2017 May “HOT” Test Drive Bangkok-Kamphaeng Phet
by John K. Lindgren
The giant Chinese, Shanghai-based SAIC, once-British brand is expanding rapidly all over Thailand with new MG showrooms popping up like mushrooms after a heavy rain.
MG Sales (Thailand) Co, Ltd – not the new kid on the block anymore. The extensive line-up today includes MG 3 hatchback, MG 5, MG 6 sedan, fastback models and the SUV Sports option. Plus the latest new, compact SUV: MG GS 1.5 Turbo. Price just below a million Thai baht. The urban family vehicle suitable also for the housewife ‘mae baan’ to do the daily school run and the Tesco Lotus weekend shopping.
Pattaya Today’s Life & Leisure Automotive test drive is the all-new MG GS available in two trims: entry-level D priced at 890,000 baht and the top-of-the-range X model 990,000 baht. The goodies in our X trim test drive vehicle include side airbags, 8-inch infotainment/navigation system, cruise control, paddle shifters, keyless entry and LED lights and rear-view camera. Exterior color: cool ‘Arctic White’.
Design: Similar to MG GS 2-liter turbo model. However, the 1.5-liter Turbo is more compact with rounded corners, raked pillars and a high beltline. Standing tall, distinctive and dynamic-looking. The styling concept from UK, Technical Centre in Birmingham boasts the crosshatch grill featuring the iconic, oversized octagonal MG (Morris Garage) badge, a sturdy two-tone front bumper, and trapezoidal LED headlamps and daytime running lights. The rear view stands out with mounted LED sport tail lamps and on the roof Beemer-like shark fin antenna. The wheels? 17-inch alloys.
Interior: Fit and finish comes with glossy piano black accents. Leather upholstery with electrically adjustable driver seat. Back seat space with adequate head and leg room. Armrest and the important rear A/C air vents, especially during the hot and humid Thai “summer”. In the ceiling a one-touch electric sunroof system for the cool and dry season. The must-have infotainment features an 8-inch HD touchscreen on the floating center console incorporating the ‘inkaNet’ system with GPS navigation and Bluetooth connectivity – the works! When the housewife goes shopping there’s plenty of loading space with back seats that split 60/40 and fold down completely flat. Enough room for a new, tall fridge or a flat big screen TV. And there is an additional compartmentalized space for stuff above the spare wheel under the trunk floor. Thumbs up for this hidden feature. Furthermore, also the Electronic Parking Brake (EPB). No more pulling (with two hands) the old handbrake!
Engine: Power comes from an all-aluminium turbocharged 1.5-liter petrol engine pumping out 167 horsepower connected to a seven-speed automatic ‘Sportronic’ gearbox, with paddle shifters providing ample traction from low revs to full power. For long distance highway driving there is a cruise control. Fuel consumption. Petrol (some call it benzine!) or the more available gasohol 95 and E85. How thirsty? Approximately 15.5 kpl. Depending you driving style. Pro-active or economy.
The drive: The sizzling hot Thai summer has arrived as we test the new MG GS 1.5T from Bangkok to Kamphaeng Phet province with mother-in-law, her cat “Cookie” in a cage and two poodles occupying the rear seat. Luggage in the trunk and wife “Madame” riding shotgun. First around Bangkok suburbia; commanding view, easy handling with a comfortably light steering. Later on the Bangkok to Nakhon Sawan highway on the long straights, the dinky MG GS 1.5T shows its capability thanks to the turbocharger. Enough torque for safe overtaking. When engaging the 7-speed paddle shifters (usually found in premium sport sedans) stepping-on-it becomes pure FUN! Braking performance is powerful and consistent, aided by reliable ABS, EDB and Curve Brake Control (CBC) synchronized systems. At the destination in Khlong Lan National Park on twisty gravel roads with traction control on/off the front wheel drive MG GS shows a solid balance between handling and ride.
Verdict: With a winning combination of price, packaging, practicality and loaded with hi-tech features. This is a step in the right direction for the Chinese-owned iconic British brand assembled in Thailand.
A test drive is recommended at the MG Driving Experience Centre on Srinakarin Road, close to Dusit Thani College and Seacon Square or at your nearest MG dealer.
MG GS 1.5T X 2WD
Engine: 4-cylinder 1.5-liter Turbo (Petrol)
Power: 167 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Top speed: 190 km/h
Fuel consumption: 15.5 km/liter
Price: 990,000 baht