I might as well admit that I spent the morning thinking the MG Extender was a joke. A pickup truck wearing emblems of an old British sports car outfit, with a name like a sugar pill you’d get from a dispenser in a truck stop bathroom? Hilarious. But sometimes reality is stranger than fiction, and today is one of those days.
In the U.S.A., MG is most likely to be romantically associated with scarfs and driving gloves, or realistically associated with “my uncle had one of those. It caught fire,” if it’s associated with anything at all.
But in the rest of the world, the car company actually sold a range of vehicles after pulling out of the American market. Its corporate structure has been shaken up a few times, but we can fast-forward to 2016 when it ended English production and relocated to China under the ownership of Chinese company SAIC Motor. And now it’s pretty much exclusively turning out mass-appeal cars.
So with that in mind, it’s a little less of a stretch to imagine the MG emblem in the grille of a pickup.
That pickup’s not an original MG production, by the way, it’s a rebadge of the Maxus T70, another SAIC Motor brand.
That said, it looks awesome. I’m totally smitten by this thing’s vaguely GMC-looking grille with its Subaruesque headlights and chunky fenders. I’ve got a real thing for pronounced haunches; it’s a big part of the reason I bought a late-’90s Mitsubishi Montero, and the MG Extender is wearing them really well.
This truck will compete with the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton and Toyota Hilux in southeast Asia.
“MG hopes to sell the Extender for 549,000-1,029,000 baht ($17,800-33,400) each, relatively lower than similar models of its major competitors in the segment such as the Toyota Hilux Revo which is priced between 528,000 and 1,190,000 baht,” wrote the Nikkei Asian Review.
Apparently, the Chinese-owned British brand is getting traction in Thailand. The Bangkok Post reported that “MG cars sold 12,028 units from January to June, up 111.4% year-on-year and an all-time high since entering the Thai market in mid-2014,” about a year ago. The company also sells a van along with little cars that proclaim, quite literally, “WE ARE FUN.”
I haven’t been able to find any real performance claims for the truck, but it seems like the Maxus T70 version of the body-on-frame vehicle has two versions of a 2.0-liter engine rated to 160 and 214 horsepower depending on how many turbos it has.
Unfortunately, we’ll never be able to test this thing in the U.S.A, but I’d love it if some American truck designers took a hard look and took some hints. The MG Extender, of all things, does a better job blending aggro-toughness with simplicity in a way that’s really aesthetically pleasing.