Search CarGuide.PH

February 20, 2022

Review: 2022 MG ZST 1.3T Trophy

The MG ZS is a pioneer of sorts in the Philippines. It was, for all intents and purposes, the pioneer of the small SUV segment in the country, and its playbook of offering size-above proportions and value-oriented positioning helped the brand establish a foothold in a segment typically dominated by sedans and hatchbacks.

As respectable as the MG ZS is as a daily commuter, it did have one flaw: it wasn’t exciting. Sure enough, it gets you from Point A to Point B in relative style and comfort, but show it a long stretch of B-road; heck, just drive it up Shangri-La Mall parking and you’ll know it could use more horses under the hood. That’s exactly where the MG ZST comes in.

In a unique move, MG Philippines isn’t discontinuing its best-selling MG ZS crossover. In fact, they aren’t updating either. With the ZS making up over 65 percent of their total sales in 2021, it’s surely a case of “don’t fix what ain’t broke.” However, because the new turbocharged ZST is meant to appeal to a different buyer—one that seeks style bundled with performance and value—it dons a sleeker design.
The front end’s been completely changed with a larger, shapelier Obsidian Matrix Grille. Together with the sharper, slimmer LED headlights, it gives the ZST a measure of menace. Over to the side, the wheels are still 17 inches in diameter, but the Tomahawk design does makes it visually larger. At the back, the rear lights also get a new lighting treatment, while the bumpers have an increased proportion of body-colored elements. To cap everything off are MG Trophy design elements. Meant to convey the brand’s sportiest variant, it adds high-gloss black elements (side mirrors and side molding) and red brake calipers.

Aboard, the ZST has more or less kept the same dashboard design shared with the ZS. For that, the level of fit and finish far exceeds expectations with the upper dash and door trims covered in pleasant soft-touch plastics (more so compared to the non-turbo ZS). Everything that gets in contact with the driver—the steering wheel, shifter, all the stalks and switchgear are done to a Teutonic level of solidity too. The only exception is the rear-view mirror which misaligns easily when going over bumps, or when being flipping between the day/night position.

When it comes to interior space, there are no qualms with the ZST. The 6-way power adjustable driver’s seat results in ample adjustments, and offers good support for extended periods behind the wheel. The rear accommodations too are just as generous with plenty of head- and legroom. Everyone even gets their own headrests, three-point seatbelts, and even rear AC vents with USB charging ports. The only point of contention? There’s no center armrest back there. Moving to the trunk space, it can fit aplenty, and with the height-adjustable cargo floor, you can choose to either lengthen the hold all the way to the back of the front seats to fit long items, or deepen the hold to accommodate bulkier items.

Despite sharing its basic dash design with the ZS, the ZST differs greatly in one aspect: the center stack. The previous 8-inch screen has given way to a “floating” 10-inch one that, in theory, should be better. In some respects, yes, it does feel like an upgrade largely to the crisp graphics and standard Apple CarPlay with Android Auto (finally). However, MG’s decision to migrate some controls to a row of physical piano-style switches with no changes to the interface results in a messy user experience. A learning curve is required to master the proper combination of on-screen and hard button presses. Novices will find themselves almost always getting stuck in certain menus.

The larger infotainment screen aside, the ZST also adds a fully digital instrument cluster. It conveys information such as speed, rpm, and even vehicle status (door lock status, lights, trip information) more easily than conventional analog gauges, but it also manages to almost obscure things equally important like the temperature gauge and fuel gauge. It must also be noted as well that even at its lowest brightness setting it, along with the infotainment screen, can be overwhelming to look at during nighttime driving.

The visible changes found all around the ZST are a prelude to the most transformative aspect of all: the engine. Swapping the normally-aspirated 1.5-liter for a turbocharged 1.3-liter makes this MG much more engaging behind the wheel.

The engine, co-developed with General Motors, drops around 200 cc and one cylinder, but it ups the output to 163 horsepower and 230 Nm of torque. Compared to the non-turbo ZS which frankly had difficulty in climbing just about anywhere resembling a hill, the ZST rarely has to rev beyond 3,000 rpm to get a sensible pace going. You won’t mistake it for a hot or even warm hatch, but at least it now holds on its own pulling the 1,318-kilogram frame. In addition, NVH is kept in check and because it’s smooth, most will be surprised with its “odd” cylinder layout.

As great as the new engine is on the ZST, the accompanying six-speed automatic still needs some work. It’s fine for the regular commuter, but tell it to do anything remotely fun and its reactions are almost always absent. For one, it doesn’t like to kick down, preferring instead to putter in-gear. This means that on occasion, mashing the throttle will result in a noticeable delay hurting the overall drivability somewhat. However, the extended ratios do result in better fuel economy—9.7 km/L compared to the ZS’s 7.81/L (both done at 16 km/h average speed). Do note that, like most turbocharged engines, it requires a diet of 95 octane.

