MG, that iconic British brand, can trace their history back to 1924 and are world famous for making stylish cars that are great to own whilst still offering superb value for money. Modern MGs, which are designed and engineered in Longbridge, Birmingham, have continued in this rich tradition since their relaunch in 2011 and is a story that MotorMartin has been following since the beginning.
MG are now owned by the SAIC Motor Corporation Limited, whose motor car sales hit an incredible 5.902 million units in 2015 and are a global company ranked 60th on the annual Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s most powerful companies and are determined to get MG back to their rightful place at Motoring’s top table.
MG Motor UK have therefore, worked extremely hard to bring to the market three very distinct vehicles that have been designed and tested here in the UK so that they deliver on the same roads that you and I drive upon. Indeed the MG3, MG GS and the all new MG ZS have created a strong base upon which to impress customers both young and old. Whilst, as a company, the overwhelming impression that you’re left with is that MG listen to their customers’ feedback and act upon it. MG Motor UK has seen rapid growth in their market share due to their successful dealership expansion programme but are still a company that are continuing to put in the hard work to create and build a range of good looking, practical, well specified cars that offer superb value for money, whilst still delivering the all important fun factor that is so often missing in the modern motor car, something that the previously tested MG3 does so very well.
What we have here on test is the top of the range MG GS SUV in ‘Exclusive’ specification, the first, MG say, of a new generation of design and engineering excellence emerging from their Birmingham based technical centre. And it’s Longbridge that is benefitting from the different techniques and philosophies being brought about such as MG Motor’s commitment to continuous quality improvement through six sigma methodologies and projects such as the expansion of their electrical component testing facilities in the UK. What cannot be in doubt is MG’s desire and commitment to improve their cars and the value they offer to the consumer. After all, the MG nomenclature is a strong one still for many of us here in the U.K. but you can only trade on a name for so long, if the product isn’t a good one then success won’t necessarily follow.
Fortunately, the MG GS, introduced in Summer 2016 is a striking looking SUV, especially in Sunset Orange, and looks different enough from many of the other SUVs on the market today to make a strong first impression. The front grille is designed in such a way as to compliment the extremely clever Xenon headlamps and to also highlight that iconic MG badge positioned so prominently whilst the hexagonal shape of the badge allows MG to use it a styling feature with creases running out from it and spreading across the bonnet towards the A pillars. With the chrome strip running underneath and front fog lights differentiating the front of this Exclusive edition from the Explore and Excite Editions and the LED daytime running lights hidden away at the bottom of the distinctive silver diamond (?) on each corner, the car cuts a rather modern look amongst traffic, it’s elongated, crossed front bumper giving the GS personality and individuality amongst it’s peers. Move to the side and the chrome lined high waistline and shallow cabin glass are bang up to date as are the muscular running boards, widened and accentuated wheel arches and beautifully designed 18″ alloy wheels. Add to those ingredients the roof bars, LED rear lights, rear Fogs replicating the silver highlights to the car’s front and well hidden Rear parking sensors and camera and you’ve got a thoroughly well thought out and distinctive exterior. I love it’s looks.
Those looks hide the GS’s size well. At 4500mm long, 1855mm wide and 1665mm high, it’s cleverly longer, wider and taller than it’s rival Nissan Qashqai and nearly on a par with the evergreen Ford Kuga and all whilst remaining cheaper to buy than many of the smaller SUVs from the class below, confirming MG’s commitment to value.
Climb inside the MG GS Exclusive and the first thing that strikes you is the space afforded the driver and passengers, the MG is not a small car after all but even so, you’ve plenty of room to get comfortable without feeling hemmed in or claustrophobic. The rear passengers fair extremely well also with plenty of leg room, a flat floor all the way across and the best bit? Reclining rear seats making your passengers feel very spoilt. Fully adjustable electric heated leather seats up front cosset the driver and passenger and allow you to get comfortable whilst the steering wheel is also multi adjustable allowing it to be positioned perfectly. The GS is also a rather practical option for families as with the rear seats up there’s a boot capacity of 483 litres whilst a simple pull of the switch on the shoulder of the outside rear seats allows them to fall flat creating an impressive 1336 litres, more than enough room for when the situation arises.
