LDV is on the upward march, and perhaps nothing shows the vast improvements this Chinese car manufacturer is making better than the 2020 LDV Deliver 9, the brand's new commercial van.
We’ve already seen what its car and SUV arm can do with new MG vehicles (owned by the same parent company, China's SAIC), even pushing the envelope in the leading-edge electric car space with enticing vehicles at a sharp price.
Ours is the long-wheelbase Deliver 9 with an automatic transmission and mid-roof option, which garners a retail price of $44,726 drive-away. Happy with a six-speed manual? You can save $2361 by opting for three pedals. ABN holders get sharper pricing still: $42,490 drive-away for the Deliver 9 automatic or $39,990 drive-away for the manual in LWB mid-roof guise.
That goes a long way to undercut those key rivals from Renault, Volkswagen and Mercedes.
And if this is a little too big, spend $43,148 ($40,990 with an ABN) on a shorter-wheelbase Deliver 9. Or, go all out with a high roof and long wheelbase, spending $46,831 (or $44,490 for eligible businesses) all drive-away. There are also cab-chassis options, as well as 11-seat and 14-seat bus configurations due to join the range soon.
|2020 LDV Deliver 9|
|Engine||2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power and torque||110kW @ 3500rpm, 375Nm @ 1500–2400rpm|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel consumption, claimed||7.6L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating (year)||Untested|
|Warranty (years / km)||3 years/160,000km|
|Main competitors||Renault Master, Volkswagen Crafter, Mercedes Sprinter|
|Price as tested (drive-away)||$44,726|
So, less asking price. Does that mean the quality of the product is lesser? In a word, no. This LDV Deliver 9 is an impressive van that can hold its own against the established competition.
Under the bonnet, there’s an engine shared with the T60 Trailrider 2 ute: a 2.0-litre turbo diesel unit that makes 110kW @ 3500rpm and 375Nm @ 1500–2400rpm. That’s 10kW less than the ute, but this turned out to be a significantly more refined experience from behind the wheel. Whereas the T60 was noticeably loud and rattling both idling and under load, the Deliver 9 is a much more muted experience.
Performance from the 2.0-litre engine is decent, also. It’s geared in a manner through the six-speed transmission to take off smartly and get up to speed without feeling dowdy. The gearbox is smooth and makes good shifting decisions, even offering good gradient braking down hills on the highway.
Overall, it’s comfortable and car-like from behind the wheel. Perhaps not as much as others in the segment, granted. But still, it’s a polished and, for a van, refined experience.
However, a van like this when used properly will rarely be unladen. And with a 1600kg payload, it’s got a big appetite for load.
So, we travelled down to our favourite landscape supply store in western Sydney, Nepean Landscape Supplies, to test this Deliver 9 properly.
The Deliver 9’s side-opening doors, which have a listed width of 1269mm, were a little tight for our forklift operator to navigate. Perhaps something like a pallet jack would be able to fit an 1165mm pallet on easily. And that’s good, because there are four tie-down points ready up front to secure something pallet-shaped.
|2020 LDV Deliver 9|
|Width||2062mm (2466mm incl. mirrors)|
|Cargo area length||3413mm|
|Cargo area width||1800mm|
|Cargo area height||1792mm|
|Rear door opening width||1570mm|
|Rear door opening height||1656mm|
|Side door opening width||1269mm|
|Side door opening height||1570mm|
|Braked towing capacity||2800kg|
|Unbaked towing capacity||750kg|
Our test pallet of cement, weighing 1400kg, ended up going in at the back directly over the rear axle, accommodated by another set of smartly laid out tie-down points (making eight in total). Going onto the soft vinyl flooring in the back, it was tied down and off we went.
Driveline performance remained decent, with enough acceleration on offer to not feel red-faced in traffic. Suspension performance isn’t bad, either, although you probably wouldn’t want to have this much weight directly over the rear wheels all the time. The leaf springs went into inversion territory by this stage, which isn’t a problem, but the bump stops were touching, or very close to, the chassis.
But because the bump stops are a long and soft design, there wasn’t any harsh feedback or bump translation into the cabin while driving. You can certainly feel the weight on board; the back sags down and steering lightens off. Noticeably, but not overly so.
On the highway, the engine does a decent job of hurtling along fully loaded. It starts revving a little more, but only loses pace up steep hills. The brakes are starting to work towards their upper limit when fully loaded, as well.
In our test, we used 10.4 litres of diesel per 100km on average.
While the rear-view camera's clarity isn’t amazing, the high position gives a bird's eye view of what's happening. Side mirrors are big double-barrel units, and both adjustable so you can keep an eye on gutters and blinds spots alike.
The stop-start system isn’t as fast to react at times, and can leave you in a pickle at intersections. You can pre-empt restarting the motor early or turn the system off altogether.
It’s also worth noting that the Deliver 9 asks for 71psi in the back tyres when fully loaded, but many service station air pumps max out at 60psi. So, some might need to carry their own air compressor to help out.
In terms of safety, the Deliver 9 has autonomous emergency braking, stability control, lane-departure warning, and a good complement of airbags: front, side and curtain for driver and passenger alike.
And for $1500, you can add in blind-spot detection, lane-change assist, keyless entry and wider (236 degrees) opening rear doors, as a package.
Ergonomically, the Deliver 9 is quite good. The seats are good, but not as good as others I have experienced in the segment. Under-thigh support could be more generous – look at the Crafter as being one of the better in this regard. The Deliver 9 would be improved with an outboard armrest for the driver.
LDV clearly looked at the European playbook for inspiration in this Deliver 9, and the end product is no doubt impressive. It would be solid for a passenger car, but for a van it’s well executed.
There are a few handy hidey-holes for storage littered around the cabin, along with two USB ports and a 12V plug that pops out with an ashtray in the lower part of the dashboard.
Switchgear and functionality all seem good, but the Deliver 9 perhaps doesn’t have the same high level of cupholders and storage nooks that some other vans have. Under-seat storage is there, however, with enough room for backpacks under the passenger seats.
The infotainment display is huge, and shared across a lot of other SAIC (parent company) vehicles. It’s 10.1 inches in size, but the operating system isn’t very good. Functions are either hard to find or not there at all, but it’s all redundant when you plug your Apple iPhone in. CarPlay works well, but Android Auto is left out in the rain unfortunately.
There’s room for three up front, although one in the middle might be a little short on leg room. Look up and find a big parcel shelf, along with a spot for UHF radio. And even higher is another shelf nestled in the roof, which is handy for additional storage that you don’t want to access while seated.
Of course, make this space even bigger with the high-roof Deliver 9 option.
In terms of warranty, the LDV van has a relatively meagre three-year, 160,000km warranty. This isn’t as good as some of the competition.
Servicing costs are set at $1962 for the first three years, with a first service at six months/5000km, then 12 months/35,000km followed by yearly check-ups or 35,000km intervals. The manual gearbox is slightly cheaper at $1895.
There’s no doubt that this LDV still boils down to a price comparison to its more established and better-polished brethren in the segment.
However, an assumption that this is just a cheap, crappy van misses the mark wildly. Yes, it’s cheaper, but it presents well inside and out, is comfortable, capable and competent as a commercial vehicle.