MG, the brand with British roots now owned by China’s SAIC, has been making headway in Thailand, breaking into segments dominated by the Japanese giants. The MG3 small hatchback started the push, followed by the GS and ZS SUVs. Value pricing coupled with high equipment has been the main draw.

Emboldened, MG is now taking on its toughest assignment yet. This is the new MG Extender seeking to penetrate Thailand’s one-tonne pick-up truck market. The long-entrenched players here are household names – Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max (both these leading models have a combined 70% share), Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger. There’s also the Mazda BT-50 and Chevrolet Colorado. Big task.

If the MG Extender looks familiar, you’ve seen this as the Maxus T60, which made its Malaysian debut in June. Like MG, Maxus is an SAIC brand, and the Chinese carmaker decided to use the MG brand for Thailand as it’s already established in the Land of Smiles. The Extender is based on the Maxus T70, which is an updated T60 with a new engine and minor visual changes.

The new engine in question is a 2.0 litre turbodiesel developed by General Motors and SAIC. Thailand gets a Euro 4 single-turbo version of the engine with 161 hp and 375 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 2,400 rpm. Elsewhere, the unit can be had with two turbos (over 200 hp) and Euro 6 rating. Our Maxus T60 is powered by a VM Motori 2.8 litre turbodiesel with 150 hp/360 Nm.

Gearbox options include a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic. Buyers can opt for an extended Giant Cab or the Double Cab, with a choice of 2WD and 4WD. Prices range from 549,000 baht (RM74,704) to 1.029 million baht (RM140,019).

The top MG Extender gets goodies such as 18-inch wheels, LED projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights, auto lights and wipers, leather seats, cruise control, electric front seats, auto dimming rear view mirror, auto air con with rear vents, 10-inch touchscreen head unit and MG Thailand’s signature I-SMART voice control system.

The latter understands and speaks Thai, and can be asked to control the air con system, audio, make/receive calls, and navigate. It also comes with the MG Link smartphone app that allows the user to remotely start the car, turn on the air con, lock/unlock the doors, and locate the vehicle. There’s online music streaming too.

In the safety department, the MG pick-up truck comes with all-round disc brakes (rather unique for a truck), ABS, EBD, EBA, stability control, hill assist, blind spot assist and lane departure warning. There’s also six airbags, a 360-degree parking camera and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

It appears well-equipped for the job, but what an unenviable task. What do you think of the MG Extender? Click here for more on the Maxus T60, which is now open for booking in Malaysia.


GALLERY: Maxus T60 in Malaysia