The MG ZS SUV has been given a new range topper in the Philippines. Named the MG ZS T, it not only gets the latest facelifted look, but a 1.3 litre turbocharged engine to really set it apart from the rest of the ZS family, which is powered by a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated engine.

The 1.3T makes 160 PS and 230 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 4,400 rpm, which is a healthy 46 PS/80 Nm advantage over the 114 PS/150 Nm 1.5L NA engine. The turbo flagship variant also comes with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode – that’s two ratios more than the 1.5L’s 4AT.

The ZS T is also the only variant in PH with the facelift. The easiest way to spot the updated car is from the grille, which is now in a traditional hexagon shape instead of the original’s bowl-like grille. The “Obsidian Matrix” grille is also not connected to the headlamps, which are LEDs. There are also new bumpers for both ends, revised LED tail lamps and 17-inch two-tone “Tomahawk” alloys. Behind those are red brake calipers.

Inside, the ZS T gets soft plastics for the dashboard, centre console and door panels, among other surfaces. The seats come with red stitching and there are also red MG logos on the front headrests. The dashboard pic above is of the Australian-spec right-hand-drive car (Philippines is LHD).

Kit wise, there’s a 10-inch touchscreen head unit (two inches wider) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six speakers, rear aircon vents, a USB port behind the rearview mirror (for dashcam) and a digital instrument panel. There’s also an electronic parking brake that replaces the hand brake, plus auto brake hold. To top it off, there’s a larger “extended” panoramic sunroof.

As for safety, the five-star ASEAN NCAP-rated ZS has six airbags, blind spot warning, lane change assist, hill-hold control and rear cross traffic alert. There’s also a 360-degree for a bird’s eye view of the car on the screen. Available in top Trophy trim level, the MG ZS T is priced at PHP 1,158,888 (RM95,456).

The ZS facelift was launched in Indonesia last month, but that market gets the new look with the 1.5L naturally aspirated engine, just like in Thailand. Elsewhere in Asia Pacific, the ZS T is available with the turbo engine in Australia.

Of course, MG is not the only Chinese carmaker in the Philippines. Geely, which has been rather active there, has the Coolray in the B-SUV space. The Coolray is essentially the Geely Binyue/Proton X50, and it’s powered by a 175 hp/255 Nm 1.5 litre turbo engine paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. These figures are still higher than what the ZS T offers, but the MG is close enough.

The Philippines is becoming a nice new playground for Chinese carmakers and Changan is the latest player there. Both China and the ASEAN country drive on the same side of the road, so perhaps it’s a more straightforward entry for the Chinese without the need for RHD conversion. MG, owned by Chinese heavyweight SAIC Motor, has its regional production base in Thailand.

What do you think of this MG ZS facelift with turbo power versus the Proton X50?