CHINESE Persuasion

POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE

WORDS FRASER STRONACH PHOTOS MARK BEAN

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.

The LDV T60 is currently only offered as a dual-cab 4x4 pick-up, but it comes in two spec levels and with the choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, both six-speeds. 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 Ranger and 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 most in class.

POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE

POWERING the big but relatively light LDV T60 (kerb weight 1950-2060kg) 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

The LDV T60 is the latest 4x4 ute to arrive in Australia, but will it make an impact where previous Chinese-made utes have failed?

complete with a diesel particulate filter, it’s far from 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.

On-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.

The automatic gearbox – we are yet to sample – is built under licence from Europe’s Punch Powertrain (the DAF connection) but

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.

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 a dualcab 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 to 180kg.

150 to 180kg.

On 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/handling 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, and low range is required even for an easy ‘paddock’ drive. No doubt the automatic would be much better in this regard.

However, 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 tow 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. As 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, 130,000km 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 vehicles like this, the real test (and the most important test) will be the test of time. We will see.

WHAT YOU GET

THE LDV 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. The 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, 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.

LDV T60 SPECS

ENGINE 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel MAX POWER 110kW at 3400rpm MAX TORQUE 360Nm at 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

AUSTRALIAN RANGE AND PRICING*

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.