OFF road, in the dirt, in country NSW, in the first Chinese ute to receive a 5-star ANCAP safety rating – sounds like a recipe for disaster if you use the previous Chinese vehicle experiences as a benchmark.
But this time it’s different. These dual cab utes are good, really good in fact, and that’s thanks to a massive multi-million dollar R&D program by parent company SAIC Motor. That investment shows, everywhere. The build quality is as good as anything else on the market, they look great, and they drive very well.
We had the chance to drive the new LDV T60 ute in both its variants, the tradie oriented Pro edition and the Luxe, the upmarket recreational vehicle option, designed for the weekend warrior. They’re not what we expected, but in this case we are more than happy to be swayed and more so impressed by what we experienced.
These are the first two of a number of model variants expected to come into Australia over the next 18 months, and if these are the litmus test options, then the future could be very exciting for LDV.
Both models come with a host of standard features including remote central locking, blind spot monitor, adaptive headlights, hill descent control, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, heated door mirrors, tyre pressure monitoring, rain sensing wipers, side steps, headboard, tub liner, air conditioning, and two USB ports.
They also gets a 10-inch touch screen entertainment system, cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heavy duty suspension (Pro only), dust sensing headlights and a multi function steering wheel. Legroom is exception in both the front and rear, but there’s no driver’s foot rest in the automatics.
The Luxe model adds smart key less entry and push button start/stop, electronic ‘on-demand’ rear diff lock, heated and auto folding door mirrors, sports bar, auto dimming rear view mirror, leather steering wheel, leather seats, six-way electric heated front seats, climate controlled air conditioning and comfort suspension.
Every model in the range so far is 4×4, and fitted with a common rail 2.8-litre inter-cooled and direct injected turbo diesel that generates 110kW of power and 360Nm of torque, with a very flat torque range, butted up to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. It has a 3.0-tonne towing capacity and 300kg download weight on the tow ball.
We tested the Pro in an automatic, and the Luxe in both manual and automatic, and on the black stuff, all three options felt great if not a little under powered for torque when climbing hills, with the manual version seeming to work way harder than the automatic gearbox.
The sizeable utility vehicles LDV have hit the market with are only marginally smaller than the class leading Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, and have a lot going for them, and it’s not just about size. Some of their features are exceptional. Hill descent on all variants, for example, is among the best we’ve ever seen, and was bang on perfect down a variety of extremely steep hills, a number of them gravel and rock.
On the down side, both model variants are loose unladen, especially on dirt roads, and want to step out and misbehave – in 2WD mode. Some sensible driving without a load, or a bag of concrete in the tray, would solve this. They are utes after all.
In the Pro version, the suspension is very rigid, and that’s great because it is designed for the tradie and will work , but the Luxe has a much more relaxed suspension package, and if anything feels a little wishy washy over bumps.
The infotainment system is easy to navigate with exceptionally clean fonts and display, but we couldn’t for the life of us get the Bluetooth to actually connect. No matter how many times we tried. But we’re sure it works.
The entertainment system is good too, the local radio stations came across crisp and clean. The driver safety management system has a warning anomaly though, with “you’re going to fast, slow down” appearing on the dash when you exceed 80km/h in 4×4 high mode. Importer Ateco Group has advised this has no effect on the vehicle itself and is a hangover from China’s extreme safety consciousness, with plans to update this warning to 100km/h already in place.
Finally, it would be remiss of us to not rave about the pricing, as the T60 is astoundingly cheap. Pricing starts at just $28,990 drive away for ABN holders for the PRO base model ($30,516 RRP), through to $34,990 drive away for the automatic up market LUXE model ($36,831 RRP), and the Chinese owned brand is expected to immediately challenge rivals Mitsubishi on price alone.
The 2018 LDV T60 is available in five colours, including Obsidian Black, Blanc White, Lava Gray, Jewel Blue and Agate Red.
It comes with a five year, 130,000km warranty, five year 24/7 roadside assist and a five year loan vehicle agreement for servicing. A large range of accessories, including nudge bars, branded mats and a canopy are already available to help you customise your new T60.
Our 2018 LDV T60 Pro and T60 Luxe were supplied by LDV and Ateco Group as part of a drive day. To find out more about the LDV T60, contact your local LDV dealer.