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New MG HS: a Nissan Qashqai rival for Nissan Juke prices

MG HS prices revealed

The new MG HS SUV will launch with a £17,995 price tag when deliveries start in November.

That’s roughly the price you’ll pay for an entry-level Juke, while the top-spec MG HS easily undercuts the most expensive version of Nissan’s small crossover. Exceptional value for money for a car that rivals the Nissan Qashqai from the class above.

Standard spec includes 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry with push button start, a 10.1-inch colour touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and electric folding and heated door mirrors.

Moving up from the Explore trim to the mid-range Excite adds around £2,500 to the price and a rear parking camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers and sat-nav.

The top-spec Exclusive boasts a choice of two leather interiors, front and rear LED sequential indicators, electric and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof.

MG HS on the road

A six-speed manual gearbox is fitted as standard, with a seven-speed DCT transmission available on Excite and Exclusive models. DCT models also feature a choice of driving modes and an electronic opening tailgate.

All models get an extensive list of safety equipment, including active emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.

There’s no diesel option, so you’re limited to a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 162hp. Monthly PCP deals are to be announced.

MG HS interior

Daniel Gregorious, head of sales & marketing at MG Motor UK said, “We’re absolutely delighted to bring all new MG HS to the UK. This car brings a whole new level of quality and refinement to the segment, wrapped-up in a sporty and affordable package

“All new MG HS models will appeal to families looking for a high-quality alternative to run-of-the-mill SUVs. This car delivers a combination of quality and value that only MG can achieve, and we’re delighted to add it to our growing range.”

MG HS summary

  • MG HS Explore: £17,995
  • MG HS Excite: £20,495
  • MG HS Exclusive: £22,995
  • Warranty: seven years
  • On sale: now
  • Deliveries: November 2019
2019 MG ZS EV

2019 MG ZS EV review: the people’s electric car

2019 MG ZS EVInterest in electric cars is rising exponentially, but it’s easy to be put off. Price is the first hurdle many don’t clear; few dip below the psychological barrier of £30,000. Range is another, evidenced by the new Mini Electric and Honda e: the manufacturers reckon 125 miles is enough. Motorists seem inclined to disagree.

The first brand to launch a genuinely affordable family-friendly electric car with a decent range could well set a landmark in the roll-out of electric cars in Britain. And MG Motor thinks it is that brand.

2019 MG ZS EV

The new MG ZS has arrived, with an entry-level price for £28,495. Take off the government Plug-in Car Grant and this drops to £24,995. Add in a grant-matching incentive from MG, for the first 1,000 British buyers, and the electric MG plummets to just £21,495. That’s £10,000 less than the Kia e-Niro, the previous affordable EV champ that’s now sold out for well over a year.

Landmark? This small family-sized electric SUV could genuinely be a gamechanger, both for MG and the electric car market.

2019 MG ZS EV

The UK first drive event was held at the brand’s commodious new London HQ on the Marylebone Road in London. We weren’t going far: a 12-mile route deep into traffic and congestion and back. And we were lucky to get this, such is the interest in the new ZS EV from its near-100 UK dealers. They were descending en mass straight after us to also find out if they have a little bit of history on their hands.

Visually, there are no surprises with the electric ZS. There’s a cool new Pimlico Blue clue colour choice, which design director Carl Gotham calls “the colour of the future”. The diamond-cut alloy wheel design looks like electricity windmill blades. And, when you lift the MG in the front grille to reveal the charging socket, the logo pulses with blue light to confirm it’s being recharged.

Battery size is 44.5 kWh (the latest Nissan Leaf launched with 40 kWh and only now offers a 62 kWh option). The motor produces 143 horsepower, for 0-62mph acceleration in a decent 8.5 seconds – a fair bit quicker than the petrol-powered MG ZS. The official range is 163 miles, which extends to 231 miles if you remain strictly city-based. A Nissan Leaf (whose pre-grant prices start from £31,495) does 168 miles and 258 miles on the same test.

2019 MG ZS EV

The MG ZS EV has a bit more presence than a Leaf, because it’s a taller SUV-style vehicle, rather than a hatchback. It looks tough and chunky, with a big grille and nice rear wheel arch haunches. It won’t turn heads, but it’s pleasant. The raised driving position, with a good view across the bonnet, is confident. It feels roomy inside too, with adult-like space in the rear seats and a voluminous boot. (Batteries are located underneath the floor, so it’s no less roomy than a normal ZS small SUV.)

