14 FEBRUARY 2022


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Article from BTNews 14 FEBRUARY 2022


Not many people know that, as Eric Morecambe used to say, but the name MG, as a motor manufacturer stems from Morris Garages, an Oxford car sales company which in 1924 started to modify vehicles built by Morris Motors, the future Lord Nuffield and the owner of both companies.  The original Mini was built as both Morris (Mini Minor) and Austin (Seven) versions.

Over decades MG produced a whole series of hight profile but inexpensive sporty cars with a succession of owners.  It may not have had such a grand heritage as Jaguar, very much its contemporary, but the name MG became world famous.  It was the brand that Nanjing Automobile Group, a Chinese state-owned motor manufacturer, purchased in 2005 for £53m.  This was an astute move, overnight securing an international and very well-respected name in the motor industry.  

Since that time MG Motor UK Ltd has steadily progressed, its UK base still at Longbridge, Birmingham, the home of the old British Motor Corporation (BMC), with a design centre in London.  

MG currently offers six models in the UK including three plug-in cars – the MG ZS EV, the New MG5 EV and MG HS Plug-in Hybrid, the subject of this road test – all backed up by MG’s comprehensive 7-year warranty and fast-developing dealer network which added 40 new outlets in the last 12 months. MG achieved a record 30,600 sales in 2021, and is Britain’s fastest growing car producer.  In total MG now has 120 dealers spread out all around the UK.

Taking delivery of the Plug-In Hybrid SUV the first thing that is apparent is the sheer quality of the product and the most comprehensive of kits for a list price of £32,595.  This is a car that can achieve 0-60mph in less than 7sec, which is quick, and has a (theoretical) top speed of 120mph with a fuel consumption of around 45mpg.

The car is very well equipped but I must question the whole idea of a short-range hybrid, where solely on electric power it has a range of perhaps 40 miles. Unless you are in the wilds of Wales, or somewhere north of Inverness there are not many places without a petrol station.  It you run out of fuel in the UK you must be plain daft.  And there is a whole glut of similar pseudo electric cars.  MG, and the other manufacturers, say it is a good market, at least for the next few years.  Who are we to argue?

This, the top of range 'Excite' model, comes with 18-inch 'Hurricane' diamond cut alloy wheels, leather-style trim, electrically adjustable heated front seats, auto headlamps and wipers, keyless entry, dual zone climate control, a 10.1-inch colour touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone-mirroring, a 360-degree parking camera and silver roof rails.

Included is a power-operated tailgate, a panoramic sky roof, full-leather upholstery with ambient interior lighting, metal sports pedals, an electrically adjustable passenger seat and LED bi-function headlights with sequential LED turn signals.

Also standard on this model is the 'MG Pilot' package of camera safety equipment, including Active Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Detection and Adaptive Cruise Control. 'MG Pilot' also includes Traffic Jam Assist, which enables the car to automatically follow the car in front at speeds below 35mph, automatically steering, braking and accelerating within the same lane. If the vehicle in front comes to a complete stop, so will MG HS, and if it moves away within a short period of time, MG HS will do the same.

As with the ordinary HS, this Plug-in version uses a turbocharged 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine, with what is claimed to be a 10-speed driving train. In truth it is a 6-speed automatic gearbox working with a 90KW electric motor attached to a 4-speed drive unit and powered by a 16.6kWh battery pack. Together they combine 10 electronically controlled gear ratios that seek to always provide the optimal gear combination.

The Plug-in hybrid powertrain has a maximum output of 258PS and 370Nm of torque – sufficient to get the car to 60mph in 6.9sec on the way to a top speed of 118mph. Because this is a front wheel drive model, one has to be careful with serious off-road shenanigans – the relatively restricted ground clearance doesn't allow for that anyway.

Whilst as an SUV the car sits up higher than contemporary saloons, getting in and out is very straightforward, and all the controls come easy to hand.  With the sporty performance driving is a pleasure, even in the wet and the car is quiet.  One can’t use the word boring as it is not a boring car, let’s just say the Chinese have turned out a vehicle that is not breath-taking nor mundane.  It’s just very good and highly recommended.  And for two people in the back the space is very good. For three it is poor, but excellent for children.  It’s terrific value.

Performance 8
Handling 7
Transmission 9
Noise 8
Economy 7
Ride and Comfort 7
Accommodation 7
Styling 7
Brakes 8
Finish 8

Written by MG (Malcolm Ginsberg)


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