Andrew McPheeSee other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee
Read the Laika Rexosline 680 review for the expert verdict
It is no surprise that this Italian motorhome is graced with beautiful bodywork. Even before you rest your foot on the double step its attractive countenance is clear to see. The 680 has a silver grille, skirts and roof, which marry well with the white sidewalls. However, unlike most A-class ’vans, the Rexosline has a perceptible ‘nose’, which makes it look less boxy than others while also improving its aerodynamics.
The practical aspects of the 680, such as the excellent garage space, begin to justify its price tag; and while Laika has majored on style and luxury, it has also taken care over the basic function and construction of the ’van. The 680 boasts a 55mm-thick floor, with 35mm-thick walls and roof, all of which are insulated with Styrofoam. The waste pipes have a diameter of 40mm which helps them to remain free from clogs. Other pragmatic touches include a hard-wearing checkerplate layer on the entrance steps.
Once you’re inside the ’van, though, technical thoughts melt away in the face of the dazzling interior. With its large skylight and spotlights recessed into hardwood, it has undeniable showroom appeal.
The simple-to-use control panel quickly helps to make you feel at home. It’s easy to get your bearings because you don’t have to flick through thousands of menus to select basic functions.
Our main gripe with the design was the location of the waste water outlet and its emptying mechanism, behind the rear axle on the offside. To empty the waste water you have to pull a lever that sits alongside it – very awkward unless you like spending time on your knees.
On the road
As you would expect of a motorhome costing more than £60,000, the 680 has a few treats in store although, surprisingly, the overall level of specification is not that high. For instance, it has an anti-lock braking system, anti-slip regulator and cab air-conditioning as standard but no reversing camera or sensors (but the wiring is there if you want to pay extra for either). The sense of an ‘unfinished’ job is compounded by the electric step: it’s essential for getting in and out of the ’van, but it does not retract automatically; there’s an alarm in the cab which alerts you to retract it but you have to traipse back to the habitation door to press the button.
Although we enjoyed the ride overall, the only problem was a bit of a blind spot caused by the window pillar on the driver’s side. But our testers liked the fact that the windscreen didn’t feel quite as far away as it can in other A-class ’vans, so it was easier to judge distances.
The cab is a comfortable place in which to travel, with its two fully-adjustable captain’s chairs.
In the lounge there are two forward-facing, three-point seatbelts and the cab has twin doors as standard. There are blinds on the windscreen, and electric windows, and a cab carpet (with no securing press-studs, so it does have a tendency to slip underfoot).
Lounging & dining
The seating consists of a large L-shaped sofa with an offside settee, behind which is a long, panoramic window. The seats have deep, yielding cushions that encourage relaxation (Velcro prevents them from sliding on the wooden seat bases). However, the seats lack wall boards behind them to help air circulation.
Six can dine around the huge table in complete comfort, with plenty of room. At a push you could seat a seventh diner by perching them on the end of the L-shaped sofa, though it might be a bit of a stretch to reach the table top. Manoeuvring the table for diners is easy as it slides longitudinally and laterally on its runners. Also, a section of the table can be dropped quickly and safely, to allow easy access, especially for those with mobility problems. The table feels like a solid, homely, focal point for a meal and it has curved edges for safety. Due to its size, though, it has two supporting legs but does not stow away, so it takes up space unnecessarily when you are not sitting down to eat.
One unusual feature is the way the panoramic window slides open (rather than lifting). This type of window is popular in van conversions and is useful for rear passengers who do not have the luxury of air-conditioning – you can let air into the back of the motorhome without ruining the driver’s hairdo.
There are three such overhead lockers on either side of the lounge, and more gear can be stored beneath the offside seat. Alongside the washroom is the TV cupboard. It comes complete with 12V, 240V and aerial sockets but its design is a bit disappointing as there’s a shelf in the middle of the cupboard which gets in the way, so a TV bracket is needed (dealers will fit one for around £180-£190). You also have to pay more for an aerial, which seems a bit rich considering the base price of this ’van.