2019 MG ZS EV

Base ZS EVs are called Excite. These still have an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus keyless entry, Jaguar-style rotary gearshifter and an advanced suite of driver-assist gadgetry called MG Pilot. But the test Exclusive is more appealing: for £2,000 more, it adds leather-look seats, panoramic roof, rear parking camera and a stitched dash top. It looked and felt decent quality, with shiny plastics reserved for the door trims. Showroom appeal is high.

And to drive? As spooky and eye-opening as any good electric vehicle for first-time EV drivers. It pulls away silently, with little whirr or whine from the motor, and it rides quietly, with decent cushioning on regular city roads (although there is some audible patter over bumps). Refinement remains fine as urban speeds rise, and even the climate control was not too loud despite the hot summer weather.

2019 MG ZS EV

The sporty leather steering wheel was nice to hold (pity about the lack of reach adjust) and the ZS EV seemed to respond cleanly. Accelerator pedal surge ranges from genteel to punchy, depending on the choice of mode from a toggle on the centre console. Another, labelled ‘KERS’, gives three levels of battery regeneration – it’s not quite a ‘one-pedal’ car though, so won’t slow to a standstill when you lift the accelerator.

The electric drivetrain itself is the most satisfying aspect, though. At slow speed, it’s incredibly smooth and linear, giving a feeling way more sophisticated than a regular petrol car. It seems to glide along, just like a car from the future; only a driveline ‘thunk’ as you go on and off the accelerator slightly spoils the impression.

2019 MG ZS EV

MG is ready for electric. Its dealers are equipped with charge points (and it’s giving away a home charger to the first 1,000 buyers). Staff have been trained to demystify electric motoring for customers. It has worked hard to present the UK’s best-value all-inclusive electric car deal. And, on first evidence, the MG ZS EV is a good enough drive for it to reap the rewards.

The target is matching the Nissan Leaf for sales. MG says, unlike Hyundai and Kia, getting enough cars to meet demand won’t be a problem. What are the odds on this becoming Britain’s best-selling electric car? So perfect is MG’s timing, it’s actually not such a crazy thought.

Prices and specs

  • Power: 143 horsepower
  • 0-62 mph: 8.5 seconds
  • Battery size: 44.5 kWh
  • Range: 163 miles (WLTP)

MG ZS EV price list

  • Excite: £28,495

(£24,995 after Plug-in Car Grant; £21,495 after MG EV incentive)

  • Exclusive: £30,495

(£28,495 after Plug-in Car Grant; £23,495 after MG EV incentive)

MG ZS EV is ‘first truly affordable family electric car’

MG ZS EV revealed

MG has revealed what it calls ‘the first truly affordable family-friendly electric car’: an electric version of the ZS crossover.

Deliveries of the ZS EV start in September 2019. It costs from just £21,495 after the government grant of £3,500, plus MG’s own £3,500 contribution. That last bit won’t last forever, though…

The need-to-know numbers

MG ZS EV revealed

So, what are the important numbers? WLTP-certified range is 163 miles, while ‘frequent rapid-charging capability’ means you should be able to fill the batteries in less than an hour.

With ‘frequent rapid-charging capability’ in mind, it’s also worth noting that the ZS EV gets MG’s seven-year warranty, battery and all.

Power is around 140hp from a front-mounted electric motor, with charge stored in a water-cooled 44.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The ZS EV has three driving modes, with three levels of regenerative braking.

£21,495… for the first 1,000 orders

MG ZS EV revealed

MG is matching the government’s £3,500 grant for the first 1,000 cars, meaning the standard ‘Excite’ ZS EV starts from £28,495, before £7,000 is lopped off by both government and manufacturer contributions – leaving a price tag of £21,495.

The base car is also available for £279 a month on PCP, for now. The Exclusive version is effectively reduced from £30,495 to £23,495. 

If you’re number 1,001 on the pre-order list, however, you’ll be paying £24,995, or £3,500 more than the first 1,000 owners.

Reserve a ZS EV for £500

For the first 1,000 £500 reservations, MG will also throw in a home charging point, with installation costs included.

You can join that first 1,000 now by visiting MG’s EV website.

MG ZS EV revealed

MG is adamant this is a series production car, too. No limitations on production or allocations are expected unlike the Volkswagen e-Golf, for instance.

