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MG HS review: Journey to the best
THERE'S an ice hockey cliche that the business world borrows with glee: skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been. That explains some of the thinking behind Eurokars Group's decision to import this, the MG HS. On casual inspection, it's a five-seat, family-size sport utility vehicle with pleasingly coherent styling. The badge on its grille has a storied past, but what's more important is that the HS is made by a carmaker with a future.
If MG is still famous for anything, it'll be the dashing roadsters that chugged along the streets when miniskirts first motivated men to buy roadsters.
Now, half a century later, a company called SAIC Motor controls the brand. The "S" is for "Shanghai", but this is no bumbling enterprise trying to figure out what pistons and camshafts do. SAIC put roughly seven million vehicles together last year. For perspective, that puts 117-year-old Ford in the Chinese company's rear view mirror by some distance.
What really raises the eyebrows about this MG is how plush it is for a car that costs S$99,888 with Certificate Of Entitlement. Climb aboard, and there's an air of quality about the cabin, from the soft plastics that cover the dashboard to the high resolution touchscreen that sits atop it.
There's a vaguely Teutonic aesthetic to the interior, thanks to air-con vents that look Mercedes-ish, steering wheel buttons that may as well have been filched from a Volkswagen, and even a BMW-style gear shifter.
The HS also comes with racy red upholstery and sporty front seats that are not only eye-catching, but make sense in the context of MG's rakish heritage.
Then there's the long list of standard equipment. Somehow, the HS comes with stuff you usually find in premium cars (such as the panoramic glass roof and electric tailgate), plus a bunch of other features that any modern car ought to have, like blind spot monitors and six airbags. Along with Apple CarPlay, the infotainment system has Android Auto, which even BMW hasn't introduced here yet.
The MG is even confoundingly pleasant on the move. Up to highway speeds it's remarkably quiet and composed, and while the suspension is firm, it's no more jarring than the SUV norm.
To go with the general feeling of solidity, there's a heck of a lot of cabin room, with space in the back for tall teens even when tall adults occupy the front.
Of course, there are weaknesses in the HS' game. The biggest is the twin-clutch gearbox, whose low-speed jerkiness sometimes makes the MG lurch into motion from standstill. The brakes, while strong, feel mushy at the pedal. Both are a matter of fine-tuning, rather than serious flaws.
Indeed, wherever the rest of China's carmakers stand, the HS reveals that MG can already plonk itself slightly ahead of, say, the French brands. And given how it's a far superior car to Mitsubishi's Outlander, the HS also shows that conserving cash doesn't mean you have to confine yourself to ancient dross.
It might be too early to tell if Eurokars' bet on MG will pay off, but this is the dealership that snagged Rolls-Royce just as its revival began, bagged Mazda right before its ongoing renaissance, and scooped up McLaren as its cars became credible Ferrari rivals. No prizes for guessing where Eurokars believes the puck is going.
MG HS 1.5 Turbo
Engine 1,490cc, in-line four, turbocharged
Power 160hp at 5,600rpm
Torque 250Nm from 1,700-4,400rpm
Gearbox 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
0-100km/h 9.9 seconds
Top Speed 190km/h
Fuel Efficiency 6.8L/100km
Agent Eurokars EV
Price S$99,888 with COE