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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Review: 2020 MG 5 Core MT


Typically, when a car manufacturer lends out a test drive unit, they’d make sure it’s speced either as a top-, or at the very least, a mid-trim variant. With plenty of bells and whistles, it can easily distract the casual journo from tiny flaws which would be more evident if it were bare. With that, it was ballsy for MG to send over this—the MG 5 Core M/T—the entry-level variant of its most affordable car in the market. At P 658,888, can this fleet-friendly, med-rep welcoming sedan pass muster?

Things certainly start on the right note. Despite the “entry-level variant” moniker, it doesn’t look bare. Sure, it rides on steelies that are an inch too small, but aside from that, it passes the driveway test. The Laser Blue color does help, but majority of the MG 5’s head-turning trait is down to that front-end. Compared to other sub-compact sedans out there, the formal face with that large grille and squarish headlights is a sign that you should take it seriously; ditto with the backend as well.



However, there are a couple of design quirks with the MG 5 once you start poking around. For one, the swooping side crease is at odds with the overall angular motif of the car. Next, you have the “Net Blue” badge which is just fitted to the driver’s side making it look aesthetically unbalanced. Finally, you have that fake port window just before the C-pillar. It was seemingly placed there for design’s sake, but as a result, robs usable rear quarter visibility.

Climbing aboard, it’s nice to see the MG 5 take on a more grown-up approach. The layout itself is clean, chic, and easy around to navigate. The all-black scheme is broken up by pieces of textured aluminum-like trim as well as a leather-like topper with white stitching. The chunky steering wheel is covered in leather—a rarity in this price range, while the stalks and switches all feel solid. Settling in to a comfortable driving position is easy despite the seat’s limited four-way movement and a steering column that only adjusts for tilt. This has one of the nicest cabins in its class.



Things would have been perfect if not for MG’s decision to chuck ergonomics in favor of keeping the minimalist aesthetics. Take a gander at the cabin, and you’ll notice that your attention is fixated on the large 8-inch screen. Look below it. See those four buttons with a small knob at the center? That controls the entire aircon system. Operating it is an exercise in frustration. Turning it on and off is simple enough, that’s the leftmost button. Need the defogger? Those are the buttons to the right of the knob. Need to change any other setting like fan speed or temperature? That’s a combination of the second-to-the-left button and the knob. It’s even more confusing when you realize that the center knob also controls the stereo’s volume.

Marketed for its class-above size, the MG 5 doesn’t disappoint in that regard. There’s plenty of head- and legroom front or back. Interior storage space is ample with a lidded center arm rest, and an open bin in front of the shifter. However, because the USB plug for the smartphone is located there as well, consideration must be done to ensure the cables don’t get entangled with the shifter. Pop the trunk, and the available space there is huge. Be careful of the trunk lid though; it’s small angle of opening can, and will, cause you to bump your head on it from time to time.



Twist the key (yup, there are no push-button starts on this car), and the 1.5-liter engine comes to life. It’s the same one that powers the MG ZS so outputs are the same: 114 horsepower and 150 Nm of torque. However, because the MG 5 has a sizeable weight advantage—some 73 kilograms lighter, it makes a difference on the road. It’s never going to set your loins on fire, but it makes for highly sensible motoring. Apart from being good off the line, it hums comfortably along. The 5-speed manual, with its light clutch and short throws is tuned to keep engine revs as low as possible, so continuous rowing may be required on a daily basis. This results in impressive fuel economy: 10.6 km/L at 16 km/h.

Just like its engine, the rest of the MG 5 package is meant for the daily drive. Those seeking some cornering thrills will be disappointed by its numb steering. It isn’t as precise mid-corner, and this may dent driver confidence somewhat. The body itself shows a bit of lean, and never feels particularly agile. Still, it does perfectly fit the bill for those commuting on EDSA day in and day out. The light steering effort means it’s easy to maneuver it through tight confines, while the softly sprung suspension smoothens out most road imperfections. It can get caught out by expansion joints and other sudden shocks, mind you.



After all’s said and done, you will never be able to talk about the MG 5 without mentioning its price. For P 658,888, it certainly presses all the right buttons, especially for those looking for a value-for-money daily commuter. While the Style and Alpha variants do offer a lot more toys, they all range from P 848,888 to P 938,888. This entry-level Core doesn’t just deliver on its promise as a good starter car, but it also manages to overturn the sub-compact order. It makes every other choice out there seem overpriced or underspeced by comparison.



2020 MG 5 Core MT

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Ownership 2020 MG 5 Core MT
Year Introduced 2019
Vehicle Classification Sub-Compact Sedan
Warranty 5 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basic
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 114 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 150 @ 4,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 5 MT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 10.6 km/L @ 16 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,601
Width (mm) 1,818
Height (mm) 1,489
Wheelbase (mm) 2,680
Curb Weight (kg) 1,185
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Maxxis Waltz MS360 195/65 R 15 H (f & r)
Wheels Steel with Cover
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control No
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 No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 4-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Proximity Key No
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
USB
Bluetooth
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 4
Steering Controls Yes

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