By Patrick James on 2020-02-15 - 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 HS T-GDi
THE MG marque was originally famous for it classic sporty and upmarket motors, the now Chinese-owned firm produces value for money cars.
And a bit like the rise of the Korean brands, it has seen a steady, upward curve in sales since its reintroduction to the country.
MG is making significant progress. And just like the Koreans, it has cottoned on to the attraction of extended warranties, seven years in this case. That's peace of mind.
MG had record-breaking year of sales. Overall, total sales for 2019 were 13,075 units, meaning a 45 per cent uplift in registrations compared with the same 12-month period the year before.
Yes, they are cheap, they now have had most of the rough edges knocked off and are offering real quality.
The HS is a prime example. The largest of the SUVs coming in just above the equally stylish ZS. There are three versions; entry level Explore; mid-level Excite and top level Exclusive driven here.
It is a good looking motor and packed with equipment and with an almost ridiculous starting price of just under £18,000. Standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry with push button start, a 10.1-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and electric folding and heated door mirrors, plus a comprehensive list of safety features.
The goodies get better as you move up the range and this range topper adds front and rear LED sequential indicators, dual zone climate control, ambient lighting and panoramic sunroof. The DCT versions also include driving modes including Super Sport and a customisable electronic opening tailgate.
It is a full-fat SUV that has thrown down the gauntlet to more established and much more expensive competitors.
At the front, the iconic MG badge dominates the deep grille, flanked by LED headlight clusters and large air scoop.Sitting on smart, 18-inch alloys, the muscular lines slope to the rear were the twin tailpipes and an aluminium lower bumper give it a sporty finish.
It is also good to drive, has decent handling, although the ride can be unsettled on rougher roads and manages half decent economy from the new single 162bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine. However, carbon dioxide emissions are on the high side making it more expensive to tax and bump up BIK for company car users.
The model I tried featured an automatic twin clutch gearbox, with, unfortunately, jerky, uncertain shifts as it hunts for the gear. It's fine at low revs, or when using the paddles behind the steering wheel, but floor the pedal and it becomes raucous searching for the right gear.
It is quick though, and will hit 60mph in under 10 seconds, reaching a top speed of 118mph. This is combined with decent economy for such a big car, with acombined WLTP figure of 36.2mpg.
The Exclusive DCT version driven here includes a button on the steering column, which engages the car Sport mode for that extra burst of speed and illuminates the interior's red ambient lighting.
Inside has come on leaps and bounds with an array of soft touch finish and faux leather to dash and sports seats, with fewer of the harsher solid plastics.
There is also leather finish to the multi-function steering wheel, while the central touchscreen infotainment system controls with sat nav, DAB radio/CD/aux and phone connectivity. This can be operated as a touch screen or via the piano keys situated on the dash.
In home positiion it is a bit gaudy for my liking, but once you set it to radio or navigation it is easier on the eye and easy to operate.
The large interior has good head and legroom all round and this model has has comfortable electrically operated leather seats giving the driver a commanding view of the road. Rear seat passengers are looked after too with the reclining seats offering bags of space, twin air vents, two USBs and a fold-out arm rest.
The size of the car is matched by the boot space with an impressive 450 litres, while the 60:40 split rear bench seat, offers even more stowage space. The boot floor also conceals a storage compartment beneath.
MG HS T-GDi Exclusive
Mechanical: 164bhp, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 36.2
Insurance Group: 18
C02 emissions: 157g/km
Bik rating: 35%
Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles
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