If ever there was a name to evoke images of neat little British post-war sports-cars, then surely it would be MG. Their famous octagonal badge has graced the radiators of some of the most instantly recognisable roadsters ever built; perfect Sunday morning soft-tops such the T-type, the Midget, the MGA, probably most famously the MGB and MGBGT, the rarer MGC,  and the relatively more recent MGR V8 and MGF.

     MG is also a name that almost single-handedly chronicles the highs and lows of what was the British car industry; humble beginnings, worldwide sales successes, multiple changes of ownership, industrial turmoil, questionable at best build quality, asset-stripping, badge engineering, bankruptcy… And let’s not mention those horrid rubber bumpers. 

    That of course is all in the past and now MG, despite still being headquartered in Longbridge, Birmingham is actually Chinese owned. When MG Rover finally breathed its last breath in 2005, the MG name and Longbridge were bought Nanjing. Ironically perhaps, in 2007 Nanjing was then taken over by the state-owned SAIC. Modern MGs are thus developed in the UK but built in China.

     And that’s technically where the MG of old and the MG of today start and end. If you want a modern MG it’ll either be a hatchback or an SUV. What it definitely won’t be is a sports car, or indeed, a soft-top either.

     What we have here is MG’s latest offering: The HS. It offers say MG “affordable luxury” and is a rival, both size-wise and price-wise, for the likes of SEAT’s Ateca, Nissan’s ubiquitous and all-conquering Qashqai, Kia’s Sportage – MG offer a similar 7 year warranty – Mazda’s CX-5, VW’s Tiguan, the Honda CR-X, et-al. It is to all intents and purposes a five-seater, family-oriented, front-wheel drive SUV. And it looks like one too. Were it not for those octagonal badges – the biggest in MG history – and its Stellar Field grille, it could easily pass for many of those aforementioned.

     Underneath that somewhat generically styled bodywork lies all-new model platform, and a widely re-engineered version of MG’s only engine option, their 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit. In the range-topping Exclusive version, as tested, it’s coupled to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. A 6-speed manual is also available, a plug-in hybrid is a possibility being considered. Four-wheel drive on the other hand, isn’t.

     What you do get though is a very generous (in higher specs at least) list of standard kit; Bluetooth, sat-nav, aircon, DAB, auto lights and wipers, cruise control, large integrated touch screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto… the list goes on. All versions of the HS come with MG Pilot – MG’s name for a host of electronic safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection and more. Plus a host of audible beeps and bongs that seem to continually go with them. There’s also some very boil-or-nothing heated seats.

    As for the driving experience, well, that’s not quite so hot. The MG badge may well have graced a few fine handling cars sportsters since it first appeared in 1924, but a firm and fidgety ride in an SUV still seems out of place. Pair that with oddly-weighted and elastic feeling steering, a fair amount body roll on initial turn-in, and an engine that sounds coarse higher up in its rev range, and HS soon becomes something you drive because you have to rather than something you drive because you want to. The transmission on “our car” was a tad grabby too, especially when manoeuvering or pulling out at junctions – much to the detriment of the front tyre’s treads. And possibly fuel economy too, we never bettered 35 mpg.

     That said, the HS is practical. It’ll seat five, the boot’s not a bad size, and you do get a lot of kit for your money. But… What about those all-important residuals? And despite MG being the UK’s fastest-growing car manufacturer, ask yourself: Where is your nearest dealer? MG, perhaps, is still a bit of an unknown.

      As statement of intent you have to admire the MG HS, it’s far better than you might expect. Nevertheless, it still not quite as good as it could, or should, have been.


MG HS Exclusive DCT 7-Speed


Engine: 1,490cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-charged petrol

Transmission: 7 Speed DCT Auto, Front wheel drive.

Power:  160bhp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 184 lbft @ 1,500 – 4,400 rpm

0-60 MPH: 9.9 Sec

Max Speed: 118mph

CO2: 157g/km

MPG: 36.2 (WLTP combined)

Price: range from £17,995 (as driven £24,495)


Many thanks to Carly and Tim at MG’s UK press office for the loan of the HS



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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