It was 4:30am and my alarm began ringing. I got up and started preparing to head out for MG Philippines’ first-ever media drive. I had just gotten back from the 2019 Top Gear Awards the night prior, and I was running on less than three hours of sleep. The feeling of regret started creeping in as I made my way to MG’s dealership at Eton Centris, and I started mumbling to myself: “This was a bad idea.”
Don’t get me wrong, though—I wanted to join the drive. With all the fuss surrounding the brand since its resurgence in the local market, I badly wanted to experience things firsthand, but the immense lack of sleep got me thinking otherwise. Once I did reach the meet-up location and the briefing began, my slight regret turned to excitement as we found out that we were going to be able to try out all four vehicles from the brand’s current Philippine lineup for our drive to Baler. We were also told that only two drivers would be assigned per car and that we wouldn’t need to follow a convoy.
Now that last part had us giggling. The rules were simple: Drive safely to the next stop at your own pace—staying within the speed limit, of course—and switch drivers whenever you feel like it. Then, we would eventually switch cars at every rendezvous point before moving on to the next leg. Sweet.
We finished breakfast and prepped to head out of the city. I was assigned the MG ZS for the first leg, and I found myself liking the vehicle more than I expected to. It has a decent cabin with an abundance of soft-touch materials, a sunroof, and a huge infotainment system with Apple CarPlay compatibility as a nifty bonus. It also offers a very comfortable ride, which is always a win in my book.
Although when I did get to drive the ZS, I felt like it lacks a bit of oomph, especially when overtaking at higher speeds. The four-speed automatic transmission makes it an ideal city car, but it also makes the 1.5-liter engine feel a bit strained at times especially on long drives up north like this one. Then again, for a vehicle that’s priced just a tad bit under a million pesos, I figured that’s one trade-off I’d be willing to settle for.
Following my stint with the ZS, I got assigned to the MG 5. I wasn’t really expecting much from the 5, to be honest, which made me all the more surprised the moment I got inside the cabin. I was greeted with an interior that, like the ZS, appears more premium than its P938,000 price tag would suggest, Plus, it has a massive 10-inch infotainment system with both CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a sunroof to boot.
It was when I drove the 5 into Baler that I really grew to like the car. While it has the same engine as the ZS, not once did I feel the car was underpowered. The CVT performed better on long stretches, and the car’s suspension and relatively low stance helps it handle winding roads extremely well. After my turn behind the wheel, I fittingly capped my time with the 5 riding shotgun for the last stretch of the day to the L’Sirene Boutique Resort, where we settled in for the night after a long day on the road.
The schedule for the second day wasn’t as hectic as we expected, but we did have to wake up early (cry emoji) to join the shoot at a scenic spot somewhere along the highways of Baler. I didn’t mind the early call time, though, because I was pretty eager to hit the road again knowing that the MG 6 and the RX5 were part of the agenda on the way home.
Naturally, given my excitement, I jumped at the chance to man the tiller of the RX5 for the first leg of the second day—and boy did the crossover impress. Not with its looks and niceties, but with how it tackled the twisties leading out of Baler. The relatively little amount of body roll in the car really made the ride comfortable and the time behind the wheel less tiring as well. Oh, and the 1.5-liter turbocharged in-line-four powertrain on the RX5 can definitely pull the car’s weight and then some, as it proved itself capable through steep climbs and tight overtakes.
So after several hours and almost a hundred kilometers driving the RX5, it was time to settle in at the last stop before the home stretch and transfer to the MG 6—the car that I was truly eyeing ever since the drive began. To put it simply, it’s the 5’s bulked up older brother. The 6 has the same turbocharged engine as the RX5, a panoramic sunroof, a more premium interior, and a more stylish fastback design. It’s arguably the sportiest and most luxurious in MG Philippines’s lineup with a top-spec variant priced at only P1,188,888. Needless to say, it did not disappoint.
I piloted the MG 6 through the Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway all the way to the North Luzon Expressway, and it was here where the car was able to stretch its legs. WIth the car’s seven-speed TST DCT and paddle shifters at my disposal, the portion of the drive didn’t feel as long as it really was. To say it was a breeze is an understatement. Fortunately, I managed to make it to the next gasoline station just a bit after the sun went down, and from there I planted myself comfortably in the passenger seat for the remainder of the drive back to Manila.
As soon as we arrived at MG Eton Centris, I recalled my earlier apprehensions and realized that the event turned out to be anything but a bad idea after all. Not too shabby for a first media drive, I thought. At least now, I understand what the fuss surrounding MG is all about. MG PH was hailed as the ‘Breakout Brand of the Year’ during the 2019 Top Gear Awards, and that distinction seemed more apt than ever.