By Mike Torpey on 2021-03-27 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
MG HS 1.5 Exclusive
MENTION the name MG to a crowd of car enthusiasts and it won't take long for talk to turn to those iconic models the MGB and Midget.
Long gone but not forgotten, these two-seater sports cars were among the most popular offerings from a British company dating back to 1924.
Fast forward to 2021 and the famous brand, now owned by Chinese giant Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, is making waves once again - this time thanks to the value for money its products provide.
And with its full-blown SUV the MG HS, the company can boast one of the best kept secrets in the business.
With prices starting at £17,995 we are talking a well-made, attractively kitted out and, significantly, full-size SUV costing less than many far smaller, less spacious rivals.
Of course lower cost can often equate to lesser quality, which thankfully is anything but the case here.
Soft-touch materials, solid fit and finish, refined engineering and smart design are all hallmarks of MG's flagship SUV, to the point that we were genuinely thrilled with just how good the HS actually is.
First impressions make a difference and the car certainly stands out with its sporty grille and large MG badge up front and aluminium lower bumper plus twin tailpipes at the rear.
But it's inside where the HS really makes a statement - the designers have prioritised comfort, quality and family-friendly features to give the cabin some serious appeal.
For instance the piano key buttons and turbine design air vents are pleasantly tactile, the steering wheel is covered in perforated leather and the dashboard is covered in soft plastic.
And the rear offers two USBs, twin air vents and a fold-out armrest which opens to reveal stowage space and a pair of cup holders.
As for practicality, there's a well-appointed driving position with adjustable lumbar support while the reclining rear seats provide space for three with sufficient knee room to the back of the front seats.
The luggage area may not be the biggest around but it's adequate and benefits from a covered storage area below the boot floor and buyers also get various cubbies, mobile phone charging points and a 12V socket.
Meanwhile any indecision over what engine to choose is removed from the equation with the provision of just a single 1.5-litre turbo petrol unit producing 162PS of punch.
It's a strong, refined powerplant that suits the HS well, the only downside being its fuel consumption of an official 37.2 miles per gallon, though our own return over 250 miles of mixed motoring was closer to 33mpg.
It drives nicely too, with a light but positive feel from the steering, sufficient stability and good visibility all round, aided with a reversing camera on higher spec models.
Three trim grades are up for grabs comprising Explore, Excite and top level Exclusive, all with a six-speed manual gearbox and a seven-speed DCT transmission available on the top two, though it's important to note that all-wheel drive is not an option.
Every trim grade gets the MG Pilot suite of driver aids - including Active Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Intelligent Headlight Control, Traffic Jam Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection and Door Opening Warning - as standard.
And if that's not enough every car comes highly specified to include the likes of 17-inch alloys, keyess entry with push button start, a 10.1-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and electric folding and heated door mirrors. Opting for our tested Exclusive model adds a whole lot more.
MG HS 1.5 Exclusive
Mechanical: 162PS, 1,490cc, 4-cyl turbo petrol engine driving front wheels six-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 118
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 37.2
Insurance Group: 18
C02 emissions: 148g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles
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