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First Drive

First Drive: MG HS

The story:
MG’s entrant in the large crossover market is well equipped and very keenly priced, but there are a few irritations to live with to enjoy the benefits
Category:Crossover
Key rival:Nissan Qashqai
MG HS Exclusive
Price:£21,995
MPG:37.8 mpg
Emissions:148g/km
On sale:Now

The MGs of 2020 are not only totally different to those made by the sports car manufacturer in its heyday, but also to the original models made in the brand’s modern rebirth in the 21st Century.

The HS SUV is an excellent representation of this, with the Nissan Qashqai-sized model’s interior equipped with a level of premium finish that is far removed from the likes of the MG6 that was launched in 2010. Soft-touch fabrics, solid-feeling toggle switches and a smart-looking 10.1-inch touchscreen make the HS’s cabin a really decent affair.

First Drive-January 2020-MG HS Executive-Image 2The level of equipment is strikingly impressive, too, with this Exclusive model packed with kit. Satellite navigation, a rear parking camera, dual-zone air conditioning, auto lights and wipers, cruise control, heated front sports-style leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights and indicators are all reasons why you probably won’t need to delve into the options list.

There’s an excellent amount of cabin space, too, with plenty of leg and shoulder room for rear passengers in particular. The panoramic roof of Exclusive trim doesn’t have any notable impact on headroom, although the boot, while a decent size on paper, doesn’t feel its 463 litres, with the wheel arches cutting into the usable space.

First Drive-January 2020-MG HS Executive-Image 7While the HS is actually relatively decent to drive – it has a controlled ride and the steering is decently weighted – it isn’t perfect, largely because of the engine. It has 160hp but you’d swear it was less than that; it just doesn’t feel that quick compared to similarly powered rivals. This would be forgiveable with an impressive level of frugality, but CO2 emissions are more than 20g/km higher than the rival Skoda Karoq and average fuel economy is around 14mpg worse.

Some will feel that the HS’s impressively low price will make up for this, but you will still have to live with the car’s seemingly endless succession of bongs. It will bong to warn that the lane departure system is on, and then again to tell you it’s working. It bongs to tell you to not forget the key, even if it is the passenger getting out (a joy with a sleeping child in the back), and bongs to tell you that the wheels aren’t straight when you are starting off. All of which might have made sense on paper when designing the car, but will irritate and distract in real-world use.

tom webster

The verdict

Like a well-made unbranded mobile phone, the HS offers a compelling package but also some irritations that will grate on a daily basis