2017 LDV T60 first drive

THE ‘L’ and the ‘D’ in LDV nominally stand for Leyland and DAF respectively; although, the LDV T60 ute you see here has little to do with either, which in the case of the former British manufacturer Leyland is probably a good thing.

However, there remains a strong European flavour (and a DAF connection) with the powertrain, despite the whole thing being built in China.

2018 LDV T60 exterior.jpgThe LDV T60 is currently only offered as dual-cab 4x4 pick-up, but it comes in two spec levels and with the choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, both six-speeders. Single-cab, extra-cab and 4x2 models will follow.

Significantly it’s the first Chinese ute to come with a five-star ANCAP safety rating and is otherwise extremely well-equipped given the budget prices, which start around $30K (less for ABN holders).

The T60 is a relatively big and seemingly substantial ute. Among its mainstream dual-cab competitors, only the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 have a longer wheelbase and only the Amarok has a wider track, while the 6050kg Gross Combined Mass figure is actually a tad higher than Ranger, Amarok V6 etc., even if the 3000kg towing limit is lower than in most in class.

POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE

POWERING the big but relatively light LDV T60 (kerb weight 1950kg-2060kg) is a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel built under licence from Italian engine specialist VM Motori. It’s from the same engine ‘family’ as the 2.8-litre diesel in Holden’s Colorado and Trailblazer, and Jeep’s Wrangler.

While it meets the recently introduced Euro 5 emission regulations (as required to be legally sold here) and comes complete with a diesel particulate filter, it’s far from the cutting edge in terms of power and torque. It claims a modest 110kW and 360Nm, putting it well short of the 147kW and 500Nm that the Colorado claims, at least when mated to an automatic gearbox.

2018 LDV T60 engine.jpgOn-road performance is adequate but certainly not brisk and, while the T60 gets along at highways speeds up and down hills without much fuss, there’s not much left in reserve for overtaking or for hauling a heavy load.

Unfortunately we haven’t driven the optional six-speed automatic as yet, but the standard six-speed manual has a light yet positive shift action and is well-geared for highway driving. It’s sufficiently tall in the higher ratios to be relaxed but not that tall that it won’t carry sixth most of the time. Reasonable engine refinement, too.

2018 LDV T60 side.jpgThe automatic gearbox – we are yet to sample – is built under licence from Europe’s Punch Powertrain (the DAF connection) but interestingly shares the ratios of the GM six-speed auto in the Colorado.

No chance to do a real-world fuel consumption figure, either, but ADR figures suggest neither notably light nor heavy consumption, while the 75-litre fuel capacity is typical of dual-cab 4x4.

ON-ROAD RIDE AND HANDLING

THE T60 utilises a basic chassis layout, with a ladder frame, independent front suspension with double wishbones and coils, and a live axle and leaf springs at the rear. In the interests of softer ride, the up-spec LUXE model (as driven) has lighter-duty rear springs than the PRO, but this also reduces the payload by 150-180kg.

2018 LDV T60 drive.jpgOn good roads the LUXE offers a generally compliant and comfortable ride, but things aren’t so good on bumpier and uneven secondary roads. The front feels both undersprung and underdamped and the rear isn’t particularly tidy, either.

Combined with an overly zealous electronic stability control system, the overall ride/handing balance on more demanding roads is well short of the standard set by the popular mainstream utes. There’s not much feel from the too-light steering, either.

OFF-ROAD

THE drive program didn’t offer anything in the way of serious off-roading, but even on farm tracks it’s obvious that the manual is quite tall in the lower gears – the jump from first to second is sufficiently big, low range is required even for an easy ‘paddock’ drive. No doubt the automatic would be much better in this regard.

2018 LDV T60 offroad.jpgHowever, there are some off-road positives. The LUXE comes with an auto-engaging Eaton rear locker (that works independently of the electronic traction control), the engine’s air intake is via the inner guard (although the wading depth is only quoted at 500mm), the part-time 4x4 system has a reasonably low 2.48:1 reduction ratio, and there’s a substantial-looking bash plate and two recovery points at the front.

CABIN AND SAFETY

THE T60 has a spacious and very well-equipped cabin that appears well finished; although, the trim around the gear shifter on our test vehicle had already come loose. No reach adjustment for the steering wheel but otherwise the T60’s driving position proved comfortable.

2018 LDV T60 interior.jpgAs mentioned, the T60 is the first Chinese ute to achieve five-star ANCAP safety thanks in part to front, side and full-length cabin airbags.

SUM UP

WITH retail drive-away prices starting at $30,516 (less for ABN holders), the T60 offers a lot of ute for the money, especially given its long, even lavish, equipment list. A five-year, 130,00km warranty and 40 dealers (rising to 50) nationally are also both encouraging.

Some money spent on aftermarket suspension should work wonders, as would an engine remap for more power and torque; although, this could potentially create warranty issues. As ever with all-new vehicle like this, the real test (and the most important test) will be the test of time. We will see.

WHAT YOU GET

THE LVD T60 comes in two equipment levels: the commercial-grade ‘PRO’ and the up-spec ‘LUXE’. All T60s are well-equipped and come with six cabin airbags, disc brakes all ’round, 17-inch alloy wheels, side-steps, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, LED daytime running lamps, tyre-pressure warning, blind-spot monitoring, a 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a tub liner.

2018 LDV T60 headlights.jpgThe Luxe adds plenty of chrome plus keyless entry and start, folding and heated side mirrors, climate control in place of standard air-con, leather seats with six-way electric adjustment and heating up front, a chrome sports bar instead of a painted head board, and a rear self-activating diff lock.

WHO IS LDV?

LDV is part of SAIC Motor (formerly Shanghai Automobile and Industrial Corporation), China’s largest and one of four state-owned carmakers. In 2016 SAIC sold more than six million vehicles and currently has joint ventures with VW, General Motors and Italian truck and van maker IVECO.

LDV became part of SAIC in 2009 and was previously a van manufacturer based in the UK and part of the ‘leftovers’ from the 1993 bankruptcy of Leyland DAF, a company born out of the earlier merger of Leyland Trucks (part of Britain’s Rover Group) and Dutch truck maker DAF.

LDV T60 PRICES*
PRO (man): $30,516
PRO (auto): $32,621
LUXE (man): $34,726
LUXE (auto): $36,831

*Prices are retail drive-away. ABN holders pay up to $1841 less.

LDV T60 SPECS
Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel
Max power: 110kW @ 3400rpm
Max torque: 360Nm @ 1600-2800rpm
Gearbox: six-speed (manual or auto)
4x4 System: dual-range part-time
Crawl ratio: 43.4:1(man)/36.7:1(auto)
Construction: separate-chassis
Front suspension: independent/coil springs
Rear suspension: live axle/leaf springs
Kerb weight: 1950kg-2060kg
GVM: 2950kg-3050kg
Payload: 815kg-1025kg
Towing capacity: 3000kg (braked)
GCM: 6050kg
Fuel tank capacity: 75 litres
ADR fuel claim: 8.8-9.6 litres/100km

OFF-ROAD SPECS
Ground clearance: 215mm
Approach angle:
27º
Ramp-over angle: N/A
Departure angle: 24.2º
Wading depth: 500mm

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