What Car? says...
The maker of the MG HS found fame building two-seaters, but with this family SUV and other models, MG is aiming for more mainstream success.
That’s a sensible business strategy, bearing in mind that sales of family-friendly SUVs have gone through the roof, while sports cars are very much a niche product. It’s an added bonus that the HS is one of the cheapest SUVs on the market, and even undercuts many smaller cars on price.
Better still, cheap doesn’t mean rubbish. Instead, the HS helps to cement MG’s new reputation for offering value for money. You can even choose whether to have your HS with a traditional petrol engine or as an efficient plug-in hybrid (PHEV), allowing you to drive on electricity alones and potentially lower running costs.
It all sounds a little too good to be true, doesn’t it? After all, can the MG HS really match the Ford Kuga or the Mazda CX-5 for sportiness, or the practicality of the Citroën C5 Aircross and the Peugeot 5008? Read on to find out...
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The MG HS’s 1.5-litre petrol engine (badged 1.5 T-GDi) is flexible enough in normal driving, but the smaller 1.2-litre petrol in the Citroën C5 Aircross picks up quicker from low revs.
Even so, the HS is fairly brisk when you work the engine really hard, officially sprinting from 0-60mph in 9.6 seconds, regardless of which gearbox you choose.
Speaking of which, the standard six-speed manual gearbox that comes with the 1.5 T-GDi is pleasant to use. It's not as snickety as the manual box in the Mazda CX-5 but it's more precise than the one in the Peugeot 5008.
Meanwhile, the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox suits a slower driving style. If you've got a light right foot, it's smooth when moving off from a standstill or changing gears, but when you try to pull away quickly, the HS lurches forwards clumsily.
If you want something quicker, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version is a different ball game. Its official 0-60mph time is 6.9 seconds – which is two seconds faster than the Ford Kuga PHEV – and it feels lively whether you’re on a motorway or in town. To aid efficiency, it’ll happily run on electric power alone for up to 32 miles, a little short of the Kuga’s 39 miles and the C5 Aircross PHEV’s 41 miles.
The HS Plug-in is quiet in electric mode, and even when the petrol engine starts up, it’s still relatively hushed, only developing a coarse edge if you work it hard and take it past 4000rpm. The same applies to the non-PHEV version. Wind and road noise is acceptable at 70mph, but the C5 Aircross and Kuga are quieter.
Stick to the petrol and you’ll find that the HS’s suspension strikes a good balance between ride comfort and handling prowess. True, the ride isn’t as pillow-soft as in the C5 Aircross's, but it takes the sting out of most potholes and pimples, and doesn’t suffer from as much float as the C5 Aircross on undulating road surfaces.
The HS is certainly more comfortable than some versions of the firmer-sprung CX-5, but that firmer ride does make the CX-5 a more agile SUV. Even so, the HS has less body lean and better-weighted steering than the roly-poly C5 Aircross.
The HS’s brake pedal proves easy to modulate, whether in start-stop traffic or pulling up from higher speeds.
The HS Plug-in is not as good ride-wise. While it's still mostly smooth over gentler bumps and settled at motorway speeds, there's a fair thump when you hit something sharper or more substantial.
The extra weight of the battery affects the handling, with significantly more body lean and less grip. If you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid that’s more engaging and comfortable, try the Kuga PHEV or the Kia Sportage PHEV.
Strengths Decent performance from 1.5 T-GDi engine; non-PHEV petrol version rides well; PHEV is quicker than rivals
Weaknesses Shorter electric range than rivals; PHEV version could ride better; engine is coarse when you push on
The interior layout, fit and finish
A low starting price often implies rough edges and cut corners, but there’s actually an awful lot to like about the MG HS’s interior.
MG has made a real effort to lift its quality, adding tactile perforated leather on the steering wheel, switches that are satisfying to use and huge swathes of soft-touch plastic and faux-leather on the dashboard and doors.
Indeed, when it comes to showroom appeal, the HS looks impressively close to the Peugeot 5008, especially in top Trophy trim. Even when you poke around the interior, the HS feels fairly high quality, although it's not a match for the Citroën C5 Aircross and doesn’t get close to the Mazda CX-5.
We doubt you’ll have any complaints about the driving position in the HS, which lines you up well with the steering wheel and pedals. Better still, every version comes with a six-way adjustable driver’s seat and adjustable lumbar support as standard, making it easy to get comfortable.
You get an electrically adjustable driver's seat unless you go for an SE trim car with a non-PHEV engine.
Visibility is mostly good, with reasonably narrow windscreen pillars, big side windows and a decent-sized rear window. Only the low-mounted rear-view mirror proves problematic for taller drivers, blocking their view slightly.
All trims come with rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera (or a full 360-degree view on PHEV models). Front parking sensors are not available.
Visibility is good at night, thanks to the standard automatic LED headlights with high-beam assist.
Every HS comes with a bright 10.1in infotainment touchscreen, but as part of the 2023 facelift it runs new software to fix a lagging issue. Although it’s still not perfect, the screen responds more quickly to prods and is less frustrating to use.
Most dashboard features are easy to use and you get physical switches to let you quickly adjust the air-con fan speed, turn on demist or turn your music up and down. The thing is, you have to use the touchscreen if you want to switch on the heated seats (standard on all but the entry-level SE petrol) or adjust the heating, which is fiddlier than using buttons or dials.
