British heritage, Chinese production
What's an MG?
Although an icon of the British motoring industry, the Morris Garage is not a familiar badge in these parts of the globe. Founded in 1924, this Morris-car-dealer-turned-performance-branch-turned-independent-carmaker was best known for their two-door performance coupes.
The company had quite a wild history, it was swallowed up by the ill-fated British Leyland in 1968, handed over to British Aerospace in 1986 after BL's collapse, bought by BMW in 1994, who left it to dry in 2000. After a failed attempt of revival, what's left of the brand was bought by the Chinese Nanjing Automobile Group, which itself merged with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) in 2007.
If you're scratching your head, here's a summary. MG is a British sports car maker currently owned by a Chinese company and now makes cars that are more practical than sporty.
The new MG HS is a definitive testament to the fact that Morris Garage really wants to shade off its sports car manufacturer tag and shift its focus to volume sales. The latest SUV from MG boasts a fantastic interior, drives fairly well, and is packed with tech that sometimes can get overwhelming. We drove it, so you don't have to. Unless, of course, we convince you to get one. Read on to find out what we have to say.
Elegantly generic, if you forgive the oxymoron. The design of the HS is pretty much what comes up in mind when you think of a modern SUV, a big plus if you're not the flaunting type. The front is restrained and conservative, while the body is free of the bizarre lines found in other —generally Korean— brands. Ride height is decent thanks to the 18-inch alloy wheels, making it quite competent for the streets of Dhaka.
The car uses LED on all sides, a rare feature in this price point. The "SAIC'' letters can be found on all the windows and both head and tail lamps, reminding you that this British car is in fact made in China. Which somewhat flies into the face of local MG marketing, which often touted such bold claims as the marque being "As British as Fish and Chips".
For a medium segment SUV, the interior of the MG HS is beyond impressive. The seats are comfortable, wells suited for cruising on a long road trip, the grip on the steering wheel, wrapped in tactile leather, is a pleasure to hold on to, and the dashboard and the doors are fitted with swathes of faux leather and soft-touch plastic. There's an ambient lighting feature that comes as an added bonus. The panoramic opening sky roof is a nice touch as well.
There's a large 10.1-inch touch-screen infotainment system at the centre of the dashboard and the features on it are quite easy to use. However, the air conditioning controls are accessed through the infotainment screen instead of physical switches or buttons, which we thought was an odd quirk and may take some time to get used to.
Speaking of features, the SUV is full of them. Powered and heated seats, 360 camera, digital instrument cluster, electronic handbrake, and many more. For driving, the MG pilot suite includes speed limit assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, high beam, traffic jam, and lane-keep assists are only a few of the features that we've discovered so far. Getting used to all the tech of the car will take a few days. However, we particularly found the blind spot detection and intelligent speed limit assist pretty useful if you're looking for a safe drive in the city.
As for visibility, the lean windscreen pillars, large side windows, and large side-view mirrors do a fairly good job, only to be let down by the exceptionally low mounted rear-view mirror that blocks a good portion of the view – particularly problematic for tall drivers. The seats also don't go low enough, although can be adjusted in six ways and includes lumbar support.
The seats on both front and back have more than enough leg space for a comfortable ride and the rear cargo compartment has a large enough storage space. There's an additional covered storage area beneath the boot floor that holds a spare space saver wheel and basic repair kit.
How it drives
Depends on what drive mode you're on. The HS has four, Eco, Normal, Sport, and Custom. The Normal mode is ideal for urban driving and makes for a smooth and fun driving experience. The car handled speedbumps pretty well and the additional parking sensors come in handy when squeezing in a tight space. The blind spot detector was a fine feature that would really help out urban drivers against rowdy motorcycles, CNGs and rickshaws.
At the sport mode, the SUV picks up quick from low revs. The cornering and brakes were smooth and the suspension system strikes a good balance between comfort and handling. There's a big red button on the steering wheel that you engage it without fiddling with the drive mode selector. We strongly recommend against pressing it after a long day at work.
What we really liked though, was how quiet the car was, even at cruising speeds. One disappointment we had with the HS is its lack of 4WD, which we thought was a big miss out.
The other two features are Eco, which is similar to the Normal mode and the Driver Customisable mode for the true petrolheads.
MG HS is the ideal family car that focuses heavily on luxury, comfort and space but also doesn't shy away from upholding its sports heritage. The only thing to consider should be the visibility issue. Other than that, the MG HS offers a good value for money and is definitely a ride worth considering.
Engine: 1.5T- Turbo Charged GDI 4-Cylinder (162PS, 184 lb-ft of torque)
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch, FWD
Safety: MG Pilot suite, ABS with EBS, front, side and curtain airbags, 360 camera, blind spot monitor
Features and options: Ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof, daytime running lights, 6 speaker audio system, powered seats, multifunction leather steering wheel
Price: 39.50 lac
Photo: Ahbaar Mohammad
For details, contact Rancon British Motors Limited