Another day, another new car has entered the competitive Philippine automotive industry. This time, it’s from Morris Garages or MG. The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI), the exclusive distributor of MG cars in the country, has ushered in the arrival of its newest contender in the compact crossover market – the MG HS.
In the sea of crossovers currently being sold in the market today, what makes the MG HS stand out? I had a quick seat time with the vehicle before its launch to see what it can offer. Long story short, there’s actually a lot, but read along for the in-depth rundown.
At a quick glance, I won’t blame you if you’d confuse the MG HS with its smaller brother, the ZS. The face, the shape, and even the Extreme Speed Red paint color of the unit that you see here all harken to the subcompact crossover.
But the MG HS is larger than the ZS by a lot. It’s actually closer to the RX5 in terms of size. In its class, the HS nears the bulk of the popular Ford Territory, which makes them tight rivals in the highly contested compact crossover segment, but more on that later.
What’s makes the HS special? Despite the similarity in looks with the ZS, the HS looks more premium with its host of LEDs, particularly the multiple crystal lighting elements front and back. The front DRLs double as sequential turn signals, further strengthening the HS’s appeal as a premium-looking crossover.
And yes, that set of 18-inch wheels, albeit simple-looking, looks much better in the metal than in these images.
Another MG HS element that looks better in person is its whole cabin. The execution is what you’d expect from a luxury vehicle, especially the bulk of soft-touch materials on most parts of the vehicle. The front sport bucket seats are my favorite; the suede trim makes them look posh, while the cushioning makes for extremely comfortable seating. The story’s the same for the 60/40 split-folding rear seats. With the abundance of space and cushioning, wide individuals will feel comfortable inside the HS no matter where they sit.
The interior ambient lighting that changes color seems like a party trick but it can be a nice feature to have if you’re into that stuff. There’s also a panoramic sunroof (again, if you’re into that stuff), but I wish MG has given it a thicker cover. Though I must say, the cold air-conditioning makes up for the overall comfort even under brisk sunlight.
Another highlight of the MG HS is the choice of accents used in the cabin. Brushed aluminum trims and varying leather finishes populate the areas you’d more likely touch, while the shiny piano black plastics are minimal, which is a good thing.
Overall, MG has done a great job with the MG HS’s cabin, employing an understated approach to styling that you’ll often encounter in European luxury cars.
Tech & Safety
The choice materials used in the MG HS’s cabin are partnered with modern technologies that are important to younger car buyers. The 10-inch infotainment comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the instrument cluster is a huge 12.3-inch display that changes its appearance with the drive modes. The latter can be better, though there’s no qualm with the infotainment screen.
At its price point, the MG HS has all the essentials covered and more. These include cruise control, electronic seat adjustments, and the very convenient auto brake hold partnered with electronic parking brake.
Safety-wise, the HS is above par in its class. It has front and side airbags, ABS with EBD, tire-pressure monitoring system, blind-spot detection, hill-start assist, rear-cross traffic alert, stability control, ISOFIX child seat anchors, rear parking sensors, anti-roll protection, and a reverse camera.
Driving & Handling
The MG HS is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline mill that makes 167hp and 250Nm of torque. Those numbers are sent to the front wheels via a 7-speed TST or MG’s version of dual-clutch transmission.
By numbers, the MG HS is more powerful than the Ford Territory. In the actual drive, they’re neck-and-neck, though the HS beats the CVT-equipped Territory in mid- and high-speed drives. At low speeds, however, the MG HS felt restrained; the turbo lag makes it feel underpowered under hard acceleration. Although the testing area was confined to a predetermined area, there were a number of areas where I tested the car at steep inclines. With three people aboard, the HS needed to work harder but it did finish the job.
See that red “Super Sport” button on the steering wheel? That’s actually paying homage to MG’s motorsport heritage. With the MG HS, it converted the crossover into a different kind of animal – engine revs were higher (sometimes to a fault), which made the car responsive to inputs. Handling wasn’t affected, though; good thing the MG HS has a great, assisted yet tight steering feel that promoted confidence even on sharp corners.
The MG HS might not shine in terms of performance but it did stand out in terms of overall riding comfort. Occupants were well-insulated from road harshness and noise, again, something you’d experience from a luxury vehicle. Expected body rolls were controlled too, though I need to test the unit further so I can give a more in-depth judgment on this end.
During the pre-launch preview of the 2022 MG HS, TCCCI didn’t share the pricing of the car just yet. We were spit-balling some numbers that time and I actually priced the car at around the P1.5-million mark based on the experience – and boy I was off by a mile.
The 2022 MG HS starts at P1,158,000 for the Alpha variant, while the top-spec Trophy variant that you see here sells for P1,208,000. Both are introductory prices but even if you add a hundred grand to those prices, you still get a lot of the car for the money. Yes, we’re getting the outgoing version of the HS (there’s a facelifted version in China), but it’s easy to turn a blind eye to that fact based on the aforementioned traits of the Philippine-spec model.
That said, MG Philippines is definitely mirroring its strategy with the MG ZS a few years ago: hard-to-beat value for money. That one has put the MG ZS among the bestsellers in its segment; I won’t be surprised if this works for the HS, as well, beating the current segment leader, the Ford Territory, in the process.