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In-depth reviews

MG GS SUV (2016-2019)

"As long as you’re happy with a relatively small boot and a petrol engine, the MG GS looks good, drives well and is generously equipped"

Carbuyer Rating

2.5 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.4 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Generous standard equipment
  • Excellent value for money
  • Pretty enjoyable to drive

Cons

  • Small boot
  • Limited options
  • No diesel engine

The MG GS definitely has price on its side. Although this Chinese-built SUV appears to be a rival for the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar it’s actually a little bit bigger than both of them.

Not only that, but in entry-level trim it also undercuts the equivalent Kadjar by £4,500 and the equivalent Qashqai by £4,000. If you think that’s good, it’s no less than £8,500 cheaper than the Mazda CX-5. Meanwhile, its £15,000 start price is about the same as the cheapest Nissan Juke, an SUV from the class below, but £2,500 more than the cheapest SsangYong Tivoli.

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The downside to the MG GS’ attractive pricing­ is that the model is offered with just one engine. There’s no diesel in the range, but at least the 1.5-litre petrol engine is turbocharged for extra performance. However, it returns just 46.3mpg and emits 139g/km CO2, so if you’re a company-car driver, your Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) liability is 26%.

The GS sorely needs a diesel engine, especially since all of its rivals have one. Fitted with one, they’re up to 50% more economical. The GS’s high BiK charge certainly puts it out of the running as a company car.

All that said, if you’re a private buyer not doing much mileage, you’ll probably appreciate the petrol engine’s performance. It can do 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds and although you have to rev it quite hard to overtake confidently, it’s unflappable around town and at a motorway cruise.

The GS is fun to drive, too. Since it doesn't lean too heavily in corners, it can be hustled along winding country roads. At low speeds, potholes are impressively well damped, although as you go faster, they become more noticeable.

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The MG GS looks like a rugged 4x4, but it’s only available with front-wheel drive – unlike the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and SsangYong Tivoli, all of which are offered with optional four-wheel drive. Given that most buyers order these cars with two-wheel drive , MG's decision not to offer the GS as a 4x4 is understandable.

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A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox an option on the highest trim level. We drove the manual version, which was slick and smooth to use.

There’s more good news when you step inside the GS. The steering wheel and driver’s seat offer plenty of adjustment, making it easy to get comfortable, while rear-seat passengers get plenty of head and legroom. The interior design is pleasing, if a little uninspiring, and it feels significantly more modern than other MGs like the 3 hatchback. There are a few too many low-rent, scratchy plastics, but given the asking price this is reasonable and the GS feels built to last.

One negative is the GS’ boot: at just 335 litres, there’s significantly less space here than in the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar, while even the smaller SsangYong Tivoli has almost 90 litres more luggage room.

Despite its low list price, the GS comes with plenty of equipment. The range starts with the GS Explore, while moving up to the Excite model costs £2,500 and the top-spec GS Exclusive is a further £2,000. All cars have alloy wheels, LED running lights, air-conditioning, cruise control, automatic headlights and USB connectivity.

The Excite model adds remote central locking, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a leather steering wheel, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. If you go for the top-of-the-range GS Exclusive, you get leather seats (heated and power-adjustable in the front), sat nav, foglights, roof bars and a chunky-looking side-step, to make access easier.

We think the GS makes most sense and holds most appeal in entry-level Explore guise – although it’s a shame that if you want specific options from one of the higher trims, these aren’t available to order separately.

Despite selling relatively few cars in the UK, MG has a loyal following and a strong reputation: in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, the brand came fifth out of 32 manufacturers. Safety is more of an unknown: the GS has yet to go through Euro NCAP crash testing.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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