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MG ZS-the newest crossover has arrived

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In the very crowded automotive market place such as the Philippines, one wonders if there ever will be a new brand to hit our shores. With major Japanese, Korean and European brands slugging it out for a piece of the market, I tip my hat to Covenant Car Company for introducing MG despite the fierce competition among present automotive brands in the market today.

Launched more than six months ago, MG has made its presence felt in its reintroduction in the Philippine automotive market. MG stands for Morris Garages. And as far as I can remember, this English automotive brand was present in the Philippine automotive market in the early ’50s up to the late ’60s. There was also another English automotive brand during those years named Austin. I do remember that our first family car in the late ’50s was an Austin Cambridge A50.

Under the umbrella of Covenant Car Company, MG Philippines carries an SUV — the MG RX5, a luxury sport sedan — the M 6, and a crossover — the MG ZS. I was able to test drive the MG ZS AT Alpha, the top-of-the-line crossover in the MG stable.

TRULY eye-catching exterior.

The first time I saw the MG ZS AT Alpha, I immediately fell in love with this stylish crossover. Frankly speaking though, I am not fond of crossover vehicles, thinking that crossovers are cars that want to pretend to be sports utility vehicles (SUV). After being introduced to the ZS AT Alpha, I suddenly became a big fan of this stylish crossover vehicle.

First impression lasts. The ZS exterior is truly eye-catching with its honeycomb grill and logo in chrome outline and the matte silver front skid plate. Its “London Eye” daylight running lamps project an understated yet aggressive look in the front fascia of the vehicle. The “Polaris” taillights of the vehicle complete the car’s unique identity. So, front and back, you know that you have seen the ZS once you see the “London Eye” in front and the “Polaris” taillights at the rear of the MG ZS.

My first impression won’t last until I see the interior of the MG ZS. And boy, was I impressed!
As I opened the driver’s door, the smell of premium leather greeted me. I did not expect leather seats for this crossover — not at an SRP of P998,888.00.

Next, I started the engine to see the other interior features of this crossover. Did it through a push start/stop button, another convenience feature not normally found at its price point. With the engine running, the instrument cluster came to life providing useful information that the driver needs while the car is in operation. The controls are easy to reach and tactile, making driving easy and safe. Another pleasant surprise is the panoramic sunroof with power curtain. You do not find this feature at this particular price point in other crossovers of its class.

Now, I can’t wait anymore. I decided to take the ZS for a short spin. Another feature popped out — speed sensing door locks. As soon as you hit 30-kilometers per hour (kph), all doors lock automatically. This is another important safety feature that should become standard in all car models regardless of brand. Go on reverse and the reversing camera is turned on in the eight-inch infotainment system together with the rear sensors providing the driver a very clear view of the rear of the vehicle, again another safety feature that should be standard in all cars in the interest of safety.

The steering wheel of the ZS was also impressive being leather wrapped and complete with control buttons for the instrument cluster and the infotainment system. This makes driving comfortable and safe with controls within easy reach. The eight- inch infotainment system did not disappoint, providing connectivity with the Apple Carplay and the rich surround sound of the entertainment system.

With the MG ZS AT Alpha, the safety of driver and passengers is assured. The car is equipped with front, side and curtain airbags, three-point ELR seatbelts in the front and rear cabin, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability program, hill hold control, traction control and a host of other safety features that can only be found in premium car brands.

It has been a weekly tradition of our family to get together every weekend. That was the opportunity for me to take the MG ZS beyond Alabang and take it to BGC where my son Angelo lives. The ZS showed off its fine qualities as a crossover. It seated comfortably five persons with plenty of room to spare. The 1.5-liter engine was peppy especially in stop and go traffic. The car was easy to maneuver thanks to its 5.6-meters turning radius and the power steering was very responsive. Parking in tight spaces was a breeze aided by a high definition reversing camera. Even my granddaughter Sophie got to play her My Little Pony music and video over the eight-inch infotainment system via Bluetooth.

You can throw all of the positive feedback of this crossover, if after-sales service is non-existent. Am glad that the management of MG Philippines took the extra step of providing topnotch after-sales service. Every MG model carries a five-year/ 100,000-kilometer warranty. You can have your car serviced in the comfort of your home through the MG Mobile Garage. You also have a customer care hotline that you can turn to 24/7 should you need roadside assistance and, lastly, once you own an MG, you stay connected via a mobile app called “Mobile Gadget,” where you can monitor your car’s performance and make a service appointment online from the convenience of your smartphone. Now that is what I call excellent customer service!

Having described all the fine qualities of this crossover, I do have two items on my wish list for this crossover.

1. I wish that this crossover had at least a six-speed automatic transmission. The 1.5-liter engine was begging for more gears as I hit 100 kph along the Skyway.

2. I wish more soundproofing materials were applied on all doors and the engine compartment. Expect a high revving 1.5-liter engine if mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission will calm down a 1.5-liter engine travelling at 100 kph. A six-speed automatic transmission will also improve fuel consumption.

Overall, I am giving the MG ZS AT Alpha 4 out of 5 stars. At P998,888.00 for a crossover with all of the above, you are getting a lot of value for your money.

Congratulations to team MG Philippines! You definitely have a winner — the MG ZS AT Alpha.

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