‘ZS EV is here to revolutionise the way people think about electric cars. With the first truly affordable, family-friendly electric car, MG is bringing zero-emissions motoring within everyone’s reach,’ says the Chinese-owned company.

‘Make no mistake, this car isn’t a brand statement or a vanity project, we’re here to sell electric cars and to sell big!’

A crossover like any other

MG ZS EV revealed

Other than its EV powertrain, the ZS remains a conventional family crossover. Standard equipment levels are generous, with adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto coming as standard.

It also remains practical, with MG claiming it ‘can handle bikes, pushchairs, luggage and bulky loads with no trouble at all’.

You can have your ZS EV in a range of four colours, combined with new range-maximising 17-inch alloy wheels.

Electric MG SUV to debut at London Motor Show

MG ZS EV

Two months after it was first announced, the MG ZS EV will make its UK and European debut at the London Motor Show

It’s the latest in a long line of electric cars to hit the market in 2019, with MG saying it has received 800 expressions of interest for its first full-electric vehicle.

Although MG hasn’t released any performance or efficiency data, the ZS EV is expected to use the same electric powertrain as the MG eZS on sale in China.

This means the Hyundai Kona EV and Kia e-Niro rival could achieve 170 miles on a single charge, sprinting to 31mph in 3.1 seconds. An 80 percent charge will be available in 30 minutes.

It’ll be sold alongside the standard MG ZS, which is offered with a choice of two petrol engines. Prices start from £12,495, but the ZS EV is likely to cost around £25,000 after the Government Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG).

In common with the rest of the MG range, the ZS EV will come with a fully transferable seven-year warranty.

‘The most high-tech MG yet’

MG ZS EV London Motor Show

Daniel Gregorious, head of sales and marketing at MG Motor UK, said: “The arrival of the ZS EV represents the start of MG’s long-term brand and product expansion plan and we are delighted to be able to share it with the British public for the first time.

“The arrival of the ZS EV adds a new dimension to the car market by offering high-tech zero-emissions transport to a broader cross-section of buyers.

“The initial interest in ZS EV is extremely encouraging and confirms that car buyers are looking for a practical, versatile and stylish electric vehicle. It will also be the most high-tech MG yet. Following this, we will move to the next phase of our launch plan, by opening our order book at the show.

“Interested buyers can place a holding deposit on the stand to reserve their place on the waiting list.”

Pricing and full specification will be confirmed prior to the on-sale date of 1 September 2019.

 

MG ZS

MG ZS set to double firm’s UK sales

MG ZS

MG’s new Juke-rivalling crossover, the MG ZS, will double the firm’s annual sales, says its sales and marketing chief Matthew Cheyne.

Speaking at the media launch for the new compact SUV, Cheyne explained that the new ZS would mark a ‘new era’ for the brand.

“ZS will, quite simply, double our sales, and push MG towards 10,000 sales in the UK next year,” said Cheyne.

According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), MG has registered 3,321 cars so far in 2017. Cheyne said the manufacturer is on track to hit a target of 4,500 cars this year – a record for the company since it was reborn under Chinese ownership in 2006.

MG Motor broke the 1,000 cars registration barrier for the first time in 2014, with 2,326 cars sold in the UK. In 2015, 3,152 new MGs were registered, rising to 4,192 in 2016.

Cheyne added: “We retail nearly every single one of our cars. We don’t have dealers with forecourts full of pre-registrations, which is really important for us. Our cars are bought by people’s own money.

“The ZS is definitely the best car, the greatest car we’ve launched. We’ve listened to all of our customer feedback from previous models.

“[It] builds on all the positives and improves on all our other models, to keep the MG brand growing and moving forward. Our early years were more about re-establishing the company rather than actual sales growth. But for the last four years, since 2014, we’ve been growing organically.”

By the end of 2017, MG will have 90 dealers across the UK, giving it more than 65 percent coverage of the UK.

The firm controversially announced in 2016 that it would stop assembling cars at the old MG Rover plant in Longbridge, Birmingham. Previously, it would manufacture cars in China before shipping them across to the UK for final assembly.

The MG ZS was originally supposed to be called the XS, until it emerged that Land Rover owned the ‘XS’ trademark. A last-minute change of plan led to it taking the name of a 90s Rover 45-based hot hatch.

