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LDV V80 Van 2013 review

LDV vans have more styling flair than is the norm in this market segment.

If you've ever travelled in the UK anytime in the past 20 years (or just watched police shows from that country) you will have noticed dozens, if not hundreds of vans with LDV badges.

Purpose built by Leyland and DAF, hence the title LDV standing for Leyland DAF Vehicles, the vans had a reputation amongst users as honest, though not particularly interesting vehicles.

LDV got into serious financial strife in the early years of the 21st century and in 2005 the rights to build LDVs were sold to Chinese giant SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation). SAIC is the largest vehicle manufacturer in China and has formed partnerships with Volkswagen and General Motors.

In 2012 companies in the SAIC group produced a staggering 4.5 million vehicles – by way of comparison that’s over four times the number of new vehicles sold in Australia last year. Now LDV vans are being imported to Australia from a Chinese factory.

The vans we are getting here are based on the 2005 European design, but have had quite a few updates in the meantime, particularly in the safety and exhaust emission fields.

Value

In these early days in Australia the LDV is offered in a relatively limited number of models. A short wheelbase (3100 mm) with a standard roof height and a long wheelbase (3850 mm) with either a mid-level roof or a high roof.

Future imports will include everything from cab-chassis to which various bodies can be attached, to people movers. Pricing is important to buyer perception of Chinese vehicles at this early stage of their establishment in this country.

On the face of it the LDVs look to be about two to three thousand dollars under their competitors, but the LDV’s importers calculate that they are about 20 to 25 per cent cheaper when you take the high level of standard features into consideration.

Over and above what you would expect in a vehicle in this class, the LDV van comes with air conditioning, alloy wheels, foglights, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, and reversing sensors. Interestingly, a senior member of the Chinese embassy in Australia, Qui De Ya, attended the media launch of the LDV. 

Amongst other matters he stressed the importance of social responsibility to the Chinese people. The Australian importer, WMC announced that in line with this it has donated an LDV van to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, the charity that helps brighten the lives of seriously ill Aussie children.

Design

The load area on every model imported to Australia is accessed through sliding doors on both side and full-height barn doors. The latter open to a maximum of 180 degrees, making it possible to get a forklift right up to the rear.

However, they don’t open 270 degrees to make reversing into a really tight area possible. The latter is probably less important in Australia than in cramped cities in Europe and Asia, but would nevertheless be useful at times.

Two standard Australian specification pallets can be carried in tandem in the big load area. The width between the wheelarches is 1380 mm and the arches are pleasingly small in the volume they occupy.

Build quality is generally good, though the interior isn’t to the same standard as commercials built in other countries. One of the LDVs we tested had a door that needed a hefty slam before it would close, the others were fine.

Technology

Power for the LDV vans comes from a 2.5-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine designed by the Italian VM Motori company and built in China. It produces up to 100 kW of power and 330 Nm of torque.

Driving

During the 300+ kilometre drive program organised by WMC, the Australian importer of LDVs, we found the engine to be strong and willing in its actions. It wasn’t as happy to pull at low revs as we anticipated in a commercial vehicle, but once it got up to 1500 revs it gets on song and is happy to hold high gears on fairly steep hills.

At this stage only a five-speed manual gearbox is being fitted, automatic transmissions are under development and are likely to be on offer by the time the LDV moves to people mover status. The manual gearbox is light and easy in its actions, not something that’s simple to engineer in a vehicle with a transverse engine and front wheel drive so the engineers deserve a real compliment on this.

Verdict

LDV vans have more styling flair than is the norm in this market segment and although it’s not the quietest engine around it has a truck like sound that’s certainly not out of place.

Pricing Guides

$14,685
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$11,000
Highest Price
$18,370

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LWB High 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $13,970 – 18,370 2013 LDV V80 2013 LWB High Pricing and Specs
LWB Mid 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $12,980 – 17,380 2013 LDV V80 2013 LWB Mid Pricing and Specs
SWB Mid 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $11,000 – 15,070 2013 LDV V80 2013 SWB Mid Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$10,981

Lowest price, based on 4 car listings in the last 6 months

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