Enthusiasts of the MG brand could be forgiven for losing hope when the Chinese took over. It was a storied British icon, one of the many that fell to foreign hands, unsure of its future and identity. The early cars that the ‘new’ MG produced made a self-conscious and lacklustre debut, but their latest products have certainly matured. In Singapore they offer a SUV-only range, the HS and the ZS, the former being the larger option.
Cast your eyes upon the HS and you can see elements of good-looking competitor cars in its design. It is not very original, where there is a slight resemblance of bits and bobs from other cars, but it comes together quite pleasantly. Some details delight, like the twin exhaust pipes, expensive looking alloys and a muscular shoulder at the C-pillar.
The doors open and close with the solidity of a German car. Inside, the materials used are impressive. There is more soft-touch surfaces here than even in cars twice its price. The seats are inspired by Porsche single-piece items and are wrapped in soft leather and alcantara. There is a panoramic sunroof that rear passengers will enjoy, along with an almost flat rear floor. It almost feels luxurious in here, which is incredible for its price.
What also feels luxurious is the number of standard features included in the MG HS. Aside from all of the active safety features, there is a powered tailgate, ambient lighting, electrically adjustable seats, customisable driving modes, a large 10.1-inch infotainment system that seamless integrates all functions of the car and has Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as standard.
The MG HS comes to the market with a German-inspired drivetrain, with a downsized 1.5-litre turbocharged engine and a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox that is normally associated with Volkswagen. However, both items are designed completely in house by MG’s parent SAIC and is not sourced from elsewhere. This combination works very well to make the car feel more powerful than it really is by minimising power lost through inefficiency.
The result is a rather lively car that will easily keep up with traffic. In ‘Super Sport’ mode it can almost feel urgent. The engine runs very quietly most of the time and the gearbox shifts very smoothly. The latter can feel a bit lurchy though in an awkward situation like start and stop traffic. Overall, it is astounding that an in-house development can feel so sorted, a testament to the engineering put into the MG HS.
The steering is also nicely weighted, pairing with the expertly damped suspension and terrific noise insulation to give a premium driving experience. The car is never uncomfortable and soaks up bumps on the road easily. It rides softer than most SUVs out there, which works even better to this writer. The car literally whispers down a road as the cabin is so well insulated from the elements. If you covered up the MG badge and did a survey amongst people who drove the car blindfolded, they would think this is a BMW or Mercedes. This is honestly very remarkable given the market segment the car is competing in.
The MG HS is a magnificent effort and the best indicator by far of the high water mark of China made cars being sold in Singapore. Forget everything of what you think about cheaply made, low value Chinese products. This car is birthed in the era of Chinese technology giants like Tencent and Alibaba conquering the world.
Credits: James Wong