>NEXT: 2017 MG ZS first drive review: cheap but not cheerful

MG ZS

2017 MG ZS first drive review: cheap but not cheerful

MG ZS

MG hasn’t got off to a blazing start since it was acquired by Chinese owners, SAIC, in 2006. Its first car, the MG 6, was a disaster from the start, competing in a crowded (and shrinking) segment with a poor interior, disappointing engines and bland styling.

The MG 3 supermini was an improvement, offering enjoyable handling and lots of customisation options for a low price, yet failing on quality control and its outdated engine. Last year’s Qashqai-rivalling GS, while falling short of the Nissan in a number of areas, offered good value for money and signalled the end for the MG 6.

The firm says its latest car, the Juke-rivalling ZS crossover, signals a ‘new era’ for MG, pushing it towards 10,000 sales next year and cementing its reputation as a no-nonsense, good-value car manufacturer. With it, it’s launched a seven-year, 80,000 mile warranty, along with tempting zero percent finance deals. Combined with a £12,495 start price – £2,385 less than the cheapest Nissan Juke – is it time to take MG seriously?

First impressions

MG ZS

First impressions? This doesn’t really look like an MG. Scratch that, this really doesn’t look like an MG. It looks like a cheap, Chinese knock-off of a Seat Arona or Mazda CX-3. Maybe that’s a little harsh, as it’s not exactly unpleasant (and unlikely to polarise opinion in the same way the Juke does). But it is bland.

It’s also big. At 4,314mm long, it’s closer to the Qashqai in size than the Juke. Fortunately, few buyers are expected to opt for the entry-level Explore with its teeny-tiny 15-inch steel wheels, as the car’s design is much more suited to the 17-inch alloys of the mid-range Excite and top-spec Exclusive.

Buyers get a choice of six colours – including bright Spiced Orange and Laser Blue metallic (both £545 options) and tri-coat Dynamic Red (£695), a welcome change in a world of monotone black, silver and grey cars.

First seat

MG ZS

If you’re sitting on the fence after a glance at the ZS’s bland exterior, the interior might buoy spirits to an extent. MG admits that its earlier cars used too many brittle plastics, and says it’s introduced soft-touch materials in a bid to make the ZS feel more premium (without the premium price tag). While we’d stop short of using the word ‘premium’ ourselves, it’s not offensive inside, especially for the money.

It’s well-specced, too, with an eight-inch infotainment screen standard on Excite and Exclusive models, while even the entry-level Explore gets Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. The infotainment system, which includes DAB radio, Apple CarPlay (interestingly, Android Auto is absent) and, on the Exclusive, satellite navigation, is intuitive to use and quick to respond.

The relatively chunky dimensions of the ZS translate to a good amount of interior space, too. WIth its boot capable of carrying 448 litres, it’s much bigger than a Juke’s – and even bigger than a Qashqai’s. Head and legroom for rear passengers is plentiful, too – we’d much rather travel in the back of a ZS for any considerable distance than the more expensive Juke.

Up front, it’s easy to get comfortable, despite the absence of reach adjustment for the steering wheel. Our drive of the ZS was fairly brief, however, meaning we couldn’t say for sure how comfortable the seats will be for longer journeys.

First drive

MG ZS

There are two powertrain options with the ZS: the old 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol as used in the MG 3 and GS, and a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol co-developed with General Motors. Which one you choose might depend on what kind of gearbox you want: the 1.5-litre is only available with a five-speed manual, while the 1.0-litre comes with a six-speed dual-clutch auto.

In truth, the 1.5-litre felt ancient when we first tried it in the MG 3 supermini, and it hasn’t got any better with age. It’s noisy and asthmatic, while not being particularly efficient either. In the ZS, it returns a combined 49.6mpg and emits 129g/km CO2 – figures we’re sure will flex considerably if you try to eke any degree of performance from this old-fashioned powertrain. As rivals bring out ever more impressive downsized turbocharged units, driving the 1.5-litre ZS really feels like going back in time.

It’s a good job there’s the option of the 1.0-litre triple then, isn’t it? With 111hp it’s adequate around town, but runs out of breath on open roads. It’s not helped by the auto ’box, either, which is clumsy and spends too long jumping between gears. We suspect the 1.0-litre combined with a manual gearbox could be a sweet spot in the ZS range, but that’s not an option.

While both engines are fairly vocal, there’s also quite a lot of wind and road noise at motorway speeds. MG says the suspension has been tuned for UK roads but, despite being on the floaty side, it doesn’t take much to unsettle it. Body roll is evident, while drivers can choose between three selectable steering modes. It’s best left in ‘normal’: in which case, it’s perfectly adequate if not brimming with feedback. Switch to ‘urban’ and things become artificially light, while in ‘dynamic’ things are – you guessed it – artificially heavy.

