Taking on the might of a global giant such as Toyota and its Hilux is a brave feat, but SAIC Motor, the parent company behind LDV has thrown down the gauntlet with the arrival of the new T60 double cab pick-up.
For a brand that has previously only played in the light commercial van market, the new-from-the-ground-up LDV T60 4×4 Luxury six-speed manual variant pictured here is a pretty decent first-up effort in design and execution, both inside and out.
The lashings of chrome around the grille, and the front and rear bumpers on this Luxury variant won’t be everyone’s cup of green tea, but the T60 certainly has a unique on-road presence, accentuated by its LED daytime running lights. Unlike some other pick-ups, the designers of the T60 didn’t get bored and forgetful when they got to the rear of the vehicle, as there’s a nice continuation of the Tornado line that wraps around the upper edge of the tailgate, and the rear camera is cleverly integrated into the chromed handle situated above the LDV badge.
There is more than adequate space in the cabin for five Kiwi blokes, and rear leg room in the second row is generous, LDV thoughtfully providing front and rear rubber floor mats to protect the carpet from dirty work boots. All the plastic surfaces within the cabin look to be hard-wearing and easy to clean. As part of the Luxury specification, in the cabin of the T60 there’s leather upholstery with seat heating up front, as well as a leather-bound steering wheel, climate air, reversing camera and the largest colour touch screen we have come across in this market segment. The seats are comfortable and the base of the second row of seats folds upright, allowing access to the cubbies underneath. These provide room for large toolboxes to slide in easily and be hidden from sight by the dark tinted privacy glass.
The T60 Luxury also provides keyless entry and start, as well as automatically retracting side mirrors with demisting function, cruise control, multifunction steering wheel, blind spot information system, shift-on-the-fly 4WD with electronic differential lock on the rear axle, and tyre pressure monitoring. Other safety features include the mandatory electronic stability control as well as hill descent control, hill start assist, roll movement intervention, traction control system, electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist.
The 110kW/360Nm 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine is a willing performer with more than enough grunt to pull away from rest in second gear. It is also pleasantly quiet when on the move; at 100km/h on the motorway, there was more noise created by turbulence around the windscreen and the LDV accessory sports bar on the rear tray than from the engine bay. Changing gear in the manual T60 requires a light and deft touch on the gear lever which has a fairly wide gate and relatively long throw. Reverse is found up and to the left, and you know when you have successfully engaged it because the external warning alarm immediately springs into action.
On the road the ladder chassis and classic leaf sprung rear suspension betrays the T60’s off-road focus. It’s tuned for carting heavy loads or towing heavy trailers up to 3000kg across undulating ground, rather than swift cornering around switchback rural roads.
The on-road ride quality of the T60 is very similar to that of the Toyota Hilux. When unladen there is vibration felt in the cabin as you pass over less than perfect surfaces. However, put the T60 onto lumpy and rock-strewn ground that’s been trodden over by a herd of cattle and the difference from the tarmac experience is night and day. This is a 4WD ute that’s designed for hard work in rough terrain, and it shows in a very comfortable and capable off-road ride. Unlike Bond’s favoured drink, we weren’t shaken or stirred!
The T60 Luxury manual is well set up as a tool of trade workhorse with a payload capacity of 875 kg (815kg for the automatic) in the rear tray (which arrives with a tough, fully washable plastic liner and four tie down points) and a towing capability of 3000kg with braked trailer.
Right-hand drive markets for the LDV T60 are Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa but so confident is the local importer in the product that it is offering a transferable five-year, 200,000km factory-backed warranty, as well as a ten-year anti-perforation warranty.
Kiwi buyers have been slow to embrace Chinese-built utes such as the Great Wall and the Foton Tunland but LDV intends to change their perceptions with the T60 by offering comparable levels of equipment, technology and safety features (the T60 recently achieving a full five-star ANCAP crash test score) to the market leading Ranger and Hilux but at significantly lower cost.
|Model||LDV T60 4×4 Luxury|
|Engine||2776cc, IL4, TDI, 110kW/360Nm|
|Drivetrain||6M, switchable 4×4|