LDV Mifa 9 Premium review: Business Class blues

Damien O’Carroll
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  • Bold, distinctive looks
  • Massively spacious
  • High tech and loaded with equipment
  • Incredibly irritating alerts and assists
  • Flaky and unpredictable cruise control
  • Unrefined ride

The LDV Mifa 9 is one of those vehicles that proves there is a massive difference between driving something for a day and actually living with it for a while.

At the launch of the Mifa 9, I came away quite impressed by it - it wasn't the greatest thing ever by any means, but it came off as a pretty good first attempt at an all-electric people mover, loaded with some impressive tech and lots of trick space-age goodies.

Sure, the driver assists were a bit naggy, with the lane keep assist being the worst offender, letting out a long and persistent howl whenever you even got close to a road marking. However, it could be turned off, so didn't leave an overwhelmingly negative impression.

That was until I had to live with it for a week and it proved itself to be possibly the most irritating car I have driven. Ever.

The problem isn't so much the nagging of the driver assists as it was the sheer amount of them and their grating insistence that they were always right, like a Karen shouting at the 16-year-old running a McDonalds drive through.

Now, I am a defender of things like lane keep assist, being of the opinion that if you are setting them off, then you are doing something wrong - changing lanes without indicating, for example. Drive better and they will leave you alone.

But the Mifa 9 doesn't hold with that. No, the Mifa 9 comes over all Karen shouts at you if it thinks there is the merest possibility of perhaps getting slightly closer to that line. And it shouts in a loud and persistent way that goes on for an eternity. Or, at least, a couple of seconds or so, which seems like an eternity when it is demanding to speak to the manager every few minutes.

It does the same with its other various assist systems too, but the worst offender by far is the adaptive cruise control that is flaky and overly sensitive to the point that it is almost useless. Along with its overly fussy steering assist that jerks and fidgets at the wheel, it will also suddenly decide - for no reason that is clearly apparent to you - to occasionally just give up and leave it to you when you are approaching the rear of a slower car.

The problem isn't so much the nagging of the driver assists as it was the sheer amount of them and their grating insistence that they were always right, no matter what.

It is inconsistent and unpredictable, which is not what you want in an adaptive cruise control system, and it's actually more stressful to have it on than to just... not.

And, yes, you can turn all the assists off, but they won't stay off and default to on every time you turn it on, so while the Mifa 9 has a Tesla-style keyless system that sees it turn itself on as you approach, with no need to push a start button, there is still quite a process to switch everything off so it won't yell at you for not doing something the way it wants you to. 

But once you have turned all the shouty bits off it gets better, right? 

Well, sort of. Despite the luxury pretensions, the Mifa 9 can feel rather van-like and slightly unrefined around town, with a brittle ride that is rather unfortunately worse in second row, where the two big captains chairs that should be the best place to sit in the Mifa 9 are.

While the seats themselves are impressive - complete with separate touchscreen controls in the armrests, heating, cooling and massage functions, in-arm fold-out tables and the ability to fully recline - the ride in the second row is particularly brittle, making it feel like a slightly turbulent ride in a business class airline seat.

Also, and this is a personal observation, it looks awesome. Bold and very, very distinctive, the Mifa 9 looks like nothing else on the road. Which is either a good thing, or a bad thing in your eyes.

LDV says the Mifa 9 will accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 8.9 seconds with just a driver on board, which is fine for something like this, but it genuinely feels slower than that and its acceleration when fully loaded would probably be something like watching evolution take place in real time.

While the interior is nicely designed and laid out, it unfortunately has a generous helping of low-rent hard plastics to go with the genuinely quality materials.

The slightly brittle ride and hard plastics would be far more acceptable in the entry-level Mifa 9 Elite, which starts at $89,990, however the car we drove is the top-spec Premium that will cost you $119,990, which puts it smack in the middle of the Kia EV9 range that offers a far superior ride, better build quality, a longer range and seriously better performance.

All of that said, however, the Mifa 9 does have its good points; it is extraordinarily roomy and those second row seats are quite spectacular, not to mention particularly comfortable. The interior layout is modern and pleasantly open and airy, while the touchscreens are bright, crisp and responsive.

Also, and this is a personal observation, it looks awesome. Bold and very, very distinctive, the Mifa 9 looks like nothing else on the road. Which is either a good thing, or a bad thing in your eyes.

Unfortunately though, the Mifa 9 doesn't quite have what it takes to back up those looks, or that hefty price tag. Even if shorn of all the incessantly annoying driver assists, the brittle ride and hard plastics make it very hard to recommend for $120k. The shouty assists are just the last maddeningly infuriating nail in the coffin.

BATTERY: 90kWh battery with single electric motor POWER: 180kW/350Nm GEARBOX: Single-speed automatic, FWD 0-100KM/H: 8.9sec RANGE: 440km (WLTP), maximum charge rate 120kW PRICE: $119,990

How much is the LDV Mifa 9 Premium?

The Mifa 9 is available in three different specifications: the entry level Elite at $89,990, the mid-spec Luxury at $99,990 and the top-spec Premium reviewed her at $119,990. All models come with the same 90kWh battery and FWD drivetrain.

What are the key statistics for the LDV Mifa 9 Premium powertrain?

The Mifa's battery is a massive 90kWh unit with a single electric motor on the front axle that produces 180kW and 350Nm, and is good for a range of up to 430km.

Is the LDV Mifa 9 Premium efficient?

LDV claims an official consumption figure of 20.9kWh/100km for the Mifa 9, with that WLTP combined range of 430km. In the real world this is pretty easy to achieve and even better if you are light-footed. But it pays to remember that the Mifa 9 is a very spacious seven-seat people mover, so load it up with people and their luggage and that figure will climb...

Is the LDV Mifa 9 Premium good to drive?

Despite its luxury pretentions (and pricetag) the Mifa 9 struggles to shake off its manufacturer's commercial van background with a brittle and unrefined ride. The fact that the assists are constantly yelling at you the entire time drains any enjoyment from a drive...

Is the LDV Mifa 9 Premium practical?

Given the fact that it is huge, yes. Roomy, comfortable and with vast cargo space up the back, the Mifa 9 can easily swallow seven people and their luggage. However, that sheer size also limits its practicality in another way - it is rather challenging to fit into normal-sized parking spaces and the fact that the radars and sensors are hyperactive and shout at you for any reason makes them practically useless when trying to squeeze it in somewhere tight. Luckily, the cameras are very good though.

What do we like about the LDV Mifa 9 Premium?

It looks big, bold and imposing, and like nothing else on the road. The pair of captain's chairs in the second row are brilliant, being superbly comfortable and packed with cool features and their own touchscreen controls. It has very big range too.

What don’t we like about the LDV Mifa 9 Premium?

Ride quality is unacceptable for a $120k vehicle, while those superbly annoying driver assists are just maddening.

What kind of person would the LDV Mifa 9 Premium?

It would be hard to recommend the Mifa 9 to a family, as nagging chimes and bongs from assists would combine with kids being kids to potentially push the driver over the edge. However, used as premium transport for the likes of a hotel, the Mifa 9 would be an economical and extremely practical option, with the bonus of nobody (except for the poor, long-suffering driver) being exposed to the more irritating side of its nature for too long.


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