2022 LDV T60 MAX Luxe review (video)

Chinese vehicles are becoming very popular in Australia and soon they will be right on the heels of the established veterans in terms of dynamics, safety, and practicality we reckon. The 2022 LDV T60 MAX is a perfect case in point.

During 2021 LDV sold 6705 examples of the T60 (including the old model), which is 20.1 per cent more than what the brand sold in 2020. The figure is about the same as the GWM Ute (6742 sales). For perspective, that’s not far off the VW Amarok, which accumulated 7659 sales during last year.

On first impressions it is easy to see why these are becoming so popular. The new T60 MAX, made by SAIC Motors, looks great. It’s the first major update since the T60 nameplate arrived in Australia in 2017, bringing in tough new looks, class-leading power (for a 2.0L four-cylinder), and a big boost in technology and features. And all for a very attractive price.

Two main trim lines are on offer for the new model; the Pro and Luxe. Both are available with a six-speed manual or a ZF-based eight-speed automatic. All feature a part-time four-wheel drive system, with the Luxe variant adding a locking rear diff for extra traction during difficult conditions.

Prices start from just $35,779 for the manual Pro, and top out at $42,621 for this auto Luxe. And that’s drive-away, no more to pay. The regular service interval is every 15,000km or 12 months, and LDV provides a five-year/130,000km warranty (whichever comes first). For sheer value for money, you won’t find many other utes that can beat this.

2022 LDV T60 MAX Luxe – THE SPECS

Engine: 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel
Output: 160kW@4000rpm / 500Nm@1500-2400rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Part-time RWD/4WD, locking rear diff
Wheels: F: 17×7.0, 245/65
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 2103kg
Power-to-weight: 13.14:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 9.3L/100km
Economy during test: 9.1L/100km

Fuel capacity/Type: 73L/Diesel
Power efficiency: 17.20kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.35 seconds*
0-100km/h: 10.16 seconds*
60-110km/h: 8.34 seconds*
1/4 mile: 17.33 seconds at 128..0km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.668g
100-0km/h braking: 3.34 seconds at 40.92 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.085g
Decibel at idle: 53*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 84*
Priced from: $42,621

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2022 LDV T60 MAX Luxe – THE PACKAGE

Here we’re sampling the flagship Luxe version, although, all trim levels look pretty much the same and even use the same 17-inch alloy wheels. In terms of design though, we think it looks appealing. We like the neat proportions along the sides, the softly bulging wheel arches, and the aggressive tones at the front and rear.

Step inside, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the design and decor as well. It looks premium in most areas. This version gets leather-style trim for the seats and parts of the console, and there’s a nice mix of silver highlights with red stitching for contrast.

It’s not until you start touching things that you might notice off-putting hard plastics, including loose plastic pads on top of the dash and at the front of the centre console. Both of which slide off at the next corner – why not make them out of rubber?

The 10.25-inch touch-screen is impressive for size, but it only offers Apple CarPlay and no Android Auto. The surround-view camera is a nice touch, and most of the menu layout is intuitive. LDV has gone with a flamboyant colour palette for the graphics, but it can look a bit like a cheap kitchen appliance interface, with all of that blue. The detail is sharp enough but not the most crisp we’ve seen in this class.

Passenger space is great, with plenty of room to move about. Again though, there is no reach adjustment for the steering column, only height. This is a common problem with Chinese vehicles in particular, for some reason.

Rear passengers are treated to their own climate vents and can share a single charging port. A flip-down arm rest ensures a comfortable journey, with cup and bottle holders available. Legroom and headroom are both above average for the class.

The payload capacity falls behind most rivals, rated at just 750kg. But the braked towing rating of 3000kg is pretty good although short of the 3500kg maximum.

2022 LDV T60 MAX Luxe – THE DRIVE

Under the bonnet is the most powerful turbo-diesel four-cylinder you’ll find in this class. It’s a 2.0-litre twin-turbo unit producing 160kW. Torque is also very high, at 500Nm. However, this doesn’t seem to translate into quick acceleration, compared with some rivals. According to our Vbox tests, performance is average for a dual-cab four-cylinder. We recorded 0-100km/h in a best of 10.16 seconds, while other contenders have scored around 9.5 or less, and using less power.

The new engine is pretty noisy, too. In fact, according to our decibel gauge it idles at 53dB and hits 84dB during full-throttle acceleration across 60-110km/h. That’s higher than the old 2.8L model, which recorded readings of 51dB and 81dB during the same tests (and same piece of tarmac). There is a noticeable diesel clatter on idle, and it is a bit rough when revved, compared with the leading rivals.

Ride comfort is about average for a live-axle, leaf-spring rear end, but there is a comfort-oriented double wishbone setup at the front. The Pro variant uses a heavy-duty tune at the front. It handles okay for what it is, and wheel control over corrugations has definitely improved over the old model. Body roll is more evident than most of the popular rivals.

As mentioned, all models feature the same 17-inch alloy wheels. It would be nice if LDV provided some design distinction between the two trim levels. Nonetheless, these are wrapped in 245/65 Giti HT 152 highway terrain tyres. Grip from these is decent, including on the dirt. Our 100-0km/h braking test also recorded a commendable distance of 40.92m.

It might be the most powerful engine in its class, but you do have to make sacrifices for such privilege. This variant has an official fuel consumption rating of 9.3L/100km. That’s one of the highest in the segment for a four-cylinder. Even a VW Amarok 3.0L V6 is rated at 9.5L/100km.

Likewise, the official average emissions rating of 244g/km is one of the highest in the class as well. Our test drive returned an average consumption of 9.1L/100km, so it is good to see there is potential for improvement here.

Fuel and emissions might not be important to some customers, but these figures will be too high for most fleet/company car buyers. For perspective, the best-seller in the class, the Toyota HiLux (we’re simply highlighting it because it is the most popular), is rated at 7.9L/100km and 207g/km. It is a bigger, 2.8L engine, producing 150kW and 500Nm.

2022 LDV T60 MAX Luxe – THE VIDEO

2022 LDV T60 MAX Luxe – THE VERDICT

The new T60 MAX exhibits some big improvements over the predecessor, which is exactly the evolution it needed. It now shows off a more fashionable rough-and-tough design with a sprinkling of sophistication, and comes packed with features that buyers want. The new engine can keep up with the pack now as well.

As before though, the main attraction here is value for money. The $43k asking price is truly remarkable considering most rivals are about $20k north of that. Obviously there are aspects that could be improved, such as some of the interior trim plastics, and the powertrain calibration could be refined, but if you keep that price tag in mind it seems quite justified.

PROS:
– Design is now more in line with key rivals, aggressive/macho tones with some finer details
– Big touch-screen for this class
– Most powerful 4CYL diesel in the class
– Big cabin with impressive rear seat space

CONS:
– High official fuel consumption and emissions rating for segment
– Some cheap materials inside; useless plastic pads/mats on the dash and console
– Low 750kg payload for a dual-cab 4×4 ute
– New engine is a bit noisy

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