I’m sure like many others out there, the Easter holidays for our family represent a chance to spend time with loved ones. And when the rellos are all dispersed a few hours on either side of Sydney, the Easter holidays also happen to include bulk hours behind the wheel.
The vehicle of choice for Purcell Easter 2021 was none other than the 2021 LDV Deliver 9 11-seat van. And after adding approximately 1200km to the odometer of this LDV, I eventually gave it back with something of a heavy heart.
|2021 LDV Deliver 9|
|Engine||2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power and torque||108kW @ 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, Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter|
|Price as tested (drive-away)||$55,779|
What’s more, the big bus has taken the mantle as favourite family car of all time, according to my three-year-old daughter. Since it has gone back, she has asked for it more than a few times.
Priced from $50,708, this variant adds seating for seven into LDV’s new Deliver 9 van. It can also be had as a 14-seater on a longer wheelbase ($52,622), or as a long wheelbase with a high roof ($54,536).
The Deliver 9 comes with LDV’s three-year and 160,000km warranty, and servicing for the first three years or 95,000km comes under a capped-price program. While the first service is due after 5000km, the next three visits aren’t required until the Deliver 9 clocks up 30,000km (or 12 months). Those are some long intervals.
And while the Deliver 9 doesn't come with an ANCAP safety rating, the LDV does have some decent safety credentials: autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning and six airbags, including double curtain airbags.
|Deliver 9 service schedule||Manual transmission||Automatic transmission|
|5000km / 6 months||$325||$287|
|35,000km / 12 months||$400||$400|
|65,000km / 24 months||$575||$580|
|95,000km / 36 months||$595||$695|
Why did we travel so many kilometres? Firstly, we travelled up to the Hunter region – where my side of the family lives – and proceeded to load the Deliver 9 up with 11 humans for a run into the Upper Hunter. These roads were a good test as well: pockmarked, off-camber, curving and narrow.
Then, we headed down the other side of Sydney to see the other side of the family – the outlaws – in the Southern Highlands. And after all of that time, I found this to be a very good van. Just like the non-11-seater variant, funnily enough.
Firstly, the Deliver 9 handles big bumps and rough roads well. Only the sharp hits translate into the cabin, but composure is quickly re-attained. Only when barrelling down some dodgy country roads – with a full complement of passengers on board – did the Deliver 9 start to feel a little floaty and underdamped. The problem was quickly solved by slowing down slightly.
And for a big van, the steering is easy and far from onerous, allowing low-effort driving around town. The turning circle of 13.0m is similar to a four-wheel-drive ute.
The steering did start to feel unsettled at highway speeds, however. At 110km/h, there was a slight shimmying feeling, as well as a bit of off-centre vagueness to contend with. We also noticed our tester started pulling slightly to the left towards the end of our loan, indicating that it was due for an alignment.
The 2.0-litre engine compares decently with most of its competition, not lagging demonstrably in either power or torque. There's 110kW that comes on tap at 3500rpm, and 375Nm is available between 1500 and 2400rpm.
And in application, it’s a good performer. There seems to be enough acceleration on offer in all gears and situations, and is even able to accelerate gently up steep highway hills.
The gearbox – a six-speed automatic – is faultless. It shifts smartly and not too often, and proved to a good companion for the diesel power plant.
However, it has the potential to be a little thirsty. We saw as high as 13.0 litres per 100km in the early stages of our review, but sustained long highway driving saw this average trickle down to 11.8L/100km by the end. But in its defence, it’s a big box being pushed through the air.
The infotainment display is big at 10.1 inches, but the operating system is poor. Functionality isn’t great, and useful features are hard to find. Although, if you’ve got an Apple smartphone it’s a moot point, because Apple CarPlay will be your mode of choice. Android users aren’t afforded the same luxury unfortunately.
In front of the driver, a basic multifunction display shows information like a trip computer, digital speed readout, lane-departure warning and other driving aids.
A big windscreen and big mirrors work well for visibility, with the latter having a smaller wide-angle mirror to help with blind spots and reverse parking alike.
The rear-view camera sits high on the roof giving a bird's-eye view of reversing procedures. It works well, but the image quality isn’t perfect. Colour hues are reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project, but it’s good enough to help navigate tricky reversing procedures.
There are a couple of cupholders for those up front, along with a parcel shelf, dashboard storage, fold-out 12V power outlet, two USB outlets, and a large blank spot for something like a UHF radio.
With room for three up front, the rear area is set up for eight passengers in a bus-style configuration. An electric folding step deploys as the large sliding door opens, and along with the sturdy handrails, access even for the less nimble amongst us is improved.
Passenger seats are more carlike and comfortable, instead of a flat bench you might find on a bus. The windows are big and the air-conditioning is effective. The mid-sized roof is high enough for passengers to stand up, and a higher roof option is optional with the longer wheelbase.
What's perhaps most appealing about this van for commercial and industrial buyers is that it’s ready for action straight off the showroom floor.
However, with 11 passengers on board, there isn’t much room left over for luggage or other bulky items. The amount of available space behind the rearmost passengers is meagre, so you might need to fold down three seats if you want to also carry chattels.
If you need to tow, the Deliver 9 comes with a 2800kg towing capacity.
Your other option is spending a little more on a long-wheelbase van with an extra row of seats (or luggage storage). However, having this number of seats on board does require special licensing and registration. This 11-seater van can be legally driven on a regular passenger licence.
The Deliver 9 bus proved to be a strange but effective form of family transport for us over the Easter holidays, even if that isn’t the intended purpose of this car.
Like other vehicles in LDV’s range, the Deliver 9 bus is able to undercut the competition noticeably in the value-for-money stakes. And importantly, there isn’t a big negative impact in the day-to-day livability and effectiveness of operating as a small bus. It’s comfortable and has good safety credentials, and powered by a smooth and torquey – if a little thirsty – power plant.