Although they have been making them for a few years now, MG is not a brand you would probably associate with the affordable family SUV; however, in the HS lineup they have exactly that.

We took the mid-spec HS Excite for a week to see how it stacked up.

The Range

What sets the MG HS apart from much of the competition is where the line-up begins. For once you are not left wanting with the entry to the range, the MG HS Vibe, coming in at a RRP of $32,990.

MG have included all their major features including a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission mated to a 124kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine. There’s traction control, Active Yaw Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Hill Hold Control and Vehicle Dynamics Control, a reversing camera featuring dynamic guidelines and audible Parking Distance Sensors, one button ignition, keyless entry and remote unlock, LED Daytime Running Lights and auto headlamps.

Inside you’ll find a leather multifunction steering wheel, ambient customisable RGB LED lighting and front centre armrest with a cooled storage function. As well there’s a 10.1-inch touch screen infotainment system which I was pleased to see included both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with the usual fare of Bluetooth hands-free, and finally MG Pilot, which is MG’s suit of safety and assisted driving technologies. More about that later.

The model we have here is the MG HS Excite which is available from $35,990. You get everything above with the addition of stand-alone GPS navigation, welcome lights, LED Headlights and Dynamic Indicators, as well as rain-sensor wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control with dust filter, 18” alloy wheels, an electric tailgate, and a dedicated Sports Mode and Paddle Shift transmission

If you’re feeling really fancy the MG HS Essence from $39,490 adds in a few more creature comforts like leather sports seats, a full size panoramic stargazer sunroof, a 360-degree camera, rear reading lights, driver’s 6-way electronically adjustable seat, and a passenger’s 4-way electronically adjustable seats.

Still not enough? How about the Anfield Special Edition Red Interior, which you get exclusively in the MG HS Essence Anfield, at $40,490?

Basically, what MG have done here is give you all the car you need to begin with but let you get a bit more fancy should your budget allow. That is the reverse of what we have normally come to expect in the market where you have to add at least five grand to any base model to make it bearable to live with.

You can read more about the HS on MG New Zealand’s website.

First Impressions

In all honesty, when you first catch a glimpse of the MG HS you might be hard pressed to distinguish it from almost any other family SUV on the market. Other than its large MG badges it has an almost generic, yet not unpleasant, look to it. However, when you climb inside you are greeted with the kind of quality interior feel that you expect from much more expensive European offerings. From the quality of the plastics and rubbers to the feel of the leather steering wheel or the colour offset stitching, you can start to see that where MG focused their efforts is toward the occupants rather than the onlookers. Attention to the little details, like how the colour accent on the key fob matches your car’s paint, is where MG shines.

The driver-focused design is accentuated when you press the start button and the car comes to life with its start-up animation and the partial digital gauges followed by the infotainment system that includes both Apple Car Play and Android Auto, ensuring compatibility despite what technology you carry in your pocket.

This also opens the portal to the star of the MG HS and indeed the entire range from MG starting at the entry level trim, that being MG Pilot, the suite of safety and cruise  control features that really sets the MG HS apart from anything else in its category.

The Brains

MG Pilot includes Blind Spot Information System, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking including pedestrian detection. Lane Departure Warning with a lane assist mode that not only helps keep you in your late but also will assist you around bends in the road. Forward Collision Warning, Traffic Jam Assist, which will follow and match the speed of the car in front of you, Intelligent High-Beam Control, and Intelligent Speed Assistance Systems which will prevent the car from traveling above the posted speed limit.

That is some incredible list for a base model spec car. The only downside to all this technology being available is the large sensor box in the top centre of the windscreen. Not an uncommon sight in modern vehicles these days however with the size of the one in the MG HS it has a bit of a bind spot problem from the driver’s perspective.

Not so much because the box itself but the way the mirror hangs from it. I found I had to really push the rear view mirror up as close to it as possible in order to see much of anything in that direction and spent my time ducking down to get a look at any car coming out of a side road to my left. I should note that after a few days this has become second nature, so it is something you can live with and will get used to, but I would like to see the mirror recessed into the sensor box a bit more in future models to alleviate the issue.

The Heart

Under the hood is a modest and efficient 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine which produces up to 124kW and 250Nm of torque. You have 4 modes available to you at the push of a button, those being Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom. The latter, as you would imagine given its title, allows you to find the balance you prefer and lock them into the car’s memory. You can even choose custom colour to the mood lighting to personalise your Drive setting.

