At the start of 2023, the MG HS claimed the title of the best-selling new car in Britain. This success saw it edge out rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson, with more than 3,400 UK motorists choosing the MG.
Buyers were drawn to the low price of entry for a brand new SUV, along with the HS’s generous equipment levels and lengthy seven-year warranty.
MG has now launched an updated version of the HS, with a redesigned exterior, more standard equipment and updated trim levels. We’re driving it to discover whether the Chinese-made SUV deserves to be a best-seller again, or if saving money can only take MG so far.
The cost-of-living crisis SUV
The new MG HS instantly impresses by maintaining the same starting price as the outgoing model. It costs just £23,495 in SE guise, offering buyers a family SUV similar in size to a Volkswagen Tiguan for the price of a smaller Volkswagen T-Cross.
Even in entry-level SE trim, the MG HS comes equipped with LED headlights, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and keyless entry. The interior boasts a 10.1-inch touchscreen, a digital instrument panel and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone connectivity. This is useful, given the standard infotainment software can be slow to use.
Moving up to the £25,995 Trophy version, tested here, adds dual-zone climate control, privacy glass and heated sports seats in leather upholstery.
The interior itself feels well made and looks attractive. Room in both the front and rear seats is generous, with plenty of adjustment to accommodate taller drivers. Boot space is less abundant, however. With the rear seats in place, you’ll find 463 litres of luggage capacity, which increases to 1,454 litres with the second row folded.
For comparison, a Volkswagen Tiguan offers 520 litres, while a Nissan Qashqai can swallow 504 litres. That said, both cars are far more expensive to buy.
Sticking to a budget
All versions of the MG HS come with a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 162hp. It needs to be worked hard for maximum performance, and never feels as fast as its 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds suggests.
It also sounds uncouth when being revved, and the extra effort hurts any chance of matching the official fuel consumption numbers. There is a separate (but more expensive) plug-in hybrid model, for those who desire greater economy. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic optional. The latter can be slow to react, especially when trying to pull out of junctions quickly.
When it comes to handling, the steering of the MG HS is quick to react but lacks much feedback, while its suspension cannot always filter out the worst bumps in the road.
Given the low cost of entry, there will inevitably be a limit to what the MG HS can offer. But its lack of refinement and cornering composure may not trouble buyers on a tight budget.
Rapid progress underway
What the HS does demonstrate is how rapidly the MG product range is developing. New electric offerings like the MG4 EV show the speed at which the company has pushed forward.
If you can look past the smallish boot, unrefined engine and laggy infotainment system, there is very little wrong with the MG HS. For the price charged, most of the downsides can be forgiven, particularly when the monthly payments are so low.
For those who want an affordable family SUV, and have little time for badge snobbery, the HS is hard to ignore. Packed with technology, safe in a crash and backed by a long warranty, it makes a lot of sense for those who buy new cars with their head, instead of their heart.