The return of British brand MG to Malaysia has long been mooted with many parties reportedly interested at various points over the years since Brookland Motors gave up the franchise in 2005.
Now owned by Shanghai-based SAIC Motor, MG’s return to Malaysia’s shores remain shrouded in mystery, although the brand has been making decent headway in the Thailand where an assembly plant is being operated in Rayong.
The brand’s growing line-up is fast filling up various key segments of the Thai market, with the latest addition to the range being the ZS seen here on display at the 2017 Thailand International Motor Expo. The ZS is a sharply-styled compact HR-V-sized crossover boasting a class-leading infotainment system aimed to lure younger tech-savvy buyers away from the established choices.
Available in three trim levels, the MG ZS is priced from THB 679,000 to THB 789,000, all variants powered by a naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine generating 114 PS and 150 Nm. Standard transmission is a 4-speed automatic and power goes exclusively to the front wheels.
Exterior dimensions of the ZS measures 4,314 mm long by 1,809 mm wide, putting it a segment below the 4,500 mm by 1,855 mm MG GS that we sighted at last year’s Beijing Auto Show. For comparison, a Honda HR-V measures 4,294 mm by 1,772 mm.
A unique feature of the ZS within its segment is the newly-introduced i-Smart infotainment system with a voice command feature able to respond to Thai language. The system is activated by the user saying “Hello MG” before barking the relevant commands.
Through the i-Smart system, occupants can control various in-car functions including entertainment, GPS navigation, and climate control.
An iOS-only mobile device app is also available for download, enabling users to interact with the car via a mobile device. Functions incorporated into the app include schedule reminders, route suggestion, traffic report, weather forecast, and real-time update of the vehicle’s status.
In the event of unusual vehicle movement, the app can even notify the user of suspected car theft. The app also allows the user to remotely start the vehicle and turn the air-conditioning on to pre-cool the cabin on a hot sunny day.
The MG ZS is a nameplate that was started before the collapse of the original MG Rover that sparked a chain of events leading to ownership of the brand and all its intellectual properties by SAIC. The original ZS, produced from 2001 to 2005, was a compact sedan derived from the Rover 400.