MG hasn’t been what you’d call a success story in the UK, having withdrawn the MG 6 saloon from its lineup due to dismal sales figures. Nevertheless, it’s trying once more with the GS crossover, tapping into a market that’s growing year on year. In terms of design, it’s rather a ‘Marmite’ car. The front isn’t too bad, however the rear isn’t the prettiest you’ll find on a car thanks to its awkward proportions and a belt line that gets higher and higher as you reach the back of the car.
Inside, there isn’t much to complain about. There’s a large, central touchscreen housed above a collection of easy-to-use buttons and knobs. It’s a shame that the fan speed is controlled by two separate buttons which can become distracting once you’re on the move.
Entry level Explore models come with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime runnings lights, air conditioning, automatic headlights and cruise control. Excite adds a leather multi function steering wheel, DAB digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity and rear parking sensors. This mid-spec model also comes with a reversing camera, which in our eyes is necessary due to the narrow rear windscreen and chunky C-pillars. This is the model we tested, and we didn’t feel as though we were lacking anything in terms of kit.
Top-of-the-range Exclusive adds luxuries as opposed to necessities, those being leather upholstery, heated front seats with electric adjustment, and satellite navigation. Outside, this model is completed by 18-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights.
Hopefully you don’t mind petrol power – that’s all there is. Just like the MG 3, there’s a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder unit, but this time it’s turbocharged. That means a total of 166 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque from a reasonably low 1,600 rpm. It’s not rapid, 0-62 mph in 9.9 seconds, but neither does it feel slow. In fact, we had no problem keeping up with traffic.
The 6-speed manual transmission gives it claimed figures of 46.3 mpg and 139 g/km of CO2 (£130 road tax). If you prefer automatic transmission, the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox forces it up a band in road tax (£145), with efficiency falling ever so slightly to 45.5 mpg.
But let us not forget what we’re talking about here – the MG GS is a crossover, and needs to perform well in that area too. It’s only available with front-wheel-drive unlike its rivals, the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Mitsubishi ASX which all offer four-wheel-drive options. Neither does it come with a diesel engine, unlike the above cars.
What it does have, though, is a great towing ability, with a maximum braked limit of 1,750 kg. Compare that to the Renault Kadjar TCe 130 and Nissan Qashqai DiG-T 163, which can only tow up to 1,500 kg. The Nissan Qashqai DiG-T 115 and Mitsubishi ASX 1.6 have significantly lower limits of just 1,200 kg. Obviously there are diesel models within its rivals that can tow greater weights, but such a comparison would be unfair for the GS.
It’s not all about towing – some families prefer to pack their boots as tightly as they can, and yet again, the MG GS walks away the winner. It offers a 483-litre boot – 53 more than the Nissan Qashqai.
And that’s the thing with the MG GS – it doesn’t excel or stand out in any of the criteria, but what it does do, is perform consistently well all the way through. Nevertheless, it is a shame that there are no diesels on offer, which is why we can only award it an average 3 stars.