The MG 5 CVT Style lives up to its name, and then some
To be sure, the MG brand has been bucking the negative connotations of “made in China” with each model — from the SUVs down to the sedans — it releases. The most recent score is getting the plum “Official Car” post of the newly-formed Miss Universe Philippines organization.
For a segment that relies heavily on looks – and a brand with a variant called Style in three of their four models – this has to be a major coup.
Naturally, it behooved me to see what this trim is all about and test-drove one of their entry-level units, the MG 5 CVT Style.
As a compact sedan and versus its competitors, its exterior definitely has a few more design elements that, one can argue, elevates its level of style.
The sheet metal isn’t plain by any measure. There are several strakes running lengthwise over the hood leading to the large V-shaped chrome grille that, sans the plate number, makes the vehicle appear bigger than it is. It doesn’t have fog lamps but the holes aren’t just covered up. Instead, they get chrome trims and L-shaped grooves that suit its Carbon Gray body.
The side view almost makes it seem like a hatch because the trunk looks pretty short. It has a very strong character line stretching from the front to rear fender and even one just above the rocker panel.
It uses auto on/off projector headlamps with daytime running lamps and leveling, plus auto-folding power side mirrors with heating and turn indicators.
Click the key fob to unlock the doors, but you’ll have to stow the key fob again because it uses a start/stop button to engage the engine.
There’s a fair amount of leather in the cabin – on the multi-function steering wheel, shift knob and boot, and seats. Add the beige hue of the seats, armrests, headliner, door trims and part of the dashboard, and you’ve got a cabin with a theme that’s immediately easy on the eyes.
The seats are very well bolstered and feel snug – helping heighten comfort if you’re turning fast or hitting a really bad patch on the road.
Its dashboard design and layout take after the exterior with lines and edges that make it look very contemporary. There’s a 10-inch touchscreen display that sends audio to four speakers.
The display is bright and colorful but response of the graphic user interface is half a second slower than expected. It’s not terribly bothersome, but definitely noticeable. The big screen also doubles as a reverse monitor.
Certain top features are not activated, such as Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth streaming, as this isn’t the top model. It’s a pity too because the icons are visible on the screen but just grayed out.
What I do like is the simple layout of the whole center stack. There aren’t that many buttons as air-conditioning controls have been incorporated into the volume button as well. This gives it a very minimalist and clean look.
There are two USB ports, both located right in front of the shift knob.
Aircon vents are a little stiff and hard to adjust. I’d chalk that up to the unit still being relatively new as it still only had a little over 7,000 kilometers on it.
The MG 5 uses a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine sending 114hp and 150Nm of torque to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Power is more than enough for the city, that’s for certain. Even during overtaking situations when EDSA traffic is light, it feels like it has more than enough torque for the pull and horses to keep it at 80kph. There’s just a bit of delay before the power kicks in after you step on the accelerator.
The two driving modes, Drive and Eco, feel somewhat similar in feedback and on-road performance. I didn’t notice any difference in throttle response and there weren’t any changes as well in the operation of the air-conditioning system.
What does feel a little odd is the CVT. It acted confused, revving above 3,000rpm on a very slight decline. The drive mode is much more on point.
The balance of the vehicle is great; turning at high speeds was not an issue while overall comfort is impressive. NVH levels are quite low while cushioning versus impact of potholes very high. While it does appear to have some issues that need to be addressed, this compact sedan still presents itself as a very good deal at just P848,888.
With its good looks, ample powertrain, and sufficient cabin amenities, the MG 5 CVT Style more than lives up to its name.
Photos by Eric Tipan