A relatively young brand in the Philippines, MG Motor has made a name for itself selling subcompact cars to the Philippines. The marque’s good looks and generous loadout of features have served it well to Filpino car buyers looking to make the most out of their money. With cars as accessible and as feature-packed in the MG lineup, it is easy to see why the brand was able to stand out in a sea of progressively more expensive cars from other more established manufacturers.
When talking about cars that fall under the P1,000,000 price tag, MG comes to mind, and the company has two models that, even in their top of the line variants, come under the seven-digit mark. We’re talking about the MG ZS crossover and the MG 5 sedan, two cars that are priced very close to one another. One may be a crossover, while the other a sedan, but that doesn’t mean that each model doesn’t make a case for itself in some way. We’ll be pitting these two siblings against each other, with their top of the line Alpha variants being our contenders.
Both models may come from the same brand, but the MG 5 looks more like the RX 5 compact crossover. The ZS, on the other hand, resembles the MG 6 more thanks to its front end. One thing is for sure, however, both models do have good proportions and designs for their respective classes. While it may not be a revolution in how cars are engineered, it’s good execution for the most part.
There are obvious differences and advantages to each of the cars though. The sedan does ride closer to the ground, which is good for handling, but the ZS crossover has more ground clearance, perfect for tackling less-than-ideal road conditions. The chances of scraping the undercarriage of your car are also minimized with the crossover, but the MG 5 isn’t that low to the ground anyway.
In terms of style, it is hard not to like the grille of the ZS over the 5’s. There is more dimension in the way that MG designed the ZS exterior. The crossover has become a common sight in Metro Manila and for good reason. It wins by only a hair in terms of the looks department because the MG 5 is not bad either. Now, if only it had the ZS’ grille.
Interior-wise, both vehicles are similar. The dashboard, the steering wheel, the general layout is all akin to one another. When it comes to interior quality and design, we don’t have a clear winner, although each model has its own ace in the hole.
The MG 5 has motorized seats for both the driver and the front passenger. We rarely see this feature in this price bracket, but MG Philippines has outfitted the sedan with, not one, but two units. This feature caught us by surprise when we first sat in it, then the cherry on top was the sunroof which is a nifty feature to have, but not a deciding factor.
Now, the ZS makes do with manual seating adjustment, but to compensate a panoramic sunroof has been added which adds a lot more light than the tiny regular sunroof the MG 5 has. While it is a novel feature to have, with a pane of glass this big, it is hard to deny its existence.
This is no easy choice, but in day-to-day life, we think that the ZS will be more practical. The MG 5 does have 500-liters worth of boot space and foldable seats, however, so it’s no slouch in that regard either. We also feel that the sedan has more features for it, especially for the driver in the form of its motorized front seats. We feel that the interior bit should end in a tie because of these tradeoffs.
Both cars come with touchscreen head units, but the winner is the MG 5 Alpha by a long shot. The ZS Alpha does have Apple CarPlay integration for smartphone pairing in its 8-inch infotainment, but the MG 5 has that and Android Auto, and a huge 10-inch display. Even if we were comparing the ZS’ 6.4-inch unit with Android Auto, the MG 5 still wins due to display size alone.
Not only do you get a bigger and better infotainment screen on the MG 5 Alpha, but you also get a 360-degree camera, whereas the ZS only has a single lens for backing up. There is even an electronic parking brake with brake hold on the MG 5 Alpha variant, so there is no contest.
Both cars feature passive safety systems in place. With a total of 6 airbags for either model, the same driver assists, and essentially the same kit. Between the two, we have to call this one a tie.
Either of these cars have the same 1.5-liter DVVT engine that produces 112 hp and 150 Nm of torque. For the size and weight of these cars, this 4-cylinder motor is enough. The real difference lies with the transmission for each.
The ZS has a traditional four-speed gearbox that shifts smooth enough but isn’t a cutting-edge piece of kit. The MG 5, on the other hand, has a CVT, which can stand to improve fuel economy, but lacks a bit in response.
Practically speaking, the MG 5’s CVT will provide more long-term benefits, though we cannot deny that hard gears do feel better to an extent. For normal day-to-day use, however, you’d be hard-pressed to know the difference once you are used to it. Handling is similar between the two with only slightly more body roll in the MG ZS.
Let’s put this into perspective with the price difference between the two models. The MG 5 Alpha goes for only P938,888, while the MG ZS costs P60,000 more bringing the total to P998,000. Based on this comparison, however, it seems like in order to get the ZS, you’d have to trade in motorized seats, the CVT, the infotainment system, and the 360-degree camera for a car that is taller has more cargo volume, a panoramic sunroof, and slightly better looks. If you think about it, in MG’s case, the price difference between these two models are not far apart, and the tradeoffs seem reasonable.
Though when you’re looking for features, the MG 5 is a package that is hard to beat for the price that it goes for. The MG ZS also can be as compelling as the MG 5 but with added practicality. That being said, it will truly depend on what car you are looking for and what body style you will see yourself having in the coming years.
Though, if we were being objective, we’d have to give it to the MG 5. For the feature-set that it has and all of the tech, we’ll give it the win, now if only someone can spec a ZS the same way as the 5.