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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

First Drive: 2022 MG HS 1.5 TST Trophy


MG—the revenant brand synonymous with British sportscars is performing something of a sales miracle in the Philippines not with rear-wheel drive two-seaters, but with a range of sensible sedans and crossovers. Last year, they’ve managed to record a milestone year by moving 6,343 units—their best-ever annual sales figure in its three-year existence. Out of that figure, 65 percent is the MG ZS sub-compact SUV. It’s a sign, perhaps, that MG is playing its cards in the right segments at the right time.

Without a doubt, one of the allures of the brand is its pricing. After all, few brands can match how they can chuck a sensible amount of tech and convenience features in a package that’s never going to break the bank. Keeping that in mind, what would prospective MG buyers think of a P 1,208,888 compact SUV? That’s exactly what the MG HS Trophy is. It’s a compact SUV that now sits atop the local MG range.



At this price, MG finds itself sandwiched between some formidable opponents like the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, Ford Territory, and Geely Coolray being the chief ones. And then, you have outliers like the Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos, and Toyota Corolla Cross which are a size smaller and barer in terms of features. No matter how you swing it though, it’s going to be a tough fight, but it’s one that the MG HS is determined to win.

Things start out great with a design that’s clean, elegant, and clearly familial. Compared to the MG RX5, which will be retained in the local line-up, the MG HS looks like the true big brother to the MG ZS. The same stardust grille, fancy LED lighting (they even do an animated dance on start-up), and the upward kink on the C-pillar are all recognizable MG cues by now. The MG HS also happens to get some de rigueur performance cues like the dual exhaust pipes and 235/50R18 tires.



Thankfully, the MG HS has some bite to match in the form of a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. In this case, the direct-injected engine puts out 169 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque—which aren’t class-leading figures per se, but remain impressive in a car of this size and price.

In a quick jaunt around an empty subdivision that was closed off by MG Philippines for filming purposes, the MG HS feels quick and prompt. Compared to the RX5 which almost always battled with its dual clutch transmission, the MG HS is way more compliant. It goes through the gears in a smooth, predictable manner with almost no shudder. With no other vehicular traffic around, it was “flog or nothing” during this short romp. It’s hard to determine how it would drive in Manila’s horrendous stop-and-go traffic, but if this hour-long experience behind the wheel leaves an impression, it’s that MG is on the right track.



Despite the sporty looks and turbocharged engine, the MG HS is definitely tuned for comfort. Honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air from many other compact SUVs that claim firmness to be part of their charm. In this case, it’ll deal with bumps and undulations remarkably well, and the abundance of noise filtering keeps the cabin nice and quiet. The plushness, however, does have a trade off and here, it’s particularly prone to body roll when pushed. It’s nothing alarming, but it can feel a tad lumbering when pushed hard through runabouts and corners. Still, MG deserves credit for their work on the MG HS.

Inside, it’s hard to find any scratchy plastic with fine materials and padded textures covering virtually everything. The cabin layout is beautifully spartan with only a handful of switching adorning the dash beneath the 10-inch touchscreen. Similar to the MG ZS T, navigating through the combination of on-screen buttons and the physical piano keys takes some getting used to, and even then, there are questionable decisions surrounding the overall user interface. Meanwhile, the driver is welcomed by a 12.3-inch virtual driver display that changes depending on the selected drive mode.



The front seats are wonderfully shaped one-piece buckets that make a great Recaro impression. They’re softer than they look though, but supportive enough to keep the front occupants in place during more spirited maneuvers. At first, the thickness of the front seats looks to rob some of the rear leg room, but settling in at the back reveals no such worries. There are gobs of knee room at the back and despite the “Stargazer” panoramic sunroof, enough headroom to fit a 6-ft person easy.

The large glass roof aside, MG hasn’t forgotten that value is ultimately what Filipino buyers sought out in them. With that, the MG HS scores high in terms of tech and convenience features. It gets a dual-zone climate control system with rear air vents, ambient interior lighting, a power tailgate, and most important in today’s pandemic-stricken world, a built-in cabin filtration system. It’s also a pretty solid package in terms of safety with its tire pressure monitoring system and blind spot detection on top of the usual airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control, and parking sensors/camera.



MG Philippines came into the market strong, performing in segments that never really crossed the million-peso mark. However, with the arrival of the MG ZST and now, the MG HS, it shows a kind of brand confidence building up. Without really forgetting its value positioning, the brand is now coming up with vehicles that will get the attention of even the most discerning enthusiast. No matter how you stretch it, P 1,208,888 isn’t a lot of money, and honestly, that won’t get you much in terms of a brand-new car. However, with the MG HS, that money goes a long, long way. It’s everything you really need and want in a compact SUV minus, perhaps, the hefty price.

15 comments:

  1. Is this better than the Territory?

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    1. A longer drive is required, but based on this impression--yes. It drives much better and interior is better built than the Territory.

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  2. It was beaten by territory in tech n safety features, it has more hp n torque but it is heavier than 500kg which wil result in faster wear n tear of its engine n transmission.

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  3. I think the HS has no 360camera. If this is true, it's a bummer..

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  4. Just look at new zst and u wil knew dat hs is a dated model. Zst has an aisin 6 speed trans while hs has an unreliable dual clutch 7tst. I wonder how much gas it wod consume on uphill wd its 2000kg weight. It has vry bad reputation overseas for unreliabilty n poor quality

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    Replies
    1. Just shut up with your bad cellphone text speak language and dumb baseless accusations about Chinese cars all the time.

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  5. Are MG and other Chinese car brands selling old models here in the Philippines (surplus vehicles)?

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    1. They way I understand it is that Chinese manufacturers tend to offer the latest models they have for the domestic Chinese market. Then, they tend to offer a separate line for export markets. It takes time for them to offer what you see in China for markets such as the Philippines. They're not like the Koreans or Japanese where the production is almost simultaneous and that we tend to get access to the latest products no more than 6 months after their launch elsewhere in the world.

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    2. Perhaps they dump their old supply to other markets, like the Phils.

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    3. I am a VW fan, but I think that was what VW Phils did w China-sourced models (older VW models from China were offered to us, except the T Cross).

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  6. I am quite skeptical with this model released in 2018. China made cars introduced in 2019 and up have better manufacturing techniques, better tech, better engines & transmission. Given SAIC's bad reputation for quality and the distributor reputation (Chevy owners can attest), I can say its a pass for me for this one.

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    Replies
    1. Released in 2018? Therefore an old model indeed..

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    2. The model it replaces.. the RX5... is older... 2016... I guess some brands dump old models to us.

      I would rather have 2019 and up models like the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, Geely Okavango, Changan CS75 plus

      And of course, wait till 4th quarter of 2022 when these Chinese brands give 100k and more discount.

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    3. MG HS improved its safety and structural integrity to comply with Euro NCAP crash tests in 2020 where they've scored 5 Stars there.
      MG HS is selling very well overseas as its a great value for money SUV.

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  7. F it weight 2000kg then it probably used low quality heavy steel, ders no other way to xplen dat heavyweight other than h an old low quality prone to roll chassis

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