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January 28, 2020

Review: 2020 MG RX5 1.5T Alpha

Among all of MG Philippines’s initial product offerings—the MG ZS, MG6, and the MG RX5, the RX5 represents what is perhaps their boldest move. Competing in the compact SUV segment where desire can sometimes rule over reason, can their value-oriented positioning succeed in a segment where the Americans failed miserably, and where Japanese and Korean brands rule the roost?

If exterior styling is the only measure, then the MG RX5 starts things off on the right foot. The lines are, admittedly, a bit generic, but they’re clean and elegant nonetheless; not exactly a head-turner, but no wrong angles on this one either. It’s sharp and understated—trading in being fashionable for something longer-lasting.

Now, if there’s one nitpick you can throw the MG RX5’s way is that it doesn’t have any familial resemblance to the rest of the MG family—no London Eye headlights, no Startdust Grille. And this is because it didn’t start life out as an MG. Instead, it’s a Chinese market model called the Roewe RX5 with MG badging. Proof is found in small design details—details in the head- and taillights for example that read, “Roewe Full LED Technology.”

Regardless, that shouldn’t be a turn off because no matter what’s written in the headlight cluster, there’s no denying that the RX5’s well-speced. This P 1.298-million Alpha for example comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof on top of the aforementioned LED lighting tech. The competition should take note.

Naturally, something’s got to give and in the case of the MG RX5, it’s found in the interior. Fit and finish are still generally alright—all the panels match up, and the color palette is consistent throughout, but the materials could, admittedly, be better. Poke around long enough and the hard surfaces on the lower doors, dashboard, and even the center console make themselves known. Even the switchgear feels a step below to the MG ZS and MG 6. Kudos though to MG for creating a haptic distraction in the form of some soft-touch plastic pieces and plush leather on the dashboard, steering wheel, or seats.

Normally, compact SUVs pride themselves of giving their owners an easy time getting in and out. At just the right height, sliding the legs is all that’s needed—no crouching, bending, or stretching necessary. In the MG RX5 though, the seats, whether front or back, are mounted high. While this gives a more commanding view of the road ahead, it also requires a bit more stretching to get in. Honestly, the movement is awkward and slightly uncomfortable, exacerbated by the sharply raked A-pillar which bumps heads and messes up hairdos once in a while. With a squared-off roof line and a generous wheelbase (2,700 mm), those in the back fair better. It has more knee room than most of its competitors while offering amenities such as reclinable seatbacks. Curiously, its 595-liter cargo hold is smaller than its competitors though it goes up to 1,639 liters with the rear seats folded.

Another oddity of the MG RX5 is found in the instrument cluster itself. Unlike the MG 6 which uses a nice, full-colored 7-inch display, this more expensive offering goes back to a pixel-starved 3.5-inch display. It’s legible, sure, but it doesn’t exactly reinforce a feeling of modernity. What’s more, personalization settings are split between the infotainment system and the nearly-indecipherable calculator-like display between the gauges. With Apple CarPlay built-in straight out of the box, the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is generally alright, but it’s weird why it always turns on with the volume always set to Volume 5 regardless of whatever setting it had last.

Sharing its platform with the MG ZS and the MG6, the RX5 drives and rides in a very similar way. Solid, but rough around the edges.

Powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, the RX5 makes a respectable 169 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. While not exactly a standout on paper, its stout torque (available from 1,700 to 4,400 rpm) makes for some spritely performance. Its straight line performance is commendable, but not outstanding. When pushed, the engine sounds a bit gruff, but besides that it’s smooth. Economy-wise, despite having to carry a 1,501-kilogram frame, this front-wheel drive SUV manages 9.01 km/L in weekday, and 11.62 km/L in weekend traffic. Oh, but it’s worth remember though that it, like the MG6 requires a strict diet of 95 octane fuel.

Similar to the MG6, the RX5 mates this turbocharged motor to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic. This wet-type, oil-cooled unit is far less jerky than most other dual clutch applications, and should also be more durable. There is still some telltale low-speed lurching especially when going uphill, but because the shifts are a bit lazy, it keeps gear hunting and jerking to a minimum.

As far as road manners are concerned, it’s easily the RX5’s weakest point. It feels too uneven and unpredictable to be of any threat to the segment stalwarts. At lower speeds, it tends to be choppy through corrugated surfaces. Show it a larger obstacle though like potholes, and oddly enough, the ride smoothens out. The same goes at higher speeds—it feels reasonably pliant. Suffice to say, it’s on the highway where this MG belongs. It eats up miles in comfort with a nice, weighty steering and controlled NVH levels. However, start throwing it into corners, and it loses some of that poise. It’s predictable, but shifts its weight in an ungainly way.

After all’s said and done, the MG RX5 delivers everything expected of a compact SUV: practicality, convenience, space, luxury, and safety. And sure, it manages to trump all others when it comes to its value-oriented positioning. However, in the bigger scheme of things, the RX5 doesn’t shout excitement. It’s a commendable and somewhat different choice for those deciding solely using the mind. However, in a segment full of heavy hitters, it just doesn’t tug at the heart much. It lacks the “x-factor” to really stand out.

2020 MG RX5 1.5T Alpha
Ownership 2020 MG RX5 1.5T TST Alpha
Year Introduced 2018
Vehicle Classification Compact SUV
Warranty 5 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basic
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Turbo
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 169 @ 5,600
Nm @ rpm 250 @ 1,700-4,400
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission 7 DCT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.01 km/L @ 17 km/h
11.62 km/L @ 28 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,545
Width (mm) 1,855
Height (mm) 1,719
Wheelbase (mm) 2,700
Curb Weight (kg) 1,501
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Michelin Primacy 3ST 235/50 R 18 W (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear w/ Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Hold Assist
Hill Descent Control
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Manual, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Apple CarPlay
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. ZS looks like a Mazda ripoff while this one looks like a Volswagen

  2. Hello there.. I have an mgrx5 and I want to know if it's true that it strictly requires 95 octane to my fuel consumption? I just read your article here about rx5.

    1. It says in both the owners manual and the brochure that it requires 95 octane. Likely the car should be able to adjust for a lower grade of fuel, but it may not have the same power. Watch out also for possible knocking, etc. if that happens switch to 95 octane fuel.

  3. Sir Uly, please review the 2020 Geely Coolray

  4. Nice! something new to the eyes of everyone. I like its color.


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