MG GS a value for

money SUV

MG GS, front
MG GS, side
MG GS, rear
MG GS, interior
MG GS, instrument panel
MG GS, rear seats
MG GS, boot

THERE seems to be no lessening of our love affair with the soft roader, but most prices start at around £20,000 or higher.

However, the top selling manufacturers like Nissan and VW no longer have things all their own way.

The SEAT Ateca has just been launched to rave reviews, with prices starting at £18,000, and MG has also got in on the act with the GS starting at just £15,000 making it very good value for money.

Having just sampled it, I sent it back with much regret. It's by no means perfect, but at that price and with a good standard specification it will attract a lot of interest.

I drove the mid-range Excite, which costs just £17,500, and for that you get a huge range of standard kit, including stop/start, hill hold so that you never roll back, wonderfully useful rear parking sensors and camera, alloys, DAB stereo, Bluetooth, climate and cruise control.

It also comes with the MirrorLink system that connects all your favourite phone apps to the car's touch screen.

So enough of the spec, how does it drive?

Power comes from a 1.5-litre petrol turbo with 166bhp and, at first, it seems a little lacking in urge.

But that's because you have to use the revs to get the best from it. Up above 3,000 revs, it pulls beautifully and, although it's a little noisy, the sound is not unpleasant.

Cruising on the motorway it feels relaxed and laid back and, of course, if you keep the revs down you are going to get much closer to the manufacturers economy figure of 46mpg.

In practice, expect around 35-38mpg.

The ride is firm and can get a little knobbly over rougher surfaces, but I never thought it was truly uncomfortable.

There's plenty of grip and, although there is some roll, it takes the corners with no little panache and can provide plenty of fun for someone like me who likes the twisty stretches of road.

The steering is excellent, well weighted and positive at speed, and the slick shifting six-speed gearbox is easy and light to use.

Despite those looks, all GS's are front wheel drive, like the vast majority of other SUVs, and the company says there is no four-wheel-drive model planned, nor a diesel option.

The boot is bigger than many similar offerings and there's plenty of room for four or five inside.

FAST FACTS

Price: £17,500

Mechanical: 166bhp, 1,490cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 46

Insurance Group: 16

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 5yrs/80,000 miles

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