It was only a matter to time before Chinese vehicles started to make their presence felt on the Australian market and February saw a major step forward in that process with the MG brand breaking through into the top ten of overall sales for that month.

Even more impressive is that it has been done with only three models in its range, the MG3 hatchback, ZS small SUV and HS mid-sized SUV.

The release of the February sales figures coincided with the launch of the MG HS PHEV, the company’s first ever plug-in hybrid vehicle.

The PHEV is the second new energy model in the HS range joining the pure-electric ZS EV that was launched in August 2020.

MG HS is a neat and stylish vehicle especially at the front of the car with its large honeycomb grille surrounding the iconic ‘MG’ badge. The grille then flows into wide, narrow headlamps with daytime running lights above extended lower air vents, also honeycombed.

Entry into both front and rear seats doesn’t require much effort and there’s plenty of headroom in both areas. Boot space is a competitive 451 litres with the rear seats in place and expands to 1275 litres with the seatbacks folded.

New MG HS PHEV is powered by a combination of 1.5-litre 119 kW / 250 Nm turbo-petrol engine and a 16.6 kW battery providing 90kW / 230 Nm to the electric motor for a combined output of 189 kW and 370 Nm.

Fuel consumption is listed as 1.7 litres per 100 kilometres with CO2 emissions at 39 grams per km.

We’re told that a full battery re-charge can be achieved in about seven hours from a normal household socket or around four hours with a wall box.

A significant feature of all hybrid and electric vehicles is regenerative braking which transfers the energy from the vehicle’s natural braking back into the battery.

Unlike the ZS EV which has three braking modes the HS PHEV only comes with the heaviest level which may not be to every driver’s taste especially as it can’t be turned off.

Only one variant is offered with the highest spec Essence features. These include 18-inch, diamond cut alloy wheels; front seat heating; panoramic sunroof; LED headlights and taillights; LED ambient lighting and ‘London Eye’ daytime running headlights; welcome lights and a powered tailgate.

Inside there are two large screens, a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster with built-in satellite navigation and a 10.1-inch multi-function high-definition infotainment colour touch screen with large user-friendly displays. There’s a six-speaker 3D surround sound audio system.

Both driver and front passenger get two-tone leather sports seats with power adjustment and heating.

Entry is easy to manage and there’s good interior space. Rear legroom is acceptable and there’s plenty of headroom despite the sunroof.

Boot space is a reasonable 451 litres with the rear seats in place and expands to 1275 litres with the seatbacks folded. The charging apparatus is stored below the boot floor meaning that there’s no room for a spare wheel, instead you’ll need to rely upon a supplied tyre repair kit if you get a puncture.

Standard safety features in the MG HS Plug-In Hybrid include six airbags; advanced ABS brakes; Active Cornering Brake Control; Hill Launch Assist; rear parking sensors; 360-degree Surround View Camera;

Advanced safety and driver assistance features are bundled within the impressive MG Pilot package. They include Adaptive Cruise Control; Forward Collision Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking; Lane Departure Warning; Traffic Jam Assist; Blind Spot Detection; Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Headlamp Control.

The MG HS PHEV launch took place in Newcastle and was followed by a drive program into the Hunter Valley.

The first thing we noticed is that the instant torque supplied by the battery overcomes one of our main criticisms of the petrol-only HS in that it can be a tad sluggish off the mark and when overtaking.

It’s also quieter, as expected in EV mode, but also with the engine running.

Performance is capable but unexciting as is the norm with vehicles in the SUV segment. There was nothing challenging throughout our drive route although we did enjoy the extra power surge when the electric motor kicked in to help out the smallish 119 kW engine.

Steering is a little heavy but responsive enough.

The twin information screens are easy to read and operate.

We’re big fans of brake regeneration and the driving efficiency challenges that it offers. During the 150 kilometres of the launch drive program such was the level of deceleration that we were able to drive without using the brake pedal for much of that time in both urban and rural conditions.

The car can be set for EV driving only with a claimed range of 52 km, a target that we’ll try and surpass when we get the HS PHEV for our extended test.

All the petrol-only HS variants come with the standard MG seven-year / unlimited kilometre warranty however, both the HS PHEV and the ZS EV are only covered for five years, although the batteries get an eight year / 160,000 km warranty.

HS Core: $29,990
HS Vibe: $31,990
HS Excite: $34,990
HS Essence: $38,990
HS Essence Anfield: $40,690
HS Excite X AWD: $37,990
HS Essence X AWD: $42,990
HS Plug-In Hybrid: $46,990
Note: These are drive-away prices and include all government or dealer delivery charges.

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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