Long known for being low-priced and often, convincing parody of popular iconic vehicle models, Chinese-made automobiles have pushed the envelope in recent years. Not only do they now offer models that turn heads but these automakers have also transformed themselves into global, customer-oriented companies.
This was made possible as Chinese automakers not only maintained strong partnerships with world-renowned car brands but also pursued global talents as well as leading-edge technologies. In the case of SAIC (formerly Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.), it progressed considerably from its close ties with Volkswagen and General Motors that began in the late ’90s. In the decades that followed, it also acquired notable vehicle brands, including Maxus from the now defunct British commercial vehicle manufacturer LDV Group (SAIC bought LDV and all its brands in 2010) and absorbed their assets.
With intensifying competition at home and elsewhere in the world, SAIC saw the need to develop not only better quality and safer vehicles but also good-looking ones. Recent quality surveys suggest that the gap in manufacturing standards between Chinese and long-established market leaders has all but closed. Design-wise, their vehicles now have distinct looks, which are also carried inside with the use of high quality interior appointments.
Beyond the pricing
Take for example the Maxus G50 multipurpose van that was launched last year. It’s not just the pricing that should attract Filipino buyers—P948,000 for the manual variant Comfort (also the most affordable); P1.088 million for the Pro A/T; and P1.168 million Elite A/T; and P1.288 million for the top-of-the-line Premium A/T—but the G50’s family-friendly dimensions should certainly satisfy many looking for an 8-seater ride.
At 4.825m long, 1.825m wide, 1.778m tall (1.8m with roof rail), and with a 2.8m wheelbase, the G50 is designed to carry occupants in comfort (it offers a 2-3-3 seat configuration). It’s monocoque/unibody means the floor is much lower to the ground and should prove valuable for small children and less mobile adults who need to get in and out of the vehicle.
The G50’s cabin exudes an effortlessly chic aesthetic that is becoming a trademark for many Chinese vehicles. For the G50, there’s the dark grey leatherette interior with contrasting red stitching, a large 12.3-inch infotainment system paired to a six-speaker audio setup (Premium and Elite).
There’s also exterior cameras installed that work with the G50’s front and rear parking sensors to provide the driver a 360-degree visual and aural assistance when maneuvering in tight spaces. This safety feature is also helpful especially around small children that might approach the vehicle in the parking area.
Also, the occupants would certainly appreciate (on the Premium) the panoramic sunroof, wireless charging pad for mobile phone and the power tailgate.
Properly matched power
The G50 is powered by a 1.5 liter turbocharged and intercooled direct-injection engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Generating a maximum 167 hp and 250 Nm of torque, this Euro-6 gasoline engine is properly matched to handle the G50’s 1.5 ton weight.
Usually seen on the bigger AUV and SUVs, the Maxus G50 combines superior space and upscale look: sweptback headlights (LED on the Premium), daytime running lights, large and muscular grille, and sculpted side profile with blacked-out pillars. Safety-wise, the G50 is already equipped with an electronic stability program, electronic park brake with standard features namely, keyless entry and push start button, auto hold, ISOFIX for attaching child seats, ESP, electronic brake assist with hill hold control, tire pressure monitoring system and immobilizer. The Premium has additional side airbags.
Buyers who would love to make a splash would certainly love the Roland Purple, the Polar Ash (available in the Premium and Elite) or even the Deep Golden (Elite only). Other colors include the Warm White, and exclusive in the Pro variant, the Warm Argent, Metal Black and Water Blue.
For more information, log on to www.maxus.com.ph.
Charles E. Buban is an old timer in the Philippine automotive journalism scene. He first started covering the automotive beat in 2003, writing news and reviews of new models and car tech, among other car-related stuff. When not writing about cars, he could often be seen riding his mountain bike or doing long walks in the hope of catching a couple of legendary Pokemons.