First verdict

MG ZS

Photocopier styling aside, our first impressions of the new MG ZS were fairly positive. The interior is fine for the money, if no more, and it’s bigger – and therefore roomier – than rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.

It’s a shame, then, that things start to fall apart when you drive the ZS. Neither powertrain options are particularly convincing, while it fails to be enjoyable or particularly pleasant to cruise around in.

Experience of other MG models would also make us concerned about the lastability of the ZS. It doesn’t feel particularly well put-together (our test cars already had a few creaks and squeaks), and we wouldn’t be surprised to see issues a few years down the line. You get what you pay for, after all – but MG is offering that seven-year warranty, which should put some of those fears to rest.

The MG ZS is certainly cheap, and we can see why it’d appeal if you’re comparing list prices like-for-like. But, going by the existing performance of other MG models, the ZS is likely to struggle to retain its value a few years down the line. That means you’ll lose more cash if buying outright compared to spending more on a pricier rival from a mainstream manufacturer, while finance payments will be higher to reflect this.

Star rating verdict: ★★★☆☆

Five rivals

  • Mazda CX-3
  • Nissan Juke
  • Ford Ecosport
  • Renault Captur
  • Ssangyong Tivoli

Prices

MG ZS Explore manual: £12,495

MG ZS Excite manual: £13,995

MG ZS Exclusive manual: £15,495

MG ZS Excite auto: £15,995

MG ZS Exclusive auto: £17,495

>NEXT: MG ZS set to double firm’s UK sales

MG is axing car production in the UK

MG is axing car production in the UK

MG is axing car production in the UK

MG Motor’s Chinese owner SAIC has announced it is ending car production at the firm’s Longbridge plant in the West Midlands.

The manufacturer resumed production at the ex-MG Rover factory in 2011, assembling the MG6 and later MG3.

Although most of the production work was already carried out in China, the cars were assembled at Longbridge and sold with the legendary MG badge.

But now, MG’s owners says the historic plant would “no longer be required”, with the cars produced entirely in China.

The firm says it only expects to make around 25 redundancies, while jobs in sales, marketing and after-sales will remain unaffected.

MG Motor UK’s head of sales and marketing, Matthew Cheyne, told the Birmingham Mail: “With efficiency and flexibility both key to long-term market success, off-shoring vehicle production is a necessary business decision.

“Relocating to state-of-the-art overseas production facilities will allow faster access to product and help to meet ever-increasing customer demand, all while maintaining the highest levels of production quality.

“In addition, improving production scale efficiencies will support ongoing sales growth in the UK market – a key priority.”

The MG brand has struggled in the UK since production restarted under Chinese ownership in 2011.

The company has registered just 2,300 vehicles so far this year – an increase of 350 compared to the same time in 2015, but a long way behind other mainstream manufacturers.

It’s hoping the launch of its new MG GS SUV will help boost sales, while the poor-selling MG6 was recently dropped from the range.

MG enthusiast Malcolm Watson posted on Facebook: “I honestly didn’t believe that SAIC had any interest in keeping MG in the UK or keeping Longbridge going. But I did hope.

“In the end they got what they wanted. Modern engineering, modern designs, and for a pittance. A sad day indeed.”

More than 400 designers,  engineers and other staff at the Longbridge SAIC Motor Technical Centre (SMTC) are not affected, the firm says.

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2016 MG GS review: can an MG be an SUV?

2016 MG GS review: can an MG be an SUV?

2016 MG GS review: can an MG be an SUV?

‘Can an MG be an SUV?’. It’s almost like Matthew Cheyne, MG’s sales and marketing chief, was reading our lips. But at a time when upmarket Brit brands such as Bentley and Jaguar are selling SUVs, and most mainstream manufacturers have had a crossover in their line-up for years, the question is more like ‘why has it taken MG this long?’.

Since the MG6 was launched as the brand’s first new car under Chinese ownership in 2011, the firm’s had a slow start. Last year it sold slightly more than 3,000 cars. In 2016, it wants to sell 5,000 cars. That’s almost a healthy number – at least, it is compared to the 782 it sold in 2012. By 2017, it wants to be at 7,500. The future? Who knows – it could be looking at the dizzying heights of tens of thousands (for context: Skoda registered roughly 75,000 cars in the UK last year, Nissan 154,000 and Ford 335,000).