In the Excite variant that we have here, the addition of paddle shifters on the steering wheel helps you make the most of the 7-speed DSG and more aggressive performance on the open road, however I found that in my daily commute I rarely moved out of Normal, finding it to have just the right balance for the varied tasks of day to day driving.

The Super Sport button may be somewhat of a gimmick as it only feels marginally different to the regular sport mode but the quick access nature of a dedicated button located on the steering wheel was ideal for passing slower vehicles on the highway, giving you the extra go you needed right in the moment.

In my time with the HS Excite not once did I feel like the size of the engine limited its performance or capability on the road. I feel like MG has truly found a way to get just what you need out of the power unit so that you never really have to think about it.

It’s smooth, effortless, quiet, and capable.

The Competition

There’s an ever growing range of family SUV in the 1.5 to 2.0-litre engine capacity with vastly varying features and benefits.

Brand/ModelEnginePower/Torque
kW/Nm
Fuel, L/100kmSeatsBoot Space,
litres
Price
Highest to Lowest
Citroen C5 Aircross Feel1.6-litre 4-cylinder121/2407.95580$43,990
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross XLS1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo112/2547.35374$41,690
Peugeot 3008 Active1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo121/24075520$41,990
Skoda Kodiaq1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo110/2506.77270$41,990
Mazda CX-30 GSX2.0-litre 4-cylinder114/2006.55430$41,490
Nissan X-Trail2.5-litre4-cylinder petrol126/2268.35565$40,450
Hyundai Tucson2.0-litre 4-cylinder114/1927.95488$39,990
Toyota RAV42.0-litre 4-cylinder127/20365542$39,490
Seat Ateca Style1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo110/2505.45485$38,900
Holden Trax LTZ Turbo1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo103/2006.75356$37,990
Kia Seltos EX2.0-litre 4-cylinder110/1806.85433$37,990
Hyundai Venue Elite1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol90/1517.25355$33,990
MG HS Excite1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo124/2507.35463$32,990
Renault Duster1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol84/1566.95445$29,990

The pros and cons

ProsCons
Quality interior
All modern Technology
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
MG Pilot System
Lots of interior Space
Intuitive and Effortless to drive
Rear view mirror creates a bit of a blind spot

2020 MG HS Excite

Vehicle TypeSmall SUV
Starting Price$32,990 plus on-road costs
Tested Price$35,990 plus on-road costs
Engine1.5 litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine
Power kW/Torque Nm124/250
Transmission7-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission
0 – 100 kph, secondsNot quoted
Spare WheelSpace saver
Kerb Weight, Kg1,520
Length x Width x Height, mm4574 x 1876 x 1658
Cargo Capacity, litres463 seats up / seats folded 1287
Fuel Tank, litres55
Fuel Efficiency
L/100Km
Advertised Spec – Combined –  7.3
Real World test light usage 9.2, highway 6.1
Towing750kg unbraked / 1,750kg braked
CO2 emissions170 g/km
WarrantyFive-year, unlimited kilometre with Roadside Assistance
ANCAP Rating5 stars

Conclusion

From the time I first climbed into the driver seat to the time I dropped it back off I enjoyed my time with the MG HS Excite. It packs a lot of technology into a very affordable price, it’s vast range of systems are intuitive to learn and easily accessible through one of the best in car touch screens I’ve encountered to date.

It’s very pleasant to drive and has all the feel of a car twice its price. Unless you were looking to tow heavy loads, I really can’t see you beating the MG HS on overall value.

If you are in the market for a family wagon SUV and the MG HS is not on your list, then you need to make sure it is.

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Brought up in a world of Mini's, road trips, rallying and tinkering it is unsurprising that among my passions, since I can remember, cars have been something very special to me. The way they look, the way they smell and especially the way the sound.This passion has grown over the years from a spectator's seat at Formula 1 and WRC events to active participation in events such as the Cannonball Run NZ and Stance Off Events. My current love affair is with a slightly tuned Mk4 Golf GTI which brings me nothing but joy on the road.This love for driving and cars has led me start a Podcast dedicated to my love of driving called Drive Life NZ where I hope to share my story while exploring the varied stories of other enthusiasts. Dispelling the myths surrounding car people and celebrating our diversity.

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