Home > Journeys > Maxus G50 Media Drive to Subic: A Historic Drive and Max More!

Maxus G50 Media Drive to Subic: A Historic Drive and Max More!

My guide around the test track, Jaime Ramirez, was sitting calmly in the front passenger’s seat. He instructed me to accelerate into the corner and slam on the brakes in mid-turn. “What? That’s nuts!”, my brain was questioning the idea. “That would be counter-intuitive. It will upset the balance of the car and make it slide out of the track. It goes against all your driving knowledge and experience!” But Jaime, grandson of the legendary race car maestro, the late Pocholo Ramirez, was calm because he had a great deal of confidence in the car we were in.

The “car” that Jaime and I were in was actually a multipurpose vehicle (MPV) – more particularly, a Maxus G50 – and the driving test was part of the historic first-ever media drive conducted by Maxus Philippines, one of the automotive brands distributed in the country by AC Motors, a subsidiary of the mighty Ayala Corporation. The G50 that I was driving around the test track was a 1.5T Elite variant (Car #3) and the “mad driving” was one of the activities to experience the G50’s capabilities. But we’re getting ahead of our story…

Maxus GM Jun Cajayon, AC Motors President Toti Zara and ACEI President Felipe Estrella were present to see off the first batch of media participants. (Photo courtesy of Maxus Philippines)

Starting at Maxus Magallanes

I arrived at Maxus Magallanes, which was located along South Super Highway, a little after 6:00 AM. For every participant’s safety, everybody, including myself, underwent an RT-PCR or swab test before we were allowed to get into the dealership. After everyone in our batch tested negative for the virus, we got into the showroom for breakfast and a short pre-departure briefing from George Ramirez, the event organizer, Jaime’s uncle and Pocholo’s son. George promised a fun day for everyone.

There were five Maxus G50 variants waiting for us in front of Maxus Magallanes.

George assigned us to our respective Maxus G50s and I got assigned to Car #2, a top-of-the-line 1.5T Premium variant. Powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled 4-cylinder engine with direct gasoline injection and 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT), my Roland Purple G50 featured a panoramic sunroof, two-tone leather seats, and a 12-inch infotainment system. Since I’ll be driving solo, I bought my USB with 1,450 of my favorite songs and plugged it in. With great sounds emanating from the speakers, we were off to a great start!

Assigned to Car #2, I followed Car #1 in the early morning traffic along South Superhighway.

Skyways and Highways

At around 7:45 AM, our convoy drove out of the dealership following George, who was driving the Maxus T60 pickup truck lead car, and we went to the southbound lane of the South Superhighway and up onto the entry ramp of the Skyway elevated highway after Buendia Avenue in Makati City. We exited the Skyway at Balintawak, Quezon City and drove into the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), where we encountered a bit of heavy traffic caused by queue going up the temporary Bailey Bridge at the viaduct connecting the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga.

We got onto the Skyway elevated highways and kept a constant 60 km/h pace…

… it wasn’t a hurried drive yet we made good time…

… and got into the NLEX Balintawak Toll Plaza in less than 30 minutes.

Our convoy moved at a brisk pace along NLEX…

… and allowed me a running shot of Car #1, a Roland Purple G50 1.5T Premium.

There was a bit of heavy traffic on the viaduct after Pulilan, Bulacan…

… caused by vehicles slowing down to go up the temporary Bailey Bridge.

Traffic cleared up a bit after the temporary bridge…

.. and once we clear the bridge, we got to resume our brisk pace on NLEX. (Photo courtesy of Maxus Philippines)

At the Total service station in San Simon, Pampanga, we had our first stop and car reassignment. I transferred into Car #1, which was another purple 1.5T Premium, and then drove on NLEX and into the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). At a lay-by after the Floridablanca exit, we stopped again to swap vehicles and I moved to Car #5, which was a Water Blue G50 1.5T Pro. Like the Premium, the Pro is equipped with the same drivetrain but sans the sunroof and two-tone leather seats, which is replaced by a durable light-colored fabric.

I moved from Car #2 to Car #1, which is also a purple G50 1.5T Premium.

The Premium comes with cool two-tone leather seats.

As the second lead car in the convoy, I have to scan the back to see if one of the cars was falling behind.

At the SCTEX lay-by after the Floridablanca exit, I moved to Car #5, a Water Blue G50 1.5T Pro.

As the last vehicle in our convoy, I got a great view of our the other G50s ahead.

Impressed with the G50 1.5T Variants  

I found the 167-horsepower turbocharged-and-intercooled 1.5-liter engines of the Premium and Pro variants quite economical on the highways, displaying an average consumption of 7.8 liters per 100 kilometers (12.82 km/L), even though our convoy increased the pace from the 60 km/h speed limit on the Skyway to a little past 100 km/h on NLEX and SCTEX. It was likewise handy to have 250 Newton-meters of torque on tap, so I can easily overtake slower road hogs along the tollways to keep our convoy intact.

The G50 1.5T Premium and Pro varaints proved to be fun to drive and economical. (Photo courtesy of Maxus Philippines)

Our convoy of G50 1.5T variants and one 1.3T Comfort reached Subic without any drama or fuzz.

I was likewise impressed with the stability and comfort of the G50 1.5T Premium and Pro variants. Their fully independent suspension consisting of front McPherson struts and rear torsion beam provided a smooth and stable ride. The taller sidewalls of the Pro’s 205/60R16 tires marginally absorbed more road undulations than the Premium’s 215/55R17 tires but I found Premium’s handling felt better with its 17-inch alloy wheels and low profile tires. The front and rear disc brakes, which is standard on all G50 variants, provided surefooted and fade-free stopping power.

Our G50 convoy made light work of the TIPO highway…

… as they did of the zigzags and mountain roads around the former US Naval Base.