The firm is being realistic about its sales expectations. But how is it going to grow? Much to the anger of enthusiasts, it needs its own Nissan Qashqai. And that’s where the MG GS comes in.

Haters gonna hate

Haters gonna hate

As Cheyne pointed out in the press conference ahead of our drive, MG founder Cecil Kimber described his cars as affordable and fun to drive – but, crucially, didn’t mention anything about them being two-seat sports cars. So if you’re reading this review ready to light up the comments about how the GS ‘isn’t a real MG’, that’s how the firm’s justifying it in terms of its heritage.

It’s not enthusiasts that the brand needs to chase, however – not if it’s going to sell in serious numbers. It’s Qashqai man on a budget. Qashman, if you will (OK, let’s not).

If Qashqai man feels strongly about buying a British car, he should head to his Nissan dealer. Ironically, the Qashqai is built at the firm’s plant in Sunderland, while the MG GS is produced entirely in China. Previously, MG has tried to sell itself as British by bringing in the 3 and 6 as knocked-down kits and putting them together at the old MG Rover factory at Longbridge, Birmingham.

That pretence has been dropped with the MG GS. Although designed in the UK in cooperation with China, and developed for European roads, the MG is made entirely in China. Haters gonna hate. But is that such a bad thing?

You can’t get a diesel

You can’t get a diesel

Straight-talking Cheyne is open about the GS’s approach: it needs to be cheap. There’s no talk of premium aspirations here (refreshingly) – it needs to offer more for less. One way they’ve tried to achieve that is by keeping the options to the bare minimum.

There are three trim levels: entry-level Explore, mid-range Excite and range-topping Exclusive. All come with the same engine, a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit, and all are front-wheel drive. By limiting powertrain choices, MG says it’s making savings that it can pass onto the buyer. Why spend money developing a suitable diesel engine when diesel’s popularity is in decline – and why offer four-wheel drive when very few crossover buyers need that?

It’s a strategy we’ve seen before with the MG6 and MG3. Interestingly, at launch you could only buy a 6 with a petrol engine. Some blamed poor sales on the lack of a diesel offering – so they eventually introduced one, and quietly dropped the petrol. They’ve reportedly this week given up on the MG6 entirely.

There are two gearboxes available: a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. On its launch in Oxfordshire, we only drove the GS with the automatic gearbox. It’s not the premium experience we’d expect from a top-spec SUV, even if it is only £20,995. The gearbox is jerky and easily flustered.

The engine, however, is a bit more likeable. Once the gearbox untangles itself, it’s happy to make progress, although an uncomfortable amount of engine noise makes its way into the cabin. There’s also a degree of vibration passing through the throttle pedal, while the steering is lighter than we’d like and has a bit of a dead-spot around the straight ahead.

Ride is OK – but no more, especially on the 18-inch alloys of our test car. On broken rural roads, it gets flustered easily, struggling to smooth out imperfections in the road surface. Things are better on the motorway. At 70mph, the GS cruises well and wind noise is adequately dampened.

It’s a bit cheap inside

It’s a bit cheap inside

We drove the top spec Exclusive, meaning our test car had electrically-adjustable electric seats, DAB radio and satellite navigation. But it still didn’t feel remotely premium.

There are lots of hard plastics inside, as well as an overwhelming number of buttons. The dash looks very old fashioned – it wouldn’t have been out of place 10 years ago. The infotainment system feels like a cheap, own-brand iPad – but it functions fairly well, and is simple and intuitive to use. It’s a step in the right direction for MG.

It’s easy to get comfortable, with plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. People buy crossovers for their commanding driving position – and they’re not going to be disappointed here. Visibility is very good, meaning family buyers will feel safe driving the GS – and kids shouldn’t get car sick.

Space is good, too. The boot is bigger than a Qashqai, while rear legroom is brilliant – no doubt helped by the GS’s lengthy wheelbase. Those with longer legs might find the seating position in the rear slightly awkward, however.

MG GS: Early verdict

MG GS: Early verdict

MG is a little late to the party with the GS. There are plenty of crossovers to choose from, and most are better. The engine is a bit unrefined and the interior is adequate at best.

