Chinese manufacturer SAIC makes a big splash in the multi-purpose vehicle scene
The Maxus G10 is a winner in size and space The Maxus G10 can seat seven and still have decent luggage space in the boot. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

If you thought the Toyota Alphard was the last word in size and space, you have not seen the Maxus G10.

Maxus G, what? The Maxus G10, a multi-purpose vehicle from Chinese automotive giant SAIC. It was unveiled at the Singapore Motor Show in January.

According to agent Cycle & Carriage, the Maxus was first produced as an MPV in China in 2014. It was, however, the goods van version which made its debut here a couple of years ago.

Size-wise, the G10 is bigger than the Alphard all round. Its slab-sided styling accentuates its sun-eclipsing frame, which measures 5,168mm long, 1,980mm wide and 1,928mm tall.

The wheelbase is 3,198mm, versus the Alphard's 3,000mm. It is so spacious, it qualifies as a walk-in wardrobe on wheels. The aisle between the first and second row of seats will accommodate a full-size mountain bicycle - standing.

The second-row seats come with flip-up leg rests, a close match to the Alphard's captain chairs.

If you were to judge the car solely on its size, it would win hands down. It is a very big vehicle.

But there are a few things that do not make it as appealing as an Alphard. Its high floor, for one thing. Compared with the Alphard's low-floor access, the Maxus feels more like a sport utility vehicle than an MPV. The car even comes with grab handles, like what you would find in a van.

Secondly, its seating arrangement is not especially versatile. You can slide the second row back and forth, but that's about it.

The seats will not fold flat like in many modern MPVs. Nor will they flip up and away. In the Alphard, for instance, the third row can be folded and flipped to the side to release more stowage.

Perhaps if a vehicle is as big as the Maxus, this versatility is not necessary. Even with all seven seats occupied, there is decent luggage space in the boot. In fact, it will take up to six golf bags, standing up.

Motorised sliding doors on both sides, which can be controlled from the driver's console, are convenient. So is a hands-free tailgate, which can be opened with a kicking motion.

At the wheel, the Maxus G10 feels like a van. You clamber on board and you are seated high. The instrument gauges are rather rudimentary. And so is its level of driving refinement. While nowhere as nasty as the first-generation Chinese cars which arrived here 12 years ago, it is not quite a smooth operator either.

Noise and vibration start to intrude from around 2,600rpm. Although it is powered by a 2-litre turbo engine with lots of torque, it often has to be revved past 2,600rpm because of its massiveness. As expected, it betrays lots of body roll when turning and noticeable diving motion when braking.

But you do not buy a car like the Maxus for its driveability. You buy it for its ability to move a big family in comfort. That, the car does fairly well.

One of the first things you notice is a 10-inch multimedia touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity.

It incorporates a digital clock with Roman numbers, which is a nice touch. You get cruise control, all-round camera view, electronic stability control, lane-departure warning and tyre-pressure monitor. In short, most of the features you would find in a premium MPV.

It also comes with a flip-down LED TV screen for passengers, rear air-conditioning vents with separate temperature controls, a sunroof and even a 220-volt three-pin power socket. Yes, like the ones you find in your room.