Author: Ardie Lopez
I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’ve been approached by more total strangers who asked about this ride than when I was driving premium luxury cars for review. Well I guess there are other factors like I probably look more approachable with a ride like this, and well, almost all of them haven’t heard of the brand MG. The initials MG were quite effectively derived from British automobile manufacturing company Morris Garages, established in 1924. I say effectively, since encased in a hexagonal outline, MG became one of the most iconic and recognizable marques in automotive history. Well, unless you’re a millennial who isn’t a car nut. I won’t get into its rich but eventually saddening history due to limited column space, but MG via MG Rover ended production in their Birmingham UK plant in 2005, and has relinquished manufacturing to Chinese Motor company SAIC. The new MG ZS 1.5L AT in its top tier Alpha variant is one of their latest releases, and the one I’ll be shoving in the spotlight.
Well hello, good looking
As I’ve reiterated in my past reviews, a car’s aesthetic aspect is arguably the single most important factor of an automobile, when it comes to its market potential and commercial success. Now before some of you purists break out the torches and pitchforks, I am well aware that brand heritage, lineage and reputation, reliability and resale value all have huge slices in the “should I buy pie”, but hardly anyone would touch a new car that is (sorry fellow dog-lovers) pug-ugly, or even give it a second look. On the other hand, more than a few will disregard all the other factors in favor of a car’s looks that to them, sparks joy. But when a certain ride enters frame with looks that initiate conversation, and makes impressive marks on several areas as well, then it’s bound to shake up the status quo.
See me, drive me, get to know me
The MG ZS which comes in MT Style and AT Style under the Alpha top of the line variant, makes quite an impact both to those who haven’t heard of the brand MG before, and those to whom it loudly rings a bell. Regardless, they’re impressed with this compact SUV’s sporty-smart stance, and somewhat high-end bearing. It’s got to be attributed to the tight combination of the “London Eye” headlights, the “Stardust” grille, the “Plough” taillights, and of course the rightfully prominent MG badge. The designers certainly knew what they were doing and their desired effect, hence the colorful terms on the ZS’ design cues. It helps that I had my test unit in Meteorite Black, which I think is the most effective among the six colors. So first impressions on its not too young and bold, yet not clinically sophisticated looks are unsurprisingly positive, especially with the stylish 17-inch alloy rims with sporty spokes that reveal its 4-wheel disc brakes. It’s easy to spot the thin upper lipped, stern expressions with slow and subtle nods of approval from the other drivers and passers by.
But enough on the looks, the MG ZS 1.5L AT Alpha has established to me in a short few days, that what it has to offer isn’t merely skin-deep. Equipped with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder 16V DOHC, DVVT gasoline engine, you have a choice of either a 5-speed M/T, or a 4-speed A/T with Manual Tiptronic function mated to it. At 114Ps at 6,000 RPM, and 150 Nm of Torque at 4500 RPM, it’s acceleration isn’t astounding on the get go, but quickly picks up to a more than ample amount of power to provide for an agile and confident drive in and around the city. The comfort level of its ride in terms of vibration and harshness is good, as the MacPherson Strut suspension up front and the Torsion Beams at the rear provide for a smooth and pleasantly pliable ride feel. They could have improved on the sound deadening insulation though, since the engine noise (which was more like an electronic whirr than a belabored grunt) when accelerating was quite noticeable. My significant passenger agrees that the leather-clad seats are really comfy and provide notable lateral support. The driver’s seat though manually adjustable, molds around you in 6-ways.
It looks like MG made sure both the driver’s and four passengers’ needs and wants were addressed well, so that the optimal balance between aesthetics over performance is achieved. It’s effortless to drive as handling is light yet precise, space for five adults is almost generous, with focus on headroom and leg room. The tasteful use of faux carbon fiber accents and chrome bling on black leather works well, then combine that with an 8-inch touch-screen display interface with Apple Carplay (oh, major points for iOS users) and a decent sounding audio system. It’s a good package for P998,000 at the top end. -Oh wait, it comes with a panoramic sunroof that gives pleasant ambient lighting all the way to the back seat- it’s a great package!
The MG ZS 1.5L AT Alpha definitely transcends whatever its Chinese company manufacturing origin connotes to many, and it does so from the merits of its engineering, well thought-out product strategy, value-for-features pricing, and well, brand heritage (which most probably cascaded down to manufacturing standards), and of course handsome looks. MG Philippines threw-in a 5-year warranty too, so it puts more than a tough argument on the table for your valuable final nod. Will you?