Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation (BAIC) recently introduced the M50-S, their version of the ubiquitous MPV. It is designed for asian countries , such as the Philippines, same width as most sedans, but ceiling clearance is at par with the more popular (and bigger) MPVs. It’s main purpose is to ferry people around in the urban jungle; easy to operate and manoeuvre in traffic and tight spaces.

INTERIOR

One of the main attraction of the M50 is the Micro-Fiber leatherette of the seats. This material acts like an Anti-Bacteria that acts like an odor filter inside. The light brown color of the interior is a welcome change, and reflects a brighter aura as compared to the bland black of other sino-car models.

The 2nd row Captain’s chair is a welcome feature. It seats the passengers quite comfortably, with proper cup holders and armrests. The third row can seat 3 average sized adults (or 2 large adults), and can be folded down easily for more cargo space.

As for entertainment, the big nine-inch touchscreen LCD has a sharp display, with Bluetooth and USB connectivity as standard. Speakers need to be upgraded though.

Most impressive is the dual-zone air-conditioning system. It’s superior than its competitors; Cool air all the way, even at high noon and no window tint.

ENGINE

The 1.5 litre 16V engine makes adequate power, but struggles slightly under full load. 114 PS @ 6000 rpm and Torque of 150 Nm @ 4300-4500 rpm isn’t impressive on paper, but it does its job. The manual transmission is more ideal to this engine, as you can adjust the shift point to your kind of driving, although the wide ratio gears make it a chore in traffic. No Diesel or Turbo variants…yet.

The 1.5 liter engine.

EXTERIOR

The M50 boasts of more aggressive styling for an MPV. The fascia is sportier, with vertical slotted grille, and a flowing projector headlamps, with driving lamps at both ends of the valence panel.

Additional items are the roof racks, flares and claddings that give the exterior a more-sporty, SUV kind of look than lesser variants.

Another pleasant surprise is the suspension; MacPherson Independent at the front and Five-Link at the rear. It’s quite comfortable at speed, even with passengers, but it tends to bottom out at dips and humps, which is understandable.

The 195/65R/15 tire combination is just the right size, although it looks smaller as compared to the side profile of the M50-S. The ride is smooth and quiet. Bigger tires will tax the powertrain needlessly.

The BAIC M50-S can be construed as a mix of a sedan and crossover. Passenger comfort is the main purpose of the design, which is commendable in our book. Granted, it’s not a rocket, but it gets you to your destination, and at Php668k, (for this Ultra Luxury Variant) you get more than a similarly priced sedan.

Whether solo or with 6 passengers, you get there in style. BAIC M50-S style.

PRICE

BAIC M50S 1.5 Luxury MT (7-Seater)           Php 638,000

BAIC M50S 1.5 Ultra Luxury MT (7-Seater)  Ph 668,000

BAIC M50S 1.5 Ultra Luxury MT (8-Seater)  Php 668,000

Text/Images by Earl Manalansan

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