First drive: LDV T60 ute

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

LDV’s first foray into Australia’s burgeoning 4x4 dual cab ute market has arrived. Matt Wood was at the launch to have a closer look

LDV-T60-ute
The LDV T60 is the pointy end of a model roll out here in Australia

 

Buy -Utes

I’ll have to be honest and say that I wasn’t expecting a great deal from this latest addition to the Aussie market. However, while I’ve said in the past that it was only a matter of time before a Chinese manufacturer came up with a decent ute option, I have to confess that the LDV T60 was somewhat of a surprise.

According to figures from last year, LDV’s parent company SAIC is China’s biggest vehicle exporter. Locally the brand may be more familiar to some as a supplier of light commercial vans.

The T60, however, is the company’s first shot at a global platform and we’re reliably informed that it’s the first of many to come.

In the case of the T60, power comes via a Chinese-manufactured 2.8-litre VM Motori intercooled turbo-diesel which makes 110kW and 360Nm. Transmission-wise there’s a choice of either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto. The torque curve for the 2.8 gives peak torque from 1600 to 2800rpm.

The driveline is part-time 4x4 with a 2-speed transfer case selectable via a console-mounted dial. Interestingly an Eaton automatic rear diff lock is also standard across the range.

Payload starts at 1025kg for the base manual Pro model and drops to 815kg for the top-of-the-tree automatic Luxe model. Distance between the wheel arches is 1165mm so there’s not quite enough room for a standard Aussie pallet in the tub. However, a tub liner is standard equipment on both models.

Towing is 3000kg (braked) across the T60 range. Gross combination mass is 6050kg.

LDV-T60-ute
A tub liner comes as standard kit

Pro or Luxe?

As you may have already guessed, there are two differing specs. The Pro is clearly aimed at the more vocational buyer with a blacked-out grille, rubber floor mats and plain headboard on the ute tub. The Luxe features some more bling and a sport bar out back, as well as carpet and leatherette inside.

Standard features across the range include a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment unit with Apple CarPlay and Android connectivity which also displays the view from the rear-view camera. There’s also a blind spot warning system to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Outside there are light-sensing, self-levelling LED headlights and automatic wipers. And, as you’d expect, electronic stability control is standard along with hill-descent control. Roof rails and side steps are also standard for both trim levels, as are 17-inch alloy wheels and a full-sized spare wheel.  Four-wheel disc brakes are also standard.

While the T60’s styling may not get the pulse racing it’s certainly inoffensive – though I tend to prefer the blacked-out grille of the Pro to the toothy chrome of the Luxe.

Another differentiation between the Pro and the Luxe is the state of suspension tune. The Pro gets ‘heavy duty’ suspension front and rear in a stiffer state of tune, while the Luxe gets a softer ride. Luxe models lose 150kg in payload over the Pro.

Another indication of SAIC’s global ambitions are the results of T60’s ANCAP crash test which saw the 6-airbag-equipped ute score 5 stars. This will no doubt increase its appeal to fleet buyers.

LDV-T60-ute
A 2.8-litre intercooled turbo-diesel provides 110kW of power and 360Nm of torque

On the road

On climbing into the T60 there are no real jarring notes; everything is pretty much where it should be. Sure, the height-adjustable steering wheel could also do with a reach adjustment but for someone of average build like me there wasn’t an issue getting comfortable. Rear seating has plenty of legroom, however the seat padding is quite firm and the seat back is quite upright.

The 2.8-litre donk is reasonably civilised at idle and certainly not noticeably more agricultural than some of its competitors. Once on the move, though, there’s quite a bit of induction noise when accelerating from under 2000rpm.

While our test vehicles were admittedly empty, power seemed quite adequate and the T60’s power plant offered a very usable torque curve, though it was happiest when the tacho needle was above 2000rpm.  

The 6-speed stick shift is an in-house SAIC ‘box and while admittedly commercial in operation, it does the job. The auto, however, really is the way to go.

The tall gear ratios effectively make it a double overdrive and, with a relatively small displacement engine like this, it’s easier to leave an auto in D in undulating country like our test route than realise you’ve been driving in fifth gear for the last 30km.

The area where the T60 is noticeably lacking in finesse is ride and handling across both models.

The Pro is clearly aimed at those who want a work truck and, when empty, it drives like one. The double wishbone front end tends to crash and bash on rough blacktop and dampening isn’t great.

The leaf-sprung rear would no doubt be settled down with a bit of weight in the back and is by no means noticeably worse than other vocational competitors.

The Luxe is definitely a smoother ride with a more compliant state of tune in the rear leaf springs. But, like the Pro, the front suspension of the Luxe suffers from the same crash and bounce on rough roads.

LDV-T60-ute
Accessories like canopies and roof racks are available options

The bottom line

The T60 is definite a step up for Sino-manufactured utes in this country and, given its pricing and warranty, could stand to change perceptions. A lot of this, however, hangs on dealer accessibility. Ateco is currently expanding its dealer networks around the country with 40 now hanging the LDV shingle out front. The target is around the 50 mark.

After all, for similar money you can land a Mitsubishi Triton GLS. And some consumers may prefer to play it safe with a known entity with runs on the board rather than take a leap of faith with an emerging brand.

This ute stands to be the thin end of the wedge in more ways than one. The T60 model range is set to expand and will include single cab-chassis models as well as 4x2 models.

Warranty is five years/130,000km while the body has a corrosion and perforation warranty of 10 years. Service intervals are 15,000km after the initial 5000km oil change.


LDV T60 UTE PRICES

LDV T60 Pro manual: $28,990 (ABN) $30,516 (RRP)

LDV T60 Pro auto: $30,990 (ABN) $32,621 (RRP)

LDV T60 Luxe manual: $32,990 (ABN) $34,726 (RRP)

LDV T60 Luxe auto: $34,990 (ABN) $36,831 (RRP)

* All prices are drive-away

 

LDV T60 SPECS


Engine: 2.8-litre intercooled turbo-diesel

Power: 110kW/360Nm

Transmission: 6-speed man/6-speed auto

Drive: Part-time 4x4/2-speed transfer case.

Payload: 815kg-1025kg

Towing: 3000kg (braked)

GCM: 6050kg

 

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