Andrew McPhee

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Practical Motorhome reviews the Laika Kreos 3002, a brand owned by the well respected German manufacturer Hymer

Overview

Laika, named after the first dog in space, is owned by Hymer. Apart from German managing director Hermann Pfaff, however, it remains an Italian operation, which shows through in the design details.

Laika’s approach to design has always impressed us. Spend time in any of its ‘vans and you’ll find touches that make life easier. This high-end class of coachbuilt is not strongly contested, especially among UK manufacturers who rarely offer fixed bunk floor plans. However, there are family buyers with £40-50,000 to spend, and their standards are high. They want a year-round touring vehicle that drives well and looks good, with a huge amount of storage space.

Design

The bull-nosed Iveco cab and the twin-wheel chassis’ high ground clearance lend this vehicle a uniquely beefy on-road presence. A silver bumper and skirts and a sculpted GRP Luton pod and rear panel add a stylish edge, but there’s no doubt that this is a serious, not over-dressed, piece of kit.
This impression is confirmed by the arrangement of all the exterior services. There’s a wide-bore waste drop behind the rear offside axle, a gas locker behind the nearside cab door and a heated, insulated, rear waste tank. Unseen – in the double floor section – the fresh tank is also heated, and is accessed via a service hatch in the living-area floor. Not only that, but service engineers can reach the water pump by lifting the wardrobe floor. Unusually, its combi-boiler (the top specification, 6kW C6002) can be reached via an insulated, exterior locker which makes servicing easy. The full-width double-floor locker behind the cab hints at the Kreos’ potential as a ski camper but would also provide secure, basement storage for chairs or a gazebo.
You expect extras at this price and you get them: exterior 230/12V sockets on the offside and a shower head on the nearside, and a pitching kit locker with a spare Thetford cassette behind the axle. All very useful, though a TV aerial socket would have been a welcome addition.
Laika’s confidence in its bodywork construction extends to a six-year ‘water-proofness’ warranty.
Key-fob central locking that also locks the caravan door is extremely convenient, especially for short rest stops on the motorway. Another nice touch is that the wide exterior door has a double electric step which folds down low to the ground, with a full-door flyscreen.

On the road

We piloted a left-hand-drive Kreos through Tuscany, on hilly rural roads and the winding Siena-Firenze dual carriageway, and took the autostrada up to Milan and back.
Given the height of the vehicle we were surprised by how well it coped with the bends, but it still drove like a coachbuilt, with some body roll. However, the excellent performance of the four-cylinder turbo-diesel and the twin rear-drive wheels elevated the driving experience above that usually found in big Luton ’vans. They ensured a comfortable drive and were particularly useful when overtaking lorries on hills or judging the right gear for a hillside hairpin bend.
We discovered that we were able to cruise on flat motorway sections at 74 mph – though the revs were high at 3250rpm – and when it came to hills, those rear-drive wheels really pushed the Kreos up the incline. Also, the six-speed gearbox provides much versatility in hilly and urban environments.
Isringhausen cab seats provide a comfortable driving position, with adjustable base cushions for both driver and passenger. There’s less cab noise on the motorway than in a similar Ducato coachbuilt, though the Iveco cab is not as quiet as a Renault Master’s.
There are three designated rear passenger seats, in accordance with EU whole vehicle type approval regulations, which become UK law in 2007. Though too far from the cab for any attempt at conversation bar a shouting match, these seats have their own heating and loudspeakers with headphone sockets.

Lounging & dining

When lounging and dining in the Kreos, the practicality of its dinette layout is tempered by a lack of lounge-ability. Sure, you can read a book or watch TV at the dinette, but the ’van suffers through the omission of a good old-fashioned sofa. But the Kreos’ designers have dealt with this problem in three ways.
First, there’s a fair amount of space in the lounge area, so four occupants could spread out a bit more. Second, though there are twin dinettes (a double and a single), the single can be converted into a sofa with minimal effort. Third, for the most room to chill out, a no-cost L-shaped lounge option brings swivelling cab seats into play, with two sofas facing each other. So, four can recline and watch the TV, which sits above the rear end of the nearside dinette/sofa. Though the fifth travel seat is lost, six can still dine in comfort.
The Kreos benefits from the firmness of the buttoned upholstery, the muted lighting and the light woods with silver trim; it’s progressive design, without trying too hard to be clever. The tables are particularly sturdy, with hard wearing, anthracite-effect worktops. Daytime illumination is excellent, and flows in through the large Seitz S5 windows and the Heki 3 roof light. The Heki’s surrounds provide fluorescent lighting in the evening, which works well in combination with the four downlighters.

