The new SUV from MG
At first glance, you might not get too excited by a review of the latest SUV from MG, the HS.
But would news that by going Chinese could save you up £6,000 make you look again?
We’re testing the top of the range Exclusive model which comes in at a remarkable £21,995.
That’s with our car’s manual gearbox – a double-clutch automatic transmission will set you back a further £1,500.
With this much car at such a good value price, I was expecting to open the driver’s door and see an interior made from recycled wheelie bins or worse.
But, big surprise, the HS has the smartest interior of any MG yet.
Sure, if you give it the forensic scientist treatment and start poking around you’ll find some cheap and hard plastics. But in most places you’ll find soft materials, piano black trim and brushed aluminium details.
Often at motor shows you’ll see people with clipboards and tape measures going over new cars millimetre by millimetre.
These are often engineers from Chinese or Korean car firms checking out the details and materials of cars that they intend to compete against.
I suspect a bit of this espionage was involved in the birth of the MG HS. Some of the design and use of materials looks a bit Mercedes-Benzish.
But who cares? The result is a car that feels a lot posher than its price tag reflects. You get lots of kit in the ¬Exclusive trim including an infotainment system that is perfectly adequate for this MG, even if it would never grace an Audi or BMW.
It’s straightforward to use and its graphics are clear enough.
MG also gives you quite a lot of advanced driving assistance tech for your money, even on the entry-level Explore.
You get lane keep assist and lane departure warning, plus ¬intelligent speed limit assist, which is rather useful in areas with lots of varying speed limits.
Most of the borough that I live in now has a blanket 20mph speed limit.
This said, the HS did once get confused and suddenly dropped the 30mph setting and replaced it with a 70mph limit.
Just the sort of software glitch that makes me deeply suspicious about self-driving cars.
Some kit is only available on the cars with the automatic DCT transmission, such as active cruise control, but why an electric tailgate is not available on the manual model defies logic.
As well as lots of goodies you get big space in the HS.
Rear seat passengers have plenty of knee room and the boot holds 450 litres with the seats in place.
The ¬Exclusive comes with a panoramic sunroof that doesn’t rob too much space above your head but which brightens the cabin with extra light.
The only engine available in the HS is a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 169bhp.
Engines have often been MG’s weak point but this motor does a good enough job. It’s respectably quiet and smooth but is at its best under 4,000rpm.
Start thrashing it above that and it gets noisy – and thirsty. Broken ridges and potholes trip up the suspension but at higher speeds over bumps and crests the HS rides quite comfortably.
Start treating the car like a sports car, or the cars that MG of old used to build in the West Midlands, and you will suffer more body roll than you would get in rival motors.
This first appeared here