New car review: MG HS Excite
MG HS is a value-packed Chinese alternative to Japanese mid-size SUVs.
While the MG name and hallowed octagonal badge conjures up images of classic British sports cars, the MG range from the current brand-owner, major Chinese automotive maker SAIC, is devoid of any distinctly sports-oriented models.
The HS is MG’s latest offering in a range comprised largely of SUVs. By year’s end an all-electric version of their small ZS SUV should also have joined MG’s growing Australian fleet.
The medium-sized, front-wheel-drive MG HS currently comes in two specifications only; the entry-level Vibe ($30,990 drive-away), and the better equipped Excite tested here. A range-topping Essence variant will soon be added to the line-up.
The vehicle is generously equipped and sharply priced in either grade, with a host of advanced safety and driver assistance features that should prove attractive for safety-conscious buyers.
Dubbed MG Pilot, the safety tech 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.
Infotainment with smartphone mirroring and navigation is up to the minute, although the lack of DAB+ radio is a notable exception. Interior ambient lighting and a power tailgate are pleasantly surprising inclusions for this little coin.
Rear occupants are well accommodated, thanks to a wheelbase that’s longer than competitors like RAV4 and Mazda CX-5. There are also three child restraint points and two ISOFIX mounts on the outer position of the rear seat, plus a practically sized 463-litre cargo area.
The 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with seven-speed dual-clutch auto is the only powertrain and does a reasonable job of hauling the HS’s circa 1520kg bulk around, though some extra grunt wouldn’t go astray. There’s a bit of initial lag off the line and we noted some bumpy shifts occasionally from the DCT.
Handling and ride qualities are generally quite agreeable, although a spin in class benchmarks such as the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 will reveal the extra sophistication and polish that comes with their higher price.
The MG HS is attractively styled, with more than a passing nod to its Mazda rival. Build quality appears sound and a seven-year warranty should give buyers confidence in siding with a brand that is still relatively new to the Australian market.
The HS is the best of the vehicles we’ve yet driven from MG and is arguably a high-water mark for the brand to date. For those with a keen eye to value and safety, it should prove a tempting package and is well worth adding to a category shortlist.
MLP: $34,790 drive away.
ENGINE: 1.5-litre, turbo-petrol 4 cylinder.
ANCAP CRASH RATING: 5-star (2019).
TAILPIPE CO2 (g/km): 170.
Value for money, safety tech, space, warranty, honest and competent all-rounder.
Some extra engine grunt needed, lacks final polish of the best in class, dealer numbers still growing.