New special-edition ute previews locally-tuned suspension to be rolled out across the rest of the Chinese ute range. 

The Chinese LDV T60 ute is poised to better handle harsh Australian backroads after joining the growing number of imported vehicles opting for locally-tuned suspension.

The LDV T60 has been updated with suspension tuning by Walkinshaw Automotive Group – using the same team of engineers who developed Holden Special Vehicles over the past 30 years, including the HSV SportsCat pick-up.

While the suspension testing and tuning was done out of Melbourne and on Victorian backroads, once the calibration was finalised the factory in China adopted the changes on the production line in late 2018 ahead of 2019 showroom arrivals.

The first batch of LDV T60s to gain the Australian-tuned suspension is the limited edition Trailrider – which arrives this month – though the rest of the ute range is expected to gain the same suspension improvements later in the year following further evaluation and testing on 17-inch wheels and all-terrain tyres.

The Trailrider is the new flagship of the LDV T60 fleet with a $4000 price premium over the Luxe model on which it is based.

For ABN holders the LDV T60 currently ranges from $28,990 drive-away for the Pro manual, $30,990 drive-away for the Pro auto, $32,990 drive-away for the Luxe manual and $34,990 drive-away for the Luxe auto. Prices for private buyers add between $1500 to $1800, depending on the model.

The Trailrider manual is $36,990 drive-away and the Trailrider auto is $38,990 drive-away for ABN holders – or $38,937 drive-away and $41,042 drive-away (respectively) for private buyers.

That said, CarAdvice understands it should be possible for private buyers to negotiate the ABN price without much arm-twisting.

The LDV T60 Trailrider gains 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Continental highway tyres, a black nudge bar, sports bar and side steps, a blacked-out grille, Trailrider decals, and a lockable Mountain Top roller tonneau cover. A tow bar remains an optional extra.

Standard equipment on the Trailrider includes a 360 degree camera in addition to the Luxe’s blind spot monitoring and tyre pressure warning.

Infotainment includes a 10-inch touch screen display with smart phone connection by Bluetooth or USB, a sensor key with push-button start, roof rails, power windows, air conditioning, and adaptive LED headlights.

Leather trim is standard on the seats – six-way electronically controlled in the front – and on the steering wheel. However the steering wheel controls still lack illumination at night.

Cruise control is standard as are automatic wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror and dusk-sensing headlights. The heated convex side mirrors fold automatically when the car is locked.

Autonomous emergency braking is yet to be made available on the LDV T60 even though other recently updated utes have gained the advanced safety tech.

There are no changes to the LDV T60’s engine: a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (110kW/360Nm) which has a modest power output versus its rivals. It’s paired to either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto.

All T60s have four-wheel drive with high and low range while the Trailrider, as with the Luxe, adds an on-demand rear differential lock.

All T60s remain rated to a three-tonne towing capacity with a braked trailer.

When it went on sale in 2017 the suspension of the LDV T60 ute was widely criticised by Australian media for being unsuitable for local roads, as it was too floaty and not as composed as its ute rivals.

Over the following 18 months, the company began taking the steps required to find a more suitable calibration, eventually putting it into production in China based on feedback from engineers in Australia who developed a more suitable shock absorber rating.

The steering, suspension geometry, and front and rear springs are unchanged from the original T60 launched in 2017, however the shock absorbers now have a new calibration to better handle bumps.

“The suspension calibration has been refined to produce ride and handling that is more in tune with Australian consumer preferences,” said Dinesh Chinnappa, general manager of LDV Automotive Australia.

“It is the result of the Walkinshaw Automotive Group working closely with LDV in China to produce a new and unique suspension calibration that is ideally suited to Australian road conditions and driver requirements.”

LDV Australia will introduce 650 limited edition Trailriders – in red, white, grey or black – whose accessories are fitted locally before being freighted to dealers ready for delivery.

As with the rest of the LDV T60 range, the Trailrider is covered by a five-year/130,000km warranty with 24 hour roadside assistance.