8th June 2020
Stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap is a tried and tested way to gain a bit of market share and, on the surface, this is how MG is pushing its HS SUV model. In the top spec Exclusive that arrived for test, it wants for almost nothing in the equipment stakes, while a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine is on trend for the times we live in. The question is: will it tempt business drivers away from more established contenders?
The MG name used to resonate so clearly with buyers that what you were getting was a sporty car. Now, sporty has been replaced by sport utility and the HS is another in a sea of compact SUVs vying for attention. Its bold front grille helps it stand out and there’s a whiff of Mercedes A-Class about this frontage. For this class, the MG is pretty much on the money in my view.
A day to become acquainted with the cabin on the MG HS and the mix of analogue and digital dials looks good. A big, clear digi speedo reading is always a good thing in my book, especially when cruising through town in Edinburgh where limits vary between 20-, 30- and 40mph on a whim and with very little warning. Having a prominent visual aid is really helpful at a glance.
A day of short journeys to head to the shops and, now we’re allowed to, see some friends in a socially distanced fashion. Loading up the kids into the HS is no problem and my daughter’s Isofix seat is quickly and simply slotted into place. The kids have bags of room in the HS, making even the likes of the Nissan Qashqai seem a bit small by comparison as the MG offers generous legroom for this in the back seats.
More practical stuff today, though the MG’s boot is spared a trip to the refuse dump as it’s still not open while I have this car. The pile of garden rubbish will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, a recce of the HS’s boot reveals it’s big, well-shaped and made from sturdy materials, just the like the rest of the MG’s cabin. However, better placing of the puncture repair kit and towing eye could have freed up some additional hidden storage space.
The HS is only offered with the turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine that dishes up 162hp. Not bad for the size of engine and this version has the six-speed manual gearbox rather than the dual clutch DCT auto. The shift action is nothing to write home about but bearable. What I cannot stand, though, is the poor refinement of the petrol motor when worked at anything above town speeds.
There’s no doubt the MG HS’s infotainment screen contributes to the tidy look of the car’s dash. However, I remain convinced that operating the heating and ventilation through a screen is the wrong way to go. So it is with the HS, where the touchscreen is a fraction too slow to respond to inputs. It’s a low-level irritation but one that never goes away even with familiarity in the HS or others that use similar set-ups.