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LDV G10 van 2017 review

2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler.

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Tradies score

3.5/5

Anyone shopping for a SWB one-tonne van with turbo-diesel and manual transmission will know there’s plenty of competition in this segment (2.5-3.5 tonne GVM) with numerous well-known brands all in the high $30,000 price bracket.

So when a new contender arrives that undercuts well-established rivals by $10,000, it’s sure to get your attention. 

LDV is a division of SAIC (Shanghai Automobile and Industrial Corporation) which is China’s oldest and largest automotive manufacturer, and now the seventh largest in the world. In 2009 SAIC took ownership of the light commercial vehicle division born from the Anglo-Dutch company Leyland DAF, hence the LDV name (Leyland DAF Van).

So, there’s plenty of European heritage here, even though the G10 is claimed to be the first LDV commercial van fully designed, developed and manufactured in China.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle, with 1.9-litre turbo-diesel and six-speed manual transmission, is drive-away priced at only $28,990 for ABN holders. It offers the choice of a single swing-up tailgate, like our example, or optional twin-swing barn doors with 180-degree opening for those wanting rear forklift access.

  • 2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler. 2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler.
  • 2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler. 2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler.
  • 2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler. 2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler.
  • 2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler. 2017 LDV G10 van. Image credit: Mark Oastler.

The menu of standard features, which includes 16-inch alloy wheels and 215/70 R16 tyres with a full-size spare, offers niceties you might not expect for such a low price, including air conditioning, power steering with tilt-adjustable steering wheel, tyre pressure monitoring, reversing camera and a quality audio system with 7.0-inch screen and Bluetooth connectivity, to name a few.

The G10 also surprises with its long list of passive and active safety features, yet two of the most desirable features in a manual van – hill start assist and cruise control – are not included, which smacks of cost containment in the wrong areas.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The G10 rides on a 3198mm wheelbase which is line-ball with Hyundai’s popular iLoad. And like its Korean competitor, the LDV’s rear-wheel drive layout features the same proven combination of MacPherson strut front suspension, leaf-sprung live rear axle and four-wheel disc brakes.

Looks are subjective of course, but we reckon the G10 is one of the more stylish offerings in this segment, with its angular lines complementing the alloy wheels. A clue to LDV’s cost-saving modular design can be seen in the upper side blanking panels, which are simply sheet-metal replacements for the tinted glass panes used on the G10’s people mover sibling.

The G10 cabin provides a clean and functional workspace although it’s not sealed off from the cargo bay with a steel bulkhead like the Renault Trafic and Ford Transit. The driver and passenger seats, with their inboard fold-down armrests, are supportive and comfortable, and the dashboard is very car-like in appearance, with controls and instruments that look good and (most) are easy to operate.

However, there are no audio controls on the steering wheel, requiring a long reach for the driver to adjust the left-biased dashboard volume knob. We also noticed puckering on some of the seat stitching which cheapened their appearance.

Our test vehicle was fitted with a steel mesh cargo barrier covered with a thick sheet of clear plastic which seemed to assist in reducing noise transfer from the load area. The cargo bay, with four internal lights, has a thick vinyl floor covering with six D-shackles (recessed to allow cargo to be slid when loading) plus extra shackles on - and in front of - each wheel arch, providing plenty of anchorage points. The lower walls are also lined with hardboard to provide extra noise insulation and protection from knocks and scrapes.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

SAIC’s (19D4N) 1.9-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel pumps out a class-competitive 106kW at 4000rpm and 350Nm of torque between 1800-2600rpm. The engine has good NVH levels and combined with its variable vane turbo technology, for maximum torque at lower engine speeds, results in a refined and willing power plant.

The six-speed manual gearbox features a useful set of cogs well matched to the engine and 4.1:1 diff ratio, providing good acceleration from low revs under heavy load, spirited performance with or without a load, and economical cruising at highway speeds thanks to overdriven fifth and sixth gears. The dashboard-mounted gearshift has a light and precise shift action.

How practical is the space inside?

The cargo bay, with side access via sliding doors, is 2365mm long, 1590mm wide and 1270mm high, with 1278mm between the wheel arches. That’s enough space for two standard 1160mm x 1160mm pallets, but only with the rear barn-door option to allow forklift access. Its generous 5200-litre cargo volume is larger than the iLoad’s 4426 litres but smaller than the HiAce’s class-leading 6000 litres, so it’s a good compromise.

