The ZS has been the hit that put Morris Garages (or, more commonly, MG) on the local map. A well-appointed, right-priced crossover, the ZS ticked the right boxes for a Filipino car-buying public enamored with the genre. Ever since The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI) took over the reins of the British heritage brand in late 2018, the model has allowed the brand to consistently earn its place with a healthy following in the ever-competitive automotive scene here.
So it makes perfect sense to double down on the winning formula of the ZS. The HS, introduced fairly recently, obviously leverages the goodwill and popularity of its smaller sibling, and more directly speaks to a market already primed for MG’s values.
Last year, despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, MG Philippines sold 6,343 vehicles — up by 85% versus 2020 – the best yearend numbers thus far for the company.
“MG Philippines entered 2021 with optimism and excitement, fueled by the strong reception of the market and the confidence of our dealer network for the MG brand and its model offers. We approached 2021 confident that MG, with its strong British heritage and superior product portfolio, would resonate with an even wider Filipino audience considering the increasing mobility requirements brought about by the current circumstances,” said TCCCI President and CEO Atty. Alberto B. Arcilla in a release.
The MG ZS paced sales with 4,158 units, followed by the MG 5 sedan (2,013 units) — growing by a huge 117% and 85%, respectively. Last year, MG also brought in the turbocharged ZS variant, called the ZST, in an obvious bid to freshen up the nameplate for those still on the fence, and to perhaps give the model a little more zing – literally and figuratively.
With the larger HS, the gloves are veritably off. A little bigger, a little more expensive, and better appointed, the HS is targeting upgraders and even those perhaps who have outgrown their ZS.
Powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline generating 169ps and 250Nm, the driver can access the promise through a 7-speed twin-clutch Sportronic transmission. MG Philippines PR Manager Enrico Subido said, in an interview with this writer, that people will be delighted to know that, per the company’s real-world testing in the metro, the HS can muster 13 km/l – surely good news amid today’s skyrocketing pump prices.
The HS gets a comprehensive set of driver-assist features such as a blind spot detection system, tire pressure monitoring system, EPS three-mode adjustable steering, push start-stop functionality, an electronic parking brake with auto-hold, and a proprietary “Sport Mode” that allows for crisper steering and more dynamic response.
The front fascia calls to mind the ZS’s own – headlined by MG’s so-called Stardust Grille flanked by Nine-Crystal Lighting units and LEDs. Adding a touch of premium is a sequential light functionality, which also appears on the taillights. The HG rolls on 18-inch diamond cut wheels (standard on both variants) fitted with Michelin Primacy tires.
Atty. Arcilla said “The SUV market has really expanded the past two years, and we feel that we need to give our audience another option.” He described MG buyers as “very adventurous, very progressive in thinking, and want to try out new things,” and therefore the kind of people the HS should appeal to. “Our buyer is also someone who’s very educated and wants to find out the specs of cars. So we feel that since the market really expanded and we want to capture a bigger audience, we want to give them another choice. Hopefully, we’ll be able to speak again to the MG buyer — one who recognizes and acknowledges the brand heritage, aesthetics, and quality.”
Past the handsome exterior, the HS boasts a well-constructed and smartly laid-out cabin. There are lots of soft-touch surfaces and refined, price-defying accoutrements such as an ability to change the hue of the ambient lighting. The MG Sport Bucket seats are comfortable, supportive, and get six-way power control. An ergonomically designed dashboard promotes easy access, while the two screens — a 12.3-inch Virtual Driver Information Center and large 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system that plays nice with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – provide a premium experience. Overhead, the HS boasts a large panoramic Stargazer Sunroof.
MG Philippines also points out that the HS arrives with credentials – gaining recognition in markets where it has been launched. It has bagged multiple awards over the past couple of years “for premium features and excellent value for money,” said the local distributor. These honors include: “2021 Compact SUV of the Year,” OneShift by Carousell COTY Awards (Singapore), “2021 SUV of the Year,” SGCarMart COTY Awards (Singapore), and “2020 Car of the Year” and “Best Subcompact Crossover,” Middle East COTY Awards (Middle East).
As with other MGs here, the HS is covered by a 5-year/100,000-km warranty, and MG Hero Services (for 24/7 roadside assistance through the MG Philippines hotline). Owners can also download the My MG mobile app, which allows the easy scheduling of vehicle service appointments through smartphones. They can also use the app to book a visit from a Mobile Garage service caravan that provides MG owners with vehicle home service for major technical issues.
The MG HS Alpha is priced at P1,258,888, while the MG HS Trophy goes for P1,308,888.