For me, a car is a passport to adventure. And the MG GS delivers everything I need for that at a very reasonable price.
MG, formerly a sports car manufacturer, was re-established in 2011. Since then, it has repeatedly pulled off the same success – creating cars that copy the essential features of other manufacturers, but are significantly cheaper than alternatives in their class.
Car snobs may notice a few sacrifices around detailing, performance or handling. But the rest of us get great, fun cars.
We tested the five-door MG GS on a cross-country road trip.
MGs designers create cars that look dynamic and sporty. They’ve given the GS a chunky front grill, angular headlights and bold, muscular lines. It all conveys a sense of power.
And they’ve smoothed the curves and rounded the sharp lines. Our model in jet black was a sleek panther ready to pounce forward.
Metal footrails, more common in four-wheel-drive cars, add to this dynamic look – and turned out to be very practical when taking off muddy boots. They complement the bold, 18-inch alloy wheels.
My only criticism is that the boot was a little boxy, but that is common to most modern cars.
Inside cream leather seats evoke a sense of luxury. The rest of the interior is made of more basic materials, but that is only an issue for the really pretentious, in my view.
The front seats are heated and there’s air con. If the windows steam up, a fast demist sorts them out.
There are two essentials for me – bluetooth and a USB socket. If I can’t get Spotify working, I know I’m going to have a rebellious car load of friends. Luckily, all that was included in the model we tested.
But there were two other things I spotted right away. Firstly, the driving position is slightly elevated – that’s much more comfortable and I felt more in control.
Secondly, there is lots of head and leg room. Even with four adult guys in the car, nobody felt in the least bit squashed. The cabin is bigger than average for a car of this type and price, and those extra centimeters make a long journey far more comfortable.
The boot is fairly big too. And if you are carrying a larger load, the back seats fold down almost flat, so there’s plenty of space.
Independent testers report the turbocharged 1.5 litre petrol engine has enough power to accelerate to 60 in just under nine seconds. That’s impressive for a car in this class. And MG itself only reports a more conservative 9.6 seconds.
On a practical level, even when packed with four people and all our luggage, I didn’t notice any drop in performance. I enjoyed the responsive, sporty feel, in line with MG’s sports-car past.
As an SUV, it has some off-road capability, though it’s not a four-wheel-drive. In fact, the car’s detractors say the suspension isn’t perfectly tuned for rougher roads.
And it only comes with a petrol engine – obviously a good choice given how diesels are choking up our cities, but that has disappointed some of the critics.
We hit an hour-long traffic jam on our way back into the city and so can report the stop-start system works perfectly.
The MG GS definitely delivers on price. Starting from £14,995, it’s significantly cheaper that most of the alternatives. Some luxuries, including air con, come as standard.
Our model, the MG GS Exclusive MT, was more high spec. Chances are, you would want some of the optional extras, like cruise control, Bluetooth, DAB radio, an eight inch color touchscreen and rear camera.
MG GS: The verdict
Petrol heads may be disappointed by some elements of the MG GS performance or interior finishing. But most of us normal people won’t notice these fine points and can enjoy a fun car at a great price. Use the money you’ve saved to start your adventures.