So now fully electric people movers are a thing. What’s LDV’s MIFA 9 like?
What’s under the hood?” I asked the staff at new LDV importers, Inchcape, freely admitting I knew completely nothing about the vehicle I was picking up, the MIFA 9.
“I’ll show you” said Amanda, the brand’s tech expert, revealing two bags within the frunk, full of charging cables.
Ah, I thought, electric huh. Told you I knew nothing. And on that, given that you will be wondering: what does LDV stand for? Kidding but it’s Light-Duty Vehicle.
The MIFA acronym stands for Maximum, Intelligence, Friendly and Artistic, three of which barely relate to any vehicle, ever built, anywhere. The suffix 9 supposedly means premium.
To behold this is out there. While some see sci-fi cues (the Stormtrooper face) others (the Missus) see hearse. But it’s not a black estate I countered. That fell on deaf ears.
Anyhow, this modern minibus is capable of conveying seven people in comfort – those in the middle row get ‘the works’ seats – and the MIFA 9 comes with just one powertrain, a zero-emission example driving the front wheels.
But there are three different spec levels, ranging from $80k to $120k. The top one gets powered everything, with leather trim, the middle seats massaging, reclining etc, and with tray tables and also extendible legrests.
Just like in business class. There are also footrests for when in the upright position.
The Premium model also gets a streaming media rearview window – this has both regular reflecting mirror glass and a digital camera image superimposed – and a 12-speaker sound system (six or eight for the others).
It weighs in at just over 2.5 tonnes, a 93kWh lithium-ion battery pack (90kWh usable) contributing to that. Stated range is 430km while energy use is a claimed 21.5kWh/100km. We saw that at times, but it’s closer to 30kWh/100km at open road speeds.
The electric motor is rated at 180kW/350Nm and there are Sport, Normal and Eco modes. Evidently the motor has “the voice of a tenor”. Poetic but ultimately I heard nothing out of the ordinary electric whirring.
It is quite long at 5270mm thanks to a 3.2m wheelbase, and also reasonably wide, 2m “with a diplomatic stance”. Right. The length allows for seven genuine adult-ready seats and good luggage capacity.
However, when the third-row of seats slide all the way back, it doesn’t look like there is 447L left over. With those seats folded, there’s 1702L and 2017L with just two seats occupied.
This vehicle is a generation on from the existing LDV electrics available, with a new skateboard-style platform and the latest in motor and battery tech from parent company, SAIC.
Despite its weight, this feels relatively perky, adding speed with ease in the Normal mode and not feeling lazy in Eco mode either.
Like so many new energy vehicles from China, there’s way too much ‘bonging’, most of which you can silence. But why a bong when you’re setting the wipers to auto? Even the indicator noise is too loud.
Veer anywhere near a white line and you trigger high-decibel bonging. Go to the touchscreen which controls pretty much everything and eventually you can silence this. Any yawns from the driver get a warning chime under the heading “mild fatigue detected”.
Which is good; falling asleep at the wheel will hopefully instigate something pretty deafening. All the safety items and chimes are not in vain either, for MIFA 9 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
We then attempted to instigate active cruise control which includes lane centring. To be fair, I was told at pick up how to do this but I forgot immediately. At home, my helpful friends at YouTube quickly remedied the problem for me.
You double tap the shift lever on the right of the steering column to initiate ACC. And away we went, cruising. Just be content to let the vehicle steer by itself or it will continually jerk away at the wheel.
Being a Chinese machine, they always include something for a laugh, like the Flameout Autoelectronic Handbrake. The mind wobbles.
Because of being driven spare by all the warning alarms, I was thinking for a while there that the second-row seats really are the best in the house. And actually they are, multi-adjustable and with heating, venting and massage functions, controlled by their own little screen.
Hit the button for stretch mode and the seat motors inwards a little and then backs up some while the leg rest extends and the backrest descends. Yes, you can take a particularly comfy catnap in this.
It is amazingly quiet and comfortable to ride in too, especially out the back, even for the third-row occupants because their seats are on sliders.
Pushed right back and three adults can pitch in, no worries. Entry and egress are relative simple too, the trio in the rear entering between the two captains chairs.
The side doors slide back and forth under power and entry and exit are simplicity plus for both these and front seat passengers. And that’s exactly as it should be for a people mover.
As to handling? Well, it’s hardly important in a vehicle where ride comfort in town is everything. And truly it is, plush and hushed.
However, we tried it out of town and it passed the stays-on-road test easily. Roll control is okay and the EcoContact rubber squeals its disapproval if you get too keen.
The best bit is the non-variable brake pedal regen which slows you appropriately for corners. All the while this is so quiet; even over coarse chip seal we saw a worst figure of just 66.8dB.
Which model to buy then? Probably the least expensive at $79,990 because it is eligible for the top electric rebate. Currently at any rate.
Moreover, the top model is kind of overkill. Sure, it’s nice to have all those middle seat items, and the overhead and privacy glass etc, but honestly, how often will passengers use the full potential of the middle row seats? And it’s much the same for the other items that take the cost out to $120k.
Nice but not essential, while the $80k model still gets all the safety items featured in the more expensive models. And without all the powered bits it weighs over 200kg less, so you’d expect a bit more zing and range.
If this is being bought to impress clients then perhaps the extra spend is justified.
|LDV MIFA 9 Premium
|Clean Car Discount
|Neutral – $0
|180kW / 350Nm
|single-speed auto, FWD
|AEB, ACC, BSM, LDW,
RCTA, ALK, AHB
|750kg (1000kg braked)
|5 Stars (2022)