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Driven: MG launches value-packed HS SUV

The HS is MG’s latest model to hit Aussie shores based around offering sheer value

20 Feb 2020

MG MOTOR has officially launched what it describes as Australia’s best-value mid-sized SUV and the model that will lead the charge for the Chinese brand’s ongoing meteoric sales growth in this country – the all-new HS.


A replacement for the previous GS model line, the HS is billed as an all-new vehicle and shares none of its panels with its predecessor, being both longer (at 4574mm) and wider (at 1876mm) though not quite as tall (1664mm).


“This is the biggest segment in Australia, so we want to join this segment, be competitive and give customers more choice,” MG Motor Australia chief executive Peter Ciao told GoAuto at the HS national media launch in Victoria this week.


“We want to challenge everyone and we can’t say we are number one, (but) our priority is to be number one … (and) in many points we are number one.”


Priced from $29,990 plus on-road costs, the two-pronged HS range kicks off with the Vibe which is stacked full with standard driver-assist safety equipment including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane assist, traffic-jam assist, intelligent cruise assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent headlight control and a speed assistant system including speed-sign recognition.


All of these features can be tailored to suit the driver’s preferences with various levels of sensitivity and combine to fall under the umbrella of what the car-maker has dubbed MG Pilot, a safety suite that MG Motor Australia brand marketing and product director Danny Lenartic described as “revolutionary” for a base-spec vehicle.


On top of MG Pilot, other standard safety gear includes electronic traction and stability control, ABS brakes, active yaw control, electronic brake-force distribution, hydraulic brake booster, brake disc wiping, hill-hold control, automatic headlights and a reversing camera.


All of this safety tech combined with six airbags as standard helped the HS achieve a maximum five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) safety rating late last year.


Inside the cabin, occupants are provided with a competitive level of convenience features and technology, arguably headlined by the inclusion of leatherette (vinyl) upholstery as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard.


The driver is also met by a flat-bottomed, multifunction leather steering wheel and ‘partially virtual’ instrument panel displaying speed, speed zone reminder, outside temperature, fuel level, engine temperature, trip computer details and MG Pilot function status.


The virtual display is then flanked by two analogue dials – speedometer on the left and tachometer on the right.


In the back, there is 463 litres of cargo space with the 60/40 split-folding rear seats in place which expands to 1287 litres when folded flat.


Other standard features on the Vibe include Bluetooth audio, 10.1-inch infotainment screen, keyless entry and push-button start, four USB ports (two front, two rear), auto-dimming rearview mirror and a cooled centre console storage compartment.


“It’s the little ‘one-per-cent-ers’ throughout the cabin making not only the pilot comfortable, but also the passengers as well,” Mr Lenartic said.


Stepping up to the top-spec Excite model – priced at $32,990 plus on-roads – adds 18-inch alloy wheels (up from 17s), electronic tailgate, Super Sport drive mode (activated via a button on the steering wheel), paddle gear shifters, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, LED head- and tail-lights as well as LED ambient lighting.


Both variants rely on a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine (carried over from the GS) which produces 124kW of power (up 5kW) and 250Nm of torque (unchanged) and sends drive to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.


Fuel economy measurements show a combined-cycle result of 7.2 litres per 100km for both variants, and CO2 emissions of 170 grams per kilometre, while MG claims the HS – which tips the scales at 1520kg – will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 9.9 seconds and run on to a top speed of 190km/h.


As GoAuto reported last November, an even higher-spec version of the HS is in the pipeline for Australia, with Mr Ciao this week confirming the flagship variant is due to arrive in April boasting sports seats and a 360-degree camera.


In overseas markets, the top-end model also comes equipped with a panoramic sunroof, electric seat adjustment as well as heating function and leather upholstery.


Following the arrival of the ‘Tier 3’ variant will be the fourth-quarter introduction of a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine which will punch out a decent 170kW and 370Nm, driving all four wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.


MG claims the bigger engine will slash 2.4 seconds off the HS’s 0-100km/h time (down to 7.5s) and return fuel economy of 8.2L/100km.


Mr Ciao also confirmed exclusively to GoAuto that not one, but two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variants – one more powerful than the other – would be launched in Australia alongside the 2.0-litre model and revealed an all-electric version was also in the works.


“For the customers there will be a great choice,” he said.


“If you want to have the feeling of a pure-electric vehicle when driving, we’re a good choice, but if you worry with a pure-electric vehicle about charging it up, we’ll still give you a traditional power choice.”


Once all of the upcoming variants have been launched and the HS range is at its peak, MG expects the mid-size SUV to be its most popular model, but said it still expects a reasonably even split between the rest of its model range, which includes the smaller ZS SUV and the MG3 light hatch.


Despite the HS’s marketing not getting into full swing until last week, MG recorded 131 sales last month and 109 in December.


Last month’s sales figure alone was equivalent to 36 per cent of the GS’s total sales in 2019.


MG recorded 8326 sales in Australia last year, a rise of 177 per cent compared the 2018, when it shifted 3007 units.

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