I was smitten from the off with the style of this new Ecovip, which is a luxury, all-season motorhome packed with Italian design flair. Its quality stands comparison with the best, too (only the fit of the cab seat trim letting the side down). A sliding door to close off the bedroom would be a welcome addition but, with Da Vinci spec, the new Ecovip wants for little else.
Price from: £64,705 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Berths: 2/4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.99m Width: 2.25m Height: 2.96m Gross weight: 4,250kg
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Words by Peter Vaughan
If you think that Italy only produces motorhomes at the cheaper end of the market, then think again. Laika is more the Maserati of motorhomes than a Ford or Kia, not just offering a premium product, but one that focuses on its country’s passion for style and design.
Within the hierarchy of the Erwin Hymer Group it is up there with the Hymer brand itself and, while it has been a niche player in the UK in recent years, that could be about to change. The dealer network has just doubled (to four outlets) and there’s an exciting all-new Ecovip range.
Sitting between the Kosmo and the Kreos, the latest Ecovip comes in low-profile and A-class versions, while nine layouts in each vary from 6.59m to 7.40m long.
Even the largest models are available on a 3,500kg chassis, but only if you forgo the Da Vinci Edition Pack, which is expected to feature on almost all UK-bound vehicles.
This adds the 4,250kg chassis as well as the Chassis, Chassis Design, Comfort and Multimedia packs, plus electric heating, a TV bracket, an oven, awning, solar panel, external shower and barbecue points and carpets.
Sadly, our test vehicle – supplied by Camper UK and the very first 2021 Ecovip to arrive in Britain – didn’t have the Da Vinci spec, but it did have a host of options, taking its price beyond £78k.
The same L 3019 model is priced from £74,222 on a 120bhp Fiat with the pack, but that doesn’t include all of the features fitted here.
The 3019 measures just a tad less than seven metres and, although it’s reasonably compact, it’s certainly not short on style. Unusually, there seems to have been particular attention paid to the design of the rear, which features dynamic indicators.
It’s not just about looking good, though, as the Ecovip definitely has ‘premium’ nailed appearance-wise with its overcab sunroof, 16in alloy wheels, flush habitation windows, side walls that neatly curve into the roof and an awning that sits on top rather than like a carbuncle on the side.
Turning from looks to practicality, there are new handles for the external hatches that sit flush with the bodywork when locked.
Then, the garage can carry up to 250kg, with 1.24m headroom, and the space is well-lit with a full-width LED strip, while a 230V socket, tie-downs on rails and the switch for the electric waste water valve are all here. A central chequer plate panel is fitted for a motorbike’s stand.
The garage isn’t the only external storage. The new Ecovip comes with a double floor, too.
While the garage has the larger of two doors on the offside, the basement storage has its bigger hatch on the nearside. You can also access the (minimum) 160mm-deep space via a trapdoor in the lounge floor.
It’s the illumination of the double floor, however, that shows how much Laika has thought about the details.
You enter the motorhome via an electric step and a door with central locking, flyscreen and a bin. However, you’ll also discover two more hatches in the floor. One is for the leisure battery and another (which is 380mm deep) for a second battery or, perhaps, a stash of wine.
There’s also a door to your right for easy access into the seat base next to the entrance – the perfect place for all your footwear.
Five of the nine layouts offered in the new Ecovip range feature single beds and this is one of the more compact (but not the shortest) at 6.99m. In some of the longer models there are also fashionable side sofa lounges, but the 3019 sticks with the classic European L-shaped settee and a single inward-facing seat adjacent to the offside habitation door.
The fixed table is quite large (0.67m by 1m) and, as well as rotating, it can slide right up to the nearside wall or far enough out to be reached from the single seat.
The lounge is a generous space for four people and the mix of artificial lighting enhances the luxury feel when the sun stops shining through the overcab sunroof. There are spots and strips and all sorts of concealed ambient illumination (even at floor level and around the overcab), as well as spotlights over the cab seats.
This is also an area that can be tailored to your own preference in terms of décor. The furniture here is dark Rovere Moka, which I loved, but you might prefer the optional, much lighter, Pero Toscano.
Then there’s the standard grey Bari upholstery (with stain protection), which can be swapped for beige leatherette or cream leather, while supplementary backrest cushions add comfort and colour, too (these are Toscana – a mid green – but there are seven alternatives).
Finally, scatter cushions are coordinated to contrast with the backrests – here they are Arno (light grey on one side and a darker grey on the reverse).
However you spec your Ecovip, it should have Italian flair – maybe even a hint of Versace or Armani – about it. The metal strips that act as handles for the top lockers and the patterned finish on the bulkheads may not be the sort of design detail you’d see in a German brand.