And there’s plenty of storage space, too: beside the fridge are two deep drawers, one of which has a wire tray perfect for storing fresh produce while the other has a flush-fitting cutlery tray. There are three shelves with metal lips and two overhead lockers, plus a large cupboard (below the sink), tall enough to store two-litre bottles of drink.
The kitchen is well equipped but not very practical to use. It is only when you fill the cupboards, or attempt to cook or wash up in the ’van, that cracks begin to appear in its attractive façade. The main problem is that the worksurface becomes unusable when you open the worktop-mounted cutlery drawer or the fridge door. As they both open flush to the worktop, you have to move any food that you’re preparing, or appliances that are plugged in.
Another niggle is that there are only two (not very well positioned) three-pin plug sockets. One of them is on the wall beside the washroom so there is no surface on which to place an electrical appliance except in the kitchen: so if you rest an electrical item on the kitchen worktop you then have to stretch the cable across the washroom door.
Users are faced with a similar problem if they plug their kettle into the other 240V socket, below the worksurface: the wire hangs in front of the cupboard door, which could be dangerous.
Other drawbacks include limited head clearance. The overhead lockers are placed a little low and our testers nearly banged their heads a few times when washing up. Also, the kitchen unit by the habitation door has been cut away – which looks nice, and means it doesn’t stick out – but the corner of the extractor fan pokes out past the unit.
Other snags include the lack of wine-storage space and nowhere to store the sink infill when it’s not in use.
The drop-down bed – which lowers easily on supportive gas struts – is spacious (1.9 x 1.4m) and has a comfortable one-piece foam mattress which sits atop wooden slats. Buyers have the option of sleeping lengthways rather than transverse, thanks to the slide-out extension; and with this pulled out, the bed becomes a vast sleeping space. There are adjustable spotlights at the offside end and shelves at the foot and head of the bed.
The assembled double is easy to make up, thanks in part to a good diagram in the user manual. The dining table drops into place easily because of its telescopic legs, and the infill cushions fit snugly. The surface is a bit lumpy but the bed is at least solid once assembled. The Velcro sections beneath the cushions stop them from sliding when you turn over in the night.
The offside sofa converts into a single bed, but is only really suitable for children.
Elsewhere in the washroom there’s plenty of headroom above the sink. Here, the built-in toothbrush holder, soap dispenser and soap dish are useful additions.
However, the shower area lets the washroom down slightly. Its positive points include a towel rail, skylight and powerful shower head. But the two-piece shower door folds can be a battle to get through, and we had trouble maintaining a constant water temperature.
A good feature is the duckboard, which can be stowed in a recessed section of the shower wall. However, there is no lip on the floor so, if you step out of the shower to dry yourself, water can run under the door and into the kitchen.
Another design oversight is the lack of frosting on the window, which means you have to draw the blind whenever you wash, depriving the area of natural light. Overall, though, this is a fantastic washroom that was a big hit with our testers.
This latter is one of the Laika’s main selling points for touring couples who need to store kit and bikes, long term. The space will easily take a motor scooter, which can be loaded using the lightweight ramp. The garage has a payload of 130kg and its lower edge is only 50cm above the ground so it’s relatively easy to load heavy kit in and out. It also benefits from an adjustable spotlight, a heating vent, two iron securing eyelets and even a barbecue point. It’s a shame that the washroom’s sink impinges on the space – its fragile plastic underside is exposed and well placed for an accidental knock – and that the floor lacks checkerplating.
Dometic Fridge, 4-burner gas hob, Oven, Separate grill, Extractor fan
Thetford C-250 toilet, Bi-fold shower door
A grand long-term tourer, perfect for couples looking to holiday in sumptuous surroundings.
- Drop-down bed is cosy and comfortable; functional end-kitchen, end-washroom layout; vast garage space.
- Compromised worksurfaces and odd plug-socket placement in kitchen; low level of specification for £60,000+ motorhome.