MG HS Review: Hands-on
MG looks to redefine "premium value" with new HS.
Back in November, we attended the Australian launch of the MG HS, the vehicle MG is hoping will redefine "premium value" within the SUV segment. You can read out initial thoughts here.
Now, we have had the chance to drive MG's latest vehicle, one that the brand says is the "SUV you've never seen before". We tackled a combination of highway and urban driving as well as some twisting roads as we made our way through Melbourne's Yarra Valley at the Australian launch.
The MG HS range is keenly priced and will draw the attention of savvy shoppers, but does it have enough to turn interest from Australian buyers into significant sales?
When addressing the crowd at the vehicles initial launch in Sydney, the CEO of MG Motor Australia and New Zealand, Peter Ciao said, "We're very excited about the potential that the MG HS provides to our local business and our dealers are confident of the appeal of this new model."
We think the company has every right to be excited. With its sharp pricing, the MG HS represents very good value.
What's it like inside?
One of the things we liked about the car when we first inspected the MG HS in the showroom in November was the fit and finish. It seemed well put together at the time and now having spent the day sitting inside it, we are happy to report that we are still impressed with the cabin that MG has delivered.
It is genuinely a lot more premium than the price tag would suggest.
Everything felt solid and far from flimsy whether it was blinker stalks or the gimbal-style air conditioning vents, which had a nice little "click" when you switched them off. The faux-leather trim is good too and with various silver accents has certainly increased the perceived quality of the cabin.
I guess what I am trying to say, overall the cabin is a nice place to be.
Now, in terms of build quality, spending one day with the vehicle may not be the best indication, but we noted that we weren't able to hear any audible rattles or shakes, which is a good sign. We'll get our hands on the vehicle for a longer test in the coming weeks and see if the interiors will stand the test of time. Watch this space.
The 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system was a bit hit and miss. The system itself was intuitive and easy to navigate, but it wasn't as responsive as we would have liked. Increasing the fan speed on the climate control for instance, the blower was up to speed well before the interface had visually registered the changes. On the flip side, it does come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
You get dual-zone climate control on the Excite, which is controlled via the infotainment unit. Unfortunately, there are no other controls for this. Jumping between screens on the infotainment system, such as getting back to the home screen, can be done via a slew of switches underneath it.
In terms of storage, the MG HS offers 463 litres of storage space in the back, which is on par with competitors like the RAV4 when the seats are up and even trumps some other established rival. On the HS Excite model, this can be accessed via an electronic tailgate.
With the seats down, it is a different story and not quite as rosy for the MG HS. You get 1,287-litres of space with the seats down in the HS. For comparison, other segment players have the following:
- 1,455 litres in the Kia Sportage
- 1,342 litres in the Mazda CX-5
- 1,462 litres in the Honda HR-V
Passengers in the back are treated to plenty of legroom. It doesn't stop there either as passengers get directional air conditioning vents in the back and two USB charging points.
There are also ISOFIX mounting points on the two outboard rear seats for growing families.
What extras do you get if you buy an Excite model?
The Excite will set you back an extra $3,000 dollars. For the extra cash, you get dual-zone climate control, multi-coloured ambient lighting, 18-inch wheels, a "Super Sport" mode with paddle shifters, an electric tailgate and satellite navigation.
What is the MG HS like on the road?
As we made our way to and around the Yarra Valley, one of the more impressive things we noticed was the ride. These were by no means perfect roads, with potholes, ridges and roughly repaired areas, yet it was still pretty comfortable. Steering was light and the car easy to manoeuvre, but did not translate all that much feedback from the road.
The average driver around town is not going to be driving the types of roads we were on regularly, nor are they going to be pushing the car in the same manner. With this being the case, it was hard to fault the MG HS.
The 1.5-litre engine performs admirably and while it did get bogged down on the occasional slow, windy uphill climb, it generally had enough grunt to do the daily school run. As mentioned in our first impressions, the 1.5-litre engine is smaller than competitors in the segment, and we are keen to see the 2.0-litre model head to Australian shores.
Key MG HS stats
|Engine||1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol|
|Storage with back seats up||463L|
|Storage with seats down||1,287L|
We spent a fair amount of time testing out the MG Pilot system, which includes both autonomous cruise control and lane-keep technologies. There were plenty of places to test them at the local launch and they both performed quite well. The stalk style implementation takes a bit of getting used to, but it's easy to operate once you are. The pilot system kept the vehicle centred in the lane and adjusted speeds quite smoothly. One peeve we did have though was the fact that after you turn the cruise control off, you have to manually switch back to the digital speedo. It's a small issue in the grand scheme of things.
It is also worth noting that the lane-keep assist system doesn't work under 60 km/h, so if you are in one of those zones, it is worth turning it off. As you increase and decrease speed up to 60 and then inevitably slow down, you will get a number of alerts "Lane keep assist quit", which could get annoying.
Blind-spot monitor warnings are another thing you will need to get used to as they are not in the traditional placing in the side-mirror, but are inside the door next to the A-pillar and north of the dashboard.
How safe is the MG HS?
Safety is perhaps one of the most impressive areas of the MG HS. Not only has it achieved a 5-star ANCAP rating, but the MG Pilot system is standard across the range. It is a significant inclusion at this price-point as you get a full suite of technology that is reserved for more expensive vehicles.
MG Pilot consists of driver aids like autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, intelligent speed-limit assist, traffic-jam assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot detection and more.
Intelligent speed-limit assist is MG's version of speed-sign detection, where it "reads" speed signs on the side of the road and displays it to the driver, in case they need to slow down. If you thought that was smart enough, MG has taken it to another level, whereby, if the "intelligent" function is checked, you will not be able to exceed the sign-posted speed limit.
Imagine having your foot to the floor on the highway and having the vehicle not increase speed at all. We tested it, it worked.
Other safety systems included in MG Pilot include traction control, anti-locking brakes, active yaw control, electronic brakeforce distribution, hydraulic brake booster, brake disc wiping, hill hold control and vehicle dynamics control.
MG HS owners will also get a reversing camera with dynamic guides, which it has to be said is clear and of good resolution. Partnering with the reversing camera are park-assist sensors and alerts.
In 2019, MG sales increased by a whopping 176.9%, and with the MG HS coming to market, I can only see their market share growing.
The HS represents some serious value for money for savvy shoppers who have champagne taste on a beer budget. With a premium-feeling cabin and a safety suite that is up there with much more costly vehicles, it is going to be hard for consumers to look past the MG HS.
MG is so confident in the vehicle they have made that it is offering a seven-year warranty on the HS with roadside assistance.
If you are currently in the market for a midsize SUV, I'd suggest getting down to your closest dealership and arranging a test drive.
Disclosure: Alex Jeffs travelled to Melbourne as a guest of MG Motor.