The EV automotive landscape is rapidly changing in NZ, moving from small townie runabouts, to SUVs and even trucks and utes are popping up, however, people movers appear to be leaning towards the last on the list – but not for LDV. The MIFA 9 is an all-electric 7-seater that’s been created to take you and your team around in comparative luxury, but it is a little bossy.
I attended the NZ launch of the MIFA 9 quite a while back now and have to say was impressed with its capabilities. Not only did it sit well on the road, but its middle-row ‘captain’s chair’ set up made me want to be driven rather than drive. So needless to say I was a little disappointed not to get a follow up drive until now (first world problems huh?).
LDV already has a strong line up of 100% electric models in the commercial space (Van, minibus and recently a ute), so the MIFA 9 (standing for Maximum, Intelligence, Friendly and Artistic, with the 9 representing premium) not only adds to the range but puts more ‘passengers’ into their BEVs.
The MIFA 9 is available in New Zealand in three specific variants, Elite, Luxury and Premium, however the kind folk at LDV felt it best to give me the top of range Premium, with features that are good enough to make some of the finest of Euro brands sit up and take note.
Boasting a clean design and distinctive lines, the electric MPV comes with ultra-slim LED headlights and daytime running lights, plus a gaping lower valance that all combine to create a somewhat unique visage. While its signature rear LEDs, dynamic indicators, and (model dependant) power tailgate, gives additional credence to this EV’s modern flavour.
The MIFA 9 is powered by a 90kWh Ternary Lithium battery that’s been produced by China’s largest battery maker CATL. This in turn drives a front-axle-mounted Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (180kW/350Nm) that will take this near 2.5-tonne MPV from 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds and offers a range of 430km. It has both AC (11kW) and DC charging upto 90kW and therefore a 30-80% charge can be completed in around thirty minutes.
Behind it all, the MIFA 9 sits on an advanced, modern, skateboard platform and 19-inch wheels that have self-sealing tyres in my Premium model. Dimensionally it is much bigger than it first appears, with an overall length of 5.27m, 2m width and a height of 1.84m, however, it’s this EV people mover’s 3.2m long wheelbase that is worth highlighting as it allows for a large and spacious interior – and we hear that space is the new luxury.
Entry to the MIFA 9 comes via wide opening doors in the front or twin-sliders in the rear (that are powered) and once inside you’re in for quite a treat.
A front and rear sunroof illuminates the spacious cabin and helps highlight the MPVs premium-looking finish, including (but certainly not limited to) a multi-function, leather, heated steering wheel, digital rear view mirror and a wireless mobile charging pad.
The electric MPV’s endless flowing dash is ideal for those that like a minimalist cabin, with virtually all the apps and features being controlled by a 12.3-inch touchscreen, complete with wired Apple CarPlay and smartphone connectivity, while all the key vehicle data is delivered to the driver via a 7-inch digital instrument cluster. There are 7 USB-C ports throughout the cabin, a 220V power outlet behind the console and the option of a 6, 8 or 12-speaker sound system.
While all this is good, things get even better when you head into the back. My Premium variant comes with Captain’s Chairs that are heated or cooled, will massage you and have a lay-back full recline. They also have fold-out tray tables, footrests, and individual touchscreen controls for the multi-zone climate control too – you seriously may never want to drive the MIFA 9.
The seating configuration is a 2-2-3 and the sliding third row seating allows up to 1,010L litres luggage space, even when all 7 seats are filled. And for those that like to tow things, the MIFA 9 is rated to 1-tonne (braked), however, this of course will affect the vehicle range.
The MIFA 9 is essentially a get in and go EV, with no start/stop button to bother with (aka PEPS passive entry, passive start), with Drive, Park and Reverse all being selected via a stalk behind the steering wheel as seen in Mercedes. Seat comfort is good, great in fact (up to 8-way electric adjustable) and visibility all round is virtually uninhibited, especially since my premium models came with 360-degree camera views and a video rear view mirror.
As expected, the EV power is instant and propels the MIFA 9 forward at drink-spilling speeds and comfortably continues up to national speed limits. Once there, the road and wind noise is minimal, meaning that conversations can be conducted without the need to raise your voice.
Cornering, even at a reasonable pace, is flat, although if pushed you can get the tyres to squeal a little, (I must remember that this is an MPV and not a sports car), and the steering itself offers enough weight and resistance to ensure you feel like you’re in control. Overall, it rides well on the road, even without all seven seats being filled.
When it comes to regen braking there are a couple of levels available, but you do have to go looking through the vehicle menus to select (if there is an obvious shortcut I couldn’t find it), and the menus themselves do take a bit of working out/are a distraction – I’m sure if you owned it, it would be fine.
It’s not sunshine and lollipops though. The MIFA 9 comes with a large number of driver safety ‘aids’, including blind spot alert, adaptive cruise control and the like, however, they’re very bossy. The driver attention alert beeps LOUDLY when you look away from the front, the lane keep alert annoyingly does the same and should you continue not to heed the lane warning it makes the longest and loudest alert I’ve heard to date – it’s like a TV channel has censored the next 30 seconds of conversation (in fairness after a couple of times, censorship is warranted).
You can duck into the menus and switch most of the alerts off (which it asks you if you’re sure), but annoyingly, you have to do this every time you take a trip. Also, some of the fitting is less than perfect, but this can be forgiven as it’s been priced to sell.
In terms of range, I picked up my MIFA 9 almost fully charged and boasting 380km, and having travelled 310km, it claimed to have 55km of range left (so 365km), none of which was the claimed 430km, but pretty accurate in terms of what you see on the instrument cluster and I did drive it ‘normally’ with AC on.
When it came to charging, I used the free 50kW DC charger at Macca’s (because I’m classy) and 30 mins (and a burger) there took me back up to 181km.
The MIFA 9 is a respectable all-electric MPV that’s ideal for those running their team, family or execs around town, the captain’s chairs are the best seats in the house and running costs are low, particularly if you head for the free fast charger. The beeps would make a nun swear though, and I’m no nun!