MG GS Exclusive

MGGS, dynamic2
MGGS, front quarter
MGGS, boot
MGGS, aerial
MGGS, interior rear
MGGS, dynamic
MGGS, interior
MGGS, rear

JUST six years after it was resurrected in the UK by Chinese owners SAIC, MG is one of the nation's fastest growing motoring brands.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in January showed that the company sold 4,192 vehicles in 2016 - a whopping 33 per cent increase on the previous year.

And the trend has continued, with record registrations for March contributing to 1,065 cars shifted in the first three months of 2017 - an eight per cent rise year on year.

A key driver of this success is the historic marque's newest model, and first ever SUV, the MG GS.

Unveiled to domestic buyers at The London Motor Show in May 2016, it quickly became the fastest selling motor of the modern MG era, with the first 500 hitting the road in just 176 days.

That's no mean feat in one of the most popular sectors of the market, dominated by the likes of the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai and the recently-arrived Renault Kadjar.

The GS's key weapon in this increasingly competitive arena is price. The MG undercuts all of its mainstream rivals by several thousand pounds.

Operating in the bargain basement usually means some compromises though, and the interior plastics have a distinctly scratchy, low-rent feel while, with only one engine and three trim levels, choice is not overwhelming either.

But if you're a glass half full rather than half empty type of person then you'll note that the engine, a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol unit, offers a solid 166ps of power and proves responsive and punchy through the mid-range - making it ideal for the type of day-to-day, urban driving most of us do.

You'll also see that each of the spec grades - Explore, Excite and Exclusive - are pretty well-equipped.

Coming in at just over £15,000 the entry-level model gets alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic headlamps and air conditioning while stepping up to the Excite version adds digital radio, Bluetooth, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

The range-topping Exclusive I drove gets such niceties as leather upholstery, electrically adjustable, heated sports seats, flashy side steps, roof rails and a straightforward-to-use navigation system.

You can specify a seven-speed automatic transmission with this trim too, rather than the standard six-speed manual, but that will tip the price over £20,000.

The GS is also pretty easy on the eye, with all the standard SUV features - elevated road clearance, bulging curves, sharp creases, rising belt-line and chunky cladding - coming together coherently to create a modern, purposeful stance that stacks up well against more expensive rivals.

There's no 4x4 option despite the rugged looks - but the same is true of many modern SUVs as very few will ever venture too far off road.

Interior space is generous, with particularly good head and legroom in the rear, where the lack of an intrusive transmission tunnel also means three people can get comfortable, while personal storage space is adequate rather than plentiful.

The boot, at 483 litres, is a good size and capacity rises to 1,336 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded flat.

All of which means that, without offering anything particularly innovative, the GS will meet the needs of most families in terms of practicality.

It's also decent to drive for the most part, MG's Birmingham-based technical team having tried to capture something of the brand's sports car heritage.

To call it fun would be going a little too far, but well-weighted, accurate steering, a taut chassis and the snappy action of the manual gearbox offer some driver engagement and keep the raised body in good shape through corners - the pay-off being a firmer ride than some might like, which gets jittery on particularly bad roads.


MG GS Exclusive

Price: £19,595

Mechanical: 166ps, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 9.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 46.3

Insurance Group:17

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating:26%

Warranty: 5yrs/80,000 miles


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