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Driven: LDV lands van ‘game changer’

Load up: LDV’s G10 van is the first home-grown light-commercial vehicle from China’s giant SAIC motor company that is best known for its joint ventures with GM and Volkswagen.

China’s LDV set to lure value-conscious tradies and families with its G10 van range


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16 Jun 2015

CHINA’S biggest motor company, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), is gunning for Australia’s top-selling vans and people-movers with its first homegrown light van that it is billing as the best value in its league.

To be sold under the LDV banner and distributed by Sydney-based Ateco Automotive through a 35-strong national dealer network from July 1, the rear-wheel-drive G10 one-box van will jump out of the blocks with a sub-$30,000 driveaway price – up to thousands of dollars cheaper than equivalent vans from Japan, Korea and Europe.

Armed with smooth styling, a healthy turbocharged petrol engine and sophisticated German-engineered ZF automatic transmission as standard equipment, the G10 will be offered in a single one-tonne goods van specification and two people-mover guises with a choice of seven or nine seats.

LDV Automotive Australia is promising the largest advertising blitz of its type in the class as it launches the G10 – a smaller brother to the LDV V80 van and mini bus combo launched by Ateco last year in Australia.

Unlike the V80 that was originally designed and engineered in Britain as the Maxus by the now defunct Leyland DAF Vehicles before that company was bought by SAIC, the G10 is SAIC’s own effort, partly engineered at the Shanghai technical centre that it shares with joint-venture partner General Motors.

The V80 and G10 will be joined in Australia by an all-new one-tonne ute and related SUV in 2017 as SAIC grows its LDV export business alongside its MG car operation.

LDV Automotive Australia general manager Dinesh Chinnappa told GoAuto the G10 would be the brand’s top seller by a factor of about four to one over the V80 due to its convenient size, performance and value.

He said the G10 would move LDV into the mainstream commercial vehicle market in Australia where the goods van would be pitched at fleets, tradies and couriers, while the people-mover would be aimed at families and the shuttle van market.

“It’s our game-changer,” he said. “We believe the G10 is the best value in the class by any measure.”

In goods van guise, the G10 comes in just one specification with automatic transmission, priced at $29,990 driveaway for ABN holders – a buyer class that is expected to make up more than 85 per cent of purchasers. Without an ABN, the price slips up to $31,569.

The passenger version is priced at $29,990 driveaway for the three-row seven-seater and $32,990 driveaway for the four-row nine-seat version.

For now, all G10 variants are powered by a SAIC-developed 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine developing a handy 165kW of power and 345Nm of torque, but a diesel alternative is in the pipeline for delivery in Australia at some point.

Instead of using an off-the-shelf diesel engine such as the Italian-designed VM Motori unit employed in the LDV V80, SAIC instead is developing its own diesel powerplant to sit alongside its home-grown turbo-petrol engine that, apart from the G10, does duty in SAIC’s MG range.

In China, the G10 also gets the ubiquitous Mitsubishi-sourced 2.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine in a cheaper variant, but that will not make the boat to Australia.

At launch, the only transmission on offer is a ZF six-speed automatic, but a six-speed manual will be added to the line-up later this year.

Although the new LDV van will be aimed at all-comers in the class, including the top-selling Toyota HiAce, Renault Traffic, Mercedes-Benz Vito and Ford Transit Custom, its closest competitor in this market is likely to be Hyundai’s iLoad/iMax twins that start at $30,990 and $38,290 plus on-road costs respectively.

However, like many entrants in this segment, the petrol versions of the Hyundai van come only with a manual gearbox, with automatic only available with the more expensive diesel powertrain.

Size-wise, there is not much in it, with the Chinese vehicle 23mm longer (5168mm), 60mm wider (1980mm) and 7mm shorter (1928mm) than the Hyundai.

The LDV G10 has the edge on power and torque, with its 165kW/345Nm force-fed petrol engine not only outpacing the Hyundai’s naturally aspirated but bigger 2.4-litre engine’s 129kW and 228Nm but most others in this class.

The combined fuel consumption of the G10 is rated at 11.7 litres per 100km for all variants, which is more than the iLoad’s 10.1L/100km and iMax’s 10.6L/100km.

The G10 rides on MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a coil-sprung five-link set-up at the rear. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are standard across the range, as are all-round disc brakes.

The goods van gets two passenger seats, with two side sliding doors and a rear hatch providing access to a 5.2-square-metre cargo space.

The cargo bed can cope with loads up to 2365mm long and 1235mm wide and weighing up to 1093kg.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, audio system with two speakers, MP3 connection and DVD player, seven-inch LCD screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connection, power side mirrors, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, rearview camera and parking sensors.

All variants get anti-rollover stability control, as well as the usual ESC, ABS and electronic brake-force distribution, but only two front airbags are fitted.

Head-protecting side airbags are unavailable, on any row.

While the goods van has black plastic grille and other working-class touches, the people-mover goes more upmarket with chrome grille, chrome doorhandles and similar passenger-car styling flourishes.

The goods van gets hard-wearing cloth upholstery in a light grey, while the passenger van has softer cloth upholstery on the seven-seater and leather on the nine-seater.

The passenger vans have so-called captain’s chairs with folding armrests in the forward rows, with a walk-through aisle to the three-seat bench at the back.

The nine-seater’s rearmost seat excludes luggage space when in the upright position, but it can be folded forward when not in use to make way for cargo.

The seatback splits 60:40 too, for extra flexibility.

Air-conditioning is standard on all variants, but people-movers get rear seat vents with separate controls.

The audio system also steps up to six speakers in the seated vans, with controls on the steering wheel.

Other extra gear in the passenger vans includes heated exterior mirrors, adaptive Xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear foglamps and tyre pressure monitoring.

All G10 variants are covered by a 100,000km, three-year warranty and roadside assist.

LDV G10 driveaway pricing:
Van (a) $29,990*
Van (a)$31,569
People-mover seven seats (a)$29,990
People-mover nine seats (a)$32,990
*Entry price for ABN holders

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