If you’ve never heard of the 2022 G50 1.3T Comfort, that's because it was never promoted or officially launched. It has only been in the market for a little over three months as a test case for the viability of a sub-1 million-peso multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).

The move was a gamble of sorts for Maxus PH because their best-selling G50 is the top-of-the-line variant (G50 Premium at Php 1.338 million). Bringing in a new, more affordable base model seemed counterintuitive. The new G50 Comfort retails for just Php 948,000. Surprisingly, they sold 10 units in the short period it has been in the market. So, the decision was to make it a permanent part of the lineup.

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We join the 356-kilometer Maxus G50 PH media drive from Manila to Subic, not just to showcase the entry-level unit but to highlight the performance, efficiency, and features of the entire range – the Premium, Elite, Pro, and the new Comfort.

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The Premium is all it’s cracked up to be. It has leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers, a leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry with start/stop button, and automatic climate control (with rear vents). Power-adjustable front seats (six-way for the driver and four-way for the passenger), wireless charging, and a seatback table system are exclusive to this variant.

Lose the power-adjustable front, wireless charging, and the seatback table system, and you get the Elite model. If you’re not fussy about not having minor features like that, then this should be fine.

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The Pro drops a few more upscale cabin features. It uses a smaller eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with four speakers and a manual climate control system.

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The Comfort is the newest variant but comes with the least number of creature comforts. Instead of a touchscreen, it uses a two-din infotainment system with four speakers. Thankfully, Maxus says it comes with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. It uses a plain polyurethane steering wheel and has no cruise control. It also doesn't come with keyless entry, start/stop button, and rear vents.

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Despite losing several features, what buyers will appreciate about the cabin of all G50s is space. There is a good amount of legroom because it has one of the longest wheelbases in the segment at 2800mm (more than the Avanza, Innova, and Xpander). All variants share the 60:40 recline and slide second-row seats (with center armrest and Easy-Entry function) and the 60:40 fold-flat third-row seats. That makes it easy to accommodate cargo of various sizes.

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It's hard to tell between the G50s from the outside because of the minimal differences. The Premium is the most appointed model as it comes with automatic LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, and a power tailgate. However, it does share its roof rails with the Elite variant.

The rest of the lineup uses halogen headlamps and power-adjustable side-view mirrors. All models also come with a rear spoiler and daytime running lamps.

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Under the hood of the Premium, Elite, and Pro is a 1.5-liter turbocharged, direct-injection gas engine that sends 169 PS and 250 Nm of torque to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). The output doesn’t look like much on paper but it easily handles the almost 1.6-ton curb weight of the MPV. There is a faint grunt from the small displacement engine when you push it beyond 2,000 RPM, but that’s when the pull kicks in to make it feel nimble and light. I couldn't really get a feel for the DCT as the mostly highway drive (Skyway Stage 3, NLEX, and SCTEX) didn't have enough stop-and-go situations to test its limits and tendencies.

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The Comfort uses a much smaller 1.3-liter three-cylinder, turbocharged gasoline engine. Despite the size and cylinder difference, it still puts out 163 PS. The drop in performance isn’t significant. If anything, it is almost as good as the bigger engine because the power was easier to control using a six-speed manual transmission. The 230 Nm of torque comes in at around 2,500 RPM, so I had to push a little bit to get the pull. Nevertheless, fuel consumption was very good at 12.3 km/l in mixed but aggressive driving conditions.

In Subic, the Comfort model flaunted the extensive safety features it shared with the top variants. It had driver & front passenger airbags, rear parking sensors, a tire pressure monitoring system, and most importantly, an electronic stabilization program. That was put on display on a makeshift course at Ocean Adventure.

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A left-biased slippery track was the first part of the course. I braked hard after going hard on the throttle for some 100 meters, and while it broke very slightly to the right, it still provided high steering control and traction. I went pedal-to-the-metal again going into another hard-braking scenario right after a hairpin turn. There was hardly any body roll, and it stopped on a dime with just a smidge of understeer. While regular motorists may never encounter such harsh driving situations, it is always great to have these available just in case.

The Comfort’s safety features are very comprehensive for a gateway model. The only thing it doesn’t have are front-side airbags, front sensors, and the 360-degree panoramic view monitor.

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It was a short day, and my time with the G50s may have been limited. But it was enough to realize the full-court press Maxus is putting on the MPV segment based on features and pricing. Starting from under 1 million pesos to a little over Php 1.3 million, the market has four models to choose from with varying levels of amenities but with minimal effect on driver-assist systems. That’s just a difference of some 100,000 pesos between variants without emptying the spec sheet.

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Each G50 comes with a five-year warranty program and a five-year free emergency roadside assistance. Maxus PH assures customers that maintenance of each unit is 40% more affordable over five years compared to other models and that their parts management system ensures they have an ample supply of stocks for up to five months.

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See all four variants of the G50 in any of the eight dealerships of Maxus – soon to be nine with Davao rising this year – and take advantage of amazing discounts.

The only things I wish for (and that are missing in the G50 lineup) are the electrified versions in China that were launched in 2019. Maxus PH, will you bring any of these in?