LDV is part of the SAIC conglomerate, which beyond the use of way too many letters when you combine the two, is also the biggest automobile manufacturer in China – and that’s something to take note of, especially in a market of that size and growing. Here, we’re taking a closer look at the 2020 LDV G10 diesel van – positioning itself as a cost-effective alternative to the main players.
You can also get a petrol engine if you prefer, although most buyers in this segment would tend toward diesel I reckon. There’s a solid 5.2 cubic metres of cargo space, 1010kg payload, two sliding doors through the middle and a top-hinged tailgate. Upgrades back in 2019 included smartphone connectivity.
Price is the main reason you’re going to be sidling into an LDV dealership, and pricing is undoubtedly sharp. Our tester starts from $31,569 plus on-road costs. Normally. At the time of testing, you could have one for $30,990 drive-away. Keep in mind, too, that LDV is regularly running special offers on product, so the list price is usually a starting guide. Regardless, this is a lot of van for 31 grand, there’s no doubt about that. You won’t be able to price one of the heavy hitters near the LDV – around 10 grand more in fact.
The powertrain – on paper at least – is largely as expected for this segment. You get a 1.9-litre turbo diesel engine that makes 106kW and 350Nm mated to a six-speed ZF automatic. While those power and torque figures aren’t mind-boggling by any means, unladen, the van feels quite zippy for something of this size. I spent some time on test with approximately 500kg in the load space, and likewise it gets around town pretty efficiently with some weight over the rear axle.
The diesel auto’s ADR fuel claim is pretty frugal, too – 8.6L/100km on the combined cycle. After a week of testing, largely around town in traffic, we saw an indicated figure of 9.6L/100km. That’s not too bad at all for a workhorse that is going to ply its trade (much of it anyway) in built-up areas in traffic.
Hop up into the driver’s seat and the G10’s cab feels pretty broad. There’s a sizeable gap between the seats (that you can walk through) and a clever storage organiser on the floor in that gap. The driver gets an armrest and height adjust, and you can adjust the seat such that drivers of all heights can get comfortable and make the most of the visibility on offer. The passenger seat also has an armrest. It’s not often that there isn’t at least one CarAdvice tester annoyed with the driving position, but everyone liked the G10.
Driving comfort is aided by the tilt-adjustable steering wheel, but it doesn’t move for reach – so that would be an added bonus. Next model please, LDV. Bluetooth worked reliably on test, but the smartphone interface was even better. Also standard is the rear-view camera (an absolute must in this segment) and cruise control, which the auto gets standard.
It’s hard to predict how a commercial vehicle will wear, but the black trim (leatherette and cloth) on the seats looks pretty tough and hard wearing, and appears to be robust enough not to fall to pieces quickly. Some of the switchgear in the centre console is hard to decipher initially, but you eventually work it out. The AC controls were all easy to understand, and the 7.0-inch touchscreen was responsive. On the left of the steering wheel, you’ll find the cruise controls and, on the right, you get audio controls and phone.
The storage space is useful in the front part of the cabin, with that aforementioned tray between the seats, retractable cup/bottle holders in the centre of the dash, and proper door pockets that will also store bottles.
In the cargo space, that cubic metreage is almost entirely useable, too. The wheel tubs are on the small side and don’t encroach into the floor too much, on the subject of which, it’s a sturdy flat floor as well, rather than the bare metal you might have expected. There are robust tie-down spots (on the floor and along the edge of the wheel arches) throughout the cargo section, and the lining carries on halfway up the walls. There are also four useful lights in the cargo area, as well.
The size of the tailgate is a factor, in that it’s a big unit to open and close, until you have to stand under it in the rain. Then you’re more than happy that it’s the size it is. Or, you can spend an extra $600 and swap out the tailgate for barn doors.
Having sliding doors on both sides is a masterstroke, as well, and it makes something like strapping a motorcycle down, for example, way easier than it otherwise would be if you had to climb across it. It’s one of those things you don’t think you need, until you do.
Our tester didn’t have a partition into the cargo space, and while I did walk through the seats a couple of times to check tie-downs or make sure things hadn’t moved around, I’d prefer sectioning off the cab from the rear. If it is particularly hot or cold, it will be a lot easier to make the driver’s compartment comfortable, for example.
Size-wise, the G10 is behind the new HiAce, which grew significantly with the all-new model, but on par with another van we like at CarAdvice, the Renault Trafic SWB. So, it’s very much fighting for recognition in that mid-size van segment.
Somewhat strangely, the automatic variants have a five-link, coil-spring architecture at the back, which does two things. One, it flies in the face of the leaf spring apologists who rant on about load carrying to explain away otherwise ancient design, and two, it helps the G10 ride quite proficiently on the road.
It rides genuinely competently, with or without weight in the tray, and the rear end helps it iron out the surfaces beneath it, but also settle quickly when the road is particularly bad. The steering is sharp enough, too, and it doesn’t do any wallowing or floating at high speed. It rolls along at freeway speed quite comfortably.
The LDV G10 is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assistance included for that period, as well. Servicing is required every 12 months or 10,000km. At the time of testing, the LDV website was quoting 81 dealers around the country, with the big cities particularly well catered for. There’s even a dealer in Darwin.
While the G10 doesn’t get a five-star ANCAP rating (tested back in 2015, it received a three-star rating), it does get ESP, ABS, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist, and electronic stability control with a feature called Electronic Roll Movement Intervention.
The only glaring negative for the LDV G10 is the safety rating, then. And, not so long ago, its three-star rating would have been par for the course in this segment. However, the commercial van sector has – finally – moved quite some way forward in both what is expected by the buyers and what is delivered by the manufacturers.
As such, despite the value equation and the fact that it’s actually a good thing to drive, the LDV G10 is a tough one to recommend in an improved segment. If your budget won’t stretch to the best in the segment brand new, then you’d certainly be better off with a new LDV compared to a second-hand van with hundreds of thousands of kilometres under its belt, though.