Once comfortable, it’s easy to take in the technology that MG have bequeathed their largest SUV, continuing their reputation for offering extremely well specified cars that offer fantastic value for money. How does this lot sound? 18 ̋ alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights (DRL), Front fog lamps, Leather sport seats. Driver’s with lumbar support, Electrically adjusted heated front seats, Leather steering wheel with audio controls (plus paddle shift on DCT gearbox), iGO navigation, DAB radio, MP3 and iPod compatibility and AUX/USB input, BluetoothTM telephone integration and audio streaming, Auto air conditioning, Automatic headlamps, Cruise control, Rear parking sensors and camera, Electrically adjustable heated wing mirrors, Intelligent stop-start engine, Hill hold, Roof bars and Side step.
From the driver’s point of view, the dashboard has a classic set up with well lit and modern looking speedo and rev counter with an information screen in between the two that can be configured to show the vehicles speed, trip information, current mpg, distance to empty and so on. As with nearly all cars these days, it’s this central screen that is also used to warn you regarding any issues that the car may be having, be it engine management, tyre pressure, lights and more, it’s a very useful and informative system that provides peace of mind for the driver. The centrally positioned touchscreen is clear and simple to use with the Exclusive edition GS having the added bonus of including MG’s excellent iGO Navigation system, a SAT NAV that is incredibly easy to use and to be honest, better than the systems placed in far more expensive and well known manufacturers offerings. Impressive indeed.
A clear DAB radio and Bluetooth music streaming take care of entertainment on a long drive whilst the touchscreen can also be used to set up the car using the many options available and control the the climate control. Overall, this is a very comfortable place to spend time in and with the myriad driving aids and options available, long or short journeys are positively encouraged by the GS and are events to savour no matter the length or destination.
The turbo charged, 4 cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet provides a healthy 164 bhp @ 5600 revs and torque of 184 ft/Ib between 1600 – 4300 revs. Figures more than good enough to keep the GS feeling lively and hint at the sporting potential under the bodywork, this is a MG after all. The GS was designed from day one with a petrol engine in mind as MG’s own research had rather handily predicted the current trend for private buyers moving away from diesel alternatives and yet, in normal conditions and with a gentle right foot, it’s perfectly possible to achieve the claimed combined mpg of 46.3 which is certainly impressive. And yet press on through the rev range, allow the turbo to keep spinning and rapid progress is the reward as this is an engine that likes to be revved, a habit helped by the excellent 6 speed manual gearbox with it’s sporting short throw. But turn the dial back from 11 and you’ve got a fine cruiser for A-roads and motorways as 70mph arrives at a shade over 2000 rpm allowing for a quiet and relaxed drive.
MG Motor UK have engineered the GS SUV specifically for our U.K. roads and their rather unique characteristics, spending more than enough time tweaking and adjusting the suspension so that it offers a that mix of ride quality and control that is so difficult to get right in an SUV. Indeed, MG themselves state that: Everything about the MG GS has been developed to make it drive and handle like an MG should. The chassis and sporting damper control have been tuned to deliver agility and confidence for the driver. The MG GS knows how to handle itself. Even faced with the most challenging conditions the driver feels connected to the road. Particular attention has been paid to the steering, ensuring the MG GS is always responsive and engaging. At the end of the day it’s certainly fair to say that they’ve done a great job.
Overall the MG GS SUV offers an engaging drive with it’s responsive and economical engine, excellent handling and ride quality combined with an impressive array of technology and specifications, industry standard build quality and gorgeous metallic paint an inch thick.
And all for just £15,095 – £21,095.
I enjoyed my time with the GS so much that I bought one. And you can’t get a better recommendation than that.
Where will you go?