This truck could prove to be a game-changer for MG as a brandby Sidd Dhimaan, on
MG, the iconic British brand, is making a comeback of sorts. The company has not really been in news as much as the other mainstream automakers, but with its latest offering, it sure should. From building fancy two-door sports cars, MG has moved to the commercial trucks fray. The company is fondly remembered for its two-seater sports cars from the 1960s and 1970s like the MGB and the MG Midget. Fast-forward to 2109, and the company has a pickup truck in its hands – the MG Extender. This is arguably the best segment to draw in volumes. For now, MG will be launching the Extender only in Thailand.
MG Extender - Overview
MG began as a British automotive marque but is currently run by a Chinese brand. Even though this sounds like a weird amalgamation, believe it or not, MG is doing pretty well now. Another Chinese firm, Nanjing Automobile acquired MG in 2006, and then SAIC Motor Corporation Limited purchased Nanjing in 2007. Nanjing had already begun the ‘turnaround’ for the MG, but the company has grown exponentially under SAIC’s guidance. In 2011, the marque came out with its first all-new vehicle after 16 years, called the MG6. MG has been doing really well ever since and even entered the Indian market in 2019 with its Internet SUV, Hector.
Pickup trucks constituted for 43 percent of the total sales in Thailand in the first half of 2019. So, it makes sense to launch a truck in a market where pickups are selling well.
In fact, even MG is seeing consistent growth in the country since it began its operations in 2013. Technically, the Extender is not a new vehicle. It is a rebadged Maxus T70 ute. The T70 itself is inspired by the LDV T60 sold in Australia. But since SAIC has four brands under its umbrella - LDV, Maxus, MG, and Roewe, you can expect a lot of product swapping should the Extender experiment prove fruitful. The basic differences between the T70 and the Extended are visible only on the grille inserts and the badging. The Extender is available in both Grand Cab and Double Cab body styles.
MG Extender - Exterior
- MG trademark grille
- LED Daytime Running Lights
- Chrome appliqué on the face
- Bulged wheel arches give it a beefy look
- XL-sized wing mirrors
- Available in Crew Cab and Extended configurations
Trucks in this range generally have very generic looks. The MG Extender, however, has a face that resonates with its other models. The big grille upfront is a trademark MG mouth, and, coincidentally, also gels well with the other truck faces in the segment. There is sufficient chrome to keep the truck from looking dull or understated. The grille is a honeycomb mesh with the MG log slapped in between. The headlights come with halogen bulbs, but are surrounded with LED daytime running lights. For a truck in this range, MG Extender sure has enough pizzazz to draw potential customers towards it. The bumper has very smart-looking cut-outs for the fog lamps. Two tow hooks are placed under the bumper, unlike the general trend of having them protrude on the bumper. A faux skid plate under the front bumper should be able to keep small obstacles from hitting the underbody. Overall, MG has incorporated all the geometric shapes quite well without favoring any particular element. It can neither be called boxy, not rounded.
The side profile is also proportionate and clean. This is generally the angle where most automakers screw up. Check out the Ram trucks, for instance. They look bulky and butch from the front, but skinny from the sides. On the MG Extender, a crease flows along the top of the headlight on the fender, before sloping down on the doors and going parallel with the sidestep. This design adds a lot of character and helps accentuate the fender bulge. Badges on the fender are placed high, almost near the A-pillar. Turn signal indicators are then placed on the wing mirrors. Moving slightly down, the square wheel arches house the twin six-spoke alloys in the higher trims. The door handles and wing mirrors are dressed in chrome and look pretty tasteful on the truck, even though I personally detest chrome. The same bulge seen on the front fender is seen above the rear wheel arches too, but it does not meet the crease on the door. The fuel-filler cap is also present here. The edge of the truck bed is slapped with the variant moniker decal. The four-door models come with roof rails whereas the two-door models don’t.
The rear is too bling-y for my liking. Perhaps I’m accustomed to the plain-Jane derrieres of the other trucks in the market. All the badges and the tailgate handles are made of chrome. The taillights are simple, clear units, but I would have preferred a slightly smoky effect in there. The center of the bumper has a step to climb into the truck and the sides come with reflectors. MG has not provided any word on what material it has used in the truck bed. There is also no word on the accessories available on the MG Extender yet, but some stuff is seen in the pictures that don’t seem to be part of the stock truck. For instance, the door visors and door handles, a lip for the side of the truck bed that is attached to the cab, and my favorite, a black grille. If this is some part of the anti-chrome package, I couldn’t be any happier.
