Other commercial vehicles from China have either failed to reach five stars, or have only done so after failing at their first attempts and then being modified.
LDV Ute is the official name of the vehicle, though it really falls more into the pickup truck class as it’s a tough vehicle aimed at the harsh commercial market.
However, being well aware that many buyers, particularly in Australia, are buying pickups as family transport the importer has specified two different models for Downunder. The family version cleverly has the title of T60 Luxe. The working machine is tagged LDV Pro.
LDV T60 Luxe has softer suspension and added upmarket features that include leather trim with contrasting stitching in red and a steering wheel that’s also leather bound. The front seats are six-way power adjustable as well as being heated. There’s automatic climate control and an additional set of air vents at the back end of centre console.
LDV T60 Pro is certainly not a cheap and cheerful pickup as it has air conditioning, power windows and remote central locking.
A feature in all models is automatic height adjusting headlights that ensure they are always at the correct height, regardless of load. This feature is usually found only in upmarket cars and the Australian importer should be praised for adding to the standard list.
The LDV T60 is a large vehicle, even in this class, with has a length of 5.3 metres, width of 1.9 metres, and a height of 1.8 metres. The load tub has a maximum length of 1.48 metres, a maximum width of 1.5 metres and a depth of 0.5 metres.
The load tub has a durable liner, six load tie down points, four at low level and two on the tub rim. The Pro has a multi‐bar headboard to protect the rear window and provide support for long loads. The Luxe has a polished chrome sport bar. Both models have roof rails.
The LDV T60 can tow up to 3000 kg with a braked trailer, (unbraked 750 kg). The payload is 1025 kg for the manual T60 Pro, 995 kg for the automatic Pro. The Luxe payloads are 875 and 815 kg respectively for the manual and the automatic.
Gross Combined Vehicle Mass is 6050 kg for the Pro and 5950 kg for the Luxe.
Both the Luxe and Pro are powered by an Italian designed VM Motori turbo-diesel engine, a four-cylinder unit displacing 2.8-litres. VM has been a major player in this field for many decades and is highly regarded. In the LDV the engine produces 110 kW (150 hp) of power, and 360 Nm of torque between 1600 and 2800 revs.
Though it has been updated over the years the engine displays its antecedents by being redlined at just 3750rpm.
The engine is mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Both versions of the Australian imports of the LDV T60 have 4WD and high and low ranges.
At this stage all Australian imports are four-door utes. Later imports are likely to include two-door and extended-cab bodies and a cab-chassis. Two-wheel drive (rear wheels) and even a petrol engine may come later.
The warranty is generous as part of the early marketing push; five years or 130,000 km, whichever comes first. LDV’s confidence is shown by its ten-year body anti-perforation warranty.
There’s 24/7 roadside assistance and a loan car program is offered, check for details with our local LDV dealer on the latter.
LDV arranged a driving program in the country areas around Bathurst. Probably because the event was aimed at car rather than trucking journalists we only drove the T60 Luxe.
Our first comment is that the LDV T60 is a truck, not a passenger car. But as trucks go it’s pretty civilised. The ride is on the bumpy side, as you would expect from a leaf-spring rear end. But I was travelling one up and adding a few more people and some stuff in the tray should settle it down.
The front seats are large and comfortable and the back seats have good leg and headroom. Getting in and out posed the usual problems created by a high ride height. Kids will love it, grandparents may find it a hassle.
A most impressive feature of the LDV T60 is the large 10-inch screen with huge buttons beneath it. This is a model for simplicity and ease of use. May I recommend all other car makers take a look at how infotainment should be done? And move away from their often fiddly little screens and controls that cause too much driver inattention.
Handling, while competent and safe isn’t what you would call exciting. Body roll isn’t too bad and if you travel at sensible speeds you should never get into trouble.
Engine response isn’t too bad for a turbocharged unit and once the lag stage had passed there was no shortage of grunt. The six-speed manual is a gem, light and easy to use with well chosen ratios. Okay, so it’s not likely to be the unit of choice by family buyers, but those in the bush who like driving will appreciate it.
WHO IS LDV?
The name LDV will bring back memories to many in the commercial vehicle industry. It refers to Leyland and DAF vehicles. We won’t go into the full history, but the Chinese SAIC (Shanghai Automotive and Industrial Corporation), which was established in the 1940s, has operated LDV since 2009.
The LDV T60 PRO is priced at $30,516 and the T60 LUXE at $34,726. Both prices are drive-away.