Kitchen

All the Kreos’ kitchen facilities are serviceable and there’s enough worktop space for a chopping board and a few pans. Still more is provided by a solid sink cover, which hangs up and out of the way on the seat back/splashguard behind the tap. Though the worktop is wedged in the corner, the angle at which the cupboard doors and cutlery drawer open helps cooks to quickly access the contents. That said, with the huge fridge/freezer just behind the worktop, any door that’s opened needs to be closed straight away.
Laika’s attention to detail in providing wide bore, rigid plumbing shows via the sink’s easy drainage. The tall, swan-neck tap provides a powerful flow of water, though the pump is still louder than, say, that in a Hymer B Classic.

Sleeping

Though on paper this vehicle is a seven-berth, it’s ideal as a four- or five-berth with a guest option because of the number of travel seats. The combination of rear bunks and a large overcab is ideal for active families, who may want to take long summer trips, and spur-of-the-moment winter weekend breaks.
The rear bunks can easily accommodate teenagers or adults up to six feet tall, and have comfortable mattresses and slatted bases. Each bunk also has its own window, curtain and spotlight. The folding wooden ladder is fixed permanently to the wall, which is a space-saving touch.
Notably, of all the Lutons on the market, The Laika is one of the best geared towards a relaxed start or finish to the day. Twin downlighters at either end of the overcab are handy for when you pitch camp quickly late at night and find yourself on a slight slope. A quilted surround acts as a headboard, which means you can sit up in bed to read – a rare luxury in an overcab. There’s both a window and an opaque electric roof light, so you can let air in at night at the touch of a button.
Unfortunately, the dinette beds are something of an ordeal to make but as guest beds, they’re perfectly comfortable for a few nights’ sleep.

Washroom

The washroom is a tight squeeze, especially with the separate shower, but it’s fully functional in all departments and, of course, stylish. The shower has a circular, sliding door and over six foot of headroom, with a small seat that’s ideal for a quick foot wash after returning from the beach barefoot. It would also be perfect for standing a toddler on, rather than having to crouch down to wash them. With the height of the showerhead fully adjustable and a deep sill that removes the need to immediately clean and drain the shower after a scrub, it’s suitable for daily use.
The toilet looks more cramped than it is and we had no problems with it whatsoever. The only part of the bathroom that feels constricted is the sink. The bottle shelf above the large sink gets in the way if you want to wash your face.

Storage

Twin wardrobes are a very convenient feature too. There’s a shoe locker beneath and a hat shelf above the larger wardrobe by the entrance door, though the bin restricts access to this wardrobe when the door is closed. The smaller wardrobe, by the fridge, has a deep, slide-out bottle drawer beneath it, with room for a dozen bottles of wine, if closely packed. Both wardrobes have internal lights which illuminate when you open the doors.
Storage for cooks is ample. There’s a large cupboard above the fridge/freezer and two lockers above the kitchen area, one with a wire tray suitable for keeping cans or mugs in place. A deep drawer provides space under the oven and there’s a double cupboard under the sink, which is ideal for both pans and crockery. The cutlery drawer looks nice, but its compartments are poorly sized. The smallest space is too small for teaspoons and the largest too short to fit a bread knife.
All the lounge seats, bar the forward single dinette seat, have hinged flaps beneath the cushions, providing access to their considerable storage space. Then there are the five lockers over the lounge, all of which have a single shelf.
A door-within-a-door on the nearside garage provides two options: leave the bunk folded down and use the space beneath as a locker, or lift up the slatted base to make a garage for bikes and the like. The garage is just about large enough to accommodate two adults’ and two children’s bikes, though a rear bike rack would be a neater idea.

Technical specs

Sleeps7
Travel seats5
MTPLM4200kg
Payload895kg
Length7.3m23′11″
Width2.3m7′7″
Height3.1m10′2″
Waste water110L
External Options
Awning light, Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 4-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

The Kreos’ greatest strength comes not from its specification levels or attractive finish, but from the attention to practical, ergonomic details. There are no equivalent layouts from UK manufacturers, so the Laika Kreos 3002 is hard to beat for families who want to use their ’van anytime, anywhere.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Massive specification list
  • Unique styling
  • Sleeping arrangements

Cons

  • Washroom feels tight
  • Not enough belted seats for berths
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