Commercial vehicle reviews for me have never gone passed pick-up trucks, of which I have had my fair share and one of which in particular got the same reaction as this new LDV V80 van has gotten from the masses. A reaction of “what is that thing” or after a sharp inhale of breath “sure are they not Chinese, I wouldn’t fancy that”.
Well like the Great Wall Steed pick-up, that has since launch, proved its salt within a country surrounded by badge snobbery and ill acceptance of something new, I really do hope that this all new LDV V80 van range can do the same and open possible minds as to what the brand really offers.
Since 2009 I think it was, the ever popular LDV van hasn’t been in produced since the British firm ceased production due to falling into administration. Recently however, SAIC Motor’s, a Chinese automotive firm took charge and from what I know shipped the UK production lines to China to start afresh.
SAIC Motor’s car sales hit 5.902 million units in 2015, up 5 percent on the previous year and further consolidating its leading position in the domestic auto market and as such to me are in a prime position to reinvigorate what once was with the LDV and bring the all new model to the world market, more affordable than ever.
Outside, the new LDV V80 looks like a van, classic styling that’s freshened up with a new front end incorporating daytime running lamps within the bumper whilst the headlamp clusters have LED side lighting and the heated electric wing mirrors are treated to side indicators.
This model tested is the LWB Hi-Roof version and is fitted with the optional 16 inch alloy wheels, whilst all vans will come as standard with 16” steel wheels. Around the back of the V80 there is an added bonus of parking sensors which come as standard and with one sliding side door and wide opening rear doors the V80 is certainly accomodating.
Coming in three body types the loading space is as follows: V80 Low-Roof SWB has 6.9 cubic metres of space and prices start from £13,500 whilst the Med-Roof LWB model increases this load capacity to 10.2 cubic metres with a starting price of £14,000.
The model we tested is the caption courier of them all however as it is the Hi-Roof LWB version with a fantastic 11.4 cubic metres of space available with prices starting at just £15,000 (all prices stated are plus VAT at current rate). Colour options are simple for the V80 with only four on offer; Blanc White, Aurora Silver, Lava Grey and Olive brown.
Cubic metres and volumes mean naff all to me so for the purposes of an easy explanation, a pair of pallet water tanks fitted in the rear with ease, allowing room to walk around them and in fact even fitted via the side door which makes ease of loading with a forklift for example a breeze (providing you trust the forklift operator as it only has inches to spare).
Also available to order are Chassis Cab models which come as a flat bed drop-side, flat bed tipper and even a luton body meaning the LDV really is a versatile, affordable force to be reckoned with. Inside the cabin of the V80 is again very van like with durable rubber flooring and durable materials everywhere.
It is a little utilitarian, but let’s face it, those vans on the market with plush, car-like interiors are more than double the price and do not fare well with the test of time and huge miles in general so it will be interesting to see just how tough the V80 cabin really is.
Air conditioning, remote central locking and electric windows are all part of the standard package and with three seats up front the V80 is comfortable enough, the driver’s seat comes with an armrest and for me personally I would have liked a little more bolster support from the seats however the driving position was spot on.
Possible buyers will be glad to read that there are huge drinks holders in the door pockets along with two cup holders in the centre of the dash with enough space around the cabin for storage of your annual subscription to the Daily Sport Newspaper and sausage roll wrappers.
Infotainment is kept simple also with the V80 with a basic but functional stereo with AM / FM radio, auxiliary input as well as USB connectivity. Bluetooth comes as standard on all models also and is ideal to get you by on urgent calls, however on a few calls I made the sound quality coming through to the caller wasn’t great I was told with a bit of echo (this could simply be an issue with my handset talking to the van).
Engine wise the V80 is equipped with a well known quantity. A quantity 2.5L that runs on heavy oil and is equipped with a turbocharger and intercooler and derives from Italy. The unit in question is a VM Eco-D which I am informed is renowned for all the right reasons and on the LDV is mated to a Bosch common rail injection system and six speed manual gearbox.
With 136bhp and 243lb/ft of torque this Chinese delivery vehicle is far from sluggish, with a small power band similar to that of an Isuzu D-Max pick-up it picks up well with no need to rev hard and is easily kept within the power in all gears, thus meaning economy is kept around the mid thirties on a combined cycle.
An 80L fuel tank means that long haul journeys won’t be a nuisance in regards refueling and something that has just come to my attention is that I failed to mention earlier that the V80 tested has a payload of just less than 1400kg whilst towing capacity is 2000kg thus a train weight of 5500kg is achievable.
I have been told that even with 2000kg payload on board (a pair of ton pallets in the rear) these vans still pull like a steam train, of which I have no question of doubt, however do not try this on the open roads as a DOE weight bridge may not appreciate such loading.
Driving wise the LDV V80 is a “Lovely Driving Van” indeed and handled well over the two days I tested it and all models come with cruise control which was easily activated via a simple button on the dash. The V80 feels solid on the road and indeed the quality of the van is good with a nice solid thud on closing of doors.
If you are in the market for a derivative of the FIAT Ducato, Renault Master or Ford Transit for example, then I would most certainly be urging a call to Belfast Truck & Van Centre (a sister company of GUS Commercials in Mallusk) on 028 9083 1774 to get a test drive and good look around the LDV V80.
More affordable and with a longer warranty than its rivals the LDV is sure to be a class leader with its 5 year warranty and roadside assistance which will cover up to 125,000 miles. This is staggering for such a new and unknown quantity and demonstrates the confidence SAIC Motor’s have in the brand.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry