizing our 4.2 tonne, 7.9m motorhome, we hadn't really thought how small we wanted to go.
However, Bailey of Bristol got in contact and asked if we wanted to try out their new Alliance 59-2 motorhome for the weekend. Seemed like a good opportunity to try out a small motorhome for ourselves and see if we liked it!
Disclaimer: We were given the motorhome free for the weekend in return for our (brutally honest!) review. Our opinions are entirely my own 😉
Bailey Alliance 59-2 Motorhome Review
The Alliance 59-2 the smallest motorhome in the Alliance range and was brand new at the February 2019 NEC Camping, caravan and motorhome show. We were the first people to use the motorhome for the weekend and review it- no pressure then!
I'll be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about the size. After all, we LOVE our Swift motorhome. We love the space, the storage and the freedom it gives us to be able to head off into the wilds for a few days without worrying about tank space, payload etc. We also love that there are two living areas- meaning we each get our own space and Mr WB can work from the road without me wanting to
divorce throttle him.
How on earth were we going to cope in a small motorhome less than 6m? For four days?
To make things even more exciting (!) we went in convoy with our friends AND took our dog- we wanted to see how the Bailey Alliance 59-2 would stand up in terms of entertaining space and having a pet onboard. Yep- when we test a van we REALLY test a van!!
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Some facts about the Bailey Alliance 59-2 2019 compact motorhome
|Height||2.75m / 9'0"|
|Length||5.99m / 19'8"|
|Width (cab with mirrors folded)||2.49m / 8'2"|
|Gas locker capacity||2 x 6kg bottles|
|Fresh/Waste Water Capacity||95L / 93.5L|
|Engine||Peugeot 6 speed 160bhp / 1997cc|
|Max Braked trailer weight||2000kg|
|Extras as standard||Solar panel, Electric step|
Ok, so those are the facts. Here's what we thought of each part.
Exterior looks and ease of use
You can't deny it, she's a pretty van. I love the graphite detailing and colour scheme. I also love how TINY she looks- we felt like we could park ANYWHERE.
Outside, the gas locker, toilet cassette and water filler are all easy to access. You can also top up the water tank from inside, under the bench seat, which was a useful feature if filling with a jug (when you're in a campsite/ aire and don't want to move to fill the tank.)
There is a separate filler for the toilet water- don't forget to fill this up! Electric hook up is easy to use.
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One thing we liked was the electric retractable step- which made getting in and out of the motorhome easy. We had some trouble getting this out when the van wasn't on electric hook-up, but it DID retract automatically when the engine starts, which is great- such an easy thing to forget otherwise! (NOTE- apparently it should work when not on hook-up. Bailey is checking/ fixing this fault on our motorhome.)
We were also really pleased that the motorhome comes with a solar panel as standard- makes wild camping much easier!
End Kitchen layout- good or bad?
There's a 3-burner hob and combined oven/ grill- all of which are a good size. Sink has a cutting board/ draining board which can be added to increase worktop space. I really liked the surface space on top of the fridge- turned a small kitchen into a very useable space.
The fridge is 3-way, so it works on gas, mains and battery. It's not automatic and we kept forgetting to switch it over- I much prefer the auto-switch over versions. The microwave is a decent size and we did actually use it so Mr WB could enjoy beans on toast- no expense spared on our camping trips! 😉
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There is a HUGE amount of storage in the kitchen. Seriously, it's magical. Pots, plates, mugs, food- all of it disappeared and there was loads of room left. We didn't even organise it very well as we only had basic gear with us.
I've never had an end kitchen before and it was always something I was unsure about. However, with a dog it's BRILLIANT. We were very cautious having a pet in a motorhome which isn't ours, but when trying to dry/ feed them etc, it confines all the mess to one area, instead of it being in the middle of the motorhome. I'm definitely more open to the idea of an end-kitchen now than I was before.
Lounge- is there enough room?
The lounge is amazing! So much more space than I ever would have believed. We had 4 adults and a dog in there without any problems whatsoever. The front seats swivel around and make every seem very open and airy.
There are two skylights and a sunroof, which help let in the light. The sunroof and first skylight are easy to open, but the one at the back near the kitchen can only be opened by someone nearing 6ft- it's very high!
Having said that, the headroom is one of the things we like most about the motorhome- it makes it all feel very airy.
Sleeping on the Bench seats
I was dreading this. Like, seriously, dreading it. I have no idea why, but the idea of making up a bench seat into a bed EVERY NIGHT wasn't something I wanted to do. Just no. That's why I've always been adamant on having a fixed bed.
HOWEVER… it took less than 3 minutes to make it up (except the first night where we got the cushions wrong and had to redo it.) 3 minutes… that's really not that bad. And it was COMFY. Like, seriously comfy. I get a bad back really easily and didn't even have a twinge.
We LOVED having a lower bed- I'm always terrified about the puppy rolling off our raised bed and onto the floor in his sleep. It was easier to get in and out of- no climbing on ladders/ standing on seats. This is probably the biggest eye-opener of the entire trial- we would definitely have a low, make-up bed now as long as it was comfortable.
Is it a small motor home with a toilet? Washrooms matter!
One of the first things Mr WB asked when presented with the idea was “Does it have a toilet?” I'm not even kidding. After 15 years, my husband still surprises me- turns out a bathroom is an ‘essential' on his list of motorhome requirements. Good to know.
