I can already sense that dread even before I get to finish writing this sentence. What could this China-built people carrier offer compared to the established names such as the Toyota Hiace and the Hyundai Grand Starex. Quite a lot actually.
A few months ago, AC Motors of Ayala brought its latest automotive brand to the country. Called Maxus, the brand specializes in people carriers and commercial vehicles. For its initial lineup, the company launched a commercial van (the V80), as well as a family van which you’re now seeing. Aimed directly at the stalwarts of the people carrier scene, the G10 offers a more affordable alternative while not skimping on space, comfort, and in-car amenities.
But given that Maxus is a new player in the local automotive scene, can they sway brand loyalists and new customers to their brand? Will the attractive pricing work in Maxus’ favor? And does the G10 have what it takes to make a statement against its nearest rivals?
Let’s start off by actually looking at the Maxus G10. Like most of its contenders in the market, people carriers are not exactly the prettiest when it comes to exterior design. However, I have to commend the designers for making what is essentially a big estate on wheels look rather dashing. It carries the familiar shape as most other vans but the G10 comes with a sweeping front fascia that is dominated by a chrome grill and tapered headlights. There's even a sporty-looking front bumper which enhances the G10's overall look.
Splashes of faux chrome, as well as some creases on the doors and panels, give the G10 a bit more zest. A huge set of taillights, along with a chrome trim on the tailgate handle, provide the final design touches on the G10.
Climb aboard the G10 and the van greets you with a straightforward and spacious cabin. Whether you’re seated at the front or at the rear, the G10 will not disappoint when it comes to space. Unlike its contemporaries which mostly have bench-style seats, the G10 has captain seats on the second- and third-rows. That means those that plan to have the G10 as a big limo’ of a van can do so without having to convert the seats. Should you have three more passengers that need a ride in the G10, the fourth-row bench can accommodate all three.
Perched up high on the driver's seat, I immediately took a liking with the G10's commanding driving position. Paired with a wide windshield, it was easy to see out what's in front of the van. But given its long dimensions, one will need to be weary when making tight turns with the G10. Luckily it does come with front and rear parking sensors which helped me navigate narrow city streets. Did I mention both front seats come with armrests? Always a welcome addition in any car in my opinion.
Like almost every new car on the road today, a touchscreen infotainment system makes its home on the center console. It provides the usual suite of media features like AM/FM radio, Aux, Bluetooth, as well as USB connectivity. Below that is the automatic climate control which did a nice job of keeping the cabin cool despite the sweltering summer heat outside. The rear cabin gets the benefit of having their own separate controls for the climate control, along with individual A/C vents for each passenger.
It’s not all perfumes and roses however inside the G10. While the cabin itself appears to be well-put together, there are certain portions that could have been given better attention. For starters, the gear lever feels a bit flimsy to use which was quite off-putting. Then there are the buttons for the front and rear air-conditioning systems which always need a firm press for it to recognize any sort of commands. Perhaps Maxus could have used a different set of buttons, but that just could be me being nitpicky.
Also lacking inside the G10 were charging points for some of the rear occupants. Sure passengers on the second row have the benefit of a 220V inverter and 12V power socket for recharging their gadgets / laptops, but those sitting at the third and fourth rows may have to make do with just their power banks. Maybe Maxus can install more charging points as a dealer option.
If all rows of seats are occupied, there is practically no luggage space available at the back. But since there is still plenty of space in the cabin itself, passengers can just place their bags near them or along the aisle, whichever works for them.
Under the hood of this leviathan is not a gasoline-powered engine. Instead, it has a 1.9-liter CRDi turbo-diesel that pushes out 150 PS at 4000 rpm along with 350 Nm of torque between 1800 - 2600 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission then sends all that power towards the rear wheels; that was actually strange as the engine was transverse like you would find in a front-wheel drive vehicle. A diesel engine with less than 2000cc might not sound like much but do remember that other brands like Hyundai, Isuzu, and Honda make use of down-sized turbo-diesels that are similar or smaller in size.
Off the line, there is plenty of torque coming from the small engine. It has a relatively short first gear but given its heft, that is to be expected from a people carrier like the G10. Once it gets going however, the van maintains its momentum through each gear.
Put your foot to the floor, however, and gobs of torque are sent to the rear wheels. While there is a bit of turbo lag, the vehicle lunges forward with gusto once the boost kicks in. Transmission kickdown can also take a while but the the six-speed automatic does come with manual select should drivers want to switch gears themselves. Personally, I only got to use it while going down steep hills (i.e. engine braking) since it was doing a good job of going about its business.
But where the G10 really excels is in highway driving. Get to 100 km/h on the expressway and the engine is practically turning over at just below 2000 rpm. Combined with its good Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH) deadening, and the G10 remains hush and refined while on the road. There is some wind noise that can be heard on the side mirrors when going at highway speeds, but that is to be expect from a big people carrier such as this.
As far as fuel economy is concerned, the G10 returned some pretty good figures. In normal city driving with just four onboard, the van averaged between 8.0 - 9.0 km/l. Out on the highway, however, expect the G10 to do better at around 13.0 – 14.0 km/l. Should you happen to be stuck in heavy traffic, the van will only be able to return between 7.0 - 7.5 km/l. While it could have done better, do remember that vans are not particularly the most aerodynamic of vehicles. Besides, its fuel economy is nearly on par with midsize pickup trucks (Here’s to hoping Maxus brings the T60 pickup truck to the Philippines soon).
For such a big vehicle, I am surprised how light its steering is which made the van somewhat nimble. Yes I know the words ‘van’ and ‘nimble’ don’t exactly mix but one thing to keep in mind is that this Maxus has some suspension and chassis fine tuning from, of all places, Lotus. Yes, the same Lotus that makes sportscars.
The hydraulic power steering on the G10 also made a big difference. I was expecting this van to be cumbersome but it is actually easy to steer. Combined with its tight turning radius, making tight U-turns and snaking through tight side streets with the G10 was actually easy. But since it measures more than 5 meters long, you must still be careful since the rear quarters can hit someone or something while making a turn.
Equally good is the G10’s riding comfort. Whether you’re seated at the front or at the back, the soft ride of the G10 means you’ll be comfortable no matter the road conditions. It does get a bit floaty some times which can be quite off-putting for some passengers. Personally however, I did not find it too much of a bother.
At Php 1,680,000, the Maxus G10 is actually quite the bargain. While it may seat less than its nearest competitors, the Maxus offers comfort, space as well as the luxury of having captain seats at a much affordable price. Despite having a small capacity engine, the 1.9-liter turbo-diesel performed admirably and is well-matched with the six-speed slushbox.
Hefty the G10 may be, driving it is not as difficult as some might think thanks to its light steering and commanding driving position. Plus, its soft ride means you’ll feel comfortable wherever you’ll go no matter how bad the traffic is. And when it comes to safety, the G10 comes with the following: anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, six airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors, reverse camera, cruise control, and the previously mentioned front and rear parking sensors.
A bit more standard amenities, more luggage space at the back, as well as putting more charging points for the rear passengers are just some of the improvements Maxus can apply to the G10 however. Better quality checks on some portions of the van are also welcome since some of the buttons inside the vehicle felt flimsy to use.
Initially I wasn’t so sure about the Maxus G10 when I first laid eyes on it. Yes it looked alright and had nice seats and features. But after getting to drive and test one for several days made me realize that it actually has a lot going for it. If you can look past the badge and see the G10 for what it can offer, the G10 can carry your entire family in one go.
And maybe even the proverbial kitchen sink.