► We review MG GS in UK
► 1.5-litre petrol on test
► A viable Qashqai rival?
There is, as we speak, a gen-u-ine wooden garden shed prowling the car parks of this Mudfordshire market town. Said prowling capability is provided by four wheels and what sounds like a respectably sized V8 parked in the spot more usually reserved for the Suffolk Colt.
One glimpse is worthy of bunting. I mention this because, with the inevitability of death and taxes, Chinese-owned MG has delivered unto us – ta-daah! – an SUV. And its names, we’re told, shall be ‘affordable’ and ‘fun’.
MG GS: the background
In the context of the former, a 1.5-litre turbo-only range priced from £14,995, claiming more power and torque than front-wheel-drive petrol rivals, and be-ribboned by a five-year warranty sounds promising.
An exterior sporting a Renault-aping front graphic and something of the BMW about the backside might best be described as ‘mostly harmless’.
And the cabin?
The interior of this top-spec variant, however, whilst artfully packaged to offer surprisingly spacious rear-seat accommodation and loadspace, is less wholesome.
Leather upholstery and an ecology-threatening oil spill of dashboard piano black aside, the cabin is over-laden with scratchy plastics. And the infotainment system, though easy to use, lacks functions such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and, irritatingly, a simple ‘Radio’ button.
How does the MG GS drive?
Once you’ve wrestled with steering-rake adjustment as willing as a bush saw wedged in a wet pine log, the driving position’s pretty good, though the seat’s initial promise of comfort doesn’t stand the test of time.
Mated to a notchy, six-speed manual ’box the 164bhp, 184lb ft powerplant has all the punch of a dandelion clock until the revs climb towards 3000rpm.
Thereafter it becomes coarse. The company’s first seven-speed twin-clutch auto offers no salvation; its ratios feel ill-judged and its propensity to loiter at high revs is tiresome.
Whilst ride quality may be appropriate to MG’s sporting pedigree, it hardly suits a family SUV. Firm springing allied to inadequate damping leaves the bodyshell mithering constantly at low speeds.
Amidst all the fidgeting, and despite a deal of body roll and a gently artless, rubber-band feel to the helm, the GS handles with modest aplomb. But fun? A bathful of otters is fun, as is a V8-powered garden shed.
The new MG GS is an intriguing prospect - especially at the lower reaches of its price range - but too much of the execution lets it down. And at nearly £20k for this 46.3mpg version, I fear the affordability case is lost.
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