You want a spanking new family SUV with £25k to spend. What do you do?
Go to the nearest MG garage and have a serious look at the HS.
This is the best value five up SUV on the market by a country mile. That does not make it the best, it is up against a car park full of big hitting rivals, and it has its flaws but most can be excused given what it offers.
The model range is short and sweet, SE or Trophy, one engine option, manual or seven speed automatic, and an eye catching opening price of £23,495. My advice is go for the SE because it loses so little to the Trophy. Heated front seats is the only luxury I would miss.
The extensive Pilot safety package is standard with emergency braking, lane assist, rear cross traffic alert and cruise control the standout features. Adaptive cruise control is only available on the automatic (£1500 extra) which is a shame.
Big news this year is the facelift. The downside for MG models, electric 4 aside, is they don’t have an identity. The HS, for example, looks like a Mazda CX-5 face on. Well that has changed with a completely restyled front. The grille, in particular, is very smartly designed, set lower to soften the boxy SUV look, and along with the wider bumper provides that identity.
It is when you step inside that you wonder what is going on here. Granted the test car was the Trophy model with its red/black leather trim and one piece front sports seats but how MG can pack so much in for relatively little money is a mystery. This sort of spec costs thousands more on the majority of rivals. If ever an interior punched above its weight this is it.
Look below the waistline and you will find cheaper, scratchy plastic and not so high quality carpets, but I defy anyone to complain for this money.
At just over 4.6 metres, HS is a good size and it shows in the cabin which is up there with the best for space. Rear legroom is close to limo proportions although it has been achieved at a cost. Boot space is adequate but down on the opposition and MG missed a trick by not putting the back seat on runners, that way you get the best of both worlds.
Up front the layout is pretty standard with a 10.1in free standing central touch screen and digital binnacle with plenty of information. If you want a bobby dazzling layout then look to Peugeot 3008 or Kia Sportage but the overriding impression is neat and tidy and reasonable quality.
HS is certainly dressed to impress with a lengthy equipment list even for the SE that includes the full safety suite, navigation, auto dipping LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Trophy’s extras include powered, heated front seats and switchable drive modes along with a power boost button on the steering wheel although I did not notice a lot of difference in pick up.
MG has pitched the HS ride towards comfort so you will not get the fun factor of a Seat Ateca or Mazda CX-5 but does a good job absorbing bumps and potholes, and do we really want to tear around in an SUV?
On the engine front it is a petrol 1.6 litre turbo and does let the side down on running costs. Performance is okay, just under 10 seconds to 60mph, a bit noisy with foot to the floor, but it is not good news on economy. A week’s average returned 32mpg and even on a 150 mile round trip I only managed 37mpg so running costs will be higher and the engine emissions are pretty high as well so a hefty first car tax.
My only other complaints concern the brake pedal which has too long a travel before engaging, no height adjustment for the passenger seat, which is too high, and a noisy rear wiper all of which could be fixed in a flash.
The MG story since it was taken over by a Chinese consortium in 2006 is still a work in progress, but succeeding in the hottest sector of the car market with a steady rise in sales and very much mirrors the Kia footprint with the blockbuster seven year warranty incentive, and look what it did for the Korean company.
If they carry on like this you cannot help but think MG will become a much bigger player in the UK motoring scene.
HS Trophy 7spd auto
£25,995 (£26,540 tested)
1.6 litre GDI turbo; 160bhp
0-60mph 9.6secs; 118mph
174g/km. 1st tax £1.040
Insurance group 22
Boot: 463-1454 litres
Towing capacity 1750kg