British van brand LDV has returned to the commercial vehicle market with this large-segment V80 model. Jonathan Crouch checks out what's on offer.
No, of course LDV's V80 doesn't have the sophistication of the volume players in the large van segment. It wouldn't do because it costs a fraction of what those vans are priced at. Yet it will probably serve the needs of your business just as well. In short, if you need profit more than polish, this contender could be worth a try.
If you're familiar with the UK van sector, you'll probably be familiar with the LDV name and might well know that the company succumbed to financial pressures and closed for business in 2009. Well in 2016, the brand was re-launched, having been bought by Chinese automotive giant SAIC, the seventh largest vehicle manufacturer in the world. This conglomerate has big plans for the marque that will see the future introduction of all-new medium and large-sized van models as well as a pick-up.
For the time being though, it must campaign with the Maxus large segment van model that LDV's previous owners were selling when the receivers turned up. SAIC have re-badged this design as the 'V80', spruced it up a bit and put it on sale for the kind of money that would only buy you a potentially quite ropey secondhand version of a competitor in this segment. Does the proposition make sense? That's what we're here to find out.
On the move, you get a 2.5-litre four cylinder diesel beneath your right foot sourced from Italian firm VM Motori. It's been matched with front-wheel drive and puts out 136bhp, so yes, the performance on offer is likely to be quite sufficient for your needs. This engine's not particularly refined, but the reasonably slick six-speed manual gearbox has been set up to make the most of the 330Nm of torque on offer and this unit pulls quite well, provided you keep within its pulling power sweet spot. If your business deliveries will be primarily urban-based, LDV hopes you'll consider the alternative all-electric version of this model, the EV80. Here, a 56kWh lithium-ion battery combines with a 100KW electric motor to produce an operating range of up to 120 miles.
There's nothing much wrong with the way this V80 model looks - you wouldn't immediately pigeonhole it as a dated design. The same applies when you take a seat inside. There's a 'de rigeur' fascia-mounted gearstick for example, sprouting from the centre console so clearing floor space for improved cross-cabin access. It falls easily to hand and the shifting action between the six ratios has a firm, positive feel to it. Elsewhere in the cab, the instrument binnacle is centrally located at the top of the centre stack. This is far from ideal, with the driver forced to glance over to the left to keep a check on the vehicle's speed, but it facilitates the V80's simple conversion from right-hand drive to left-hand drive for important European markets.
You won't be expecting tactile plastics around the cabin - and you don't get them. You might though, want a little more interior storage than this LDV provides, though you do get an overhead storage shelf. Just be careful what you put on it. Unfortunately, there's no steering wheel adjustment but the driver's seat is actually quite comfortable, with eight-way adjustment. Overall though, this feels like a cabin that could withstand the rigours of a hard working life.
Whatever else we say about this van, the thing that you're most keenly going to remember about it is its price, so let's drill down into the detail of that a little here. All the figures we're going to quote are ex-VAT ones, as we'd assume your business would have VAT-reclaimable status. For the V80, things kick off at around £16,000 for the short wheelbase low roof model that marks the entry-point to the range. Most company buyers though, are going to want the long wheelbase body style we tried, which costs from around £20,500 in 'medium' roof form or from just over £21,000 in the high roof guise. LDV is also offering a five year finance package with ex-VAT prices starting at less than £200 a month.
Of course, there are other body styles if you want them, with Chassis cab, Tipper, Drop sider and Luton variants all available in the £20,000 to £25,000 bracket. LDV is also targeting the people carrying market too, with a seated-up 'Mini B' 15-seater minibus variant based on the long wheelbase high roof panel van and costing from just over £32,000.
The LDV V80 is being offered in three body styles; a low roof short wheelbase model, a medium roof long wheelbase variant and a high roof long wheelbase derivative. The longer wheelbase adds 750mm to the vehicle length, and the medium roof shape adds 213mm to the height, with the high roof being another 215mm taller. Cargo volume goes up from 6.9 to 11.m3 in the biggest bodyshape. The load area is accessed by a rubber step to the rear or via the single side-loading door on the nearside. It includes nine tie-down points, load area lighting and an easy-clean non-slip cargo mat. The rear door goes to 90 degrees, or round to 270 by removing the door stays.
Don't go expecting running costs equating o the large van market's current efficiency standard but you could potentially live with running a V80. The combined fuel economy is quoted at 31.7mpg, while the CO2 figure is 250g/km.Service intervals are set at every 15,000 miles. LDV is also offering what it calls a 555 package of five year warranty and roadside assist, plus a five-year finance package with prices from £199 per month plus VAT.
Almost all the mainstream light commercial vehicle manufacturers are car manufacturers first and foremost. Visit the franchised dealerships representing these marques and the vans, if there are any, tend to be tucked away in a dingy corner of the forecourt playing second fiddle to the passenger-carrying models under the showroom spotlights. In the majority of cases, this has little bearing on the quality of the service being offered. It's just occasionally, that a business customer may feel the people he's dealing with aren't fully tuned into his needs.
With LDV this is less likely to happen. The company only make vans, so the whole focus of their business is van buyers and their specific requirements. And if that requirement is to facilitate the purchase of the best value large van on the market, this V80 model answers that call.
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