Despite the unintended neglect it suffered during the pandemic, the sights inside Subic are still breathtaking!

Surprises at Ocean Adventure

Our convoy arrived at Subic around 10:30 AM and we drove to Ocean Adventure. After a much need break, we were then taken to the parking area where the ladies of Maxus Philippines – Timmy Naval de Leon, Je Borromeo, and Stacey Vasquez – surprised us by turning the back of my blue G50 1.5T Pro to resemble a tailgate party, a nod to Maxus’ British origins, complete with cookies, cakes, pastries, and drinks. While we were munching on the snacks and refreshments, the Maxus gentlemen – Jun Cajayon and Roberto Dosalla, Jr., – gave us a rundown on the various features and trim differences of the G50 1.5T and 1.3T variants.

The cool sea breeze and the blue waters of Subic Bay welcomed us when we arrived at Ocean Adventure, but we’ve got to work first…

The ladies of Maxus Philippines turned the back of my blue G50 1,5T Pro into a tailgate party. Veddy Bridish!

George Ramirez briefed us what will happen on the test track, MaxusPH’s Robert Dosalla briefed us about the G50’s features, while GM Jun Cajayon took a photo for posterity.

And this is where I get back to my “mad drive” with Jaime. Aside from the slalom course, Uncle George and his team created an impromptu test track with a linoleum skid pad in one portion and a parking challenge in another. With Jaime riding shotgun, I drove the Warm White G50 1.5T Elite (Car #3) through the skid pad where the left tires were on the slippery water-and-soap-soaked linoleum. Braking hard and accelerating on the skid pad showed how the G50’s anti-lock braking (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD) and traction control (TCS) systems works to keep it stable and straight. Braking hard while turning fast into a corner also showed how the ABS, EBD and TCS systems allowed the driver to steer the G50 during emergency braking maneuvers and keep it under complete control.

When my turn was up, I lined up the Maxus G50 1.5T Elite to take on the linoleum skid pad test.

The objective was to speed up and then slam on the brakes at the blue pylons and then let the electronic driver aids of the G50 keep you out of harm’s way.

After the brake test, George accelerated out of the skid pad as hard as he could but instead of swaying around while the left tires find grip, the G50 stayed steady and straight.

The G50 consistently stops and accelerates straight and steady even after George repeated the exercise several times.

More Surprises with the G50

With its 360º camera, and front and rear sensors, I was able to easily maneuver the purple top-of-the-line 1.5T Premium in and out of very tight spots in the parking challenge course. Louie Ramirez, George’s brother and Jaime’s dad, explained how these electronic driving aids make the G50 a much safer family vehicle. He pointed out that the front sensors and cameras are very helpful when you’re nosing the G50 out a tight parking space with a blind spot. I can clearly see how impressed Louie was with the Maxus MPV.

Louie’s hand captures all the light as he points out the highly useful and safe features of the 360º camera and front and rear sensors.

After driving with Jaime and Louie, George drove me around the course in the Metal Black G50 1.3T Comfort (Car #4), which is equipped with a 1.3-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder gasoline engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Despite being the base model and the most affordable variant at P948,000, George emphasized that the 1.3T Comfort comes with the same safety features as its more expensive siblings. He pointed out that the projector headlamps were retained on the 1.3T Comfort, albeit fitted with halogen bulbs instead of the LEDs. “You won’t feel shortchanged when you buy the base model Maxus unlike other brands.”

George Ramirez took the media participants for a spin around the track but any uncontrolled “spin” was twarted by the G50’s electronic driving aids.

After the track tests, I took a shot of the Maxus G50 1.5T Premium with the serene blue Subic Bay as the background.

But of course, there’s the requisite group photo of our batch.

Short Drive Back

Spurred by George’s favorable endorsement, I drove the black 1.3T Comfort all the way back from Subic to Magallanes to experience the 161-hp 1.3-liter turbo 3-cylinder and to row the 6-speed shifter myself. With 230 Nm of torque on tap, it not only kept up with its 1.5-liter siblings, but can even leave most behind. (Sorry, George.) The 1.3 T Comfort makes do without the start/stop push button, 12-inch infotainment system, LED headlamps, and chrome exterior trim but it doesn’t look bare at all, especially since it comes with 16-inch alloy wheels.

I drove Car #4, a Metal Black G50 1.3T Comfort. all the way back from Subic to Magallanes and enjoyed it!

The base model G50 features a 161hp 1.3-liter turbo 3-cylinder and a 6-speed stick shift.

Comparing the center consoles and audio systems of the 1.5T Premium and the 1.3T Comfort.

At the first stop over along SCTEX, I invited Robert Dosalla to ride the 1.3T Comfort with me. We talked animatedly about our passion for classic cars, which made the drive back feel shorter than it was. At around 4:00 PM, we arrived at Maxus Magallanes, where Jun Cajayon donned his cap as the General Manager of Maxus Philippines and accepted the fun trophy for the 2021 Maxus D60 1.5T Pro, which we chose as one of our Power Wheels Magazine Top 10 Drives for 2021.

Maxus Philippines GM Jun Cajayon gamely posed and accepted our fun trophy for the Maxus D60 1.5T Pro as one of Power Wheels Magazine’s Top 10 Drives for 2021.

Our multi-color LED-lighted acrylic fun trophy for the 2021 Maxus D60 1.5T Pro.

I’m pretty sure that the Maxus G50 will be one of our favorite contenders for 2022 Power Wheels Magazine awards, especially since I was so impressed with the all the G50 variants and how Maxus Philippines planned their first-ever media test drive. Add to the fact that it also impressed the brothers George and Louie, who have driven everything from delivery vans to luxury SUVs to race cars. I quipped, “If it impresses a Ramirez, then it must be really good!