- Three well-priced and generously-equipped trim levels to choose from with no hidden extras
- Sporty design with dynamic styling
- Practical with good storage limits and room for five occupants
- Fiddly touchscreen that’s difficult to operate on the move
- MirrorLink system only works with Android phones - no Apple CarPlay
- Interior is dated
MG is now under the Chinese ownership of SAIC and the GS is the brand’s first venture into SUV territory. Without being the cheapest model on offer, the emphasis is on value for money with the likes of the Dacia Duster and SsangYong Tivoli amongst its competition.
There are three trim levels to choose from called Explore, Excite and Exclusive and prices range from £15,095 to £19,595. The range-topping Exclusive model is also available with a DCT automatic gearbox and that sees the price creep up to £21,095.
When it comes to styling, the MG GS was developed over four years as a joint project between MG’s Chinese and British design studios and the car boasts a sporty yet practical appearance. It features a stripe-shaped grille housing the MG logo, angled and smoked headlights, a chunky front bumper, tinted windows, a sculpted bonnet, LED daytime running lights and a curved, muscular rear end.
The interior is spacious and well laid out with plenty of creature comforts to explore. However, compared to the latest MG models, the GS is looking quite tired and dated these days, but it’s worth noting that the car will be replaced by an all-new MG HS version towards the end of the year.
On The Road
The MG GS is powered by a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, 160PS petrol engine that delivers 250Nm of torque. All models are available with a six-speed manual gearbox, although a seven-speed DCT automatic transmission is optional on the top-of-the-range Exclusive models.
The car can complete the 0-62mph dash in a respectable 9.6 seconds and tops out at 118mph (112mph for the auto version). While these performance figures are not exactly scintillating, the 1.5-litre engine is deceptively punchy and quick, seeing off its nearest competitors with ease.
We tested the range-topping Exclusive version with automatic transmission and it coped well when put through its paces.
Out on the fast, twisting country lanes, the car feels well balanced and the road holding is quite impressive. There is a little body sway if bends are attacked too quickly and the engine gets a bit rev-happy if hard acceleration is required at higher speeds. Steering wheel-mounted paddles can be used if you fancy taking extra control and there is a ‘W’ setting on the gear lever designed for winter driving conditions.
The ride on the MG GS is fairly firm and that in turn means you will feel quite a jolt if you hit small potholes or cracks in the road. The car has sporting damper controls, which MG says offers additional composure and confidence on undulating roads. However, expect quite a bouncy ride if away from the smoothest of surfaces.
The column-mounted electric power steering was specifically developed to deliver a smooth driving experience even when parking and negotiating corners. And in fairness, it works pretty well. The steering does feel a little light at faster speeds but there is just about enough driver feedback and the car is also good fun to potter around busy towns too where it proved both agile and easy to manoeuvre.
The MG GS is at ease on fast-moving dual carriageways and even fairly high gusts of wind failed to knock it off course.
Although the MG GS doesn’t handle as well as the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, it’s worth reminding ourselves that the car is at the lower end of the pricing scale. And when that is taken into consideration, it is certainly great value for the outlay.
The compact SUV scene is overcrowded to say the least so in order to make an impact a car needs to stand out. The MG GS offers plenty of appeal thanks to its inexpensive pricing structure, along with well-equipped trim levels that feature the likes of automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, cruise control, hill-hold, a decent radio and an intelligent stop-start engine as standard.
Move up through the grades and the likes of DAB radio, Bluetooth telephone integration with audio streaming, parking sensors and a reversing camera are added. Our Exclusive model also includes heated front seats, iGo navigation and heated wing mirrors.
Customers can also choose from a range of colours including Spiced Orange, Arctic White, Jet Black, Aspen Silver, Mocha Brown and Sahara Gold.
Move inside and the interior is neatly designed with the Exclusive models available with smart cream or black upholstery.
The MG GS is well insulated against noise intrusion although a fair amount of engine and road surface sound filters into the cabin when you’re driving at 60mph or above.
In The Car
The entry-level MG GS is fairly basic when it comes to interior design and equipment levels. But as soon as you move up to Exclusive you can expect leather upholstery with sporty seats that feature lumbar support. They are power adjustable and can be heated. All but the Explore model gets MirrorLink to connect a smartphone and navigation via iGo is available on the Exclusive models. On the downside, the MirrorLink system only works with Android phones and there is no facility for Apple CarPlay.
All the controls, dials and readouts are well positioned and simple to use, although I did find the touchscreen proved quite fiddly to operate on the move.
The driver benefits from an elevated seating position which results in great all-around visibility - this is vital for a car that will frequently feature on the dreaded school run with children, pushchairs and cars darting out from all angles.
Getting comfy is simple enough with plenty of driver seat and full steering wheel adjustment available.
Space & Practicality
The MG GS needs to tick all the right boxes when it comes to space and practicality and it does just that. Measuring 4.5 metres in length, just over 2.0 metres in width and 1.65 metres in height, the car has just the right amount of space to transport an active family along with all their kit.
There is room in the back for two adults or a trio of kids to travel comfortably and the boot is generously sized with a capacity that ranges from 483 to 1,336 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
In addition, there are plenty of convenient storage compartments to be found throughout the car, such as the glovebox, deep door pockets, a storage box beneath the armrest, front and rear cup holders, a covered tray and pockets in the backs of the front seats.
With easy access to the rear seats, transporting young children in child seats is no problem and the car features ISOFIX fittings for rear facing car seats too.
In addition, the MG GS can tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 1,750 kilograms.
MG has made it very clear it doesn’t want to challenge Dacia for the title of the cheapest car maker. But instead, it wants to create a public opinion that it develops cars that are excellent value for money. And the MG GS is a great example of that thought process.
Admittedly, the entry-level Explore model is very basic when it comes to the fixtures and fittings, but it does provide the buyer with a bargain basement starting price of just £15,095. In reality, anyone looking for a modicum of technology will pay the extra cash for the Excite version which costs £17,595. And for those with a little extra cash to splash, the Exclusive model carries a £19,595 price tag for the manual or £21,095 for the automatic.
According to official NEDC figures, the MG GS can deliver a combined fuel economy of 46.3mpg with carbon emissions of 139g/km. This would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £210 reducing to £145 after the first year according to the new ratings that came into force from April 1st, 2019. The automatic models can achieve a combined 45.5mpg with CO2 of 141g/km, but the VED charges would remain unaltered.
Insurance ratings are Group 16 for Explore and Excite or 17 for Exclusive.
MG has every confidence in the reliability of the GS and proves this by offering a five-year, 80,000-mile warranty as standard across the line-up which is transferable to any new owner. It also comes with 12 months of roadside assistance, plus the option to buy a hassle-free service plan along with the opportunity to purchase a four-year anti-perforation warranty covering against corrosion.
During development, the MG GS underwent rigorous testing across three continents where it was driven more than one million miles to ensure it was tough enough to survive the antics of an active family lifestyle. It was put through its paces in hot, cold and high-altitude conditions so should be able to deal quite ably with one of Mother Nature’s mood swings in the UK.
The car feels robust enough with sturdy seats and practical fixtures. The hard plastic may prove prone to scratching over time, but generally, the interior looks like it will survive the test of time even if it might look a little tired along the way.
The MG GS has not been tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, but the car does feature plenty of kit to protect occupants and pedestrians alike.
All models have anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, an electric parking brake, anti-roll system, cornering brake control, electronic stability programme and electronic brake assist along with a number of airbags.
The Explore is the only car not to get a tyre pressure monitoring system.