MG Extender - Interior
- Grab handles on A-Pillars
- 10-inch Infotainment system
- HVAC control buttons make the console look cluttered
- Well-laid out cabin
- Leather seats
- Rear AC vents
- Flat-folding rear seats without a split-option
The cabin is absolutely spot-on in my view. This is what you can expect from an automaker that is venturing into the trucks segment from sedans and SUVs. At this price point, this is a very neat, well laid out cabin. The flat dash is quite wide, thanks to the sharply sloping windshield. The A-pillars have grab handles for easy ingress and egress. The trapezoidal air vents and the surroundings flow well into the center console, where the 10-inch infotainment system is placed. The waterfall console houses the HVAC controls and the gear lever. While it looks good overall, I feel the buttons make it look a little cluttered. Other than that, the console is one of the best ones that I’ve seen recently in budget vehicles. The door pads have soft-touch material instead of plastics on it. There are subtle chrome inserts here to break the monotony on the doors. The steering wheel itself is well-sized, but MG missed out on giving thumb contours for that perfect grip. As for the instrument cluster, it seems bright enough even in the daylight, thanks to the cowl at the top.
In terms of space, comfort, and storage, the MG Extender has been generous. The seats have sufficient bolstering on the sides and will be comfortable even for the healthier folks. There are storage spaces in the doors, center console, and behind the gear lever. From the looks of it, there seems to be storage space under the center armrest as well, but there’s no word on it. The gear lever is nicely wrapped in leather with white stitching that gives it a very premium feel. I liked the all-black theme quite a bit. Since the cabin has big windows and windshields, it does not feel claustrophobic; which generally is the case with all-black cabins. The wing mirrors are big enough to show all the action happening behind. As for the rearview mirror inside the cabin, it is an auto-dimming unit. Good to see MG not going through any cost-cutting measures.
The only thing that ticked me off here is that the rear seats flip down completely. There is no 50:50 or 60:40 split ratio. Come on, MG. This is common sense.
The Extender will be used as a work truck and you need to be considerate enough to offer maximum flexibility. Nevertheless, it’s not a deal-breaker. With that said, even though the rear bench is wide to accommodate five people, the transmission tunnel in the middle makes it a little inconvenient for the fifth person during long runs. But the good thing is that even the fifth person gets a three-point seatbelt.
MG Extender - Drivetrain
- A 2.0-liter, turbocharged diesel mill
- 160 Horsepower
- 277 pound-feet of torque
- Available in six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions
- Offered in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations
- No word on the towing and payload ratings
MG will offer the Extender in crew cab and extended configurations. A single engine will be offered – a 2.0-liter, turbocharged diesel mill that churns out 160 ponies and 277 pound-feet of twist. Power will be sent to the rear wheels in the base trims, whereas the mid- and top-of-the-line trims will be available with an all-wheel-drive system. MG is offering this engine with a six-speed manual, or a six-speed automatic gearbox. The British marque has played it safe by offering both the transmissions. Also, this is the first rear-wheel-drive vehicle from MG in over a decade. MG has a twin-turbo mill with the same displacement and horsepower, but 354 pound-feet of torque. It won’t be launching the Extender in this state of tune, but we can expect it in the future.
The MG Extender is loaded in the safety department as well. The pickup truck comes with six airbags, rear-view camera, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, hill start assist, hill descent assist, stability control system, ABS with EBD, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Quite a well-specced truck to be honest. MG has not yet announced the towing and payload ratings for the Extender, though.
MG Extender - Price
The MG Extender starts at 549,000 baht (approx. $17,800) for a Grand Cab, and 759,000 baht (approx. $24,600) for the Double Cab. This is fantastic pricing and worth every penny. Also, it undercuts all its primary rivals in Thailand.
To begin with, this truck will be available only in Thailand for now. The truck market in Thailand is growing rapidly and this is the right time to enter the market. The Extender will go up against the likes of Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton, and Nissan Navara. From what it’s worth, the MG Extender is an all-rounder and excels at almost everything. The only unknown territory as of now is the long-term reliability as well as the ride and handling. Nevertheless, it should be able to draw in a lot of sales for MG without breaking a sweat. This truck will not just please the commercial fleet owners, but also families for its cabin quality, features, and looks. Should MG decide to get it to the States, it will create a ruckus!