MG SUV FULL OF SURPRISES TO EXCITE CUSTOMER

MG-HS_frontThe ABC of MG goes back to 1924 and it does not tell the whole story. British sports car specialist – think MGA, MGB, MGC – is now ‘ruled’ by the Chinese state-owned automotive SAIC Motor.

As a result, the company has branched out into the sports utility vehicle market and has two models, the ZS and HS, on sale in Australia, hoping to make its mark in one of the most competitive market segments in the world.

The MG HS is a mid-size SUV going up against the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and Toyota RAV4 and consists of two models, Vibe and Excite, keenly priced at $29,990 and $32,990, plus on-road costs, respectively.

Later in the year, MG will bring in its first all-electric vehicle, the ZS EV, an evolution of the marque’s best-selling compact SUV, the MG ZS. More of these when details come to hand.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing shabby about the MG HS Excite, as the vehicle on test showed.

STYLING
Styling makes a solid statement in the medium-size SUV market. From the pen of British designers the laid-back looks are straight out of the European playbook.

MG-HS_rear

Not that there is anything ‘shrinking violet’ about the looks. The HS gives the impression it is proud to be an MG, with the marque’s trademark octagon dominating the stand-out radiator grille.

LED headlamps and daytime running lights flank the grille, adding their own character with dynamic indicators. Restrained use of shiny bits adds the premium touch.
The roofline curves all the way from the sloped windscreen to the tailgate, which once again carries the famous maker’s mark.

INTERIOR
This five-seater offers good support for all occupants, with the tilt and rake steering wheel, plus left footrest, presenting the driver with plenty of chance to get comfortable.

With a class-leading wheelbase, legroom in the back is impressive and occupants are far from being left behind with centre-console air vents and USB points.

The soft-touch dash is dominated by a 10.1-inch colour touch screen and the flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped sports steering wheel incorporates paddle shifts.

INFOTAINMENT
Controls are via the touchscreen and a mix of knobs and switches which take some getting used to.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, offering effective connectivity. Satellite navigation is also standard.

MG-HS_front

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The MG HS is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine putting out maximum power of 119 kW at 5600 rpm and peak torque of 250 Nm at 4400 rpm. It’s mated with a seven-speed automatic transmission feeding power to the road via the front wheels.

Running on 91 RON fuel with a claimed fuel consumption of 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle.

SAFETY
The MG Pilot suite of safety measures has won for the MG HS a five-star ANCAP rating under the latest standards. These include automatic emergency braking between four and 150 km/h with pedestrian and cyclist detection from four to 64 km/h, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and active cruise control.

DRIVING
With a tradition of MG sports car motoring the sino-SUV misses the mark with lack lustre performance. The underweight 1.5-litre turbo lagging on take-off, things improved as the revs mounted, the engine taking on a sporty note.

Gear shifts snapped smoothly between cogs and the suspension kept the vehicle well within what the SUV was asked to do during ‘normal’ driving on the bitumen. However, a trip down MG Memory Lane was relived with the push of a red button marked Super Sport on the steering wheel sharpening the engine response and holding the gearshifts to assume sports car character.

In default mode, fuel consumption under light loads hovered around six litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway and tipped over eight litres per 100 kilometres in town.

A cabin free from external noise from road and weather ambience was only interrupted by the beeping of the ultra-sensitive lane departure warning.

The cabin was easy to get into, with no steep climb as with some SUVs, leaving ‘littlies’ and ‘oldies’ happily independent. A power tailgate was a surprising fixture for the HS price, making boot access untroubled by scratchy winter weather.

SUMMING UP
There’s no denying MG’s commitment to the Australian market with its 2020 plans for new models and more dealerships. The HS Excite lays a solid base for what is to come and takes it up to rivals in one of the most competitive market segments in the SUV world.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
MG HS Vibe 1.5 auto: $29,990
MG HS Excite 1.5 auto: $32,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local MG dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (MG HS Excite 1.5-litre turbocharged 4cyl petrol, 7sp automatic, FWD, 4dr SUV)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 1.490 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders inline
Maximum Power: 119 kW @ 5600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.3 L/100km

DRIVELINE: Seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4574 mm
Wheelbase: 2720 mm
Width: 1876 mm
Height: 1685 mm
Turning Circle: N/A
Kerb Mass: 1520 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Seven years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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