Apart from its association with the famous Soviet space dog, Italian brand Laika is best known for its upmarket low-profiles and A-classes. But the Erwin Hymer Group subsidiary also offers van conversions in its more sporty Ecovip range, including one that is just 5.41m long – the Laika Ecovip 540. We went to see it at Choose Leisure, in Canterbury, Kent.

The Fiat-based ’van comes with an optional pop-up roof, which our test model included, giving it four beds to match the four travel seats, instead of the two berths the basic model comes with.

Our test model also had a number of other extras, including the chassis pack (£740), which gets you a DAB radio system, among other things; the chassis design pack (£680) that offers a black engine grille and leather steering wheel; the digital pack (£2860) that gives you a 10-inch screen on the dash with a rear-view camera; and the comfort pack (£2590), offering a door flyscreen, insulated water tanks and an improved kitchen.

Cabin of Ecovip 540
Fiat-based 540 has a number of options, including an auto gearbox

Other options on our model included an auto gearbox (£3470), 16-inch Fiat alloy wheels (£660) and cab blinds (£610). You get plenty of scope for customisation with Laika.

The lounge in the Laika Ecovip 540

One thing Laika is well known for is attention to detail, and you see that immediately in the front lounge.

Would you prefer not to see or sit on seatbelts when you’re parked up at one of the best campervan sites? Then you don’t have to. Laika has included a fabric cover that goes over the rear bench to hide such things.

Lounge arrangement in Laika Ecovip 540
Table folds halfway or completely for flexible lounge arrangements

It’s a bit fiddly to remove, but it does make the lounge feel more homely, something that can be an important factor when choosing the best campervan. Then there’s the clip-on table. Usually a table like this can only be removed in one go, and you then have to find a place to store it. This table folds either to half-size, where it makes a handy place for snacks, or completely, for better legroom. But it only just has room for four when fully extended.

Surprisingly, there’s no sunroof, but light floods in through a large Heki. There are three LEDs in the ceiling, two swan-neck spotlights and ample ambient lighting.

Two heating vents in the step down from the cab and a third under the table should keep everybody warm.

The kitchen in the Laika Ecovip 540

The comfort pack’s kitchen upgrades include a clip-on extension to the left of the main unit (above the 70-litre fridge), which partially obstructs the doorway. Even without this, you’d have some workspace on a shelf to the right of the unit, which doubles up as a bedside table for the rear transverse bed. With two sockets nearby, this is also a perfect place for a motorhome kettle.

Laika Ecovip 540 kitchen

The gas-only hob has just the two burners, but it is large enough to take conventional pans. The inline sink is big for a van conversion, too.

The washroom in the Laika Ecovip 540

As with much of this interior, the washroom is well lit, with lighting and an opaque window, although there is no roof vent. There are mirrors in front of the shelving above the basin and a huge mirror to the side.

The tap doubles up as a showerhead, however, and there’s one drain hole.

Sleeping in the Laika Ecovip 540

You can fold out steps to help you get into the rear bed. Ambient light and two swan-neck lights (both with USBs) help to keep this area bright.

Bedroom is bright, with good ambient light and two swan-neck lights with USB sockets

Those in the roof bed can make use of one swan-neck light and a USB.

Bed in pop-up roof
If you’re looking for four berths, there’s an optional pop-up roof

Storage in the Laika Ecovip 540

When it comes to storage, the 540 has huge space at the back for larger items once you retract the bed in the middle. There is a false floor you can remove if you need to access holds to keep the larger items anchored.

Locker storage
Plenty of storage in lockers and cupboards

This area under the bed also includes two spaces (one of them cavernous) for clothes storage. They are perhaps not the easiest to access, but the bed slats stay up when you raise them. You also get a slide-out wardrobe in front of the bed, with a hanging rail. There are three medium-sized overhead lockers here, and some small ones up front, and cubbyholes either side of the cab. The kitchen has three drawers just about large enough for average-sized pans, and one locker. The washroom has shelves behind the mirror.

Do you prefer the thought of a Volkswagen ‘van? Then our guide to the best VW campervans is well worth a look, where we share our favourite picks.

Alternatives to consider

The Bailey Endeavour B62 is a well-specified campervan that looks good and offers a clever washroom design. Another option to consider is the Vantage Luna, a comfortable ‘van from the Leeds converter that is well thought out and ideal for day-to-day use.

Technical spec

  • Price: £87,590 (as tested)
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Belts: 4
  • Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato
  • Engine: 2.2-litre, 140bhp turbodiesel
  • Length/width/height: 5.41/2.05/2.70m (17’7”/6’7”/8’9”)
  • MTPLM: 3500kg
  • MiRO: 2722kg
  • Payload: 778kg
  • Water (fresh/waste): 100/90 litres
  • Leisure battery: 95Ah
  • Gas: 2 x 11kg

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