Bang for the buck!

"The fascia, AC vents, control buttons…almost everything has an essence of the octagonal MG emblem."

"The GS has a very peculiar look to it, especially from the rear three quarters."

"At this price, there is not much more you could ask for and I hope that the GS brings back life to the good ol' MG brand."

MG; not everyone knows the brand MG around here. Morris Garages or MG is a British car manufacturer (since 1921) and best known for its open top two-seater sports cars. Car nuts may remember the MG MGB as the most successful offering from the MG factory. After undergoing a plethora of ownership changes, MG is currently owned by SAIC which is one of the biggest car manufacturing outfits in China. Since taking over in 2007, SAIC has tried to combine Chinese tech and British motoring heritage to bring affordable quality to the masses. Car parts from China are assembled in the UK factory to ensure good product quality. Year 2011 saw the launch of the MG 6 sedan, which had a slow start and an even slower end. Major issues tormenting the MG 6 were perceived lack of quality and reliability. To sort things out, MG has launched the 2016 MG GS, a crossover designed to go head to head with the competition. So, how good is the new MG? Our weekend test will give you a brief on what to expect.

Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine pumping out 220 hp, the GS looks like it will definitely give its competitors a bit of a run. One of the key components of any vehicle will be the gearbox, which decides how the 10 hp or 1000 hp developed by the engine is transferred to the road. The MG GS features a six-speed TST gearbox, which struggles to find the best ratios during hard acceleration. There is a flat spot before the power starts to flow into all four wheels of the GS. I was actually caught unawares at certain roundabouts where my daily driver sedan would comfortably accelerate through, but the GS took two or three attempts. No idea whether it was a problem with my test car only or if it is a gearbox glitch on the GS range. All this drama disappears once the gear shifts from second to third. The rest of the shifts are smooth and predictable. The GS pulls along pretty strong and silent. MacPherson struts up front and torsion bar setup on the rear take care of suspension duties. The whole package seems to be tuned a bit stiff which made sure that the GS felt agile on the streets. Tackling road undulations at high speeds can unsettle the GS off its tracks; partly because of the suspension setup which makes it kind of bounce instead of absorbing the shocks. The 18-inch wheels with disc brakes on all fours inspire you to push the GS to its limits. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Stability Control systems are standard across the range, which adds that extra sense of security in emergency situations. The electronic power steering feels direct and precise mostly, but I did feel a dead spot at some speedy corners where the steering felt too light. All around visibility was ok, albeit the high shoulder line.

The interiors of the GS show that MG is serious about the vehicle. The GS has an angles-and-cuts themed interior. The fascia, AC vents, control buttons…almost everything has an essence of the octagonal MG emblem. The interiors are appointed well with a beige-black combo. Almost everything you lay your hands on turns out to be hard plastic and feels a bit made-for-the-money. Our test car came with the optional leather seats, which were comfortable and provide that upmarket feel. The problem is that leather seats and plastic interiors do not go hand-in-hand. So, if the seats are leather you need to at least stick some leather on the dashboard and doors just for the sake of matching! The top spec GS features a great audio system with six speakers which sound good even at high volumes. Audio controls are available on the steering wheel as well. The GS features analogue speedo and rpm gauges with all telltale signs. The six-way adjustable driver seat and adjustable steering helps us to settle into a comfortable driving position. The GS features seat adjustment on all seats in the car, which is definitely helpful from a passenger's point of view. Headroom and legroom are excellent for the front and rear seats; however the rear center seat feels a bit too hard for long duration sitting. The GS is better off with just 2+2. One other niggle was the design of the door armrest supports. My hand kept slipping down again and again whenever I tried to rest my left hand during long straights. Maybe its my hand?! The GS features a decent sized boot to swallow all your luggage or camping stuff. Overall fit and finish in the interior is great.

The GS has a very peculiar look to it, especially from the rear three quarters. The high shoulder line with a high-set GS badge would be the primary reason I guess. It does not look bad, just peculiar. The octagonal theme continues on the exterior as well. The only things that do not follow the edges and cuts design lingo would be the mirrors and the wheel arches. A tinge of cuts would have spiced up the GS even more. The slender front grille starts from the mid-mounted MG logo and ends up with Xenon headlamps on both sides. The fog lamp inserts with integrated daytime running lights bolster the edgy design and a front skid plate adds muscle to the front bumper section. The bulging bonnet looks spot on and flows along with the GS character lines. Viewed from the side, the GS looks high and the heavy rake of the rear pillar adds to the visual appeal. Roof rails add that final bit of SUV flavour to the GS and complete the package.

The MG GS would be a serious threat to the budget crossover market leaders provided it gets the right sort of marketing and after-sales support. At this price, there is not much more you could ask for and I hope that the GS brings back life to the good ol' MG brand.

Pros: Well equipped at an affordable price, generous standard equipment, decent drive
Cons: Sloppy gear shift in first two gears, brand not popular in the region
Rivals: Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Jeep Renegade, Nissan X-Trail, Renault Koleos
Engine: 2.0L turbo engine, 220 hp @ 5,500- 5,300 rpm, 350 Nm @ 2,500 - 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed TST, AWD
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 9 sec, top speed: 208 km/h, fuel consumption 12 L/100 km
Weight: 1,642 kg
one word: bargain

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