Make no mistake, we at Go Flat Out PH love driving some of the most luxurious or fastest cars on the market. However, our joy from what we do truly comes from being able to drive something that’s completely surprising. Case in point, this 2021 Maxus G50. This Sino-British MPV is by no means a luxury car nor a flashy sports car. What sets it apart from the majority of the cars we’ve driven this year is that for its extremely affordable price tag, nothing else comes close to how well the entire package works.
For starters, the Maxus G50 looks good. There’s no part of the vehicle the looks out of proportion. Additionally, it’s got all the modern design touches you expect nowadays. It also certainly helps that this particular unit, a top-of-the-line G50 Premium, is painted in this striking shade of Roland Purple. While the idea of having a purple car is probably unorthodox to most people, the G50 wears the purple shade well without looking like it’s trying too hard.
Thankfully, the striking design theme continues inside. The dash layout is stylish and very modern. Also, unlike literally all of its competitors that use utilitarian hard plastics, the Maxus G50 uses plush soft-touch plastics and leatherette surfaces. Breaking the monotony of the interior are the layers of satin silver trims and red accents, though we think the bold red and black colorway is a bit too much.
However, it isn’t entirely perfect though. The digital gauges do look nice, but having the tachometer run counterclockwise isn’t something I’m used to. Also, while the large 12-inch touch screen infotainment system looks neatly integrated into the interior design, the screen itself easily washes out during the day. It isn’t helped by the fact that the software running it has a few quirks up its sleeve. For instance, when someone gives you a call, their name is translated into Chinese. In addition, there’s a glaring grammatical error (“Your speed has exceeded 15 km/h, so that you cannot use this function”) whenever the 360-degree camera deactivates. Lastly, while the interface itself is generally okay to use, the lack of a volume knob and other hard buttons means executing certain functions can be too distracting while on the move. Oh, and there’s no Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto either.
Now, being an MPV, you of course expect it to do the practical stuff well, and the Maxus G50 delivers it in spades. Dimensionally, the Maxus G50 is slightly longer than the Innova. Width and height are almost the same with only a few millimeters separating the two vehicles, but the dimensions don’t tell the whole story. The Toyota Innova utilizes a truck-like body-on-frame construction, and its IMV platform is even shared with the Toyota Fortuner and Hilux. What this means is, while the Innova is marginally taller, the interior height is significantly less than the G50’s because of that body on frame construction. As a result, the Maxus G50 feels more like an affordable Honda Odyssey with its low step-in height and high ceiling. Even adults who are way taller than my 5′ 10″ frame will have stacks of headroom. Oh, and the third-row seats can actually accommodate three decent-sized adults or two full-sized adults in comfort with room to spare.
Trunk space is also pretty good. Maxus has not released any official figures regarding its trunk space, but it sure is more voluminous than the Toyota Innova’s. This is mainly due to the fact that the third-row seats fold flat into the floor instead of being hooked onto the side like in the Innova. Also, this G50 Premium gets a power liftgate, which isn’t exactly fast by today’s standards, but it’s still very useful.
As for the driving experience, the Maxus G50 also excels. Under its hood is a punchy 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 gasoline engine that produces 167 hp and 250 Nm of torque. Power is sent to a 7-speed wet dual-clutch transmission (DCT), driving the front wheels. Overtaking with this MPV is easy thanks to how the torque is spread over a wide rev range, and being a wet DCT, it doesn’t suffer from the clunkiness of dry-type DCTs. There are only a few moments where the DCT feels delayed when you want to put the pedal to the metal, and this also probably has to do with a little bit of turbo lag. Once the turbo and transmission are in rhythm, the Maxus G50 overtakes like a dream. Oftentimes, you’d even hear some blowoff valve noises, adding a dose of character to this engine.
Handling-wise, it’s pretty much what you would expect for an MPV. It’s not exactly sporty like a Mazda, but it gets the job done. The MacPherson strut front and rear torsion beam suspension do keep body roll in check, though there’s no denying that it’s a tall vehicle with a high center of gravity. The ride is also good, though there are instances when the suspension feels firm. The steering feels light, though there’s not much in the way of road feel. But then, it’s only us driving enthusiasts who look for these sporting qualities. For the 99 percent of the population looking for a way to travel from A to B, this is an excellent MPV.
As for fuel economy, 9 to 11 km/l is easily achievable in this vehicle, though it was mostly with me riding solo. Expect fuel economy to drop a bit when fully loaded, but not by a country mile.
And that’s what makes this Maxus G50 such a hugely surprising vehicle for me. Whenever we review cars, we have certain expectations about how it will perform. With a premium luxury or sports car, you expect it to drive and ride nicely. But what about a car from a relatively new brand that costs way less than its chief rivals? Oftentimes, we wouldn’t know what to expect, or our expectations won’t be as high compared to more established vehicles and nameplates. But with the Maxus G50, it was the vehicle that completely shattered our expectations. The Maxus G50 isn’t just good considering its sub-P1.3 million price tag. It’s simply just a good MPV, period.
Do wait for our full review that’s expected to be posted soon on Go Flat Out PH.