Those who know me very well know that I call a spade a spade. I have very little tolerance for lies, untruths and half-truths. Thus, when a Chinese car company focuses the majority of their advertising campaign on the “British-ness” of their products, I tend to question the authenticity of their claim. After all, a company owning the intellectual property rights of a defunct British car brand does not automatically make its product a British car. It’s like carrying a Walther PPK/S under a tuxedo and calling yourself, “Bond, James Bond”, when you’re Asian. It just doesn’t fit.
Thankfully, AC Motors, the Philippine distributor of Maxus commercial and passenger vehicles, only harks on the British origins of their brand. Maxus is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), which owns the intellectual property of Leyland DAF Vans (LDV) since 2010. LDV Group Limited, a defunct British van manufacturer based in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, was once part of the mighty British Leyland/Rover Group empire. Like what they did to Hong Kong, the British has relinquished their hold on the Leyland brand to China.
Technology, Confidence and Progress
The Maxus brand originated from the LDV Maxus model of the LDV Group. Their logo is a combination of three triangles that represent technology, confidence and progress, which are the pillars of the brand. These three pillars are quite evident when you look at the models that Maxus Philippines has introduced since the brand’s launch in June 2019 – the G10 passenger van, the V80 passenger and commercial vans, the T60 pickup truck, and their latest model, the G50 multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).
Introduced in August 2020 via online digital launch, the G50 is an 8-seat front-wheel drive (FWD) MPV powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch (DCT) automatic transmission. Maxus Philippines currently offers three variants – the top-of-the-line G50 Premium that retails for P1,288,000; the mid-range G50 Elite that goes for P1,168,000, and the base model P1,088,000 G50 Pro variant, which is the subject of our test drive.
Let’s Start with the Basics
Bolted to the unibody chassis of the Maxus G50 are fully-independent McPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam suspension at the back. There are disc brakes in all four corners while an electric power assisted steering helps steer this MPV and its estimated 1,660-kilogram curb weight. 15-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 205/60R16 tires connect this G50 Pro to the ground while the pricier G50 Elite and G50 Premium variants get 17-inch alloy wheels shod in 215/55R17 rubber.
At just around 4.8 meters long and around 1.8 meters wide, the G50 is easy to drive around the crowded streets of Metro Manila. At 1.8 meters high, it can get into parking structures and drive-thru outlets with room to spare. Best of all, its strong frontal design makes people look twice, especially those who drive MPVs. At a popular rest stop along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) on a Sunday morning, several people approached our Maxus test drive unit to take a closer look and ask some questions.
Expensive Looks, Delightful Drive
“Brad, magkano yung ganyan? Mahal siguro ‘yan, ano? (Brother, how much does it cost? It must be expensive, right?)”, seemed to be the perennial first question. No one ever asked me about the brand or if it was the top-of-the-line variant. Everyone assumed that our G50 Pro was expensive because it looks expensive, especially with its Water Blue exterior finish and white/light gray cloth interior. A few people were even taken aback when they saw a gasoline-fed inline-4 under the hood instead of a quiet turbo diesel.
But that 1.5-liter turbo-four provides the G50 with 167 horsepower for a lively performance on the highway while its 250 Newton-meters of torque pulls the 8-seat MPV smartly off the line even when all 8 seats are occupied. The 7-speed DCT automatic shifts seamlessly and smoothly although there are instances when it jerks a bit, especially when creeping in crawling traffic. Overall, driving the G50 Pro all the way from our home in Project 8, Quezon City to General Trias, Cavite and back, was a delight.
More than just a Base Model
Even though our G50 Pro test unit was the base model, it drives and looks more than just a base model. Typical of FWD vehicles, the interior space is maximized and there is an abundance of legroom, hip room and headroom for all the occupants. The seats are comfortable while the suspension seems to transmit major undulations it encounters. The stiff box-like structure also induces some drumming within the interior but the 8-inch infotainment system with intelligent controls on the steering wheel does a terrific job of overcoming these minor nuisances.
I haven’t had the chance to experience the G50 Elite or G50 Premium, which are equipped with even more amenities like a panoramic sunroof, mobile wireless charging, LED headlamps, automatic climate control system, leather seats, power tailgate, 360-degree camera and larger 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen monitor. These two higher-range models get six speakers while our base model gets only four but it doesn’t really matter. As it is, our base G50 has more features than the top-of-the-line MPV of another car brand and with a lower price, to boot.
Fully Loaded As Is
Even in base trim, the G50 gets keyless entry, push button start/stop, LED daytime running lights (DRLs), halogen headlamps, a massive rich-looking grille, handsome and functional design, rear air-conditioning controls, lots of storage bins, and a configurable third row with a 60-40 folding seatback that can accommodate all kids of luggage and cargo. However, you may want to make sure that whatever you load into it must be clean or else, the rich-looking light-colored cloth interior might get soiled.
Maxus didn’t compromise on safety and equipped all three G50 variants with driver and front passenger airbags, 3-point seatbelts for all 8 occupants, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake assist, electronic stability control (ESC), hill hold control (HHC), tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), and anti-theft system with engine immobilizer. The G50 Premium gets side airbags but all G50s have ISOFIX tethers that hold child seats to keep the little ones safe.
No BS* Needed
On our night drive back from Cavite with my passengers asleep in their seats, I contemplated on my stand about a Chinese car company’s use of their nameplate’s British heritage. Our G50 Pro is proof that it doesn’t really need any BS, err… British Subtitles*. The engineers at SAIC Maxus Automotive Corporation have done excellent work on the G50 and they deserve the credit, without invoking the English design and opulence of a long-forgotten British car brand.
Besides, we Filipinos are more nostalgic about old American car brands than British ones. After all, we are more Americanized than we really allow ourselves to be. We say “hood” instead of “bonnet”, “trunk” instead of “boot”, “windshield” instead of “windscreen”, and “gas” instead of “petrol”. Who really cares about an old defunct British car brand when you’re in a brand-new Chinese MPV that’s delightful to drive?
In conclusion therefore, I am quite pleased to report that the 2020 Maxus G50 Pro is a jolly good ride, even without needing to resort to its British origins. Tally-ho!
Classification: 5-door MPV FWD
Engine type: Liquid-cooled inline-4 turbocharged gasoline direct injection 16V DOHC
Displacement: 1490 cc
Maximum power: 167hp (169 PS) @ 5600 rpm
Maximum torque: 250 Nm @ 1700-4400 rpm
Transmission 7-speed DCT
Length: 4825 mm
Width: 1825 mm
Height: 1778 mm
Wheelbase: 2800 mm
Curb weight: 1660 kg (est)
Ground clearance: 170 mm
Bonifacio One Technology Tower, 3030 Rizal Drive,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, 1502 Metro Manila
Phone: (+632) 8459 4555