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The questions were always the same. “What is that?” or “Where does that come from?” were the usual go-to for casual observers. I responded by saying this was the MIFA 9, the latest all-electric luxo people mover from LDV. Maybe it was the colour, but people kept gawping. It could be the fact the LDV MIFA 9 looks like few other vans on Kiwi roads.

LDV have not been wasting anytime in putting their electric foot forward in terms of electrifying their range. The new MIFA 9 sits between the all-electric eT60 Ute and eDeliver commercial range in LDV’s EV stable. The EV MPV market right now is quite a niche segment, so niche as a matter of fact the MIFA 9 has no direct rivals to compare with. The closest would probably be the new Mercedes-Benz EQV, but that is quite a lot more expensive, but more on price in a bit.

So, could the MIFA 9 be enough to tempt buyers of seven seat SUVs away from the norm and try something different? Let’s put some gravy on the meat and see what’s what with this neck-snapping newcomer.

We have already established the MIFA 9 leaves plenty doing a double take. I wouldn’t say it was a looker, but for an MPV, it manages to look both striking and smart with all the minimalism and modernity LDV’s styling department could muster. Features like the LED headlights and LED taillight cluster with full-width light bar are a nice touch, as is the subtle use of chrome accents around the c-pillar and rear tinted windows. The letters LDV take pride of place on the bonnet and stand out well.

The MIFA 9 is available in not just one or two, but three different spec levels. I was expecting one-size-fits-all approach from LDV NZ to test the waters, but there you go. The entry level Elite sits below the mid range Luxury (my test vehicle) and the flagship Premium.

Regardless of which spec you choose, all models get the same 90kW battery pack driving the front wheels via an electric motor.  Maximum power is rated at 150kW and torque at 350Nm. The MIFA 9 is compatible with both AC and DC fast chargers. Utilising the former, you will have a full charge in around 8.5 hours, use the latter and you have 80 per cent from 30 in half an hour. Range? Well, the Elite, according to WTLP stats, has the greatest with a combined 440kms or urban and extra urban travelling.

My mid-range Luxury has a claimed 435kms or range while the Premium loses another 5kms, bringing it down to 430. Naturally, if you turn things on like the air-con or drive in the livelier sport mode your range will take a tumble, so on paper, what’s 5kms in the real-world?

Inside the MIFA 9 serves up a relatively plush and practical cabin. There are plenty of hidey-holes and places to store whatever, and the floating centre console has two decent sized cup holders. The minimalism continues by having a 12.3-inch infotainment screen taking centre stage along with a 7-inch digital driver’s display.

One aspect I found frustrating about the infotainment system is that you have to venture through what seem like a never ending saga of sub menus and different pages to find how to adjust the regenerative braking or change drive modes, something which a simple button or toggle switch on the leather wrapped steering wheel or floating centre console would have easily sufficed.

The MIFA 9 Luxury claws back points by offering a great amount of toys and features. These include a 360-degree rear view camera, electric seats for driver and passenger, leather trim, power tailgate, a front and rear electric sunroof, wireless charging, 64 choices for ambient lighting, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, parking sensors fore and aft, lane keep assist, automatic anti-glare rear view mirror and a driver fatigue monitoring system to name a few.

The rear doors can open at the touch of the handle, or via a button on the key fob. The rear seats for my Luxury are laid out in a 2 by 5 arrangement, with those in the middle row getting the full Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise experience courtesy of a couple of captain’s chairs.

These chairs are plush and very comfortable to sit in, especially with that massage function. The same can be said for those in third row too. You can also slide them forward, backwards and stow them away completely should you want to. Oh and legroom is colossal.

Engage the classic sensation of EV silent running and the MIFA 9 bodes well on the morning commute. It even holds the road nicely too and that low down electric torque kicks in nicely. It actually is quite a spirited drive for a seven seat MPV and decent feedback from the steering means you can corner at speed with confidence.

The driver fatigue monitoring system was rather intense to say the least. With a camera mounted in the a-pillar, it only takes a second for you to glance slightly away from the road ahead and the MIFA 9 will let you know about it. The lane departure warning also gets rather animated if you even get close to leaving your lane unintentionally. Fortunately you can turn this off which I ended up doing on most occasions.

A motorway haul is where the MIFA is happiest. With the adaptive cruise set just so, the miles can be munched up and thanks to a comfortable yet supple ride, it would be a relaxing way for getting the family to Oxford for lunch.

Now it is time to address the elephant in the room, the price. Starting at $79,990, the MIFA 9 is getting up there, but when you start looking at the likes my Luxury and the flagship Premium, you will have to be prepared to part with $99,990 and $119,990 respectively. That is a lot.

This is the biggest come down for the MIFA 9 as it does a lot of things right, but I could see that price tag being a bit of a deterrent for those tempted by the concept of replacing their seven seat SUV with an all-electric van.

That aside, it is still a decent first effort by LDV. It’s a good drive, comfortable, grabs attention and is loaded with toys. Just bring the price down a tad and the MIFA 9 will have all the ingredients necessary to be a grand touring all-rounder.

RATING: 7/10

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