about $32,000 could wound its immediate rival, the Hyundai iload and imax duo, and dent more expensive players.
‘‘ It’s a bigger van than the iload so the price will be a bit above Hyundai,’’ says Maxus spokesman Jon Thomson on behalf of Australian importers WMC. ‘‘ But it will be below Volkswagen and MercedesBenz.’’ Maxus will have about nine models of the V80 here in October, ranging from delivery vans and nine- to 16-seater passenger versions, in short, medium or long wheelbase and with low, medium or high roofline. The passenger versions are expected to account for up to 20 per cent of Maxus sales.
The Maxus V80 is a British- developed vehicle from the now defunct Leyland-daf venture. The collapsed vehicle marques including Rover and Mgwere sold to Chinese interests. Most have been revised under ownership of China’s biggest car company, SAIC (Shanghai Automotive), which has huge joint venture factories with companies including Volkswagen and General Motors, and a string of domestic vehicle makers.
The Maxus retains the British-designed and developed 100kw/330nm 2.5-litre common-rail four-cylinder turbo diesel, now driving the front wheels through a fivespeed manual transmission.
Thomson says a five-speed Aisin gearbox will be added soon to meet Australian demand for automatic transmissions.
SAIC claims 9.0 litres/100km for the van but Australian testing is yet to be done.
The monocoque chassis has Macpherson strut suspension at the front and a solid axle arrangement with leaf springs at the rear. The brakes are fourwheel discs with standard ABS, EBD and brake assist but there is no electronic stability control, even as an option.
The van version has cargo space ranging from 6.9 cubic metres (3.1m short wheelbase, low roof) to 11.6 cubic metres (3.85m long wheelbase, high roof). The biggest payload is 1.8 tonnes and maximum interior ceiling height is 1.93m. Barn doors open 180 degrees and there are double or single side sliding doors.
A cab-chassis single-cab model, using a ladder-frame subframe for the rear, will join the van later this year and a smaller van is due in early 2015.
We drove two passenger vans on a brief test around the factory block. The right-hand drive version with 3000km on the clock and destined for South Africa or Malaysia, typifies what Australia will get. The engine was tardy in the LHD model, with only assemble-line kilometres.
The van is taut with a body that does not creak. The engine is surprisingly responsive— potentially belying the glacial 22-second 0-100km/h acceleration claim— and the short-throw gear shift accurate and light. The basic rear suspension surprises with its compliance and does not jar or thump over damaged bitumen.
But the steering is vague and the brakes feel like sponges. It is a basic, yet honest van.
The materials and fit and finish were good and the colours chosen for the plastics were creams and browns, hinting more at a European vehicle than one from China.
A third Maxus van— a deluxe, leather-trimmed model used for the 180km road trip to Shanghai airport— proved as quiet, comfortable and as neatly fitted as any rival.