Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The MG HS’s 1.5-litre engine proves strong enough in normal driving, but not much more than that; the 1.2-litre Citroën C5 Aircross is actually more flexible from low engine speeds. That said, while the HS is slow to gather speed from below 2000rpm, it’s actually pretty brisk when you work the engine really hard, chalking up a 9.0sec 0-60mph time on our damp test track.
When driven in a restrained manner, the engine proves hushed whether you’re building speed or cruising, even on the motorway. Pass 3000rpm, though, and it becomes far gruffer, with a coarse edge revealed if you take it past 4000rpm. You’ll also find wind noise is more noticeable than it is in a Mazda CX-5 and far louder than it is in a C5 Aircross. Thankfully, the standard six-speed manual gearbox is pleasant to use, with a precise action that's far more enjoyable than the Peugeot 5008’s, if not as snickety as the CX-5’s.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox suits a slower driving style, proving smooth when pulling away from a standstill and when changing gears – if you’ve got a light right foot. Try to pull away quickly, though, and the HS stumbles forward clumsily as if a clutch pedal has been released too quickly. However, at least it doesn’t hesitate as much as many other modern autos, such as that found in the Skoda Kodiaq. In fact, it even beats the far more expensive Audi Q5 in this regard.
Meanwhile, the HS’s suspension strikes a good balance between ride comfort and handling prowess. Although the ride isn’t as pillow-soft as the C5 Aircross’s, it takes the sting out of potholes and pimples, dealing with undulating road surfaces pretty well with only a small amount of float at times. The HS is certainly more comfortable than the firmly sprung CX-5.
Body lean is well controlled, although the HS does roll a bit more than the CX-5. Driver confidence is built further by steering that builds weight in a manner that feels natural and even gives you a few hints as to what the front tyres are doing. Overall, the HS’s handling isn’t as enjoyable as the sharp CX-5’s, but it handles more adroitly than the roly-poly C5 Aircross. The HS’s brake pedal also proves easy to modulate, whether in start-stop urban traffic or when stopping from higher speeds.
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