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The cargo area of the LDV: A high value light commercial. The cargo area of the LDV: A high value light commercial.
28 June 2013 Posted by 

China’s first van offering a real gem

By Zain Swaleh Motoring writer

CHINA is undoubtedly the world’s manufacturing powerhouse. However, when one thinks of automotive manufacturing, China is not one of the first countries that come to mind.

Countries like Japan, Germany, Britain and the USA have long dominated the global automotive manufacturing industry. But people who hold this view may find the following statistics quite surprising.

In 2011 the total amount of new cars manufactured in Europe totaled 16.9 million units. In that same year, China alone produced 18.3 million new vehicles.

The Chinese automotive manufacturing industry is rapidly becoming the largest in the world. However, despite these vast production figures, presence of Chinese manufactured vehicles in Australia is still quite small. This, however, is all about to change.

One of China’s first offerings in the Australian automotive market comes in the light commercial sector in the form of a van.

The V80 Short Wheelbase, while being a Chinese manufactured van, is being sold under the LDV brand.

Van enthusiasts will note that LDV (Leyland DAF Vans) is an established European Automotive Brand.

This move by the parent company, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) aids customers with brand recognition and aligns the product with an esteemed name in light commercial vehicles.


All models of the LDV V80 come with a 2.5L turbo diesel engine. Diesel engines are particularly beneficial for commercial vehicles for their improved fuel consumption and long distance capabilities.

The engine, gearbox and turbocharger of the V80 are all sourced from renowned manufacturers, which is a further testament to their quality.

The engine is produced by VM Motori; a company that specializes in light duty diesel engines and currently produce engines for the likes of Chrysler and General Motors.

The gearbox is developed by Hyundai and the turbochargers are the same brand as those put in Subaru diesel vehicles. 

The LDV’s engine delivers 100kW at the front wheels and 330nM of torque. On the road this translates to plenty of power in the low to mid rev range.

The high torque figures aid with providing power and go forward when carrying heavy loads, which is ideal for a van.

Maximum power and torque are available by 3,000 rpm, which means on the road, you don’t ever feel like you are straining the engine.

The power and torque figures of the V80 SWB are higher than that of its competitors in the Toyota HiAce, Hyundai iLoad and Fort Transit. The diesel engine is very economical, only using 8.9L per 100km.

Interior and practicality

The V80 has comfortable seating for three and contains all the basic creature comforts one would need in a commercial vehicle.

As standard, A/C, a 2-speaker stereo, and USB/Auxiliary connectivity is offered. Perhaps most important in a Van’s interior is the rear cargo area.

This is where the V80 SWB excels. The V80 has a 1260kg cargo capacity, which is better than its main competitors: Toyota HiAce (980kg), Hyundai iLoad (1113kg) and Ford Transit (1089kg).

Additionally the total area in the cargo section is higher than the aforementioned vehicles. The V80 SWB also has a sliding door on each side, making it easier for loading and unloading.

These features, as well as recessed load tie-down points and heavy duty cargo mats mean that the LDV V80 SWB is class-leading when it comes to cargo transportation.

Driving and handling

The aforementioned power figures of 100kW translate to easy driving and plenty of go-forward.

The 330nM of torque allows for the grunt needed to transport heavy loads, which is paramount in Van.

The Hyundai developed 5-speed manual gearbox has well spaced gear ratios and smooth shifts, which is essential, as those driving vans tend to be driving it regularly and for long periods of time.

Importantly, the clutch is light, making it comfortable to drive even when changing gears regularly. Often, when it comes to handling, vans can feel wayward and shaky at high speeds.

This is not the case for the V80, which cruised smoothly on the M4, despite the fact it was raining and windy. Front wheel drive makes the V80 feel planted at low and high speeds.

The V80 is exceptionally comfortable owing to its saloon-based chassis design and front Macpherson strut suspension. These features mean that the V80 has exceptional driving and handling.


While the Toyota Hiace only has disc brakes on the front wheels, the V80 SWB has disc brakes on all four wheels. The ability to brake and come to a stop quickly is paramount when a vehicle is carrying heavy loads.

The V80 comes with all the safety features you would expect: driver and passenger airbags, ABS and emergency brake assist.

Moreover, the chassis is constructed using high strength energy absorbing cells, which protects occupants in the event of a collision. It has met European crash and safety standards, but is yet to be given and ANCAP safety rating.


Value is where the V80 SWB really hits its stride. As we have seen, in terms of cargo capacity, performance, driving and handling, the V80 equals and exceeds its major competition from Toyota, Hyundai and Ford.

Best of all, the V80 SWB is priced at $31,990, $1,500 cheaper than the Hyundai iLoad and a whole $4,000 cheaper than the Toyota HiAce.

This is exceptional value for money for anyone: from a large business looking to make a fleet purchase to a small sole-trader looking for a new van.

This vehicle is a testament to the Chinese Motoring Industries ability to deliver competitive products at a market-penetrating price.

It incites anticipation as to what the industry will offer us next as well as firmly establishing itself amongst the automotive giants.

Currently LDV in Australia offers the Short Wheelbase that was tested for this review, as well as a Long Wheelbase Mid Roof ($36,990) and Long Wheelbase High Roof ($39,990). Later on this year, Cab chassis and People Mover variants will be introduced.

You can contact Thomson Ford on 1300 978 599 to arrange a test drive.

Nicole Baines

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