Need a compact vehicle that can move you around with some weight at the back with a minimum investment and low costs of maintenance? Of course you do, everyone in the light commercial industry is looking for something like this. Well, you should take a closer look at the DFSK Loadhopper which does exactly that. Probably most of you never heard of it, but the DFSK Loadhopper is sold in UK and has what it needs to be able to make a compelling case for itself.
It’s main fault? It’s Chinese and this says a lot about its reliability. It’s biggest advantage? It’s priced from only $13.000 (excluding taxes) which makes it the cheapest model in its class and also comes with a standard 3 year warranty which should be able to keep you far from trouble, at least for a while. The DFSK Loadhopper continues the story of models like the Suzuki Carry and is basically a rear wheel drive micro LCV equipped with a 77hp Euro 5 (!) petrol engine.
The DFSK Loadhopper’s platform is pretty versatile and the vehicle is available as a van, pick-up, double-cab pick-up and three way tipper with gross payload capacities of 590kg, 930kg, 1,000kg and 630kg respectively. The vans feature standard sliding side doors and a top-hinged tailgate, with 3.0 cubic meters of load space.
When you see the Loadhopper in “flesh and bones” the first thing that strikes you is its compact dimensions which make it look tiny when compared to any other LCV that rides on today’s streets. The Loadhopper’s sheet-metal is pretty rudimentary designed and has that poor build quality typical for cheap Chinese vehicles. The front features a very short nose which is dominated by a black kidney grille with chromed surroundings that reminds us about BMW’s vehicles.
The hood features two dynamic creases which flow towards the twin grille and form nice “V” pattern which looks pretty good. There are also two big headlights which despite their rudimentary design, they manage to cope well with the robust shape of the vehicle.
The wrap-around bumper is pretty wide and comes fitted with a few air intakes and two small fog lamps for enhanced road visibility.
Step inside and you’ll find a pretty limited cabin. Interior space is very close from being a problem, as you have limited leg- and shoulder-room, especially in the single chassis cab version where you can’t slide your seat too much rearward.
Everything is part of the third class including materials, build quality and design. It will be almost impossible to find any quality inside and every detail will constantly remind you about the small price paid for your new mini-truck. On the other hand, this vehicle was made only for transportation purpose, hence we didn’t expect to find any sign of luxury inside.
The dashboard has a pretty basic design and is fitted with anything it needs to help you move the vehicle around. The controls are placed pretty intuitively and everything is within easy reach. We also like the instrument cluster which is fitted with big white-faced gauges that are easy to see and have a clean and simple design. Although a bit intrusive, the steering wheel offers a good grab and has a pretty ergonomic design.
The seats aren’t the most comfortable units that you will find around, but they can be adjusted to offer a less uncomfortable driving position. You stay directly on top of the engine and if you want to make a fast maintenance check you only need to tilt the seats to have full access.
Luckily we don’t have any complains about the all-round visibility and despite the relatively small windshield you have a clear view of the road ahead. There are also some storage places “thrown” around the cab. There aren’t many, but just enough to keep a few things (a glove box, door pockets and an in dash store box).
Unsurprisingly, the DFSK Loadhopper isn’t equipped with any in-cab modern technology, but at least is offered with power windows (which are anything but smooth) and central locking.
Engines and performance
Unlike most of today’s LCVs which come with diesel engines, the DFSK Loadhopper is equipped with a 77hp 1.3-litre Euro 5 petrol unit, which sends power to the rear wheels by means of a five speed manual gearbox. The engine develops a maximum torque of 102 Nm which is achieved at 3000 rpm.
The petrol unit likes to be revved and offers enough punch to permit you to deal with big payloads without too much drama. Regardless of what weight you’ll carry at the back, the engine never feels underpowered and is nimble enough to move the vehicle around without breaking a sweat.
The truck’s efficiency isn’t bad either, as the DFSK Loadhopper scores and average fuel consumption of 36 mpg with CO2 emissions of 184 g/km.
DFSK Loadhopper Specifications
|Engine 4 cylinder, 16v||1,310cc petrol|
|Power Output (bhp)||77|
|Fuel Consumption mpg (combined)||36|
|CO2 Emission g/km||184||Driven Wheels||Rear||Fuel Tank Capacity (l)||40||Kerb Weight (kg)||958|
Ride and handling
The mini truck rides on steel leaf spring suspensions which offer a harsh and lumpy ride, especially on difficult roads. On the other hand, the ride gets a bit better when you put some load at the back and the vehicle balance will also be slightly improved.
The DFSK Loadhopper isn’t offered with power steering which means that the low speed maneuverability would grow you some nice muscles. At high speeds however, the steering gets lighter and you won’t have any complains about it.
With a turning circle of 8.8 meters, the LCV is also pretty agile around the narrow city streets and there is no other vehicle in the segment that can squeeze through congested working situations like the Loadhopper. The stopping power is also adequate and you’ll get discs at the front and drums at the rear.
The DFSK Load hopper isn’t the best LCV available on today’s market, but it is fairly cheap and has a few other strong points that work in its favor.
Its compact dimensions are combined with a pretty generous payload capacity which makes it very practical and versatile. Then there is the petrol engine, which despite its relatively small displacement, it never feels underpowered and is able to get the job done without too much fuss. Lastly, the vehicle is also pretty agile and its compact dimensions make it perfect for the city traffic.
On the other hand, the cabin is narrow and is far from being a comfortable place to be in. The build quality is third class and the ride is also harsh and unforgiving. Moreover, you don’t even get power steering which makes the low speed maneuverability hard.