I am pleased to report that the Bailey Alliance 59-2 does indeed have a full bathroom with a toilet – and a very spacious one too, with a separate HUGE shower. I could do the funky chicken in there without any problems. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my motorhome reviews on YouTube. All will become clear…!)
I LOVED having a separate shower, so the rest of the bathroom stayed dry. Loved it. It was so nice not to have to come out into the main lounge area to get dressed. Having said that, after some discussion with Mr WB, we agree that the bathroom would still be the one area we'd compromise on to get more living space.
The cab felt identical to our Fiat, which is weird given it's a Peugeot! As usual, we LOVE the sunroof above- the one in the Alliance 59-2 motorhome is actually better than our Swift as it's manual and has more fixing points, which means less rattling while driving. There's also no raised bed to rattle and squeak (one of the things we dislike most on our van.)
Other things to note in the interior
I LOVE the Portland colour scheme, which is the burgundy/ purple in the photo above. It's clean, bright and looks amazing.
The lockers do NOT automatically lock when shut, which caught us out a few times while driving, as our current motorhome click shut without having to press the button. A minor thing, and one I got used to by the end of the weekend.
There's one decent-sized locker, which can be reached from outside. This is the one under the left bench seat as you look at the cab. However, this is the only place to store bedding, so it takes up most of the locker space.
There are two cup holders up front (VERY important) and plenty of space to charge devices.
We also attached an inverter to the battery to charge my laptop whilst driving. This worked great. The motorhome leisure battery is under the middle floor in this van and has a handy compartment above it for extra storage.
Two of the spotlights had USB fittings, which was handy to have in the back. They ran off the battery when the engine was switched off- perfect to charge phones or iPads overnight.
The wardrobe was a decent size and long enough to hang shirts/ coats, but not dresses. It's adequate for two people. There's a locker next to the fridge which is perfect for shoes/ other storage and all the clothes can go into the lockers above the lounge- plenty of room there.
What's it like to drive?
I didn't drive it, but Mr WB did and he was very pleased. Initially, he wasn't sure about the Peugeot gearbox, having never driven a Peugeot before. He said it felt ‘plastic' and like it might break.
HOWEVER- this was a brand new van. It had done 50 miles when we picked it up. Neither of us had ever driven such a new vehicle before and it definitely feels different to one which has ‘bedded in.' By the end of the weekend, the gearbox was absolutely fine and felt the same to drive as our Fiat Ducato.
It's a nippy little van- not that we would EVER go faster than the speed limit. *shocked face* Mr WB loved the smaller size and the ability to park it wherever we wanted. We tried to park it in a normal car park space and were fine with the length, but felt the width was a bit ‘tight', especially in a service station where the bays are small!
Equipment fitted as standard?
Truma Combi heating/ hot water system; Fiamma wind-out awning (which we didn't use) and a Truma 100w solar panel. The solar panel and combi worked great- loved the little panel which told us how our leisure battery (80Ah) was doing and how hard the solar panel was working.
Difference between the Alliance 59-2 and the Advance 59-2 small motorhomes?
The Alliance 59-2 is the more highly-spec'd version of the two, although the layout is identical. The Alliance has a slightly larger engine (160bhp instead of 130) and it comes with the solar panel and awning as standard.
The Advance 59-2 is around £3500 cheaper- so you need to decide which version is right for you. For us, the Alliance is definitely the better option as it's set-up for off-grid camping.
Overall review of the Bailey Alliance 59-2 motorhome
We loved it- which is hilarious as both of us were really apprehensive about it. Like, REALLY loved it. If Mr WB didn't have to work from the road, we'd probably be buying one right now. Here's what we loved most.
- Easy to drive and park
- the space in the lounge
- the bathroom with separate shower
- the end kitchen and storage (surprisingly!)
- Swivel front seats (don't get those with our dinette)
- The light, airy feel (and headroom!)
See Inside the Bailey Alliance 59-2- our review
Watch the video below to see our thoughts on the Bailey after spending three days living in it. See us make up the bed, do the funky chicken in the shower and much more!
Is this the motorhome for us?
Sadly, no. Here's why. (I should point out that none of these things are a fault of Bailey's design- more things that we personally need which is why the Alliance 59-2 isn't the van for us.)
As mentioned above, we need two working areas. Mr WB is on the phone a lot and I now spend a fair part of each day working on this blog (thanks for reading) and making videos etc. We've tried working side-by-side… it didn't end well.
The only other thing which didn't work for us are the seatbelts- we need a minimum of 4 in case Jade wants to come for an adventure.
We also want a little more storage. The bedding takes up most of the locker under the seat to the left (as you look at the cab), the locker under the right seat is water tank and heater, so there's nowhere for our generator or some of our other larger travel or motorbike gear. Having said that, the payload on this motorhome is AMAZING, so you could put a locked box on the back for extra storage space, which we would do if that was the only downside for us.
UPDATE- want to see what we bought??
Yep- very shortly after this trial we sold our 7.9m motorhome and bought something smaller- all inspired by this trip. Here's what we bought!
To conclude, if you are single or a couple, with or without pets, looking for a small motorhome under 6m, the Bailey Alliance 59-2 is definitely one to consider!
(Many thanks to Bailey of Bristol for the loan.)