MG GS SUV prices & specifications announced

Sub-£15K starting price for new MG GS SUV

Orders for the MG GS - the brand's first-ever SUV – will open later this week, with prices starting at a startlingly low £14,995. Even top-spec manual-equipped versions slip under the £20k ceiling, priced from £19,495. If you want the all-new dual-clutch automatic version, however, you'll have to shell out £20,995 for the privilege.

There are three trim levels available at launch – Explore, Excite, and Exclusive, with even entry-level versions getting cruise control, automatic headlights and air-conditioning.

The mid-sized MG SUV will be offered with a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine developing 164bhp. In time, a plug-in hybrid version could be offered.

It'll be joined by a smaller SUV designed to rival the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008 and will be called MG ZS. These models will form part of the rapidly growing SUV class, which is essential for MG to succeed in if it's to increase sales in the UK. These models will come at the expense of a new sports car – something that wouldn't sell in the same numbers as a family SUV.

Anthony Williams-Kenny, MG's design boss said: “The world is changing quickly in terms of what we expect from a product, so our goal is to bring the most up-to-date design trends to our own.

“With MG’s first SUV, we wanted to design a car that would fit in with the MG family and have a slightly different look, of confidence and dynamism, that sets it apart from the other models.”

We've seen the MG GS at the firm's new flagship showroom in London's Picadilly. Here's our early verdict.

MG GS styling

Like the rest of the MG range, the GS has been styled at the brand's UK design centre in Birmingham. The team is led by British design boss Anthony Williams-Kenny. The car was originally teased to potential buyers as the MG CS Concept.

The sharply styled MG GS appears as an evolution of the MG3 and MG6, with swept-back headlights joined by a grille running the width of the car that frames the iconic octagonal MG badge. The GS also features hockey-stick-shaped LED daytime running lights – another design cue evolved from existing models.

The rear has less in common with other MG models, but the rising side window line means the rear windscreen appears to be mounted high. This could restrict rear visibility – something we'll be able to confirm when we drive the car in the coming months.

The hockey stick shape of those daytime running lights is echoed in the edging of the car's rear fog lights. The GS will be fitted with alloy wheels, although they could be slightly larger than those in our pictures.

Interior

The interior is neatly styled and rather conventionally laid out. A range of centrally mounted screens will be offered; some with touchscreen functions, others with conventional buttons.

The upper half of the dashboard will be available with a range of trim colours and finishes, including a high-gloss 'piano black' trim. The sweeping centre console houses a number of chunky buttons, which seem logically positioned.

The models we've seen so far are in Chinese specification, and MG's sales and marketing director suggested the materials could be improved to appeal to European buyers. The materials currently feel solid, but lack the tactile feel provided by the GS' European and Asian rivals.

Interior storage is likely to be adequate rather than exceptional, but passenger space is very good. There's plenty of head and legroom for the driver and front-seat passenger, even when a panoramic glass roof – a feature that usually robs headroom – is fitted. The same is true in the back, where passengers are able to slide the rear seats back and forth, as well as recline the seat backs.

Despite what appears to be narrow rear side windows, visibility is pretty good for passengers in the back.

Engines and gearbox specs

There's no official information on the UK engine line-up yet, but we've seen a prototype version of the MG GS testing in the country. A check on the numberplate revealed it to be a 1.5-litre petrol. If so, it's likely to be a turbocharged version of the MG3's engine, tuned to develop around 150bhp.

The car is already on sale in China, fitted with a 2.0-litre petrol engine, but given European markets' preference for low CO2 emissions, the more efficient turbocharged 1.5-litre engine will be the only engine on offer - a surprise, given the UK's preference for diesel power in SUVs.

It's likely cheaper models will be fitted with front-wheel drive, but the all-wheel-drive system available in China is expected be offered here, too. As in most SUVs, the system is able to switch between two and four-wheel-drive modes when extra grip is needed. A six-speed manual gearbox will be available, alongside a six-speed dual-clutch automatic – making this the only MG model sold in the UK to be fitted with one.

MG's UK boss William Wang recently revealed to our sister website Auto Express that hybrid models were a strong possibility. He said his brand would be "silly not to go that way" and that "you can only go so far with just petrol and diesel". He added the first model to be fitted with hybrid technology would be the MG6. An MG GS hybrid would follow sometime later.

Running costs

With CO2 emissions rated at 139g/km (141 for versions fitted with the dual-clutch automatic gearbox), your road tax will start at £130 a year which equates to just 46.3mpg. Elsewhere, MG’s five-year manufacturer warranty is a tempting proposition as well and should give owners a healthy dose of peace of mind.

Price and equipment

Entry-level Explore models start at £14,995 and come with cruise control, automatic headlights and air-conditioning, while the £17,495 Excite version adds DAB radio, Bluetooth and rear parking sensors. The top-of-the-range Exclusive model starts at £19,495 for the manual version, while if you opt for MG’s first-ever dual-clutch automatic gearbox, this ups the price to £20,995. For this outlay, you get leather sports seats at the front, as well as satellite navigation.

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