Cars

MG RX5 Takes China-Made to a Higher Level

It's a features-packed compact SUV for only P1.228 million.
IMAGE ERIC TIPAN
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There’s an immediate scowl on many people’s faces when they hear “made in China.” I see that a lot where really cheap items and relatively new (unknown) brands are involved.

People forget that Apple last manufactured iPhones in the US in 2004. Since then, every unit running on iOS has come from China and I’ve yet to see a new iPhone owner with a pouty look.

Point is, don’t judge a product by where it’s made. Aside from the iPhone, MG’s RX5 makes for a visually compelling and experientially persuasive argument.

Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
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Photo by ERIC TIPAN.

Take a look at this baby: bathed in red and impressively refined, it may have been made in China, but it clearly has UK pedigree.

A quick walkabout reveals how well it’s put together and it starts with the grille-headlamps (with lithe-looking LED daytime running lights) setup that, though fundamentally simple, appears elegant because of great symmetry.

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Layered lines along the sides make the bottom of its trapezoidal frame appear fuller, more macho, without really exceeding its compact dimensions.

The top half, on the other hand, with the roof tapering to the rear as the shoulder line rises, slims it down for better vital stats and aerodynamics.

Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
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LED taillamps highlight the rear along with plenty of reliefs and contours that make the tailgate shapelier.

A smart key allows you to just push a button on the door knob to unlock and the Start/Stop to engage the 1.5L turbocharged engine.

The cabin comes with a general beige finish with a darker brown hue on top of the dashboard and some faux wood trim on the center console and door panels.

Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
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There are chrome highlights bordering the infotainment system and some in the middle of the flat-bottom steering wheel around the controls for audio, telephony and the trip computer.

While the overall color is appealing, it feels too light for the seats and could smudge easily. Good thing they’re leather, which will make simple stains easy to wipe off.

Most all surfaces (dashboard, door panels) are padded, which makes it very child-friendly. Aircon vents are easy to adjust because of the little metallic knobs sticking out in the middle.

Pairing phones is very simple, operation of the eight-inch touchscreen display is very straightforward, and the same goes for the climate control system, but it will take some getting used to with the analog thermostat and fan speed display.

Cabin is more than spacious for five passengers but luggage area—with the tonneau drawn—isn’t very tall, which means most cargo will have to be loaded sideways.

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Photo by ERIC TIPAN.

The small displacement engine is quiet and barely hums even when stressed. There isn’t all that much power with only 169 PS so it could top out early at high speeds but never really had the chance to max it out as the drive was purely in the city.

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It will do marvelously along EDSA even during the rare times you encounter no traffic but there’s a tiny bit of a turbo lag so expect just a teeny-weeny delay from throttle input before you feel the 250 Nm of torque kick in.

The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is smooth but it struggles to hold if you’re backing up on a steep incline.

Steering accuracy is pinpoint although turning radius for a crossover not so much. Had to do a two-point turn on a four-lane road.

It is light to handle and movement is very precise.

Seating position is high and cabin layout is excellent, making it easy to see out the windows and limits blind spot issues.

Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
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Photo by ERIC TIPAN.

The 18-inch rims let noise from the pavement seep in but other than that, the whole package has very low levels of NVH, even versus large potholes and over broken up asphalt patches.

It feels stable around corners and has superb balance, which translates to a very solid feel of the drive.

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If you hit the highway, there’s cruise control and the return on full city driving, without aiming for fuel efficiency, was a very good nine kilometers per liter. The cabin is very well-appointed for, which matches segment competitors with a price a few hundreds of thousands less.

The MG RX5 is a compact crossover that makes “China-made” look good.

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Eric Tipan
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