First Drive: LDV Mini B minibus aims to deliver more
The resurgence of the LDV brand of light commercial vehicles in the Irish & UK market is ongoing with additional variants joining the previously introduced panel van and chassis/cab platform models. At April’s CV Show in Birmingham, a 14 (+ 1) seater minibus, called the Mini B was launched, which probably reminded visitors what the once British brand was best known.
Those of a certain era will remember LDV Convoy minibuses used by the Defence Forces, Community Schools and Charity organisations here to mention a few, while in the UK, the Royal Mail and Local Authorities were big LDV fleet operators. For the younger generation, viewers of the BBC Children’s programme Balamory will fondly remember McCredie Transport’s yellow LDV Convoy school bus.
Fast forward to recent years to when Chinese owners SAIC took over the brand and began producing new versions of the LDV Maxus, which was originally a joint venture between LDV and Daewoo that went sour. Prior to SAIC’s takeover, a subsequent Management buyout and investment by AutoGaz In Russia failed to materialise in the marketplace with success. Through SAIC’s Irish & UK distributors, the Harris Group, the LDV V80 range is an updated Maxus, with new driveline and a whole host of driver and passenger comforts.
Derived from the high roof, long wheelbase glazed panel van, the V80 Mini B has been converted into a well finished passenger carrier by Joe Ferry and his son Stephen (now trading as Donegal Automotive Services) in Bunbeg, well-known name in the business for creative design and quality workmanship.
Powering the unit is a 2.5 litre Euro 5b diesel supplied by VM Motori in Italy, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. A Euro 6 diesel is currently under development. Safety features include driver and passenger airbags, remote central locking and reverse parking sensors together with LED parking lamps, emergency roof hatch and fire exit.
Every Mini B is fitted with electronic brake force distribution and an advance anti-lock braking system ensuring a smooth and reliable driving experience plus park assist, which is extremely helpful when confined in tight spaces.
Mini B looks a comfortable 14+1 seater, for both driver and passenger, with an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and three-seater cabin.
Straight off, the Mini B comes with a long list of standard specification, additionally, the vehicle can be customised to suit the driver’s needs. Included in the spec is FM/AM/MP3 player with surround sound system, and Bluetooth/USB connectivity. Cruise control, front air conditioning, electric and heated mirrors plus daytime running lights complete the bill. On this version, alloy wheels, colour coded side skirts have been added. Deep door pockets and over-head storage are provided. The two plus one seat layout feels welcoming on opening the sliding side door as the step pops out. Thanks to the high roof, movement along the aisle is easy.
The Mini B will also be available in a 5+1 seater model.
At the launch at the NEC, Mark Barrett, General Manager, LDV U.K. & Ireland said, “LDV’s Mini B is just the ticket for drivers looking for a bus that gives you more. Designed with safety as a priority, the Mini B doesn’t compromise on style or comfort and crucially for our customers, delivers outstanding value for money. The new Mini B is now available to order, with a four-week lead time.”
Out on the road, the Mini B runs smoothly although the engine is a little noisy starting off and up through the early gears. This soon tones down with a few kilometres under its belt. Within the centre console is an easy-to-read digital dashboard but it’s position does take a little getting used to.
Overall, Mini B could not be faulted and buyers can be confident with the 5-year warranty on offer. In addition, the availability of a 7-year finance package will be attracted to SMEs interested in this type of long term investment package.
|Make/Model||LDV V80 Mini B Minibus|
|Body Type||14+1 seat LWB/Hi-Roof|
|Engine||VM Motori Eco-D 2.5 litre turbo
4-cylinder 16 valves Euro 5b
|Power||136PS @ 3,800 rpm|
|Torque||333Nm @ 1,800 – 2,600 rpm|
|Suspension||MacPherson struts (front)
Taper leaf springs with shocks (rear)
|Brakes||Ventilated discs (ABS/EBD/BAS/ESP)|
|Fuel Tank||80 litres|
|Dimensions||Length: 5,700mm – Width: 1,998mm
Height: 2,552mm – Wheelbase: 3,850mm