It’s not unfair to suggest that MG – the English sports car brand bought by one of China’s oldest car makers in 2005 and still headquartered in the UK – has flown under the radar here in Australia.
A false start in 2013 didn’t help matters, and with just two models and a relative handful of dealers to its name, the brand needs to fight for every inch of ground in one of the most cut-throat car markets on the planet.
However, MG is one of the very few car companies recording a positive lift in sales in 2019 – granted, from a low base – with the brand set to triple its 2018 total of 3000 sales.
Now, the next pillar in MG’s strategy has been revealed… and it ought to catch the attention of older, more established players in the market.
Called the HS, MG’s new mid-sized SUV is pitched into one of Australia’s toughest market segments with a keen price ticket, decent looks and an interior that will make you look twice.
“HS is a big jump for us in terms of safety and quality,” said MG Australia CEO Peter Ciao, speaking at the brand’s new $1 million showroom on the outskirts of the Sydney CBD.
“MG is back, and it just wants to give people one more choice, and that they see it is a very good value choice. I hope that finally people will give MG a chance, and join the 10,000 people who have given it a chance. It is growing and learning.”
The HS will arrive in December in two variants; the entry-level Vibe will retail for $29,990, with a drive-away price of $30,990.
The upper-level Excite, meanwhile, will sell for $32,990 retail and a sharp drive-away price of $33,990. A seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty is included, along with seven years’ roadside assistance.
The base pricing undercuts the entry-level Toyota RAV4 GX by $650, and the Mazda CX-5 Maxx by $890, though both these cars offer larger engines as standard. The similarly powered Holden Equinox LS is a full $2000 cheaper, though the better equipped LS+ jumps to $32,990.
Both HS variants use the same 124kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, along with a comprehensive suite of driver aids.
MG Pilot is the umbrella name for the standard-issue driver assistance system package on both cars. The system works via a grille-mounted radar and a windscreen camera and offers adaptive cruise control, AEB with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning (over 60km/h), intelligent cruise over 60km/h helps with lane assist and ACC.
Rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot detection is also fitted as standard. Automatic headlights are also included, along with speed limit sign-reading tech.
LED daytime running lamps are standard on both, while the Excite scores LED headlights as standard, along with 18-inch rims which replace 17s on the Vibe. It’s interesting to note that the top-spec Excite gets Michelin tyres as standard, which isn’t something usually seen on SUVs at this price point.
Both cars score leatherette upholstery, automatic headlights, keyless entry and pushbutton start, LED interior lights, rear vents and twin chargers and two ISOFIX baby seat mounts.
A traditional pair of dash dials are complemented with a digital centre, while a 10.1-inch touchscreen-based multimedia system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Rain-sensing windscreen wipers are standard only on the top-spec Excite, along with satellite navigation, sports mode for the dual-clutch transmission and an electric tailgate.
Size-wise, the HS- which replaces the GS – is 4574mm long, 1876mm wide and 1685mm high, with a wheelbase of 2720mm.
That makes it 24mm longer than the old GS, and 70mm longer in the wheelbase than the previous car.
Its interior space is impressive, too, with ample headroom and knee room for rear-seat passengers, and 463 litres of boot space with the seats up and 1287 litres with the 60:40 split/fold seats folded down.
The HS hits MG dealers in mid-December.
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