MG GS: road test

Posted on February 17th, 2017 by James Luckhurst

A cheap, roomy contender in a competitive class, that’s fine for short journeys.

MG GS: road test

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What is it?
The GS is MG’s first SUV. The focus is firmly on value for money and the range starts at under £15,000 (that’s £3,500 below the Nissan Qashqai). Even at entry level, the kit list looks generous.

How safe is it?

Not yet tested by Euro NCAP, the GS offers six airbags, rear-view camera and reversing sensors, hill-hold assist, and electronic stability control. It achieved four stars in Australian crash testing.

Who should buy one?
It’s an affordable and practical option that’s enjoyable to drive on short journeys, and would make an interesting alternative to the Mazda CX-3, Renault Captur or SsangYong Tivoli.

Road test by James Luckhurst 6 February 2017

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
MG GS: road test
We know this is a cheap car, and the first impressions are encouraging. It’s an attractive and modern-looking – if unspectacular – SUV. Streamlined and aerodynamic, it has a high-waisted hipster look on the outside, though this doesn’t aid rear visibility – and we don’t like the enormous tailgate.
The lead-in price seems remarkably low, bearing in mind it’s higher, wider and longer than a Nissan Qashqai. So there’s every reason to feel cheerful as we make ready for the first outing. Then uh-oh… a side panel caves in as we lean lightly on it, and pops straight backout again… not a great advertisement for build quality. And what’s that sweet smell inside? Ah, one of those sickly air fresheners that hang from the rear view mirror. In a brand new car? What unpleasant fumes might it be hiding?
Remember that this is a car that started its life in China and was shipped in flat-pack form to Birmingham, where – Airfix-like – its parts were put together. Unfortunately, as the week slips by, there’s no sign of that vanilla fading, so we’re not sure what its real smell will be. Looking inside, we like the space but we don’t care for all that moulded plastic that puts the GS at the bottom of the class for refinement.
There’s currently a one-size-fits-all 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine – a real shame – and all models are front-wheel drive only, so put aside any thoughts of off-road adventure.
Performance-wise, it will do the job efficiently enough, and on short journeys in town it offers all the advantages of height and view (except behind). Make good use of the six-speed manual gearbox and you’ll find brisk acceleration. Put your foot down too far, though, and you’ll soon hear (and feel) the engine protesting. At motorway speed, wind noise is noticeable. The passenger experience is fine at low speeds, less good on faster bends, thanks to a firm ride and unpredictable suspension.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
MG GS: road test

There’s plenty of space inside, and this is sure to be one of the GS’s selling points. Bear in mind that if space is your main interest, you will be fine with an entry level model, as you only have one body size to choose from, and there’s no option for a seven-seater. The GS is taller than the Nissan Qashqai and the Renault Kadjar, and this plays out in terms of occupant space. Our Exclusive model came with leather seats that were big and comfortable enough, with generous legroom and headroom for front and rear occupants.
As for the boot, well… take a look at the tailgate in its raised position (pictured immediately right). If you’re of average height or below, then you might find a stool helpful to reach it. We can’t fault the boot space itself – all 483 litres of it – which increases to 1,336 litres with the rear seats fully flat. A midway option is available, thanks to the 60:40 split.

SAFETY
MG GS: road test

Although test teams at Euro NCAP have yet to pass judgement on the GS, colleagues in Australia recently awarded a four-star score. They rated whiplash protection as ‘good’ and pedestrian protection as ‘acceptable’. As well as the mandatory ABS and ESC, there are six airbags. A cornering brake control (CBC) works with ABS to combat loss of control during heavy braking on corners.

EQUIPMENT
MG GS: road test

There are three trim levels, all generous. At just £14,995, the Explore offers cruise control, automatic headlights and air conditioning. Spend £17,495 and you get the Excite version, with rear parking sensors, DAB radio and Bluetooth. The range-topping Exclusive adds satnav and leather seats for driver and front seat passenger. All models come with a reassuring five-year warranty.

COSTS

MG GS: road test

The warranty alone inspires confidence that the GS will not be an expensive proposition. CO2 emissions of 139g/km mean the first VED bill will be £130. However, there is only the one choice of 1.5-litre turbocharged stop-start petrol engine, with a claimed 46.3mpg and a real-world figure of just 36.4 (according to equaindex.com). You would achieve lower running costs in a SsangYong Tivoli.

WE SAY
A cheap, roomy contender in a competitive class, that’s fine for short journeys.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £19,745 as tested
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds
Economy: 46.3mpg combined
Insurance: Group 16
Tax: Band E (£200 first year, then £140 standard rate)

Figures for the GS Exclusive.