It seems that more and more cost conscious van operators are taking a closer look at the LDV range. It may not be the most high spec van on the market, but it is regarded as really good value for money, and it’s getting better, as Van Ireland has been discovering.
We recently had the opportunity to take ‘ownership’ of a V80 high roof model for a few days, allowing several of our ‘test’ drivers – namely Phil Eaglestone and David Stokes – to spend some time behind the wheel to find out about its merits or otherwise.
To be fair, the V80 panel van comes with air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, audio with radio and MP3 connectivity, bluetooth, reverse parking sensors, an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat, electric windows and electric mirrors, so one wonders what else anybody would want in a workhorse.
And there is a host of safety features, to boot – including dual airbags, rear parking sensors and four wheel disc brakes with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution).
Safety hasn’t been forgotten, either, when loading, with the benefit of dual sliding doors ensuring loading and unloading can occur on the safest side of the vehicle.
The instrument panel is centrally located at the top of the centre stack in the cab and to be honest it wasn’t a problem until a professional van operator pointed it out to us. In his opinion, it was a downside, as drivers had to momentarily take their eyes off the road to check on speed and other performance aspects. Personally, we didn’t find it a problem.
Out on the open road, the van performed well. This is a simple van to drive, offering a smooth and comfortable ride. Steering was light and responsive, gear changing was smooth, road holding was great, acceleration was nothing to complain about, the cab was comfortable and spacious and although it wasn’t the quietest, noise levels were easy to live with; maybe we are the type of people who aren’t hard to please!
In terms of practicality, the load area, accessed by a rubber step to the rear or via the single side-loading door on the nearside, features nine tie-down points and adequate lighting, as well as an impressive 11.4 m3 of space.
The LDV V80 is powered by a VM Eco-D 2.5 engine which enjoys a highly regarded reputation, being utilised in many international vehicle brands around the world.
Incidentally, the V80 van comes in three standard variants which make it ideal for any business. Apart from our test model, there is a low roof, short wheelbase version, providing 6.9 m3 of space, and a medium roof, long wheelbase model with 10.2 m3 of space – and it comes with a five-year/124,000 mile warranty, which is not to be sniffed at!
So, bearing in mind the van’s past history can we have confidence in its future? The brand was re-launched several years ago, after the original manufacturers went bust, having been bought by Chinese automotive giant SAIC, the seventh largest vehicle manufacturer in the world. This conglomerate has big plans for the marquee, which is distributed by the Harris Group, present in a total of seven territories including the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and most recently Malta and Cyprus.
The UK and Ireland dealer network stands upwards of 44 dealers and Mark Barrett, general manager for LDV UK & Ireland, confirmed that the company is putting on a big drive to expand the dealer network throughout the UK. So, yes, we can have every confidence the LDV will be around for many years to come, during which time it will most certainly grow in popularity.