Strengths Impressive interior materials; great visibility; comfortable driving position
Weaknesses Rival infotainment systems are faster; fiddly air-con controls
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
No matter which MG HS you go for or how tall you are, you’ll have no issues when it comes to head or leg room in the front. What’s more, the interior is wide, preventing you from rubbing shoulders with your front seat passenger.
There’s a small lidded cubby in front of the gearlever, with a couple of USB ports and a 12V socket, but it’s a bit too small for most smartphones. The cupholders are a good size and there’s more storage under the sliding centre armrest, although that does block the cupholders when you move it to its forward position.
In the rear, tall adults will find they have a reasonable amount of space between their knees and the backs of the front seats, but the high floor forces the legs of taller individuals towards their chests. Even so, a 6ft adult won’t feel too hemmed in by the HS’s roof: head room is passable.
There’s more space in the back of the HS than you’ll find in the Citroën C5 Aircross but the Honda CR-V is better still.
Non-PHEV versions of the HS have 463 litres of boot space. For comparison, the Kia Sportage offers 487 litres and the Ford Kuga (with the rear seats slid all the way forwards) and Mazda CX-5 both give you more than 500 litres.
We managed to fit in six carry-on suitcases, which matches a Ford Kuga, but not the CX-5 or Sportage, which took eight. Indeed, even the smaller Skoda Karoq has more room for cargo than the HS. The HS Plug-in has a smaller boot than the regular petrol version with 448 litres of storage space.
You can drop the 60/40 split folding rear seats to increase the boot space. The configuration is less versatile than the 40/20/40 arrangement in the Peugeot 5008 and other rivals.
The HS does at least give you reclining rear seats (although they don't slide back and forth as they do in many of its competitors) and there's a useful covered storage area beneath the boot floor.
Strengths Lots of interior storage; good interior space
Weaknesses Smaller boot than rivals; rivals have more versatile rear seats
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
List price is where the MG HS really comes into its own, with the entry-level SE version costing only a little more than the much smaller VW T-Cross (which we class as a small SUV). Indeed, even the top-spec Trophy petrol model costs slightly less than entry-level versions of the Citroën C5 Aircross and the Peugeot 5008, and quite a bit less than the VW T-Roc.
Likewise, the HS plug-in hybrid model is competitively priced, undercutting the Ford Kuga PHEV with relative ease. That said, most other manufacturers offer bigger discounts than MG – make sure you check the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.
On top of being cheap to purchase, the HS is predicted to depreciate slower than the C5 Aircross and the CX-5. That means it should be worth more after three years than those rivals, and should lower the amount you’ll pay each month on PCP finance.
You get lots of standard equipment with the HS. The entry-level SE trim comes with 18in alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, rain sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control (if you go for the optional automatic gearbox), an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and lots of other kit.
We’d happily suggest sticking with the SE and maximising the HS's value, but top-spec Trophy trim has merit. It doesn’t cost all that much more and adds dual-zone air conditioning, an upgraded six-speaker stereo, a powered tailgate (if you go for the automatic gearbox), driving modes, rear privacy glass and heated sports seats.
Going for the plug-in hybrid version of either trim gives you a little extra equipment, including heated seats and dual-zone air conditioning for the SE, and a 360-degree parking camera regardless of trim.
If you’re thinking of running the HS as a company car bear in mind that the non-PHEV petrol's official CO2 emissions are on the high side, so it's in the top 37% benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bracket. The HS’s low P11D price will go some way to offsetting that, though. The PHEV version is in the 12% tax band, which makes it a much more competitive company car proposition.
Officially, the 1.5 T-GDi petrol averages around 37.9mpg, which isn't terrible but trails the 1.2 Puretech petrol Peugeot 5008. In our tests simulating real-world driving, the 1.5 T-GDi manual managed a respectable 33.7mpg – not too far behind the 2.0-litre CX-5, the Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI or the 1.2-litre C5 Aircross.
The PHEV will officially average 155.8mpg, but that's unrealistic in the real world unless you mainly run on power from the battery, which, by the way, takes three hours to charge (from empty to full) with a 7kW home wall box.
Every HS has automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
Such a long list of standard safety equipment is all but unheard of at this price point, and helped earn the HS a full five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating in 2019. There were some weaknesses with adult chest protection and child head protection in a crash and, overall, the C5 Aircross with safety pack proved safer.
MG didn’t perform particularly well in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey coming 25th out of the 32 included manufacturers. That puts it below Kia, Mazda, Citroen, Ford and Renault but above Vauxhall.
All MGs come with a seven-year manufacturer warranty, which is better than almost anything you’ll get elsewhere, and matches Kia's offering.
Strengths Low list price; lots of standard kit; long warranty
Weaknesses Reliability score
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
No – in fact, it’s just undergone a facelift that has brought new trim levels, updated styling and some extra equipment.
|RRP price range
|£23,995 - £33,595
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|petrol parallel phev, petrol
|MPG range across all versions
|155.8 - 37.9
|Available doors options
|7 years / 80000 miles
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£683 / £1,991
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£1,366 / £3,981