Range-topping SUV is spacious and well-kitted out

What is an MG HS? Well it’s the third model to join the current MG line-up in the UK, a medium-sized SUV, and sits at the top as the flagship model – think of it as a rival to the Nissan Qashqai or Kia Sportage. At 4.5 metres long and two metres wide it has a large presence made more substantial by that grille, with its concave, rather trippy mesh design and the biggest MG logo badge ever seen on a car to sit at the centre of it.

Inside the styling closely apes Audi and Mercedes with the vents, centre console and its aluminium-style finishing, the floating centre screen, and the buttons arrangement. If you blindfolded your friends and put them in the car – and taped up the MG logo on the steering wheel centre – they would probably never guess this was an MG. Of course, the tactile test might give the game away a little, but it does feature soft-touch surfaces and no rough edges even out of sight.

Great effort then, particularly when you consider that it starts £21,000 rising to £25,000 and comes with a 7-year warranty. There are three trim levels: Explore, Excite and Exclusive. The model tested was a 6-speed manual, so sits just below the top spec automatic, equipped with a 7-speed Dual Clutch Automatic.

In either case the transmission is mated to a petrol 1.5T GDI which is a petrol turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 160bhp and 250Nm (184lb ft) of torque driving the front wheels only, giving it a 0-60mph acceleration time of 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 118mph. It achieves a combined fuel consumption figure of 37.2mpg and CO2 emissions are 148g/km for the manual, 157g/km for the auto.

Whichever spec you buy it in, it is very well kitted out. As standard you get keyless entry and start, A/C, cruise control, auto-dimming mirror, tyre pressure monitor, LED DRL (daytime running lights), fog lights, 17-inch alloys, hill start assist, hill descent control and a 10-inch centre screen with a four-speaker stereo.

The MG Pilot safety pack includes lane keeping, blind sport detector, rear cross traffic alert (for when you’re reversing out of a parking spot) and high beam assist. Excite models get bigger 18-inch alloys and DAB radio.

Move up to the Exclusive and you’ll also find LED headlights, leather upholstery, heated sports front seats, dual zone climate control, panoramic glass roof, six-speaker stereo and a reversing camera. The auto also has adaptive cruise control, power tailgate and driving modes.

In the back there is said to be 463 litres of cargo space, expandable to 1454 litres if you put the seats down. Interesting there is an underfloor storage compartment but lift that and you’ll find even more room. Talking of roominess, the rear passenger compartment is very spacious even for six-footers. It’s also comfortable, airy and there are two rear A/C vents as well as – crucially for kids – two rear USB plugs.

As already mentioned, the front cabin is a nice place to be, it’s a shame that even a range-topping version has blank buttons near the gear lever, but you do get a little vent switch in the deep centre cubby box which effectively makes it cooled – great for keeping drinks in. The seats both look great and are comfortable and supportive and really the whole interior ambiance is more inviting and pleasing than anyone would be expecting.

Where it might meet expectations a little more faithfully would be in the drive, as long as you’re not expecting a sporty or engaging drive. It performs reasonably well, the engine even makes an interesting noise when wound out, but there really is no point trying to extract too much pace from this car, as that’s not what it’s about.

Despite the fact that the pedals are actually well place for heel-and-toe gearshifts, it’s not actually a great gearshift and needs considered determined application to ensure accurate changes. Rare for this reviewer to recommend this, but go for the 7-speed DCT rather than the manual. The manual shifter doesn’t really suit the car or benefit the drive.

The steering is well-judged, sufficiently accurate and responsive and handling is competent. The ride is good, a little nuggety over rough surfaces and overall the car is straightforward and easy to drive and manage, helped by the decent visibility, sensors and cameras.

None of this is meant to discourage you from getting the MG HS, because if your priority is comfort, practicality, ease of use, high specification and a suitable dose of feel-goodness in the cabin, you definitely need to take a look at the HS. As most will buy on finance and the stretch between the base and top spec model is not as vast as other model ranges, you directly opt for the Exclusive trim with the DCT auto box.

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