A David Among Goliaths
It’s no secret that Filipinos love almost anything with seven seats. Having a diesel engine is certainly a bonus, but fundamentally, a vehicle that could carry the extended family is almost always universally appealing. Fulfilling this purpose for most of modern history is the Toyota Innova, which has dominated this segment ever since its launch in the mid-2000s. Once in a while, a challenger comes in. Yet in the midst of it all, the Innova always stood the test of time. In the second half of 2020, another challenger came in and it’s called the Maxus G50. Does this Sino-British MPV have the chance to take on a Goliath in the industry? Let’s find out by examining this top-of-the-line 2021 Maxus G50 1.5T Premium variant.
MPVs aren’t exactly the sexiest thing on wheels and it’s a contributing factor as to why most people prefer crossovers and SUVs despite being less practical. Though as far as MPVs go, the Maxus G50 actually looks great. It’s got just the right amount of aggression and sportiness without being too over the top. The front end is dominated by this large chrome grille and in the case of this Maxus G50 1.5T Premium variant, it’s flanked by a pair of sleek full LED headlights. The proportions of the G50 also give it a sleek side profile, thanks to the steeply raked windshield and slightly sloping roofline. Blacked-out roof pillars give the Maxus G50 a distinct look, along with those sleek LED taillights at the rear. As a whole, I actually think this is one of the finest-looking MPVs on sale today, even more so than the Toyota Innova.
I do have a few gripes though, but this isn’t related to its aesthetics. For one, the wipers aren’t able to reach a significant portion of the upper windshield, which can be a problem for taller drivers when driving during rainy conditions. The other one is related to the LED headlights. Even in high beam, the headlights don’t reach out that far onto the road, which can make driving in poorly-lit situations quite challenging.
Just like the exterior, the interior is also very striking and modern. Interior materials are also excellent. Whereas all of its traditional Japanese competitors use cheap, hard plastics at this price point, the Maxus G50 uses more premium soft-touch plastics and synthetic leather surfaces. It’s not like they sacrificed on build quality either since the entire cabin feels robust and well-screwed together. The black and red interior color scheme of the G50 may not be to everyone’s taste, but it does make the interior look more lively.
Drivers are greeted by a 7-inch multi-information display and a 12.3-inch touch screen infotainment system (8-inches in the base Pro variant). While the user interface is easy and responsive enough to use, it does have one or two quirks. One is the fact that all your contacts are written in Chinese despite the interface being in English. The other is that you will often spot one or two grammatical errors from time to time. Not exactly deal breakers of course, but it’s there.
As with every MPV, practicality is a huge strength of the Maxus G50. There aren’t as many storage spaces as the Innova’s and its dual-tiered glovebox, but everywhere else, this Sino-British MPV delivers. Upfront, you have the usual two cupholders and a single glovebox, while those are the rear get to enjoy folding tables (exclusive to this Premium variant) and two cupholders in the center armrest.
Where the 2021 Maxus G50 beats the Innova hands down is in interior volume. Since the Maxus G50 does not use a truck-like body-on-frame chassis like the Innova’s, this MPV has more vertical room as a result. This is evident with the stacks of headroom that’s available even on the third row. Because of this, the Maxus G50 is way better at carrying eight passengers than the Toyota Innova. Though we recommend up to two full-size adults or three small children in the third row solely because those seats are narrower than the ones in the second row.
While no figures were provided by Maxus, it’s clearly evident that with its seats that fold flat under the floor, the G50 has significantly more trunk space than its Toyota counterpart. In addition, the Maxus G50 is one of the only few MPVs in this class that has a powered tailgate, though the operation is a bit slow.
Powering the 2021 Maxus G50 1.5T Premium is a 1.5-liter inline-4 turbocharged 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.
High-speed refinement and stability are also quite good. Road and wind noise are kept to a minimum, which makes this a great long-distance cruiser. The chassis is not as rigid and solid partly due to the large panoramic sunroof of this Maxus G50 Premium variant, but it’s nothing too bad.
As for fuel economy, 9 to 11 km/l is easily achievable in this vehicle, though I was mostly riding solo. Expect fuel economy to drop a bit when fully loaded, but not by a country mile.
At the start of this year, we considered the Maxus G50 to be one of the most surprising vehicles we’ve driven last year. It’s not just good for a car that costs a little under P1.3 million. Sure, there are some quirks like the short wipers and grammatical errors in the infotainment system, but these are minor quibbles to an otherwise great MPV. We actually prefer it in many ways over the Toyota Innova, mainly due to its handsome styling, premium interior and a list of features that its Japanese rival could only ever dream of.
Naturally, most people’s concerns would be towards the brand, especially since Maxus is very new to the country. But if you look past the badge, the 2021 Maxus G50 1.5T Premium definitely a handsome David in an industry filled with Goliaths. If you’re willing to try out new things and be adventurous, this is an MPV you’ll definitely be happy to own.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★★
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.