LDV G10 First Drive Review
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Chinese-made cars(with an Android Car Stereo) haven't exactly been a rollicking success in Australia.

Wind the clock back a decade and you might recount some of the more forgettable examples: Great Wall with its pick-a-part specials, Chery with its poor safety scorecard and most recently the born-again MG division, which has been reincarnated under the tutelage of Chinese manufacturing giant Shanghai Automotive and Industrial Corporation (SAIC) with limited success.

It's called the LDV G10, and it's arguably the best mainstream vehicle to hail from China. As background, the LDV brand falls under the same SAIC ownership model as MG, but there are some key distinctions in its build quality and parts.

Measuring 3.2 metres between the wheels and standing 1.98 metres high, the G10 sits below the larger V80 in LDV's Australian line-up.

It makes a compelling argument on value. Priced from $29,990 drive away for ABN holders ($31,569 for everyone else), the G10 undercuts the rivalling Toyota HiAce, Renault Trafic, Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter if an automatic transmission and petrol engine is a must.

The theme of quality carries over to the driveline, where a twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine makes 165kW and 330Nm.

The engine never feels languid or thrashy under heavy acceleration. Instead, it does a reasonable job of shifting the G10's 1907kg heft willingly and smoothly – thanks in part to an excellent six-speed ZF transmission which drives the rear wheels. Pulling away briskly from traffic lights is never a challenge, the engine summoning its peak power from low in the rev range and transitioning smoothly to the upper echelons.

Even unladen, the overall ride of the LDV feels spot on. Its five-link coil-sprung rear end feels more compliant against traditional leaf-sprung rivals, a factor enhanced by a car-like MacPherson strut front suspension. The configuration amounts to handling that is immune from porpoising over bumps and feels compliant over everyday road imperfections – even on 16-inch alloy wheels.

A turning circle of 11.8 metres ensures straight-forward, but not excellent, inner-city manoeuvring. Honest, accurate steering and four, well-modulated disc brakes cement a handling package that leaves some rivalling machines in the shade.

The LDV recipe isn't perfect though. Upon closer inspection there are some packaging shortcomings, such as the bulging sections of seat material and the lack of illumination on the steering wheel at night. On highway trips the floor of our test vehicle became disconcertingly warm, something we will keep an eye out for during future load testing.

A diesel engine would also boost its appeal – and lower fuel consumption while doing so. Same goes with a manual transmission. Plans are afoot to introduce an oil burner but stakeholders haven't given any indicative timing.

But as a sum of its parts equation, the LDV G10 is cheap and honest, based on our first impression. Its long list of standard features include cruise control, MP3 connection and Car DVD, seven-inch LCD touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio connection, climate control, power side mirrors, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, reversing camera and parking sensors.


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