MG HS +EV long term: And just like that, it's PHEV in the city
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MG HS +EV Essence
Clean Car Rebate
- Good EV range
- Resolute in electric mode
- Excellent-value family SUV
- Forgets which mode it was in
- Weird EV gearchanges
- Sluggish infotainment
DRIVEN editor Dean regularly commutes between Hamilton and Auckland in our long-term MG HS +EV, multimedia journalist Andrew lives so far north of the city it pays to pack a snack for the journey and last time digital writer Maxene used it, she went on a massive road trip to New Plymouth.
You can’t say we haven’t pushed our MG plug-in well out of its comfort zone.
But it now falls to me to keep it real and do the thing that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are best placed to do: commute in the city on pure-electric tech and keep petrol power in reserve for special occasions.
The HS +EV (a slightly misleading name, which is why we call it the “HS PHEV” around the office) combines a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine with a 16.6kWh plug-in battery pack. As with any PHEV, the idea is that you charge it overnight, start with a full battery and do your daily commute on zero emissions. But hybrid petrol operation is also ready and waiting for longer trips if needed – which is not that often for most Kiwis, given the average daily driving distance is less than 30km.
MG New Zealand claims 63km on EV power from the HS, using the older NEDC test cycle rather than the more contemporary “real world” WLTP regime (52km since you asked).
For this story I did break PHEV protocol and not charge the HS for a few days, to see just how far the battery would stretch in actual commuting conditions.
For the record, my trip to work is 12km each way, split almost exactly between slow urban/city conditions and a motorway run to cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Also for the record, I got 61km out of the HS before the petrol power cut in during my run-it-flat experiment, which is very impressive - and very close to that NEDC result. It’s plenty to make the car entirely practical for a pretty long daily commute, if you’re charging every night.
There are aspects of the MG on EV power that I love. Once it’s locked into EV mode it stays there no matter how hard you press the throttle; yes, it’s much slower than in hybrid operation (90kW on tap versus 189kW with all cylinders firing), but I approve that electric means electric in the HS and it’s up to the driver to choose otherwise.
However, the PHEV system also has its idiosyncrasies. If the car is in EV mode but cold, it’ll sometimes fire up the petrol engine on startup (presumably to warm the batteries and make them more efficient) and once that happens the combustion engine won’t go away again until it’s also up to temperature.
I get the theory, but if you’re a bit automotive OCD it’s annoying. When I want EV mode, I don’t want a petrol engine running.
The HS’s PHEV “memory” is also a bit suspect. It’s supposed to log which mode you left it in when the car was switched off, and keep it for your next trip. But it’s a bit random, sometimes forgetting EV mode even when the battery is charged up, and judging by a few MG owner threads we’ve found online, it’s a common (but not consistent) issue. Not major, given it’s just a push of a button to select EV mode again; but a bit weird all the same.
The HS is smooth and refined in the city, as you’d expect an EV to be, although the complicated gearbox (four speeds for electric running, another six for hybrid operation) can feel very staccato if you make a surprise request for acceleration. It’s something other drivers have noticed (there’s a particularly jerky transition between ratios around 80km/h) more than me, but worth noting.
So it’s very far from perfect, but the PHEV tech is still really solid in terms of the range it offers and the strong performance on tap in hybrid mode. The HS is also an undeniably good-looking machine and the quality, fit and finish of our flagship $54,990 Essence-specification model is impressive. Especially when you consider the $5750 Clean Car Discount on offer, making the “real” price $49,240.
If you can live without a bit of garnish like leather upholstery, surround-view camera and that massive Stargazer glass roof, the entry Excite looks even more appealing: it still has all the MG Pilot active safety technology and the post-rebate price is just $45,240.
MG’s much-publicised seven-year warranty also deserves a mention in a long-term test. So there you go.
When you consider most buyers could probably run the HS +EV on electric power most of the time, it makes a compelling case in terms of ease of use and low running costs. If you can get around 60km per charge and plug in at home, it’ll only cost you about $6 per 100km to “fuel” it.
Remembering that this is a true medium-sized SUV and the Mitsubishi Outlander has now moved up the pricing and range scale a little ($60,990-$73,990, 87km of EV running), the HS is carving out a great niche for itself as the go-to PHEV for value-conscious family buyers adopting plug-in technology for the first time.
MG HS +EV
ENGINE: 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four, 16.6kWh battery and electric motor
POWER: 189kW/370Nm (combined)
GEARBOX: 10-speed automatic, (4 electric, 6 hybrid), FWD
ECONOMY: 1.7l/100km, EV range 52km (WLTP) or 61km on test
PRICE: $54,990 (qualifies for $5750 Clean Car Discount)