Inside MG's newly unveiled $31,990 Mazda CX-5 competitor
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Having recently relaunched to the New Zealand market, MG has unveiled its latest addition to the line-up — and local pricing to suit.
The MG HS, a competitor for the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4, was launched today in Sydney. When it lands in New Zealand in the first half of next year, it will be available in two trim levels; the entry level Vibe and the flagship Excite. Pricing starts at $31,990 for the Vibe [pictured in white], with the Excite [red] priced from $34,990, and in New Zealand both models will come with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assistance.
In other words, it's a decent chunk cheaper than the entry level $40,995 CX-5 GLX and slightly cheaper than the less equipped $35,490 RAV4 GX. The Holden Equinox had an initial starting price of $35,990 at launch, but has since had its cost of entry sliced down to a competitive $30,990 for the Equinox LS.
The MG HS comes with the same mechanical layout across the board. Each model comes equipped with a 1.5-litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine making 124kW of power and 250Nm of torque. This is linked to a 7-speed automatic transmission, which helps send power to the front wheels exclusively (for now, anyway. All-wheel drive models are being considered for down the pipeline).
Standard features in the entry level Vibe include a 10.1in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 17in wheels, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, leatherette upholstery, and sequential rear indicators. It also gets MG's full 'MG Pilot' safety suite as standard. It's a suite that's new to the line-up, and includes radar cruise control (operational over 60km/h), lane departure warning, auto high beams, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and more.
The Excite adds larger 18in wheels, satnav, LED headlights, an electric tailgate, welcome lights, dual zone climate control, leather upholstery, and an additional drive mode called 'Super Sport Mode'. It can be activated by a red button mounted to the steering wheel, and acts like most conventional 'sports mode' buttons in that it sharpens the steering, throttle response, and transmission calibration. The Excite-exclusive addition of paddle shifters further adds to the supposed sportiness.
Driven got to get up close and person with the HS at the Sydney launch earlier today, and while we weren't able to drive the new SUV we were able to get a few first impressions of the cabin and styling.
The HS is longer, wider, and lower than the MG GS that it replaces but still has a slightly smaller footprint than most of the prime rivals. However, space inside is still commodious. Rear knee room, toe room, and head room is enough for adults to sit comfortably on the flanking seats. Boot capacity sits at 463L, with that figure increasing to 1287L when the 60/40 split rear seats are folded flat.
The HS is MG's looks to be MG's biggest step forward in quality yet since being reborn as a Chinese marque via SAIC Motor. And this is best represented by the material quality in the cabin. Soft-touch surfaces are all over the dashboard and leak through to the back seats. The leatherette seats in the Vibe are more plush than some other faux-leather seats in class, and overall each package felt above par — an impressive feat given the low pricing.
Faults in the flesh are difficult to locate without getting behind the wheel and taking the HS out on the town. Apart from a left-rear door alignment issue on the entry level Vibe present, fit and finish in both models appeared positive.
Perhaps the biggest comment will be that the HS, while handsome, bares a more than striking visual resemblance to a certain other vehicle in class ...
“With the all new MG HS, we have put the very best of MG into an SUV. Stylish, sporty and savvy, the MG HS will have broad appeal to customers who are seeking premium features and design at an attainable price point," said MG Australia CEO Peter Ciao.
“We’re very excited about the potential that the MG HS provides to our local business and our dealers are confident of the appeal of this new model. As we continue to build trust in the market, we look forward to seeing the MG HS on local roads soon.”
While MG is still an emerging name in New Zealand, it's been in Australia for three years now. The firm sold 600 vehicles in Australia in 2017, 3000 the following year, and are on target to sell around 8000 vehicles in 2019. Australia is admittedly a much larger market than ours, but the potential for sales — particularly around SUVs like the HS — appears there for the taking.
Be on the lookout for Driven's first drive of the MG HS in the coming months.