If you’re looking for an RV with a large dose of la dolce vita, look no further than this genuine Italian movie star, writes Peta Stavelli.
The love of all things Italian saw me crossing town on a stormy Easter Sunday to view a little bit of Italy, which had just landed at RV Super Centre. General manager Kate Lilly was going to take me through the finer points of the new Italian motorhome on the lot, a four-berth Laika Ecovip L3412DS, with a surprising role in a new Italian movie.
The Laika brand hails from the romantic hills of Tuscany; and for anyone who has a lifelong love of all things Italian, this locale will especially resonate as the home of many of life’s finer things. Italian style can be described as refined, traditional and craftsman-like, but also edgy and forward-looking. In the Laika Ecovip this combination of traditional with an edge presents as dark walnut-look wood paired with creamy leather, chrome, rounded corners and state-of-the-art technology. My first impression of this new-to-me brand was that it is decidedly different to the many others I have seen, and I couldn’t wait to take a very good look inside.
It is ironic that when you first enter a new vehicle the entryway is not the first thing you see. As I sat in the cosy vehicle, the first thing that came into sharp focus was the walnut-look wood finish. I settled in at the table – itself a clever folding design to facilitate ease of movement – to look back at the clever doorway. Up two steps instead of the usual one, the entry is bound on one side by a creamy leather wall panel with a chrome handle and mirror. The dual steps are a clue that the floor itself, double of course, is designed to enhance insulation. On the right hand side of the step is a shoe locker. I love these small details that translate to great enhancements, like the two hooks at the entrance for outdoor coats. There’s a waste basket on the door and the extra-wide habitation door is itself a welcome design with a central glass panel, which is really smart thinking.
Take a seat
The design of the seating is clever. The two small dining benches are actually belted seats for two extra passengers. These come with removable ergonomic backrests to stow away when you are at your destination. This way you can travel with extra comfort and rest, or dine with a difference when you arrive. Scatter cushions – gloriously toned, of course – are provided. The cab chairs swivel, and with the table folded out to comfortably seat four or more, this looks to be a nice set up for dining. For those who revel in the detail, the material combinations in this particular vehicle are Toscano and Arno, paired with Rovere Moka (the walnut grain) on the walls.
If you want to eat, first you must cook, and the Italians take this part of their lives seriously. The design of the kitchen, therefore, will be foremost in the mind of any Italian designer worth his sale (salt). In this instance, the kitchen is compact. Like many European motorhomes, this is smaller than most Down Under designs in terms of bench space, but big where it counts – the appliances. The fridge-freezer is tall and narrow, perfect for the space, with a deep cupboard above. It’s a smart setup; the very generous 140L fridge in this compact area is within arm’s reach of the sink and preparation bench. I really like the oven/grill and three hob stove top too. A sparkling design. Of course this well-designed space has loads of storage, as you would expect.
Plenty of bagno for your buck
When it comes to ablutions, the Italians have it covered. They’ve been designing bathrooms – bagno – since the ancient Romans created the marvels of a public water supply via aqueducts and lead piping. In the Laika’s state-of-the-art marvel of modernity, the bathroom is split, with a shower to the left and toilet cubicle to the right. But it gets even better. If you have guests, the bathroom can convert from an ensuite with sliding doors, to a private space for your family and friends to use by closing off the curved toilet door to create the enclosure. Bellissimo! The shower has a folding screen and is set apart by its additional components, which include a towel rack and inbuilt shelves to make the space truly functional.
The bedroom suite
For those who think la dolce vita can only begin after a good night’s sleep, you’ll love the rear bedroom with its island bed. A central bed is fundamental to Italian bedroom design. That’s just the way they have always done it. And it makes so much sense when it comes to making a bed; the ease of moving around it, and, well, all of those things in addition to sleep that a bed is used for.
I mentioned earlier that the Laika Ecovip was a bit of a star on the big screen; and it’s true. The vehicle features in a new Italian movie: Una Gran Voglia di Vivere (A Great Will to Live), about a couple about to break up who, together with their small son, embark on a motorhome journey through Italy and Denmark, in an effort to restore their marriage. I can honestly say that this bedroom is likely to have played a generous cameo part in what I assume was a very happy outcome for them all. Of course, I am yet to see the film, so they may have chosen to sleep apart, and if they did, they could have easily done so with the electric drop down bed just a fraction smaller than the main bed. A twin bed option – the L3019 – is arriving at RV Supercentre later this month.
Function and form
No guesses are needed here; the base vehicle of this Italian made vehicle is the ubiquitous Fiat Ducato. In this instance a 2.3 litre, sino-six diesel, with nine-speed auto transmission. I was surprised by the nine-speed option. Kate explained that the difference between a 5/7-speed and a 9-speed is the latter affords a lower rate of RPM at cruising speeds, resulting in a more economical drive and also allowing for a greater range when towing. This of course leads to improved fuel economy.
The Laika offers excellent head room inside, but a sleek low profile outside. And it comes with massive double access storage in the rear locker which has track ties for safe storage and is weighted for 250kgs. I mentioned the double floor, for extra insulation, but I was surprised to also learn that the locker is heated, so your gear remains dry. Another nice touch is the LED lighting inside the wardrobes.
Oh, and did I mention that there are three opening skylights in the vehicle? And all windows come with blinds and screens. I particularly liked the white, opaque privacy blinds in the bedroom, and there are blinds across the cab window also.
Well, Viva Italia! The Laika is a nice addition to the RV market generally, and for RV Super Centre specifically, as it provides a worthy counterpoint to their own brand, Kea. As Kate says, “It feels like an apartment, with its beautiful details and mood lighting.” The Laika L3412 DS combines Italian style with a functional, superb interior design and engineering excellence. As the Italians themselves say: ‘La vita è un viaggio’ – life is a voyage. Make it your own.
For more information, visit RV Super Centre
|MAKE & MODEL:
|Laika Ecovip L3412 DS
|2.3L Sino 6 Diesel with
nine-speed auto transmission
|3,650kg (Heavy chassis)