It makes the most sense, we feel, in entry-level Explore trim. As a practical, family crossover for £15,000, it represents fair value for money – especially when you consider its five-year warranty. It’ll stand out in a car park of Nissan Qashqais, and also offers decent practicality. You might want to keep hold of it for a while, though – residual values will probably make it look less of a bargain if you sell after a few years.

For:

  • Good value for money
  • Rarer than a Nissan Qashqai
  • More convincing than previous MGs

Against:

  • Feels very cheap
  • Automatic gearbox is poor
  • Ride is easily unsettled

2016 MG GS Exclusive auto: specification

Price: £20,995

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol

Gearbox: seven-speed dual clutch auto

Power: 140hp

Torque: 166lb ft

0-62mph: 9.6 seconds

Top speed: 112mph

Fuel economy: 45.5mpg

CO2 emissions: 141g/km

What is it?

MG3 (2015) road test review

What is it?

This is MG’s bargain-basement take on a supermini. It’s the second car launched since the brand was reintroduced in the UK under Chinese ownership. Following in the footsteps of the grown-up MG6, the 3 majors on offering quirky looks and fun customisation options for an affordable price.

What are its rivals?

The MG3 is Fiesta-sized, but with prices starting at £8,399, it’s a value-for-money alternative that some will consider alongside the likes of the Skoda Citigo and Dacia Sandero.

Which engines does it use?

Which engines does it use?

You don’t expect a choice of engines for that kind of money, do you? All MG3s come with the same old-fashioned 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine.

What’s it like to drive?

The engine isn’t great. It’s unrefined, needing to be worked hard to make progress. If you do wind it up, however, it’s uncomfortably noisy and not particularly rewarding. It’s a stark contrast to the modern, turbocharged engines we’re used to in small cars.

There is a pleasant surprise, though. The MG3 handles beautifully. Its hydraulic power steering takes us back to a time when steering feel was a thing, while the chassis loves to be chucked around. This does come at the expense of the ride, though, which is on the firm side.

Fuel economy and running costs

Fuel economy and running costs

With such an old-fashioned naturally-aspirated engine, the MG3 won’t return the same impressive eco figures as rivals. The outgoing EU5 model tested here returns 48.7mpg on the combined cycle, and emits 136g/km CO2. With the addition of stop-start on the new EU6 model, this improves to 51.4mpg and 124g/km.

Following our weekend with the car, the MG3 was showing just below 40.0mpg on its trip computer. Tax for the outgoing model will cost you £130 a year, compared to £110 for the EU6 version. Rivals will be cheaper to run.

Is it practical?

All MG3s come with five doors, and interior room is reasonable for a car of this size. The boot has quite a high lip, which can make loading heavy items tricky, but all models come with 60/40-split rear seats.

It’s not difficult to find hard plastics in the MG3’s interior, but for a budget car, most of these can be forgiven. Touches like the red stitching and splashes of silver brighten up the cabin.

What about safety?

What about safety?

Despite all models coming with six airbags and a myriad stability control systems, the MG3 scored just three stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP last year. Some of this is down to it lacking the technology you’ll find in more expensive rivals – such as a speed limiter or lane-assist function, so it shouldn’t concern you too much.

Which version should I go for?

Even if you splash out on the top-of-the-range 3Style, you won’t spend more than £10,999 on the MG3. For that you get 16-inch alloys, cruise control and parking sensors – none of which succeed in making the MG3 feel premium, but are some nice touches.

Should I buy one?

Should I buy one?

It’s far from perfect, the MG3. It desperately needs a new engine, and we’ve heard of a few quality control issues. Our own test car suffered from a slightly sticky throttle – a characteristic of the car, owners’ forums tell us.

But it does represent good value for money. For a good price, you get an interesting supermini with lots of customisation options and amazing handling. It’s essentially a cut-price MINI. A very cut-price MINI.

Pub fact

Production of the MG3 starts in China, at MG owner SAIC’s factory. It’s shipped across when it’s about 65% ready, and assembly is completed on the old MG Rover production line in Longbridge, Birmingham.

Retro Road Test: British Motor Heritage MGB

Retro Road Test: British Motor Heritage MGB

Retro Road Test: British Motor Heritage MGB

The MGB is arguably the nation’s most popular classic car. It’s a victim of its own success, though – owners love them, but their popularity means some enthusiasts turn up their noses when they see yet another MGB turning up at a classic car show. We’ve put it through our rigorous retro road test to find out whether it’s deserving of the love it gets, or whether it’s overrated.

