This is where the HS really comes into its own. Despite being a similar size to the Mazda CX-5, the cheapest model undercuts the far smaller Volkswagen T-Roc on price by a considerable margin. Even the top-spec Exclusive model is cheaper than entry-level versions of the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008.
All models are well equipped; even base Explore trim gets such niceties as keyless entry and start, automatic headlights, adjustable lumbar support, cruise control and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Mid-spec Excite trim increases the alloy wheel size from 17in to 18in, adds rain-sensing wipers and introduces the option of an automatic gearbox. If you want dual-zone climate control, LED headlights and electric leather seats, you’ll need top-spec Exclusive trim. Overall, Excite trim makes the most sense, but given that it only costs a little more, we wouldn’t blame you for picking Exclusive.
If you’re thinking of running an HS as a company car, bear in mind that the engine’s CO2 emissions are on the high side: 148g/km with a manual gearbox and 157g/km with the automatic. However, it’s worth remembering that the HS’s low list price will offset the fact that its benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bracket is higher than that of rivals such as the 5008. Officially, the HS averages 37.2mpg with the manual ’box and 36.2mpg with the auto; that’s not terrible for the class as a whole but trails the petrol 5008.
Euro NCAP has yet to test the HS for safety, but all models receive a glut of crash mitigation kit. Automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, blindspot monitoring and even a rear cross-traffic alert system are standard on every model in the range, a list previously unheard of at this price point. Opt for the automatic gearbox and you also get adaptive cruise control, complete with a traffic jam assist feature that can steer the car in slow-moving traffic.