T60 ute cornering shot

LDV Thinking Bigger
in New Zealand

Words: Peter Louisson
18 May 2017

LDV has grand plans for NZ Amongst buyers of commercial vehicles the LDV brand name is well known in New Zealand. With its V80 large and G10 medium vans, the brand has come out of nowhere to secure a 17 per cent share of the market. Handled by Great Lakes Motor Distributors (GLMD), LDV has expansion plans globally, kicking off with the imminent arrival of the new T60 ute, and followed early next year by its first SUV, the D90.

In New Zealand, the 4WD double-cab ute is the must-have automotive item, big amongst tradies and active lifestylers. Utes are now big business right across New Zealand, and are the biggest selling passenger vehicles. Most opt for double-cab 4WD rigs, with RRPs over $50k, but what about folk who want one of these big rigs and don’t want to spend up large? Here Kiwis are increasingly well served but entry vehicles are mostly manual only and have scored poorly in crash testing.

Very soon, SAIC will be offering its own ute, the T60, a good looking, spacious 4WD double-cab pick-up with a six-speed automatic transmission and a 110kW/360Nm 2.8L turbodiesel. The engine is a Euro 5 mill generating peak torque from 1600-2800rpm. Figures aren’t class leading, but from brief drives we undertook at LDV’s testing ground in China recently performance is certainly adequate. A cleaner, more powerful turbodiesel is promised, due next year.

GLMD suggested recently that pricing will kick off at $29,990 for the base Comfort 4x4 version, offering value for money, but it has also been engineered to achieve a five-star ANCAP safety rating, though has yet to be tested. The T60 arrives in July, and will also be available with a six-speed manual. Switchable 4WD with high and low range will be standard.

The Luxury model, to sell for $36,990, adds a surround view camera displayed on a 10-inch touch screen, leather upholstery, comfort entry, a chromed grille, side steps, alloy wheels, roof rails, a stainless steel sports bar, tow hooks and rear diff lock. In the near future a petrol-powered version will also be available, and also rear-drive and single cab options. Because of the popularity of utes in New Zealand, it’s likely to become LDV’s biggest selling model, and sales of around 100 per month are expected.

During a recent Chinese media trip, we visited SAIC’s (LDV’s parent) recently opened Guangde Proving Ground to check out the T60. In the flesh, it’s a big ute, almost 5.4m in length, with a wellside 2.33m long, over 1.5m wide and 530mm in depth. There’s a plastic tray liner, and six tie-down points. Interior space is cavernous as well, easily accommodating six-footers in the rear. So this is taking aim directly at the full-sized opposition utes.

It’s a striking look, with a big aggressive octagonal chrome grille and the triangular LDV logo front and centre. The grille extends into narrow LED headlamps, and in behind is a nicely sculpted bonnet.

The T60 gets off the line in sprightly enough manner, and the Gran Trek All Terrain rubber hangs on well to the high-grip test surface. There’s a moderate amount of roll accompanying the corners and a fair amount of wheel twirling, neither unusual for the sector. Braking feels accomplished.

The interior of the Luxury model is tasteful, with leather cladding, climate air, push button start, a sizeable central touch screen and items like hill descent and hill holder. We found the driver’s seat elevated for a decent view, though it felt a touch flat but otherwise comfy. In the second test, around a circular coned course, the ESP intervened at the appropriate moment and continued to rein in engine output smoothly.

The ute is only the start of the new stuff from LDV. At the Shanghai Motor Show, the company unveiled its first SUV, the full-sized D90. It will arrive in New Zealand early next year. D90 utilises the same all-new high tensile steel ladder frame chassis as the T60 ute.

The seven-seater SUV is large, roughly 5100mm long, 2000mm wide and 1900mm tall so will front against the incoming Haval H7, and also the existing Rexton, Everest, Fortuner, Trailblazer and Pajero Sport. There’s no pricing yet, but expect it to be be below those of the mainly Thai-built offerings.

At launch it will be petrol powered, using a 165kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbopetrol mated to a six-speed automatic driving all four wheels. Later on, it is likely to get the uprated Euro 6 twin-turbodiesel. The motoring press will likely get a chance to evaluate this vehicle in Sydney at the D90 global launch, slated for September.

Like T60, there will be two specification levels at launch. Expect all versions to include three-row seating, autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning, and a 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The top model will come with active cruise control, blind spot and lane departure warning systems, a 360-degree surround camera and LED headlamps. It will also run to a sunroof, a hill holder and electronic parking brake, along with self-parking and idle-stop systems. As with T60, the D90 is designed to achieve a five-star crash test rating.

Finally, the company already has alternative powerplants for its models in China, and is in the throes of developing and launching hybrid and EV versions of its vans and other models. Expect to see these in the future, kicking off with the EV80, the largest of its vans. For the full story, see the June issue of NZ Autocar, on sale May 25th.

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