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£15,772 - £35,403
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The van that replaced the antiquated LDV Pilot and Convoy was several years in the making and was finally introduced in 2005. Originally a joint effort between LDV and Daewoo, the Maxus features sharp looks – it could be mistaken for a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter from a distance – but it is by no means state-of-the-art in terms of ride, handing and technology. However in its favour, it's cheaper than many of other contenders this size and offers a good value-for-money package. However build quality feels substandard and it's dated alongside other large vans, highlighted by the cheap cabin.
Entry to the cab is courtesy of standard spec remote ‘plip’ locking and once inside, the cab is light and airy. But it's far from stylish or modern. All the dials and switches are housed in a central binnacle - this takes a bit of getting used to but has been done so that left-hand drive versions can be built without designing a whole new dashboard. A CD player and electric windows and mirrors come as standard but some of the plastics seem cheap and nasty – the pull-out twin coffee cup holders, especially, feel as though they could snap off at any minute. If you want seats with height and rake adjustment along with adjustable lumbar support, they cost extra. Early models suffered questionable interior build quality too, although things improved as time went by. In 2008 revisions included the introduction of height adjustment on the driver's seat.
The Maxus may not be state-of-the-art, but there is no faulting its excellent pair of diesel engines sourced from Italian diesel specialist VM Motori – both 2.5-litre units offering either 95bhp or 120bhp and 184lb-ft or 221lb-ft of torque. Power steering comes as standard across the range and braking is via ventilated discs at the front and drums at the rear. Sadly ABS brakes are an optional extra on all but the 135bhp engine and ESP traction control isn’t even on the options list. The engines provide ample grunt and fare surprising well in the noise stakes. Ride and handling are generally up to par – the Maxus is sure-footed and easy to manoeuvre – and there’s plenty of feedback through the steering wheel. The gearchange is fascia-mounted, along with all other van sin this sector nowadays, but it isn’t the slickest in the sector by any means and is a little clunky. In 2007 a 135bhp version of the 2.5-litre engine was introduced.