What is it?
It’s an SUV built by MG, of course.
Now owned by the Chinese company SAIC, MG have jumped into one of the fastest growing motoring segments and have produced a rather fun, yet affordable SUV. For the big boys, like Ford and Nissan, the quantity of GSs that are on the road in the UK is insignificant, but should they be worried? Well I certainly think they should be taking note.
On the road
You only get one engine with the GS, and that’s the 164bhp 1.5ltr turbocharged petrol unit that has some poke to it, though it can be be a tad noisy. A slick 6-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, or you have the option of a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, though that’s only available as an option on the highest trim level. Fuel wise, although official figures suggest I should be getting 46.3mpg, I would say throughout the week I was achieving around 40mpg, which isn’t bad.
With the many potholes around town it can be a bit ‘thumpy’, but I’m quite happy to forgive it as on the open road I found the GS is good fun. Sure you have to rev the engine a bit, but the 6-speed manual ‘box is slick and it’s really happy to be flung around corners. Both the steering and suspension work in harmony to offer up an entertaining ride with good grip when you need it.
On the motorway just press the cruise control button, which is standard, and the GS hurries you along quietly. Towing a caravan? Well the GS will tow a 1750kg braked trailer along quite nicely.
It maybe styled like a 4x4, but it isn’t, which is a shame. However it didn’t stop me from having a bit of a play, as you can see below. Amazingly, there was one point at which I had the GS balancing on its 2 opposing wheels and it still drove forward without a hint of wheel spin. With modern traction control these days, who needs 4 wheel drive…
On some of the muddier tracks that I took it along there was a hint of slipping, but that’s down to both the tyre choice and of course my speed. Of course I’m not suggesting I was speeding down green lanes, but there are times when you need a little momentum.
I was going to say that there are parts of the dash with light plastic that really let the GS down, but I keep having to remind myself it is what it is. Yes the entire dash feels a tad cheap, but how often do you park up at a set of traffic lights and have the urge to caress your binnacle? Exactly.
Although the GS offers a good amount of cabin space, both the front seats are really quite narrow, they’re not uncomfortable, just too narrow for my 6ft 1” and 19 stone frame. The rear seats however provide huge amounts of leg and headroom, good enough for three adults. Not only can they be reclined to improve comfort, but when folded down to achieve the full 1336 litres of rear space, and they fold totally flat.
Odds and sods
There’s a good amount of standard equipment that includes alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control and automatic headlights. Move up to the mid-spec Excite model and it gains a large touchscreen infotainment system that’s responsive, and quite easy to use, plus it comes with useful functions like MirrorLink, which enables smartphone users to safely operate apps when driving.
Move up to the mid-level models and you’ll find a reversing camera and Bluetooth connectivity. Moving further up to the top trim and you find heated and electrically adjustable front leather seats.
So we come to the conclusion. Have MG succeeded?
Well, with a starting price of just £15,095 to the highest trim model at £19,595 the GS in my opinion is a perfectly acceptable car. Yes, it has its faults, like the narrow front seats and a lack of storage space up front, but we liked the simple layout of the dash, the infotainment that's easy to figure out and of course the fun ride and huge amount of internal space.
MG are making all the right moves at the moment, like coming second place in What Car? magazine’s inaugural Servicing Satisfaction Survey and offering a 7-year / 80,000 mile warranty on their new ZS model. Public confidence in the marque is bound to grow, especially if they carry on creating cars as good as the GS.