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Test drive: Luxgen M7

It may be brand new to the region, but Luxgen is intent on leaving its mark on the automotive map. It sends its M7 people carrier out to break the ice. Will the reception to the newbie be ice cool?

  • Image Credit: Dennis B. Mallari/ANM
  • The M7 features a clean, uncluttered exterior. Itlooks effortless and stylish. Image Credit: Dennis B. Mallari/ANM
  • Image Credit: Dennis B. Mallari/ANM
  • The rear doors slide open, allowing easy accessto the second and third row. Image Credit: Dennis B. Mallari/ANM
  • Image Credit: Dennis B. Mallari/ANM

I’ve never even heard of Luxgen. Some sort of white goods maker, isn’t it? In my defence, the automaker, founded in 2009, has only been around in the UAE for the past three months. And it has a range of vehicles that can be counted on one hand. In fact, you’ll have three fingers spare. It’s an unknown entity then, but I was soon wishing I’d encountered the Taiwanese automaker earlier because the M7 MPV, which I didn’t harbour very high hopes for, turned out to be rather good. That was only after I’d gotten over the strange name — a combination of the words ‘luxury’ and ‘genius’.

They’re confident, I’ll give them that. But I can’t help think that ‘M7 22T’ would be better suited to a microwave oven, or a kettle.

The moniker seems more befitting for home appliances and that isn’t the desired intention when you’re attempting to steal sales from the likes of Toyota and its Previa, and Honda and its Odyssey. But this isn’t my only gripe with the newbie.

The digital instrument panel stretches across the massive plastic dash and makes reading vital info difficult, such as the ‘door open’ warning symbol. With all that space, why not stick it somewhere sensible, like in the middle where it can be seen? What’s more, it looks as if it’s packing a massive glovebox under that large flat panel above the passenger’s knee. But pop it open and it’s tiny, as is the gear lever that still manages to block access to some of the controls on the centre console when it’s in Park. And finally, the reversing camera takes an eternity to switch on. Hang on, wait. There’s more. All of the important switchgear — things like the headlight switch, fuel tank cap button and power mirror buttons — are hidden in a secret compartment on the left of the steering. A secret compartment! Why? Protection against people who 
like stealing switchgear perhaps? Yeh, there are loads of them around...

Anyway, those are minor complaints for this MPV has a lot going for it, even if the segment’s popularity as a whole is waning. With so many decent seven-seater SUVs available, the full-on people carrier hasn’t just fallen to the back of the queue, it’s also at the back of people’s minds. However, this Luxgen serves as a timely reminder of the sheer practicality of an MPV. You’d be hard pressed to find something better to transport seven adults and their luggage in comfort for the money.

This base trim tester retails for Dh105,000. The fully loaded variant costs Dh119,000 and packs a host of kit including the Think+ infotainment system, sat-nav, lane departure warning, four advanced visual assistance systems including Eagle View+, Side View+ and Night vision+. That’s a lot of whizbangery for your money. Indeed, it’s very competitively priced.

It really comes into its own in the practicality stakes. MPVs are all about their interiors and most have something clever to offer in the seating department. The M7’s party trick is that its seats aren’t just very comfortable and boast moveable arm rests but they’ve also got storage spaces beneath them. I guess that makes up for the tiny glovebox. The second row slides forward and the backrest flips over, making getting into the third row that bit easier. However that middle row only accommodates two people while the third row seats three — a bit lopsided if you ask me. A two, three, two would be better. Regardless, the cabin is simply huge and occupants have a good view of their surroundings thanks to the large windows and there is leg and head room aplenty for everyone in every seat. The separate handrails and pre-shaped headrests are a nice touch too, while it’s easy to get in and out of the back thanks to the sliding doors that can also be operated via a button on the key fob.

Compared to the Odyssey’s exterior, which as its name suggests, looks a little odd, the M7 isn’t bad at all. Firstly, you need to sympathise with design teams of all MPVs; they’ve been briefed to make what is essentially a box on wheels look attractive. It’s a tough task. The creative folk at Luxgen have had a good stab and although it doesn’t exactly stand out from the crowd, the M7 doesn’t blend into the background either. It holds its own; it’s simple but this works in its favour. Because of the neat 
design of the front windows, which meld into the fenders, the bodywork isn’t as overbearing as the chunky Honda’s. The M7 is more elegant; the large chrome grille is another highlight and there’s more chrome trim at the back in the shape of a strip between the taillights.

Powered by a turbocharged 2.2-litre four-pot (a Garrett no less) that produces 175bhp and 275Nm of torque, it’s peppy enough but suffers from a bit of lag and the engine wheezes like an asthmatic having an attack. That said, the five-speed automatic shifts smoothly, the steering is quite light and overall, it offers a good ride even though there’s some body roll, which you’d expect what with it sitting 1,876mm high. It may be top heavy but it cruises merrily along at highway speeds with the cabin remaining quiet, meaning you’ll hear the kids screaming and wife moaning perfectly well...

It’d be easy to ignore this new brand and stick to the tried and tested but the M7 can do everything its rivals do and for far less of an outlay. That definitely makes it worthy of a serious look if you’re after a proper family hauler that’s comfortable and attractive. Luxgen’s also busy working on a saloon and if it’s as decent as this MPV, then the brand will soon be making a name for itself.

Even if it ends up sounding like a toaster...

 

Specs & ratings

Model M7
Engine 2.2-litre four-cyl turbo
Transmission Five-speed auto, FWD
Max power 175bhp @ 5,200rpm
Max torque 275Nm @ 2,500
Top speed 180kph
Price Dh105,000 (base)
Huge cabin, comfortable seats, smooth ride
Lows Not exactly blessed with a catchy name, turbo lag

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