Launch of the LDV T60
The T60 is expected to land in two specification levels – Worker and Lifestyle – in most variants. At launch, only the dual-cab 4×4 pick-up will be available, powered by a 110kW/360Nm 2.8-litre diesel engine (related to the more powerful 2.8 in Holden’s Colorado) that will eventually be replaced by a newer unit with more power. Other variants will follow at regular intervals, with a cab-chassis the next one off the line within months of launch.
So, how will it go? Our drive of the T60 at SAIC’s giant proving ground that it shares with GM in China was not only brief but hardly representative of daily consumer driving – a belt around witches’ hats on smooth skidpan. It was a risky exercise for LDV, as the T60 is hardly a sportscar. However, it handled it as well as could be expected for an unladen, two-tonne-plus truck with rudimentary LCV suspension. We found the brake pedal a little spongy in heavy stops but, by and large, it did the job – a job that few one- tonners will ever be put through. Until we get the T60 onto some uneven, coarse-bitumen roads and dirttracks with a couple of hundred kilos in the tub, then the jury is still out in the ride and handling regard. We will leave it up to you whether you like the look of the toothy chrome grille, but at least road users will be able to pick a T60 from the numerous generic vehicles on the streets.
Similar in size to the Ranger at more than five metres long and two metres wide, the T60 dual cab offers a tub of about average size, with a black plastic liner and six tie-down points. A stretched version dubbed Megacab is under development, but not yet confirmed for Australia. The two T60s we inspected were high- end spec, with a six-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual will be available), 4×4 powertrain (with 4H, 42 and 4L selected via a console knob) and upmarket interior with leather, climate control, keyless entry, push- button start and the like. A big 10-inch infotainment screen with full connectivity is standard, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – a boon for tradies who want to run Google maps from their phone. Less necessary is a multi-mode automatic transmission with standard, economy and power modes. Indeed, “power” is a relative term in a heavy pick- up with 110kW. Acceleration could be described as adequate, but the new diesel engine in the pipeline might address that. Hill-descent control and a hill-holder are also thrown in. The handbrake is a manual lever on the console. Big plusses include seat comfort – both front and back – and roominess. In the back seat, the accommodation could be likened to that of a large sedan, with twin air vents and a fold-down armrest with twin cupholders. The family is going to like it, too. Build quality on the examples we saw was excellent, and with the dramatic improvement in everything coming out of Chinese factories these days, we have no reason to believe it will not continue.
LDV vehicle importer Ateco Automotive is hoping to undercut its mainly Thai-built competitors for its all-new T60 pick-up by thousands of dollars when the big one-tonner starts rolling into Australia in late September. The first batch of right-hand-drive dual-cab T60s for Australia went into production last week at LDV’s Wuxi plant in China, just as Australian journalists arrived to observe the unveiling of the T60’s related SUV, the D90, at the Shanghai motor show. Armed with a 2.8-litre VM Motori-developed four-cylinder diesel engine producing 110kW of power and 360Nm of torque and a choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, the T60 rollout will start with the dual-cab 4×4 pick-up. Other models, including an entry- level 4×2 cab-chassis workhorse, will follow in a staggered launch program. Ateco’s LDV Australia general manager Dinesh Chinnappa said in Shanghai that pricing for the new range – the first large pick-up in LDV’s portfolio that until now has comprised the V80 and G10 vans – was still being negotiated with LDV parent company SAIC Motor.
Mr Chinnappa should know – Ateco not only distributes the Chinese-sourced Foton pick-up range but formerly imported the Great Wall line-up before that was taken back by a factory operation under Haval Australia. While the cheapest 4×4 dual-cab diesel one-tonners from Chinese rivals Great Wall and Foton start around the $30,000 driveaway mark, Ateco would like its cheapest 4×4 dual-cab diesel T60 to start around the $26,000 point.The most affordable similar Toyota HiLux is $48,490 plus on-road costs, while the Ford Ranger 2.2-litre XL double cab is $45,090. Unlike many other Chinese-sourced vehicles down the years, the T60 has been engineered to five-star safety standards, with six airbags – including full-length curtain units in the dual-cab – laser-welded body with high-strength steel and safety electronics such as lane-departure warning.