The cabin provides several storage options including upper and lower pockets with bottle holder in each door, single glove box, small cubby in the lower dashboard console and an open tray between the seats with several dividers to separate loose items. This is not covered, though, so it’s not suitable for valuables if leaving the vehicle unattended for long.

With a tare weight of 1990kg and GVM (gross vehicle mass) of 3000kg, the G10 is rated to carry a genuine one-tonne payload of 1010kg which surpasses that of the segment-leading Toyota HiAce (885 kg). It’s also rated to tow up to 1500kg braked. 

At this point we would usually reveal its gross combined mass (GCM) or what payload can be carried when towing its maximum 1500kg. However LDV would not provide this figure, despite a direct approach to the factory in China, which leaves those that need to tow facing potential legal and insurance hassles. Such secrecy is not a good look and would have to be a deal-breaker for some, hence our unusually low score.

How much fuel does it consume?

LDV claims a combined figure of 8.3 litres/100km and at the end of our test the instrument display was showing 7.5L/100km. Both of these numbers were pretty close to the money, given our figures, based on actual fuel bowser and trip meter readings, came in at only 8.9L/100km.

That’s the lowest figure we’ve achieved in this segment, highlighting benchmark engine efficiency.

What's it like to drive?

The G10 is a nippy performer in typical stop-start city delivery work under 80km/h, with spirited acceleration thanks to its fairly broad 800rpm spread of peak torque and well-matched gearing for both city and highway work. At 100km/h the engine sits comfortably within its peak torque zone at 2250rpm, which rises to 2500rpm at 110km/h.

There’s little difference in the ride quality between empty and fully loaded which points to good suspension tuning. The G10 also has large door mirrors providing excellent all-round vision along with a competitive 11.8 metre turning circle.

We loaded it up with 770kg, which with a 92kg driver was 148kg short of the 1010kg payload limit. Under this weight (862kg) the leaf-spring rear suspension compressed 45mm, and the nose dropped 22mm, but it rode over bumps with good composure and no bottoming-out. It also tracked straight and maintained solid steering feel in cross-winds. Wind noise was low at highway speeds and rear tyre roar through the exposed wheel arches was noticeable but not as intrusive as some rivals.

While the G10 is certainly worthy of praise, there’s room for improvement. The lack of today’s commonly available ‘hill start assist’ feature means you have to dust off your old driving skills by either using the handbrake each time, or doing the hot shoe shuffle from brake to clutch pedal with an increased risk of stalling. The absence of cruise control (only available with auto) is also a glaring omission given that rivals offer this invaluable feature with manual gearboxes. 

There’s also no left footrest. The radio has annoying static on the AM band which can only be silenced by (!) turning off the headlights. The audible warning that loudly chimes every time you open the door with the key still in the ignition is just plain annoying. And the lack of a wiper/washer on the rear window is a safety hazard best left in the 1970s where it belongs.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

No ANCAP rating but it does have driver and passenger airbags and active safety features including electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC), emergency brake assist (EBA), brake assist system (BAS), roll movement intervention (RMI) and tyre pressure monitoring. 

Additional safety measures include a reversing camera with park assist, parking sensors, rear fog lamps and remote keyless entry with central locking which self-activates at about 5km/h, but no automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot detection or collision alert.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

A three year/100,000km warranty is offered, with 24/7 roadside assist included for the same period.

Service intervals are 5000km or six months for the first and second services, then intervals of 10,000km or 12 months (whichever comes first) after that. No capped price servicing is offered. 

Given the G10 is claimed to be the first LDV van fully designed, developed and manufactured in China, they’ve done a commendable job because its bargain basement price does not equate to the shortfall you might expect in build quality, performance, comfort and safety. However, it is a vehicle of stark contrasts, with several important boxes that still need to be ticked and long-term durability that is yet to be proven. Plus the glaring omission of a GCM rating makes it impossible to know what you can legally tow, which does nothing to improve negative perceptions of Chinese-made vehicles.

Do you see the LDV G10 as a viable commercial van option? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

$17,990 - $27,880

Based on 7 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Tradies score

3.5/5
Price Guide

$17,990 - $27,880

Based on 7 car listings in the last 6 months