LDV T60 UTE TEST
Mike Stock takes a look at the Chinese van maker’s first-ever ute, and Arna Evans assesses its suitability as family transport.
LDV’S T60 UTE SCORED TWO FIRSTS BEFORE IT EVEN REACHED New Zealand showrooms.
It was the Chinese van manufacturer’s first-ever ute, and it was the first Chinese-built light commercial vehicle to win the top fivestar safety rating in ANCAP crash testing.
To get the T60 to us for tow testing (see tow test in Decemberjanuary LCV), LDV New Zealand quickly prepared a fresh-fromthe-boat ute that had fewer than 10km on the odometer when we picked it up.
To say the engine was tight is an understatement, but tow tester Dean Evans put 600km on it and by the time it came back to me it was considerably freer and the performance much livelier.
The test vehicle was the range-topping Luxury model which is well-equipped and comes with a six-speaker sound and infotainment system that is Bluetooth and Mp5-compatible. It has smartphone integration with Apple Carplay and Google Android.
Automatic air-conditioning is standard, and there are daylight running lights, blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, traction control, a tyre pressure-monitoring system, cruise-control, and a reversing camera.
The heated front seats are electrically adjustable and are leatherupholstered, and the T60 has a smart key and push-button engine on/engine off.
The electrically-adjustable exterior mirrors are heated and autofold when the engine is switched off
A 2.8-litre turbodiesel with a variable geometry turbocharger provides the T60 with strong power.
Maximum horsepower is 110kw at 3400Nm, and peak torque is a useful 360Nm which arrives at 1600rpm and is on-stream until 2800. That’s enough to give the T60 the grunt to tow up to three tonnes on a braked trailer.
Acceleration improved the more miles the ute covered, and we’d expect engine performance to continue to do so.
It’s not the quietest diesel, though engine noise levels are no greater than in, say, an Isuzu D-max. But quiet and refined like the Ford Ranger’s five-cylinder or the new Rexton’s 2.2-litre it isn’t.
That said, the engine noise is no deal-breaker. It’s not a roughand-clattery unit like the agricultural Perkins motor in the original Land Rover Discovery.
The turbodiesel drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox which delivers smooth ratio shifts and good kick-down performance. A rotary dial engages or disengages fourwheel drive.
I had no difficulty achieving a comfortable seating position – though the steering wheel is adjustable only for height not reach – and the seats provided good lateral support.
We ran the T60 over our regular 160km-plus test loop which mixes urban, motorway, state highway and narrow, winding country roads and found its on-road behaviour to be better than good.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel has a comfortable diameter, and the T60 turned-in to corners crisply, tracking accurately.
The basic handling trait is mild understeer, and the ESC kept the rear end in line. Gone are the days when a rear-wheel drive ute would step its tail out if you mashed the throttle injudiciously as
you exited a corner, or the road was greasy or wet.
The T60 tracked well through our favourite sequence of corners that culminates in a descent over a blind brow into a tricky lefthander.
In fact, on the sweeping corners than precede that section of narrow rural road and the truly demanding former rally special stage that follows it, the LDV acquitted itself well.
It wasn’t as fluid, say, as a Ranger or Holden Colorado in the same terrain, but coped impressively well.
The four-wheel disc brakes – a rarity on a ute – performed well, providing strong fade-free braking in winding going.
The biggest irritation was the lack of a rest for the driver’s left foot – surely a simple fix and one which would improve driver comfort significantly.
Ride quality is a mixed bag. Both LDV utes use a double wishbone front suspension and a leaf-sprung solid rear axle. The workhorse-oriented T60 gets heavy duty springing on both axles, and as a consequence has a lumpy ride.
The upscale Luxury has been re-tuned to provide a better ride. Around town it still felt firm but not uncomfortably so, and on smooth surfaced roads at highway speeds it produced a comfortable ride.
The issue came on uneven surfaces – some long straight roads on our test loop run across peatland – and here the T60 jumped around a little and had a “floaty” feel.
It was cured by shaving a few kilometres per hour off the speed we were doing, but we’d have liked the ute to feel more composed.
We feel a bit more attention paid to achieving a better compromise on uneven-surfaced roads would make the T60 Luxury a better vehicle, especially for passengers.
We’ve heard anecdotally that some critics have said the workhorse model’s ride is too hard and the Luxury’s is too soft.
We suspect that what they mean by the latter is that the body control is not as good as it should be which may result from the dampers being softened up too much in the quest for a better ride.
Incidentally, the Ranger was also less than composed over these same roads, and LDV is said to have used the Ford as a benchmark when developing the T60.
Overall, LDV’S first ute is a solid entry into the market’s most competitive segment. It’s well-equipped, has solid safety credentials, and drives well.
How well it will fare in the reliability and durability stakes only time can tell. To some extent, early adopters of new arrivals always take a leap of faith and their experiences will form part of a model’s development. However, LDV New Zealand is confident enough in the T60 to offer a five year/130,000km warranty.
Virtually all road test vehicles that come to motoring media are low mileage and you’d expect them to be fault-free; however, minor rattles are not uncommon, and occasionally there’s a mechanical glitch.
But the LDV was rattle-free, seemed to be well-built, and performed better the more kilometres we put on it. It looks like a ute with real potential.
Frontal styling is dominated by huge chromed grille. The T60 has real on-road presence.
Above: Chrome treatment carries over to the rear bumper. Test ute had factory-designed and fitted sports bar.
Above right: T60’s lines are clean in profile, and ute’s dimensions are ballpark with Ford Ranger;s.
Right: T60’s 2.8-litre turbodiesel motor is a touch noisy but produces strong power and torque.