The rest of the ZST’s handling package remains close to the ZS. It prioritizes cushiness to cornering fun. The suspension tuning is on the soft side which means it soaks up a lot of potholes, but it also means the rear end has this tendency to bottom out over humps. The steering also offers changeable levels of effort, but overall, it’s best to keep things in the catchall Normal mode.

MG Philippines is asking a P 170,000 premium for the sole ZST variant over the previous top-of-the-line ZS Alpha. That may sound like a lot of money, but in the greater scheme of things, every single peso has been stretched. The sharper looks, added niceties, and of course, the new powertrain aside, the ZST adds an array of safety features to the mix which means things like blind spot indicators, rear cross traffic alert, and tire pressure sensors now standard. Even the airbag count has gone up from two to six. Anti-lock brakes with EBD, stability control, and parking sensors with a 360-degree camera are included as well.

The MG ZS has brought on the rise of compact crossovers in the country, and as the pioneer it now finds itself having to fend off newer and fancier offerings both from established and new brands. However, with the introduction of the ZST, they’ve managed to inject a much-needed dose of excitement while still keeping to their playbook of providing excellent value. It’s the final piece of the puzzle that’s been missing in the ZS all this time.

2022 MG ZST

click here for latest prices

Ownership 2022 MG ZST Trophy 1.3 Turbo AT
Year Introduced 2021
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
Warranty 5 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics0
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.3
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I3
BHP @ rpm 163 @ 5,600
Nm @ rpm 230 @ 4,400
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes, w/ Limiter
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.70 km/L @ 16 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,323
Width (mm) 1,809
Height (mm) 1,653
Wheelbase (mm) 2,585
Curb Weight (kg) 1,318
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Michelin Primacy 3 ST 215/55 R 17 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, 360-degree
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 Blind Spot Monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Hill Descent Control
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, w/ Cornering Function
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) 6-way, Electric, Heated
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 4-way, Manual, Heated
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof Yes
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, Heated, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Sir Uly, how do you compare the ZST with the Coolray in terms of driving dynamics and build quality?
    - Mark J.

    1. I like the MG's steering better than the Coolray's, but overall, the Geely is more polished in terms of ride and handling. Build quality? Geely also has the advantage there. Shame Geely can't seem to fit CarPlay/Android Auto as standard equipment...they're getting left behind in that regard though.

    2. Sir Uly, I read somewhere (on an article) that Geely have no plans to put Android Auto/Apple Carplay on their infotainment systems, though ironically, if you come to their Geely PH website, it says that they have G-Netlink on their cars (with Auto/Carplay.)


    3. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is different from traditional smartphone mirroring. Android Auto/CarPlay has an interface made for driving...and compatible apps like maps, etc. will also have a different interface that makes it easier to use.

      Supposedly, Geely is reversing its stance on this matter, and that they are "working on bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto" to their cars. It's currently unknown whether it'll offer it as a software update even to older cars, or whether it'll be limited to newer offerings that come by then.

  2. GM should have used this 1.3 turbo engine for the Chevrolet Tracker being sold here in the Phils. If so, the Tracker can compete more against the Coolray in terms of hp and torque.

    1. The same 1.3-liter inline-3 is found in the Trailblazer but the tuning is a bit different. It has less horsepower, but more torque. The gearbox is also a CVT instead of a 6-speed AT.

  3. I hope you'll write a Raize 1.0 turbo, Geely Coolray, MG ZST, and T-Cross comparo!

    1. one thing they all have in common. all are snooze fests

  4. Well-priced and value for money compared to the generic Geely Coolray Premium.
    Hope the ZST would sell very well.

    1. boy you sure do know your thing about crappy vehicles.

    2. Just stick with your crappy ancient Wigo.

    3. that's rich coming from a guy who has a mirage as his display photo

  5. Mr Anonymous, why is the Coolray and ZST crappy?

    1. because they are cheap chinese crap. even the korean cars that you're so afraid of are infinitely better

    2. Tell that to the thousands of Filipinos who bought Geely, MG, and Ford Territory vehicles.

    3. just because thousands bought them doesn't mean they aren't trash.

  6. Okay, so thousands also bought crappy Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

  7. Changan threw a curve ball with the CS35+ pricing in this segement though


Feel free to comment or share your views. Comments that are derogatory and/or spam will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to moderate and/or remove comments.