MG Philippines has been doing well since its breakout year in 2019. Its sales driver continues to be the ZS, the Chinese marque’s budget subcompact crossover that we’ve seen more and more of on our roads these days.
There is one model in MG’s local lineup, though, that has been overshadowed a bit by the ZS’s success: the RX5. I understand that at this point, the compact SUV is a few years old already, but it still looks like an enticing offering in its segment.
In order to find out whether that’s actually true or not, I took it out for a spin. After a full week of testing, here’s what I found.
MG has done a good job keeping the RX5’s design subtle—nothing too outrageous nor too snazzy. It may not necessarily stand out when put side by side with its competitors, but it still has a classy look nonetheless.
What I fancy most, in particular, are the headlamps, taillights, and wheels. These all add pizzazz to what could easily have been a boring exterior. There’s just the right amount of plastic claddings underneath as well—I imagine a little more of those would have made the RX5 look a bit cheap.
The interior is as simple as the exterior. There’s a mix of hard plastics and soft-touch materials inside. It’s far from extravagant, but that’s not a bad thing. It could have probably felt a bit more premium given tasteful contrasts, but that’s just me.
My biggest gripe with the RX5’s cabin is that the center console doesn’t offer much storage. Sure, there are a couple of cupholders up front, but you basically have no space to keep stuff like a phone or a wallet. That said, there’s an abundance of legroom and headroom here, so I guess that’s a compromise. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a roomy interior than some extra cubbies and flat surfaces here and there.
The RX5 is powered by a very impressive 1.5-liter in-line-four turbopetrol that generates 167hp and 250Nm of torque powering the front wheels. The powertrain is more than punchy enough even for a fully loaded cabin. The seven-speed DCT shifts smoothly, and you have the manual mode at your disposal when you need more oomph.
Fuel efficiency is also quite surprising. On a long drive through provincial highways—with a mix of open stretches and moderate traffic—I got about 10km/L, and that’s with a bunch of stops and without paying any attention to fuel economy whatsoever. On the highway, I got highs of about 13-14km/L, but I reckon that figure can still be improved with more relaxed driving.
Ride and handling
This SUV is an agile vehicle for its size, but it really isn’t the most nimble through tight corners. The driving position could be improved a bit as well, because the seat feels too high for my liking. What I do like here, though, is the overall ride comfort.
You can feel the vibrations and hear a bit of road noise from inside the cabin, but for the most part, the RX5 provides a very comfortable ride. Small bumps on the road are handled quite easily, so it won’t be having any problems running through the metro’s slightly imperfect roads.
When compared with other vehicles in its segment, you might say the RX5 doesn’t have a lot of toys. It has a large sunroof up top, but the RX5 doesn’t come equipped with the added features you would normally find in newer SUVs these days. Nevertheless, it does have the basics like a reversing camera with parking sensors, hill-descent and -assist control, and ABS with EBD.
The eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay also comes standard across the range, along with automatic climate control and rear A/C vents, all of which are nifty bonuses. Plus, there’s a smart keyless entry with a push-to-start ignition and an electronic parking brake with an auto-hold function here, too.
Admittedly, the RX5 doesn’t have the flair that other compact SUVs boast. However, it’s still got everything car buyers look for, and then some. It covers all the basics and does so quite well—it’s got decent styling, a roomy interior, and a punchy engine—and it’s still easily one of the best bang-for-the-buck offerings in this segment.
Even if it might be starting to show its age when pitted against its newer competitors (like in a Big Test against the Geely Coolray, for example), at just P1,298,888 for this specific variant, the RX5 is still worth considering for anyone in the market for something in this segment. Well, at least anyone not looking for more than five seats.
SPECS: MG RX5 1.5T Style DCT 2023
Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline I4
Power: 167hp @ 5,600rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 4,400rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
Drive layout: FWD