FEATURE ROAD TRIP
STORY & PHOTOS SHREEJIT CHANGAROTH
APPARENTLY, on a good day it takes just 30 minutes to cross both checkpoints when driving from Singapore to Malaysia or vice-versa.
Those horror stories of being stuck in traffic for three, four or even five hours are, believe me, very true.
During long-weekends, school holidays and particularly year-end festive periods, the volume of traffic increases by an average of 10%.
Let us not even try to analyse how a 10% increase translates to a doubling or tripling of transit time. We shall leave that for another forum, and definitely not when you are in the thick of that traffic.
Well, on a recent drive up to Kuala Lumpur, my family of six sat in traffic at the Second Link for a little over two hours.
For a long weekend, that is about average. Thankfully for us, we did not feel the time mainly because we were so comfortably seated with lots of space to stretch and lounge.
Did I mention we were in a Maxus? The G10 Executive to be precise.
The G10 is one of the latest MPVs to enter our market. Just in case you have forgotten what that term means, given the inexplicable fervour over something hugely impractical known as the SUV, MPV stands for “multi-purpose vehicle”.
Yes, there was a brief period when MPVs were so loved by families because of their spacious practicality and sensible packaging. There was room for five or sometimes seven passengers with little or no compromise to shoulder space and legroom.
The Maxus G10 is one of those lovely, spacious family vehicles unfortunately frowned upon because it is an MPV.
That is only because the cramped SUV seems to have duped many into believing that it really is “sporty”.
But I digress. My drive to KL with six passengers plus luggage started off well. There was no stress over how to arrange the bags.
Even with all three rows of seats in position, there is plenty of “boot” space for four suitcases plus any carry-on baggage.
Meanwhile, in the passenger area, there is ample legroom to even place snack bags and pillows. There are of storage spaces everywhere and would you believe, even a three-pin 230-volt AC power point that you can use to charge your laptop.
There are electrically powered sliding doors on both sides providing easy ingress and egress to the second-row captain’s chairs or the threeabreast third-row seats.
My only trepidation before starting off was whether I might end up struggling with a behemoth on the road to KL. After all, driving pleasure is a huge part of any road-trip holiday.
The Maxus G10 has only a 4-cylinder engine. But at least it is turbocharged and the 2-litre unit produces 214hp and a maximum torque of 330Nm.
For some reason, the official data sheet makes no mention of engine rpm either at maximum power or torque.
In any case, even though my first stop was at Sepang to support a couple of my family members at their track day, these details of the Maxus were less important.
Still, on the highway, it was quite clear that the despite a rather coarse disposition, the Maxus was game to be driven hard. It was always eager to rev and surprisingly spritely from 140km/h and beyond.
A keen throttle response and smooth drivetrain made it easy to build up and sustain a high cruising speed.
Although aerodynamic drag and weight did limit the Maxus to a comfortable cruise of between 170km/h and 180km/h, its ability to regain speed after slowing down for slower traffic was key to making this MPV an enjoyable drive.
Surprisingly, my rather critical passengers had no complaints. It seems the ride was pliant without causing anyone motion sickness, and ride comfort was as good as it gets in a seven-seater MPV.
Just as impressive was the G10’s generally nimble attitude, which it exhibited on a short B-road blast.
As some of you might know, downtown KL is not conducive to large passenger vehicles.
Traffic can be frightening with taxis and small Peroduas streaming in from every side. Here is when I discovered a strange factor of rushhour KL traffic – most cars stay clear of large MPVs.
It seems size does matter whether by virtue of sheer physical might or otherwise. On several occasions, I managed to even filter across three lanes at one go!
I’m still wondering whether it was the size of the G10 or the general tolerance of KL motorists that we here in Singapore are not familiar with.
Parking the Maxus was also less daunting than I had imagined. Despite its 1928mm height, the G10 could fit into most underground car parks where the usual height limit is two metres.
It was nearly 3pm when we left Bukit Bintang in downtown KL. Driving the G10 at full whack all the way and stopping just once to fill the fuel tank, we arrived home in Singapore just before 7pm – the same day. Incredibly, we took just 30 minutes to cross both checkpoints. It was a fine end to a fast-paced and extremely comfortable longweekend getaway.
Perhaps due to the G10’s size, driving in KL traffic was actually easier than expected.
"THE G10’S KEEN THROTTLE RESPONSE AND SMOOTH DRIVETRAIN MADE IT EASY TO BUILD UP AND SUSTAIN A HIGH CRUISING SPEED."
Like the Petronas Towers which tower over KL, the G10 also towered over many a small Perodua.