They've had a false start here under another importer but now the affordable LDV range of light commercial vans is here under the stewardship of respected importer Ateco.
LDVs (Leyland DAF Van) no longer come out of Europe but are made in China by that country's largest automaker SAIC.
They bought the LDV factory lock, stock and barrel and relocated it to a new place in China where they now crank out hundreds of thousands of the things.
And more importantly, they are just the same in every way as the highly regarded European manufactured version except perhaps for the alloy 16-inch wheels and the badging.
Ateco reckons a small operator can have all the advantages of a quality European type van for half the monthly lease payment with its V80 model. That could mean not paying $1000 a month but instead paying $500. Big difference.
A handsome van by any delivery driver's measure the V80 is available in a number of configurations including low, mid and high roof, and short and long wheelbase. There's even a 14 seat bus available with prices starting at $29,990 for the SWB low roof manual van.
It looks a lot like a Benz Vito in its square lines, and the short wheelbase vehicle we drove was capable of taking two full size pallets in the load area. Payload in the short wheelbase model is 1204kg up to 1419kg in the longer models.
Side sliders both sides and 180 degree barn door at the rear facilitate loading.
A central locking system for security automatically activates as soon as you fire the vehicle up.
The load compartment is lined and has a high-grip cargo mat. A full width/height load barrier is available complete with clear plastic curtain.
The V80 has dual front air bags, rear parking sensors and electronic brake force distribution.
It hasn't been crash rated in Australia yet.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The running costs are low thanks to the LDV using proprietary components from international manufacturers. The transverse mounted engine is a VM Motori 2.5-litre turbodiesel four cylinder design made in China under licence and the same applies to the newly available automated manual six speeder. Other components of the LDV van would share a similar origin.
The standard manual is a five speeder.
Achieved power is 100kW/330Nm with fuel consumption of a combined 8.9L/100km. Tank capacity is 80 litres.
Drive goes to the front wheels, the brakes are discs all round and British automotive engineering outfit MIRA calibrated the V80's suspension and other dynamic components.
It has power assisted rack and pinion steering with a commendably tight turning circle.
We had a short faux delivery run drive in the V80 shorty with the new automated manual box – ostensibly an automatic with somewhat slower changes than a conventional torque converter auto. But anything is better than swapping cogs by hand in thick traffic.
The vehicle has plenty of acceleration and torque to pull heavy loads and behaves like any other delivery van on the road. It has a particularly tight turning circle which is handy and the driving position is fairly standard for a delivery van – upright seat and flat steering wheel. There are plenty of creature comforts in the cabin that is only marred by centrally located instruments which can be difficult to see.
Apart from that, it's all good – low floor height for easy loading, large door apertures, three year/100,000km warranty, roadside assist, a nationwide dealer network.