Andrew McPhee

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Find out about the Laika X700 in the Practical Motorhome review

Overview

There are several Continental models on the market with the X700’s bunk beds/garage layout – with the closest competition from near neighbours Rimor and Miller – but Laika’s range stands out with the characterful and practical design that has become its trademark.

Here, we have quoted specification and prices for a typical UK model which includes an uprated chassis with five belted seats, an oven/grill and a Heki roof light in the lounge.

Design

It’s hard to miss the huge overcab (the Laika offers more headroom than most) but it looks in better proportion than the new Lutons on the sleek Ducato cab.
The overall impression of the simply styled X700 was more bullish than ungainly (as large coachbuilts can tend to appear). The aluminium sidewalls and GRP roof/overcab are backed with Styrofoam insulation (34mm overall thickness), and heated.
There are two waste tanks, for the washroom and kitchen respectively, which adds time to your visits to the service point. Otherwise, the facilities are easy to access, with a waist-height, offside gas locker, a full-door flyscreen and a large entrance-door bin, which can be emptied from the back by unclipping the flyscreen.

On the road

There’s no denying that this seven-berth is a big beast, but with Ford’s twin rear-wheel-drive chassis, it has the power to cope.
Despite the Laika’s rear overhang, overall height and body length, the rear shock absorbers and springs, combined with the torque from the rear wheels, delivered a smooth and effortless ride. There was only a little bit of pitch when taking bends, even over twisty mountainous country roads, and little interior noise.
The driving position was good – surprisingly car-like given the Transit’s image as the most ‘commercial’ of base vehicles. The new, dashboard-mounted gearstick makes a big difference and the steering wheel and controls are similar to those found in Ford cars.
The gears seemed slightly too low in ratio, though. We found ourselves changing up into fourth at only 50km/h (30mph) and cruising at 120km/h (70mph) at around 3000rpm in sixth. However, on a 500-mile motorway stretch (mostly at 70mph) we returned a frugal figure of 27.47mpg, though we were carrying half the weight a family of four would take on a two-week trip.
Our only criticism was the long and heavy clutch pedal as we were still stalling the motorhome occasionally, even after two weeks and nearly 3000 miles. However, although the Transit can’t match the Ducato’s light handling, its rear-wheel drive and powertrain inspire far greater confidence for large garage models such as this. The drive is a vast improvement on the previous generation, and air-conditioning and twin airbags are included as standard.

Lounging & dining

There’s plenty of room for four, or indeed six to dine. There’s a double and a single dinette, which can also be made into a sofa. Though the dinette has fallen out of favour in two-berths it’s the most practical option for families and, in the Laika, it is wide enough to offer some lounge comfort.
The cushions are firm, though the fabric may prove a little too light to withstand abuse from crayons, baby food and the like. However, the colour does strike a warm, relatively neutral balance for the interior, without looking too cold or dull.

Kitchen

Families tend to eat out rarely, for reasons of cost and practicality, so the kitchen is crucial and the X700 delivers the goods, though workspace is at a premium. There is space for a chopping board and a mixing bowl between the gas hob and the sink (which has a solid cover).
The oven fitted to UK models will occupy the space given to a cupboard beneath the hob in our test ‘van, but there’s still a wide cutlery drawer, a slide-out wire can/bottle shelf and four overhead lockers, with a handy shelf above the fridge. The 142-litre fridge/freezer is useful, as families will be able to save time with a single, weekly shop, and keep plenty of cold drinks at the ready for a lunch stop.

Sleeping

The four fixed beds are all very comfortable, and are generously proportioned, with good quality mattresses and blown-air ducting to the overcab – useful for the winter months.
The overcab is the best available in the UK. Thanks to the 80cm of headroom above the mattress, it’s well equipped with reading lights, too.
The dinettes can be made into a large, flat double and a child’s single, providing guest options. Unusually, Laika’s excellent handbook has precise instructions on how the cushions fit together, along with plenty of other useful advice specific to the model, accompanied by illustrative photographs.

Washroom

Though relatively small, the centre washroom has a big enough circular shower for regular use away from campsites, though even with 100 litres of water on board, a family of five would need to be sparing with the tap.
There’s adequate space around the loo and the sink, plus a good amount of storage space in the cupboard above the wide sink. The rail in front of the large mirror can be used to hold a couple of towels, though there’s also a two-towel rail by the sink.

Storage

The garage space is enhanced by folding up the bottom bunk, creating room for a scooter or a few bikes (enough for two adult and two pre-teen cycles) though some families will fit a rear bike rack and use the space for chairs and tables.
The garage is also heated, with a small, nearside door to complement the main, offside, gas-strut door. There’s a large wardrobe in the living area, with a useful wire bin which can be accessed from the washroom.

Technical specs

Sleeps7
Travel seats5
MTPLM3850kg
Payload687kg
Length7.24m23′9″
Width2.3m7′7″
Height3.04m9′12″
Waste water110L
External Options
Awning light
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

It’s not a unique layout, but for families with a bit of cash to spend, the X700 offers such good comfort and specification, you’ll want to use it at every opportunity.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Lounge space; washroom; Transit base vehicle

Cons

  • Untidy wiring; only five belted seats
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