Although Laika occupies the upper end of the coachbuilt market, the ‘X’ range (launched last year) is its entry level product.

Even so, specification is generous, with strikingly styled interiors, superb soft furnishings, Seitz S4 windows and lots of handy pre-wiring for accessories.

The X695R is the first low-profile to feature in the ‘X’ range, which is otherwise known for its huge Lutons, and should soon be available to view in right-hand drive, around June 2006.

While the standard, overcab 695R is a true family-berth, the low-profile X695R still offers four berths and four travel seats but with a more drivable, aerodynamic shape.

The Transit-base provides sturdy support as well as surprisingly good handling. Twin airbags and ABS (anti-lock braking system) are standard, as is an uprated 110A alternator, which, along with the battery and a 20A charger, should enable you to survive for days at a time without hook-up.

We like the optional TDCi engine, which has common-rail injection technology and a six-speed gearbox. Only the standard TDDi engine has the option of Durashift, dash-mounted, automatic gear selection. However, the new Transit – which has just launched and should be converted in time for 2007 – comes with dash-mounted, manual gear selection as standard and features an improved range of powerful TDCi engines.

For winter use, the X695R has insulated and heated fresh and waste water tanks. The garage is heated, too. The internal layout is a classic garage/transverse rear bed floorplan, with an L-shaped kitchen and a half-dinette as well as side sofa. Although the low profile isn’t the sleekest on the market, it does allow room for a flatscreen TV (the ’van is pre-wired for quick and easy fitting). Both cab seats swivel, so with a table extension four can dine in comfort.

The kitchen reinforces Laika’s reputation for high standards of styling and specification. There’s a tall, elegant, mixer tap and curved overhead lockers, as well as an extractor fan, 142-litre automatic energy selection fridge and domestic-bore, rigid, waste piping. An oven with grill is optional.

The centre washroom is relatively spacious inside. Legroom by the Thetford swivel-cassette toilet is limited but there’s a large sink, a circular shower with a seat and a large, torso-height mirror. Come bedtime, the rear bed’s comfortable, latex, mattress will provide a first-class night’s sleep, with (for a garage model) a decent amount of headroom.

The X695R’s layout offers nothing new, but the styling and specification, such as the shower seat, the levels of winterisation and the 12V electric system, are highly competitive for a ’van priced at less than £40,000.