By Patrick James on 2017-02-25 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
MG GS Exclusive DCT
THE MG marque has been around for nearly 100 years now, well, 93 actually, as the display on its its new SUV tells you when you turn on the ignition.
Since 1924, the touch screen display reminds you, as you turn the key.
Orginally famous for it classic sporty and upmarket motors, the now Chinese-owned firm produces value for money cars, albeit two models, which are practical and well equipped.
Designed and finally assembled at the old Rover works at Longbridge in Birmingham, the firm says the GS is an SUV that offers plenty of practicality and equipment at a low price.
That seems to be reflected in sales with MG Motor saying the model has already surpassed 500 unit sales in the final six months of last year and sales up by nearly 956 in the year overall.
It does spark curiosity, carrying the iconic MG octagon badge to front and rear and stands comparison stylewise with most competitors.
It is also good to drive, has sharp handling and manages half decent economy from the single 1.5-litre petrol engine available.
The model I tried featured an automatic twin clutch gearbox, which did have me yearning for the manual however, with jerky, uncertain shifts as it hunts for the gear.
It is seen as a rival for the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, but is quite a bit cheaper. However, while the petrol engine is smooth and refined enough, it lacks a diesel option.
However, the GS does stand out, particularly thisrange topper with its optional black alloy wheels, slim headlights, metal running board and roofbars while the interior feels well built and functional.
The curves and bulges, roofbars, flared wheel arches and narrow grille with deep air scoop also give it a sporty look.
Inside there is little sign of soft touch finish, with mainly solid plastic finish around most of the cabin.
It offers comfortable electrically operated leather seats giving the driver a commanding view of the road. They are fully adjustable and the whole cabin has a light and airy feel, despite the black plastic finish.
Boot space is decent enough and the rear seats fold down to give extra room. The 483-litre luggage compartment is good and opens up with the seats flat to an impressive 1,336 litres.
Even entry-level models, which kick in at a hugely tempting £14,995 get electric windows, air conditioning, automatic headlights and cruise control.
This model with auto gearbox is a shade under £21,000, but the level of standard equipment puts most rivals in the shade with leather finish to the multi-function steering wheel, touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav, DAB radio/CD/aux and phone connectivity, heated door mirrors parking camera with radar and auto air con.
The control layout is simple and functional with clear, legible dials, sturdy feeling switchgear and the touch screen set into the dash.
The engine delivers reasonable economy and acceleration and is quiet and refined on the motorway or around town, with little evidence of wind noise, but the jerky gear change spoiled the driving enjoyment and the six speed manual would be a preferred option.
Handling is decent for such a car, with firm suspension which gives decent grip on corners, still providing a comfortable ride.
MG GS Exclusive DCT
Mechanical: 164bhp 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 46.3
Insurance Group: 16
C02 emissions: 141g/km
Bik rating: 25%
Warranty: 5yrs/80,000 miles
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