2018 LDV D90: Petrol power, sharp pricing for Australia

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Initial details for the 2018 LDV D90 have been released this week ahead of the new Chinese SUV’s local launch later this year.

Measuring just over five metres long and around two metres wide, the D90 will take on the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, along with other large seven-seat SUVs including the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Kluger when it arrives in local showrooms in late September.

Those rivals, notably, are all monocoque ‘soft-roaders’. The D90 is based on the ladder-frame chassis that underpins the incoming T60 ute – which would otherwise make it more of a rival to off-roaders like the Everest and Pajero Sport, but LDV says it will focus on a more conventional SUV strategy.

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Speaking with Australian media at the Shanghai motor show, Dinesh Chinnappa, general manager for LDV’s local distributor Ateco Automotive, said to expect a small model range in similar fashion to the upcoming T60 ute – which will only be offered in two trim levels.

“I can tell you we are trying to stay away from too many variants,” he said. “I’d like to emulate that as much as possible for everything we do.

“You may only see one [variant] at launch,” he added.

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With regards to powertrains, the D90 will be offered exclusively with a 165kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine at launch, though Chinnappa said a new-generation turbo-diesel, which is still in the development stage, will join the line-up later on.

“I know that we will launch with petrol [and] automatic only,” he said.

With regards to the 110kW/360Nm 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine in the upcoming T60 ute, Ateco’s boss ruled out that oiler from being offered in the D90 as it’s not available from the factory.

“It’s not on offer. We won’t get it,” he said.

The D90 is designed for 2-3-2 and 2-2-3 seating configurations, although it’s currently unclear which of those will be offered to Australia.

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Pricing will also be crucial to the D90’s success in Australia, and Chinnappa said the company is looking at the Korean brands – Hyundai and Kia – as the benchmark.

“If you’re looking at a new brand, from anywhere, particularly in China, there’s a product price relativity that you have to achieve to give consumers enough reasons to want to buy it,” he said.

“Competitive means priced beneath the status quo of vehicles by at least 15 to 20 per cent.”

“The traditional hierarchy in Australia is Europeans, then Japanese, then Koreans. Chinese brands would slot under that. My starting point would be to look at the two Korean brands. They are our benchmark products,” he added.

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Stay tuned to CarAdvice for a full pricing and specifications breakdown closer to the LDV D90’s launch in September.