MG Philippines is getting more confident as more Filipinos see the value proposition that MG vehicles bring to the table. Crossovers such as the MG ZS and RX5 are becoming a common sight on the roads of Metro Manila and beyond.
The MG 6 was alone on its perch. A compact sedan offering, there seemed to be something missing, especially when taking into account that the ZS and RX5 are subcompact and compact size vehicles respectively. This is it, the Yin to the MG6’s Yang. Naturally aspirated and aiming for acclaim in the subcompact sedan segment, the MG 5 is poised to be another market disruptor offering high-end features for a mid-range price. So how does the model in its upper mid 1.5L Style CVT trim stack up? Let’s find out.
You have projector halogens with LED DRLs that flank an attractive grille that is reminiscent of the RX5’s, as well as a hood with creases that give the car more character. The side profile may be a textbook modern car shape, but it’s not often that we get to see a subcompact with a fastback-esque form. The rear’s style is safe, but it isn’t boring and is akin to the ZS especially with regard to the taillights.
I noticed something questionable in the C-pillar of this car, there is a black panel that appears to be tinted, but no matter how hard you look, you can’t see through it. That’s because that piece of glass leads nowhere, and is just there to add to the shape of the glass in the rear. The only other gripe that I have with this car – that is barely a gripe really, is the lack of any type of foglamps on even at the highest trim level. I wish it came with a pair of front fog lamps to add to its “European-ness.”
It’s sleek and has a prim and proper look that sets it apart from the rest of the competition. I personally like the look of the car. It looks well-groomed and well-proportioned. The grille is also better on this sedan than on the RX5. Style may be subjective, but since everything is pretty simple and subdued with subtle touches all over, it may be one of the most inoffensive designs to come to the Philippine market, save for that rear faux-window.
I was pleasantly surprised stepping into the interior of the MG 5. It has a two-tone black and cream color scheme with plastic and leather all around. Every touchpoint is also padded, though I feel that the upholstery used leans more on the rubbery side of things. It’s not plush and is quick to stick on bare legs, but the stitches are well-done and the trim pieces have a three-dimensional effect. To top it all off, it is the only subcompact to have a sunroof.
The D-shaped steering wheel is leather-wrapped and has a good texture especially with the perforations. The gauge cluster is not the most legible, but it will get the job done, so it is a good thing that the digital screen in the middle is clear and displays fuel economy, range, battery voltage, speed, tire pressure, as well as fuel consumption.
Cargo space is good, and MG touts 512L of boot space, but if you want more, the backrests can be folded. The seats don’t fold completely flat, however, but it does allow for longer or larger items to be stored in this sedan if 512L wasn’t enough.
While the front seats are comfortable for someone as skinny as me (I also happen to stand at 5’8”), larger individuals might find these buckets to be a little too bolstered. The same can be said for accommodations in the rear, legroom isn’t the greatest since the cabin is scrunched towards the trunk.
Finding a good driving position is also a slight challenge because even if there is a height adjuster for the driver, the steering wheel can only tilt – there is no telescopic function that would have made driving a lot better. Well, at least in my case.
Though, I have to give it quite a good rating for NVH insulation and ride comfort for its class. I didn’t feel like I was being tossed about even if it has a torsion beam rear suspension with MacPherson Struts upfront. Potholes, divots, and rumble strips didn’t intrude the cabin all too much, and overall, it rides well enough for passengers to fall asleep, and I’d say it is on par if not slightly better than other cars of its class.
This category is where I have a bittersweet relationship with the MG 5. I adore the fact that I can display my Android Auto or Apple CarPlay onto a touchscreen that is 10-inches in size. I do adore the fact that I have two USB ports as well as a 12-volt socket. What I do not like is the 4-speaker system that is comprised of a pair of tweeters and a pair of woofers. These two sets are piled in the front so the sound stage is not encompassing.
The control scheme for the infotainment and climate control is governed by one knob and two buttons. Pressing the center button will bring you to the home screen, and turning the dial will adjust the volume. There is no automatic climate control in this car, so you’d have to use the touchscreen or use the knob to adjust your fan speed or temperature. You can also press the fan speed and temperature switch to allow the main dial to control either the parameter, but you can’t see at what speed or at what level you will run at. There is a warning that pops up that won’t go away after you press the button and all it does is tell you that the main dial controls either fan speed or thermostat – it’s unintuitive and frustrating to use.
On that note, you do get a push-start system, but without passive entry. This means that you still have to take your fob out, press a button and then get in. It's a little weird at first, but I prefer to think of it as that missing link between true keyless and old-school keyless entry. Pro-tip, the side mirrors retract automatically on lock, so at least you have an indicator.
Airbags are ample in number in the MG 5’s interior. You have a total of four, two in the front and two on the sides. The model also comes with ABS with EBD, a security alarm, an immobilizer, ISOFIX anchors, as well as speed-sensing door locks. No NCAP rating has been made for the MG 5 yet at the time of this review. To prevent minor fender benders while reversing, there is a backup camera paired with reverse sensors, which works very well with the gigantic head unit.
Driving and Handling
The MG 5 is powered by a 1.5L naturally-aspirated 112-hp motor capable of 150 Nm of torque mated to a CVT. It has all the ingredients to make for a good daily driver, and it drives fine, though it doesn’t excite. I did notice that the throttle response and the transmission were the weakest links in this case. The accelerator and CVT were not that responsive, and come with a noticeable lag. Though, once you get used to it, the drive can be smooth. Acceleration is nothing to write home about. It’s average and gets up to speed within reason.
Steering is light, and the chassis felt reasonably put-together. Tight turns can be done and the sedan was stable even when running at speed. MG brands its chassis with the phrase “Brit Dynamic.” What this means is the chassis is up to European standards and is adjusted on the Silverstone Circuit in the UK. The effects aren’t monumental here, but the car remained true to its word, absorbing bumps and remaining reasonably responsive in the corners.
The MG 5’s fuel efficiency is on the average. Considering that it has a lot of amenities and is longer than most subcompacts is an indication of the results that this car achieves. In heavy traffic, I was able to average 7 km/L crawling about 20 km on EDSA in rush-hour traffic. When the roads free up in the city and traffic gets lighter, expect the car to average about 8 km/L. The economy meter returned about 18 km/L on the highway at 80-90 km/h, which is a figure that is on par with most of the competition.
Let’s make a case for the MG 5. It’s getting somewhere. There are standout features that I love such as the head unit and the exterior design. I did go on about a few inconveniences along the way, but I’m a very particular person. The car does most things admirably with a bit of style to boot, but there are also minor inconveniences that you may or may not get over with.
If you can get over the quirks, the value proposition is also good here. The 1.5L Style CVT comes in at only just P848,888, which undercuts many best selling models in the market. The MG does have a lot of flash, and has many features that may win you over, considering that other more expensive offerings are quite anemic compared to this one.
The Style variant is well-equipped, but for those who want everything, from a 360-degree camera, motorized seats, LED headlamps, as well as a better set of wheels, the Alpha fits the bill at P938,888. MG is pushing the envelope by equipping its cars with tech that can be found on the higher end of the market, which may make major manufacturers a wee bit worried.