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This example is owned by British Motor Heritage (BMH). The firm was originally established in 1975 as a subsidiary of British Leyland, in an attempt to support owners of classic cars by providing parts created using original tooling. BMH was acquired by BMW as part of its £800 million Rover Group takeover in 1994, before being sold by the Germans in 2001. Since then it’s operated as a private company.

What are its rivals?

What are its rivals?

In its time, the MGB would have been a rival for the likes of the Fiat X1/9 and Triumph Spitfire. The MGB is a more appealing proposition in our eyes, but these rivals will certainly be a rarer sight on the roads. Buyers today might even consider newer classics such as the Mazda MX-5.

What engine does it use?

What engine does it use?

Apart from the special V8 version, all MGBs used the same 1.8-litre B-Series engine. It produced 95hp at most (power was reduced in some versions) – not a lot by today’s standards. Although it was considered a heavy car at the time, 95hp is plenty for a car weighing less than 1,000kg. This example isn’t entirely standard either, using fuel injection rather than the standard carburettors.

What’s it like to drive?

What’s it like to drive?

This is a subject that’s divided opinion in the Motoring Research office. If you’re used to modern cars, the answer is: not very well. The brakes are, naturally, hard work – requiring a big shove of the middle pedal to lose speed, and you soon get into the habit of using gears to slow down.

For a car that can trace its roots back to 1962, however, it handles very well. The rack-and-pinion steering provides the kind of feedback drivers of modern cars can but dream of. It’s a proper sports car driving experience – you sit low down, and its four-cylinder engine creates a pleasing rasp.

What’s really surprising is how torquey the B-series engine is. Most of the time, you can leave it in fourth-gear, flicking the overdrive on and off using the switch on the gearknob. If you do need to change gears, the gear change is a smidgen on the notchy side, but a short throw means it’s not too much of a chore.

Reliability and running costs

Reliability and running costs

Being such a popular classic car, there’s a huge amount of support for the MGB in both the club scene and specialist companies. While there’s no reason why an MGB should be unreliable if it’s looked after and serviced regularly, parts are readily available and you’re unlikely to encounter an issue that isn’t covered in depth on internet forums.

Although the 1.8-litre engine isn’t the most powerful, it will be thirsty by modern standards. Don’t expect to see it easily returning more than 30mpg on a regular basis.

Could I drive it every day?

Could I drive it every day?

Despite this, you’d have to be very committed to drive an MGB every day. Even this very tidy example could soon become a chore: our man Tim tried it on an M25 commute one November evening and complained about how noisy it was on the motorway – not to mention the lack of radio and heavy steering. On the plus side, it’d be easy to make an MGB easier to live with – whether it’s by fitting power steering, a radio, or comfier seats. The overdrive makes things quieter, too…

How much should I pay?

How much should I pay?

MGB values vary dramatically. The GT model is less desirable than the roadster, and people are happy to pay more for the earlier examples with chrome bumpers. You can pick up a ropey rubber-bumpered GT for a couple of grand, but you probably shouldn’t. £6,000 will buy a tidy roadster, or you can double that in the hunt for a restored example.

What should I look out for?

What should I look out for?

Rust. A few minor bubbles on the wings or sills can be hiding much more serious rot – and that can be expensive to sort out. BMH can provide new panels – they’re brand new, made using the original tooling so should fit perfectly, but they’re not cheap. To give you an idea, a steel bonnet from BMH will cost £427.27 (and that’s not including painting or fitting). An aluminium one is more than £700.

Other than that, it’s pretty much the regular classic car precautions. Has it been looked after? Serviced regularly? Are there any modifications – if so, have they done to a good standard, and are they the sort of modifications you’d want? Track day mods won’t be ideal if you’re looking for a car to pootle around in at weekends.

Should I buy one?

Should I buy one?

It depends what you want in a car. If you get your thrills from driving flat-out on country roads, or are looking for a track day car, there are better, newer options out there. If you want a rare classic that’ll get lots of attention, there are lots of slightly leftfield options available. But if you want a British sports car that’s brilliant at pootling around on a sunny day, with a huge support network, the MGB is ideal.

Pub fact

Pub fact

In 1967 MG launched a 3.0-litre straight-six version of the MGB, known as the MGC. It was intended to replace the Austin Healey but soon developed a poor reputation – the heavy engine and new suspension meant it didn’t handle as well as the MGB, and journalists at the time criticised it. It was axed after just two years.