Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

MG PHILIPPINES on March 9 kicked off the first in a series of live, free musical concerts dubbed “MG Live!” at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
Staged in cooperation with Phoenix Petroleum, “MG Live!” is “a way for us to showcase our full vehicle lineup, announce our innovative after-sales complements, and unveil our upcoming dealership locations in a manner all Filipinos can appreciate: music,” said The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI) president and CEO Albert B. Arcilla in a news release. TCCCI is the official importer, distributor and service provider of the MG brand, in addition to Chevrolet, in the Philippines.
Rock band Sandwich and electro-pop act Gracenote performed at the SM Megamall Fashion Hall on March 6, where MG Philippines also displayed its ZS crossover SUV, MG 6 fastback sedan, and RX5 compact SUV. At the mall’s basement parking area, units of the cars were made available for customers wishing a test drive. Also displayed was a 1969 classic MGB V8 two-door roadster, “as a nod to the brand’s rich and colorful heritage,” said MG Philippines in a news release.
“We sought the owner out, who’s a big MG fan,” revealed TCCCI SVP for marketing Lyn M. Buena in an exclusive interview with BusinessWorld. Founded in 1924, MG (Morris Garages) was previously best known for its two-seat, open-top sports cars.
While still headquartered in Longbridge, Birmingham in the United Kingdom, MG is now a subsidiary of SAIC Motor UK — in turn controlled by Shanghai-based SAIC Motor, which ranks 36th in the Fortune Global 500 company list. SAIC is China’s biggest car manufacturer, and also controls another British auto marque, Roewe.
Ms. Buena said that, following the SAIC takeover of MG, the brand “has become very forward-looking when it comes to technology, and it comes at an attainable value. Putting all these three together means a great option for the Filipino market.” She added that MG arrives in the market here at an opportune time when SAIC is aggressively working to establish itself as a global brand.
“Our products fit many stages of life, different lifestyles, but as a whole, ours is a brand that boasts great driving dynamics and living the fun and vibrant life. It’s about exceeding expectations.”
On March 30, “MG Live!” will be staged at SM Southmall in Las Piñas (featuring Hilera and Moonstar88), culminating on April 6 at the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS), to be held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. Performing at MIAS is Ultra Combo.
MG Philippines will launch two models at MIAS, according to Ms. Buena.
The so-called “hero vehicle” of the concert series is the 2019 model of the ZS. The compact SUV is priced starting at P818,888 for the 1.5 M/T Style variant, which is powered by a 1.5-liter, naturally aspirated gasoline engine that delivers 114hp and 150Nm. The car features an eight-inch Apple CarPlay-enabled LCD infotainment unit, push-button start/stop, multi-function steering wheel, and driving aids like a reverse camera, ABS, cornering brake control, electronic brake assist, electronic brake distribution, hill-start assist, tire-pressure monitoring system, and traction control.
Ms. Buena reported; “We’re not just building the brand. We’re making sure that after-sales service and the dealership facility are well taken care of. MG Philippines currently has four showrooms in operation: MG Centris on EDSA, MG BF Parañaque, MG Iloilo and MG Cebu. By the end of the year that number is expected to grow to 16. The company is also gearing up to launch a significant after-sales campaign, headlined a by a so-called mobile garage service. “It’s a service facility that goes to you — a ‘casa’ that goes to your home when you need help with your MG,” she said.