As you step from the lounge into the kitchen area, you notice the generous headroom here of up to 2.05m (reduced to 1.85m up front by the optional drop-down bed in the test vehicle). Perhaps, if you’re as much of a motorhome anorak as me, you might reach up and stroke the soft Laika-Iso-Deluxe headlining.
At this point, I hope you haven’t looked at the image of the galley and sighed, before turning to the travel section. Yes, this Ecovip only has a three-burner hob (plus a small oven that had yet to be fitted – rather too high for convenience – in the locker above the fridge).
However, that’s not what you’ll see when the Da Vinci Edition models start arriving. They will have a Grand Chef cooker, which incorporates a combined oven/grill directly below the hob. Of course, you’ll lose some of those lovely soft-close kitchen drawers with their unusual letterbox-style metal handles but I’m sure most buyers will be happy with that compromise.
What you won’t have to sacrifice is the unusual twin sink arrangement – each especially deep and provided with a loose cover to give you more worktop. Nor will you forgo the extractor hood, nor the tall ‘n’ slim 142-litre fridge with automatic energy selection, nor even the scratch/fingerprint-resistant worktops.
If you must moan about something, how about the fact that there’s just one three-pin mains socket here, mounted in the base of the top locker, which will require your kettle to have a fairly long lead?
The end bedroom is typical of its type, with single beds mounted high over the garage. Access is quite easy via twin steps and the Roman blinds and padded headboard add a touch of style, while the natural latex mattresses are comfortable and measure an identical 1.92m in length, although the nearside bed has a slight cut-off at the foot.
Bedroom comfort is only marred by the oft-noted criticism of cupboards over the head of the beds that prevent you from comfortably sitting up. Why do so many single bed layouts do this?
Under the end of the two mattresses is some generous storage. On the offside it’s in the form of a wardrobe with pull-out hanging rail and automatic illumination. No surprises there, but it’s worth noting that hanging height is only 80cm from the rail (fine for shirts, but not longer garments like dresses).
Opposite, rather than a second wardrobe (as you’ll often see), Laika has fitted a very useful pull-out shelved unit for folded clothes. And, of course, there are those top lockers around the bedroom for underwear, etc, plus a recess on each side with twin USBs for all your electrical devices.
As standard, the 3019 is a two-berth (albeit with four travel seats), but there is an option to create a single bed from the lounge seats (not fitted here), as well as an extra-cost drop-down bed, which was specified on this test vehicle.
This is an electrically operated bed that just glides down over the lounge and doesn’t require you to move any cushions or furniture before lowering it.
You’ll need to use the ladder provided to get into this bed, but it’s a decent-sized double, even if it does taper at the foot to fit around the washroom wall. Headroom is an adequate 580mm and there are his and hers reading lights with built-in USBs, as well as a recess for your phones, etc.
Unlike many of its ilk, this bed gets its own roof vent, which will be very welcome on Mediterranean summer nights.
With the bed down, it’s just about possible (although a little bit claustrophobic) for one person to still sit in the lounge and the cab seats, of course, retain full headroom for two more folk. The kitchen isn’t really compromised, but exiting via the habitation door will be limbo-style.
The rear bedroom can be made private by opening the washroom door fully. Because of its location and the door being hinged from the rear, this is only partly successful. Yes, you now have a private bedroom or changing room but the washroom is now fully on show. Hmmm.
Unlike larger models in the Ecovip range, there’s no room here (in under 7m overall) for a completely separate shower and toilet, but the solution employed works well.
The wall behind the basin, complete with mirror and cupboard, simply swings around over the toilet to create a generous showering area.
This has a wooden duckboard, little corner recesses for shampoo, conditioner, etc, and two large, diagonally opposing drains so that all the soap suds should flow away easily.
Not only is this a good shower, it is a practical toilet room, too, with a roof vent and opening window, good lighting (a theme throughout this motorhome), the usual swivel cassette toilet, a soap dispenser and a rail for drying wet gear. My favourite feature in this little room, though, is neat towel rails on the inside of the door.
Finally, it’ll be a shock to no one that Laika has stayed loyal to the home team and backed Fiat as its chassis supplier. This example had the 140bhp engine and six-speed manual gearbox but, like many other imports, just a lowly 120bhp unit is standard.
With a 4,250kg gross weight (giving a payload over well over a tonne, even with a full gamut of options), that’s inadequate in anyone’s book – my bet would be on a 160bhp motor and the nine-speed automatic being the popular choice.
You won’t have to worry about adding too much else, though. The Da Vinci spec will give you all the Chassis Pack toys (cab air-conditioning, cruise control, Traction+, cruise control, alloy wheels, radio controls on the steering wheel, etc).
The Design Pack goes further, with a leather helm, chrome-ringed dials and aluminium fascia highlights. The Multimedia Pack then completes the base vehicle kit list with a DAB radio, 9in display, sat-nav and a reversing camera.