Stylish MG GeeS up reinvented brand’s profile with smart sport utility vehicle
- Credit: MG supplied
MG's debut in the growing sport utility vehicle market is a game-changer for the famous marque with a lot of car for the money, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
MG's entry into the fast-growing family sport utility vehicle market is not so much a new model as a whole new image with the GS a game-changer for the reborn Chinese-owned, famous British brand.
Let's be clear about one thing though. Today's MG bears little relation to the sports cars of old, apart from the badge, but at least the latest models are keeping the brand going.
The GS, designed and engineering at Longbridge in Birmingham, comes as MG drops the MG6 family hatch and saloon, which marked its return to the road, so lines up alongside the MG3 supermini.
And this budget-priced SUV finally shows MG's potential as a credible alternative for customers seeking value, starting at £14,995 and with a five-year warranty.
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It's not bad looking – the metallic signature orange signature paintwork gets it noticed – and parked next to a couple of rival SUVs in a car park it was the MG that won on styling, although it looks better from the front with the back rather slabby.
Under the bonnet
Only one engine is available, a turbo charged version of the MG3's 1.5-litre petrol unit, an interesting choice in a market where diesel is popular. That said, it's the best engine from MG so far.
With peak power of 166PS and a healthy 250 Newton metres of torque from 1,600 to 4,300rpm, the MG GS has a useful spread of performance. It pulls willingly from low engine speeds in high gears but, to get the best from it, needs to be kept on song with the six-speed manual gearbox – range-topping Explore also offers a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Then it revs freely, but gets a bit raucous, so it's better to make use of that flexibility and mid-range punch.
Economy averaged 35mpg, rising to 40mpg on a run.
Space and comfort
When it comes to family transport, the MG GS fits the bill with good legroom in the back and, only available with front wheel drive, there's no high transmission tunnel hump eating into the floor area so can carry three passengers comfortably in the back.
The biggest issue is the exterior side steps on range-topping Exclusive which look smart but when dirty, with the tall ground clearance, it's easy to brush against them when getting out, especially if you have short legs.
The 483-litre boot grows to 1,336 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded – the cushions drop so the backs go completely flat. But it has a high floor, which makes it shallow beneath the roller load cover, but there is some underfloor storage on top of the space-saver spare wheel.
The release handle at the bottom of the tailgate also gets mucky and you get grubby fingers opening it.
How it drives
It's also the best-driving MG so far with the firm suspension making the GS entertainingly agile and nimble through the twists and turns.
That firmness also means the MG GS is sensitive to pockmarked, lumpy surfaces travelling slowly but the ride smoothes out, becoming more supple when going faster on decent roads.
At the wheel
The driving position has a decent range of adjustment and a high driving position gives good forward and side visibility. Unfortunately that small back screen and huge C-pillars, with a next-to-useless glass panel in each, do nothing for rear visibility so big door mirrors, reversing sensors and, on my test car, a rear camera were appreciated.
Big, clear instruments and a high-rise infotainment touch screen are in contrast to a bank of small, fiddly buttons to control much-used functions and, set low in front of the gear lever, you have to look at them carefully to find the one you want which is not ideal when driving. There is also a separate cruise control lever with only the audio controls on the steering wheel.
The cabin features a lot of hard plastics but seemed well built with no squeaks or rattles.
Entry-level Explore, at £14,995, includes with cruise control, automatic headlamps and air-conditioning. Mid-range £17,495 Excite adds DAB radio, Bluetooth and rear parking sensors while range-topping £19,495 Exclusive gets electrically-adjustable leather sports seats, satellite navigation, rear camera and the £1,500 automatic gearbox option.
The MG GS is a big step forward for the brand but faces some tough competition in the budget SUV market. That said, its looks, space, kit and long warranty make it worth checking out.