This is something of a return rather than a new arrival, with the LDV branding relaunching into the UK for the first time in seven years, having finally succumbed to financial pressures in 2009.
But Chinese giant SAIC, which produced almost six million vehicles in 2014 and claims to rank as seventh largest vehicle manufacturer in the world, acquired the rights to the brand and the Maxus large van, the only model being sold by LDV when it crashed, and is using the vehicle, now called V80, as a route back into the UK market. It will be joined by the G10 medium van early next year, and a pick-up this time next year, before a renewed V80 on a new platform arrives in 2019.
SAIC is offering the LDV V80 in three body styles; low roof SWB, medium roof LWB or high roof LWB. The longer wheelbase adds 750mm to the vehicle length, and the medium roof shape adds 213mm to the height, with the high roof being another 215mm taller. Cargo volume goes from 6.9 to 11.m3
Power comes from the same 2.5-litre VM Motori engine that was in place for the Maxus, offering 135hp of power that performs pretty well, though you certainly know about inside the cab. In particular on start up, the diesel powerplant is very noisy compared to the modern rivals. The six-speed manual gearchange is nice enough though, and, noise apart, the overall driving experience isn’t unpleasant.
Clambering into the cabin, the cheap plastics are the first stand-out feature, and the V80 seems cheap rather than good value in a time where even budget brands can offer reasonably appealing interiors. The cheap plastic steering wheel is slippery to the touch, and doesn’t combine well with relatively heavy steering, and there’s plenty of bounce to the unladen ride, though that settles down with a bit of weight in the back.
The speedo is centrally mounted, well out of the driver’s eye line, which is a bit of a pain as it takes a concerted effort rather than quick glance to ensure you’re within legal bounds, and there’s not a massive amount of storage in the cabin compared to better thought out big vans. The door bins are average and there’s not enough central stowage for odds and sods, and the overhead shelf is flimsy. Some of the plastics are on the very cheap side, especially on the doors.
The driver’s seat could do with going back a bit further, but the eight-direction range of movement and chance of finding a comfy position is otherwise good, though steering wheel adjustment would be appreciated.
Equipment is impressive for a budget brand, with the likes of air conditioning, cruise control, reverse parking sensors and passenger airbag all coming as standard on the sole trim level. The only option is paint colour, with the ability for the buyer to upgrade the standard white to silver, grey or brown metallic. It’s also worth noting the odd cruise control system that’s operated by pressing a button on the dash to set a speed, with the system cancelled by a touch on the brake pedal.
The older tech engine is apparent when you look at the fuel economy figures. A 135hp bi-turbo Renault Master comes in with an official figure of 40.9mpg, but the LDV is the best part of 10mpg worse at 31.7mpg.
But the V80 is startlingly cheap. While a Citroen Relay 33 L2H2 2.2 HDI 130 offers payload of 14kg less than the V80 and a load volume 0.1m3 more via shorter load length but more width, the French brand’s van costs £24,130 while the LDV has a price of just £15,500. Which is frankly ludicrous. Admittedly we had to go the firm to find out how much the van costs because, bizarrely, at the time of writing there aren’t any prices listed on the company’s website, but as long as they are correct it almost doesn’t matter about any of the criticisms.
The load area itself is accessed by a rubber step to the rear or via the single side-loading door on the nearside. It includes nine tie-down points, load area lighting and an easy-clean non-slip cargo mat, though our vehicle came complete with ply lining.
The rear door goes to 90 degrees, or round to 270 by removing the door stays. Unsightly magnetic bumps at the rear side of the van hold the door securely in place when it’s round to fully open.
LDV is also offering what it calls a 555 package of five year warranty and roadside assist, plus a five-year finance package with prices from £199 per month plus VAT.
But it’s impossible not to come back to that purchase price. The LDV V80 is competing on purchase price alone with vans from two size categories below. It’s significantly off the pace in terms of interior quality, efficiency and refinement in particular, but as a commercial vehicle to do a job, backed by a five-year warranty, it’s tough to argue against the incredible value.
|LDV V80 High roof LWB|
|Price (ex VAT)||£15,500|
|Price range (ex VAT)||£13,999-£20,000|
|On sale||Summer 2016|
|Combined fuel economy||31.7mpg|
LDV: The range
SAIC has launched the V80 with a six-model range of three panel vans, a tipper, dropside and Luton van.
The low-roof SWB V80 is the entry model at £13,999 (excluding VAT), offering a 6.9m3 load area, which rises to 10.2m3 for the LWB medium roof that brings an extra 750mm of load length for an extra £1000. That model also has the highest payload figure at 1419kg, compared to 1204 for the little van and 1389 for the LWB high roof.
The long-wheelbase high roof driven here costs £501 more than the medium roof, with 11.4m3 of load space.
The dropside (pictured) is priced at £15,950, the tipper costs £16,500 and the most expensive model is the £20,000 Luton van.
The company is also planning an electric EV80 model, in all three van forms as well as a chassis cab. The company claims a range of 180miles and 193 miles for the 60kWh and 75kWh battery choices, driven at a constant 25mph, dropping to 93 and 106 miles respectively under what it calls “comprehensive working conditions”.
Next year, the G10 medium van will be launched, before pick-up and all-new large van models are planned to arrive by the end of 2019.
SAIC is working with Irish vehicle importer Harris Group to import the LDV models into the UK. There are currently nine dealers in England -
Carlisle, Castleford, Cheshire, Hounslow, Liverpool, Newmarket, Peterborough, Waltham Cross and Wimborne, as well as Glasgow, two in Wales (Newport and Swansea) and a trio covering Northern Ireland - , Londonderry, Newry and Newtownabbey.
Outdated compared to any other modern large van, but so insanely cheap that its flaws are more than forgivable