For over two years now, it has been the norm to get secluded from the world and be safe in the confines of your home. Quarantine has become the ordinary life for many of us in the country, no thanks to the COVID19 pandemic. Thankfully, MG Philippines and The Covenant Car Company decided to take us, pen pushers, out of our locked-out life and hosted us on a trip to Bataan.
For this trip, MG Philippines wanted us to try out the MG 5 subcompact sedan. Launched in the closing of 2019 Q3, the MG 5 performed well through the pandemic by being one of the popular models of the brand. The drive would start at the MG Makati Dealership located along Chino Roces Ext. in Makati.
Like yours truly, many of the participants had this trip as their first media drive event after a long while. Aside from the anticipation of the whole drive, finally driving the MG 5 sedan got me excited too, as this would be my first time driving MG’s subcompact sedan.
First thoughts upon seeing the MG 5 upclose, it looks bigger than those in its segment. Exterior styling is clean and nothing overboard. It oozes this executive vibe in terms of design.
Stepping inside, there is a whole lot of space. As someone who drives our family’s subcompact sedan, I’m really impressed with the MG 5’s cabin space. Also, the climate control that is integrated with the infotainment system control contributes to the overall cleanliness of the dash. Oh, and we got sunroof, too. Natural light goodness!
Soon enough we hit the road. From the busy stop-and-go streets of Makati, we took the Skyway and started the highway part of our drive. As I cruise to highway speed, the MG 5 felt quiet and stable. The MG 5 has notable NVH levels which is quite impressive for a car in this class and price range.
After an hour on the road, we went to Cafe Fleur in Angeles, Pampanga for a sumptuous lunch. In this part of the drive, I was able to experience the city driving characteristics of the MG 5 as we went through the inner streets of Angeles. Despite its a-class-above size, maneuvering the MG 5 feels much like a normal subcompact sedan. The guide cameras which display through the infotainment screen upon the use of turn signals also help in making tight turns. Parking in tight spaces was also easier thanks to the 360-degree parking camera of the 5.
From Angeles, we soon entered SCTEX and drove our way to Subic. This is where the fun starts. From Subic to our destination, La Jolla Resort, lies a series of winding roads where I got to have a better feel of the driving dynamics of the MG 5. Though it had a notable Philippine racing debut at the 2020 8-Hour Bonifacio Endurance Challenge wherein MG Philippines pitted a bonestock, straight-from-the-casa MG 5 on a grid of race cars, to be clear, the MG 5 is never marketed as a performance car. But it definitely is capable of spirited driving.
Oh, I had a lot of fun pushing the MG 5 on mountain roads. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical of the 1.5-liter four-banger under its hood but as I glide through the winding roads, the MG 5 packs just enough power to carry its way through inclines and corners. I also find it nice that it was well-balanced in terms of handling, giving me all the confidence I needed to tackle tight corners.
I find the CVT system of the MG 5 interesting as it was able to go through “gears” smooth yet fast. Almost felt like a conventional A/T at some point. Also, being equipped with a +/- on the shifter is a feature well appreciated, especially during spirited driving.
After almost an hour of fun mountain road driving with the MG 5 we soon arrived at La Jolla Resort where we got treated to a nice, relaxing escape from the stressful life of the metro.
The following day, MG Philippines took us to wonderful spots around Bataan to better appreciate the beauty of their subcompact sedan. We drove up to the province’s staple tourist destination, the Mount Samat Cross. Reaching the summit requires going through steep mountain roads and the MG 5 did alright. Anticipating the right timing when to push the throttle is quite easy with the MG 5’s powertrain and CVT combo. One will definitely wish for more power. But, again, this is no performance car. Also, always try to remember, there is a right way to drive these things. CVTs are not for the heavy foot.
Aside from Mt. Samat, MG Philippines went extraordinary and introduced to the group this new spot known as ‘BATAANes.’ This fairly new tourist destination offers a breathtaking view of Bataan’s natural beauty of hills and landscapes that resembles those of Batanes island. The “Little Batanes of Bataan” never came short of perfect backgrounds to photoshoot the MG 5.
There were a lot of things that I can say are extraordinary about the MG 5. The clean center console, highlighted by the 10-inch infotainment system with integrated audio and climate control, is definitely extraordinary. The simple yet executive-looking exterior design is extraordinary. The fun I got by driving the MG 5 through the twisties is definitely extraordinary. But of all, my favorite extraordinary feature of the MG 5 is the value for money it offers. A subcompact sedan with this much cabin space for as low as PHP 658,888 is extraordinary. As hardsell as it sounds, the MG 5 has a value proposition that cannot be ignored – Feature-packed daily driver priced competitively.
China-made cars have truly come a long way from what most Filipinos perceived them to be and the MG 5 is a testament to that quality. The segment top placers should definitely be threatened by competitions who are not afraid to be extraordinary like the MG 5.
(Published on Autocar Philippines September 2022 issue)