Once upon a time MG were famous for their open-top sports cars. But after several changes of ownership the marque is now based in China and trying to conquer the SUV market instead. The GS is their first attempt at this, and one that may not have been 100% successful.
The famous octagonal MG logo is very much in evidence on the GS and there are plenty more modern styling touches too. Large headlights are on either side of a strip so narrow, it hardly counts as a grille. Beneath this, the black bumper with silver inserts and daytime running lights gives the car a very distinctive look.
Silver roof rails feature on all versions and there are also running boards above the door sills that seem to stick out a little too far and might even present a trip hazard.
It all adds up to a car that has some nice touches, and some not so good ones too – something that’s repeated in most areas of the GS.
The famous octagonal MG logo is very much in evidence on the GS
What’s it like to drive?
This is particularly true about the way the car drives. The steering feels precise and reactive, but the suspension seems variable in the way it copes with the lumps and bumps of daily driving. This seems especially pronounced when cornering, where judders can run through the car. Some reviews have also reported that the car’s automatic gearbox seems rather clunky and doesn’t change gear at the right moment – although the manual version is fine.
With only 1 engine to choose from, a 1.5-litre petrol, the car can also seem rather under-powered until you get it to 3,000rpm or more.
The steering feels precise and reactive.
Get into the driving seat and one of the first things you notice is how good the driving position is, with the fairly flat bonnet giving decent visibility to the front. It’s very spacious inside, whether you’re in the front or rear seats, which also slide back and forward. The seats themselves are reasonably comfortable and in the top-spec Exclusive models, they’re even leather-covered.
The relatively low price of the MG GS means that you can’t expect too much of the car’s interior, but it must be said that even the most basic level of trim does come with a good range of features, including automatic headlights, air conditioning and cruise control. However, cheap materials and hard plastics do let things down a little.
Other issues include the infotainment screen that is slanted away from the driver and towards the passenger and the rather fiddly buttons that can be hard to use when you’re on the move. There’s also no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity – but if you have a smartphone that’s MirrorLink-enabled then at least you’ll be able to use that instead.
The MG GS is larger than most of its rivals and this translates into having a very generous amount of load space – more than enough for the big supermarket shop or holiday luggage for 4. The 60/40 rear seats also slide forward to give more room and fold completely flat to create a very big cargo space.
One small issue is that the boot opening is narrower at the bottom than the top, which can make loading tricky. Inside the spacious cabin there are plenty of cubby holes for those odds and ends like sunglasses and lip balm.
Running costs and reliability
With a single engine on offer, the MG GS doesn’t give you the option of a diesel version. The 1.5-litre petrol isn’t particularly economical either. Although the official figure is around 45mpg, in actual use you’re more likely to achieve somewhere between 35 and 40mpg.
In terms of reliability, MG are confident enough to give a 5-year warranty on new cars which has to be a good sign.
What cinch loves
There’s still a certain prestige to the MG marque and the GS does make for an affordable alternative to many of the other mid-sized SUVs on the used car market. Pick the right spec and you’ll find it’s very well-equipped as well.
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It might never be a classic like the old styles of MG but there’s plenty to recommend the GS, especially if you want the kind of affordable mid-sized SUV that you don’t see every day, or even every week.
This review was