- Cheapest large van on the market
- Reasonably well-equipped
- Perfectly acceptable driving experience
- Five-year warranty, road-side assistance
- Electric version available November 2017
- Limited model range
- Payload and volume are poor
- Very small dealer network
- Lacks latest safety equipment
- Only Euro 5 and not efficient
Looking for the cheapest-possible entry into brand-new large van ownership? Then you’ve found it – the LDV V80 is by far the lowest-cost choice in the large van class. At the time of writing, prices start at less than £14,000 (excluding VAT).
Despite this, the V80 still comes with plenty of standard equipment – including air-conditioning, cruise control, an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and rear parking sensors. LDV also gives you a five-year, 125,000-mile warranty and five years’ roadside assistance, for further reassurance.
Which presumably leaves you wondering…
What’s the catch?
While the V80 name dates back to 2011, it’s actually a rebadged version of the original LDV Maxus, which was first launched in late 2004.
While this is good news for LDV buyers from a cost perspective, it's bad news for engineering sophistication. Which has implications for fuel efficiency, strength and safety.
Further helping to control pricing, the V80 range is also limited to just three individual panel van models and a single engine choice. None of them have particularly massive load areas by best-in-class standards, and payload ratings are well below the best in the sector.
So despite the bargain pricing, the V80 has never sold in very high numbers – Ford typically registers more than twice as many Transits in a single month than LDV sells V80s in an entire year.
What types of LDV V80 are available?
Initiailly all versions of the V80 were powered by a 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine, which produces 136hp and 330Nm of torque, but in late 2017 LDV introduced the EV80, an all-electric variant (on sale from November).
We've covered the EV80 in full detail in a separate review.
The diesel is not an especially up-to-date motor – it doesn’t meet Euro 6 emissions regulations – but it feels pokey enough from behind the wheel, even if you do have to put up with a bit of noise.
The three available V80 panel vans are:
- Low roof SWB (short-wheelbase)
- Medium roof LWB (long-wheelbase)
- High roof LWB (long-wheelbase)
These all come in a single specification, so there are no trim levels to choose from.
In addition to the regular vans, LDV in the UK also offers a number of body conversions based on the V80 chassis cab – including a dropside, a tipper and a Luton van. Unusually, these are often available from stock, cutting down waiting times for customers seeking something out of the ordinary.
The EV80 electric model is limited to the medium roof, long-wheelbase van and the chassis cab.
What’s the history of LDV?
The LDV brand started out building vans in Britain back in 1993, but subsequently fell on hard times and eventually folded in 2009.
The rights to the name – and licence to build the V80’s Maxus predecessor – ended up in the hands of SAIC Motor, a Chinese manufacturer based in Shanghai.
SAIC relaunched LDV in 2011, and the Maxus was reborn as the V80. This is now sold in the UK and Ireland by importers Harris Automotive Distribution UC, part of Ireland’s Harris Group.
To find out how Parkers Vans rates the LDV V80 keep reading for the full review
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The 2.5-litre engine’s 136hp and 330Nm performance figures might seem modest by the latest standards, but the V80 gets itself along the road quite convincingly, pulling well from low speeds in a manner that rival smaller-capacity turbo engines in this sector would do well to emulate.
This muscularity presumably comes in part from the V80’s relatively short gearing, however, for despite the six-speed manual transmission, it is rather noisy. Even at motorway velocities, where you’ll find the engine is still revving quite high. This isn’t good news for long-distance fuel economy.
Competent if not outstanding
You can tell that some effort has gone into tuning the chassis, though, as it’s both stable and reasonably comfortable when travelling at these speeds. The suspension is a little fidgety but rarely outright harsh – the squeaks and rattles from the load area will trouble you more.
Compared to the very latest rivals, such as the VW Crafter and Ford Transit, it does roll around a lot more in the corners, and the steering is relatively slow, so more arm movement effort is required turning the wheel.
It’s not the most manoeuvrable large van as a result, and there’s not a great deal of feedback through the steering. But responses are consistent, and predictable, if another way in which the V80 shows its underlying age.
Driving it is by no means a chore.
If it wasn’t already obvious from the LDV’s boxy exterior, the age of the V80’s design is made plain by the cab environment.
The dashboard design is basic, storage is limited and the vast expanses of light grey plastic clearly place cost-control ahead of luxury. Still, the plastic appears hard wearing, and if it’s not of the highest quality the cab does at least seem to be well put together.
Somewhat unusually, the instruments are centrally mounted – which is good for LDV, as it makes the conversion between left- and right-hand drive cheaper. It does mean you have to look away from the straight ahead to check your speed, though.
Crude but functional
Some of the secondary controls are a little rudimentary. The cruise control, for example, consists of a single button, to switch it on and off, with no means to incrementally adjust the set speed. But hey, it works.
Disappointingly, there is no DAB radio, and reception for the FM signal is quite poor.
The actual driving ergonomics gave us little cause for complaint, as the gear lever is close to the steering wheel and we were able to get reasonably comfortable.
The seats are rather flat, however, which numbs the bum over time. But there’s a decent amount of space for all three passengers and the floor is flat right across the cab – something that very few rivals manage.
This is a very cheap van to buy – especially considering the included five-year warranty and roadside assistance. LDV has been offering extremely low cost five-year finance packages as well.
We’d expect the bargain basement approach to extend to highly competitive servicing costs, too.
Small dealer network
However, there are few dealers (LDV is targeting a total of 30 by the end of 2017, and had just 24 at the CV Show earlier in the year) so you’ll either need to be nearby or prepared to travel to take advantage of this.
Especially given the relatively short servicing intervals of 15,000 miles or one year.
Fuel economy not great
The 2.5-litre engine is not particularly modern, which also means it’s not particularly efficient. We got 29.5mpg over 278 miles of mixed-road driving – which sounds OK, but we weren’t carrying anything in the back.
That it’s a Euro 5 engine won’t cause operators any problems at the moment, and means you won't have to stump up for periodical AdBlue top-ups.
But the lack of a Euro 6 alternative will eventually prevent LDV from selling the V80 in the UK, and a solution is unlikely to be found until late 2018 at the earliest.
Not traditionally an LDV strong point – and low UK sales numbers mean there’s not a great deal of data to go on with this newer V80 model.
But the five-year, 125,000-mile warranty offers reassurance, and the accompanying five-year roadside assistance package promises support should the worst happen.
There have been no official recalls on the LDV V80, and the preceding Maxus that’s largely the same van beneath the badging was only recalled twice (once for a seat belt stalk issue, and once for a potential problem with the rear hub assembly).
After the latest safety kit in your van? Then look elsewhere.
The only electronic assistance systems we can confirm are fitted to the V80 are ABS and electronic brake force distribution; the brochure mentions electronic stability control, but it’s not actually listed in the spec…
You do get a driver and passenger airbag as standard, and remote locking.
But while the Chinese crash test agency C-NCAP rated it four stars for crash safety in 2014, the Australian ANCAP equivalent gave it only two stars in 2015.
There is no Euro NCAP score for the V80 as yet.