New MG model adds luxury to Chinese brand's line-up

Mid-sized SUV range gets styling and equipment boost with Essence model.

Chinese brand MG is one of the few car makers to be making positive sales headway in 2020 and the company seems intent on maintaining the momentum, adding a new variant to its mid-sized HS SUV range.

The new MG HS Essence brings a hint of luxury to a line-up that until now has been known mainly for its generous equipment levels and sharp pricing, in the hotly contested mid-sized SUV sector.

The base front-drive MG HS Vibe is priced from just $29,990 which makes it one of the most affordable vehicles in the category. 

Priced from $38,990 driveaway, the HS Essence is a fair step up in price over the Vibe and the mid-spec MG HS Excite ($32,990) but brings with it a number of styling and equipment enhancement to justify the price tag. 

MG HS Essence

Exterior design changes include distinctive 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, chrome roof rails and a panoramic roof, while inside the Essence boasts heated electric six-way adjustable sports seats trimmed in Alcantara and leather.

Other interior features include a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, complete with Google Maps, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. 

Other standard inclusions run to a power tailgate, dual zone climate control, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts, sports metal trim pedals, LED headlights and taillights, interior ambient lighting, and reasonably roomy accommodation for up to five passengers, with a good-sized 463-litre boot. 

Like the rest of the range, the Essence is powered by an 119kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, driving through a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic. While the base-spec Vibe is front-wheel drive only, the Excite and Essence feature an on-demand all-wheel drive system. 

MG HS Essence

All models in the HS range boast a five-star ANCAP safety rating achieved in 2019, thanks in part to the inclusion of MG Pilot – the marque’s driving aid assistance suite. 

The system includes adaptive cruise, traffic-jam assist, AEB, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, active lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, intelligent headlamp control, rear cross-traffic alert and intelligent speed assist with speed sign recognition and automatic/manual speed control.

Despite a soft market that has seen new car sales slump 20% in the year to June, MG has been on something of a tear, with sales up 54% over the same period to 5742 units, versus 3718 in 2019.