MG is a top ten car brand in Australia, it’s been a massive rise up the charts and while many have tried you have to give the brand credit for that success in a very short period.
In some ways, the story of MG is reminiscent of Hyundai’s entry into Australia so for that reason we can’t ignore MG they could be much further up the sales charts in the years to come.
There were 3,506 MG’s sold in May across Australia, 1600 of them were the ZS, 1200 of the MG3 and 707 of the HS larger yet still mid-sized SUV. Frankly, we think there’s a reason the HS is the lowest seller, despite the Medium SUV category being a runaway success for many brands.
The MG HS competes with the Toyota RAV4, the Mazda CX-5, The Hyundai Tucscon and so many more great cars. And it falls short in so many ways.
If you were out car shopping with Top of the range is the car we’re driving, the “Essence” ticks a whole heap of great boxes. From its digital dashboard, to the fancy flashing LED turn signals, the electric adjustable seats, Apple CarPlay, lane keeping assistance and all the key safety features, even heated front seats.
And hell, it looks nice, the MG design and styling isn’t a bad look – I really love the entire look of the car, the colour selections and frankly the general fit and finish is classy.
No, it’s not euro quality, nor is it a patch on the Korean or Japanese brands. Look, let’s be clear – the Elephant in the room here is that MG is not a British car company. I’d hazard a guess a large portion of MG buyers think they’re buying from a company that has decades of history making some now very classic cars. The MG brand is owned by Chinese Auto giant SAIC.
For me, that matters nothing, nor should it. But because the car industry has come so far in terms of technology, ride, handling and performance, we have to judge these cars buy today’s standards, not against the style of a Hyundai when they first came into Australia.
While sitting in the MG in a showroom will feel special, and frankly could challenge many of its competitors if you shop showroom to showroom, as a daily driver it does the job, but falls short in a bunch of ways.
There are two big things that have been bug bears for me this week.
Firstly, the infotainment system. It’s sluggish, slow to respond, in a world where we expect instant app launching and a slick multi-touch display the power behind this system feels like MG opted for the cheapest possible computer processor.
Adjusting the temperature requires you to press the Climate Control button on the console, then swipe or tap up on the temperature dial. It’s not simple, it’s not intuitive, and it’s slow. The same happens when you’re trying to enter an address into the Satellite Navigation – frustrating as hell.
Using Apple CarPlay gets around most of that, but for the cars own features like climate control, it remains an issue.
Then there’s the gearbox. Or at least I assume that’s what it is. In my driveway, ready to reverse down and out onto the street – there’s a jump into movement as if I’m driving a manual and have forgotten how a clutch works.
Off the lights, I’m not trying to race anyone, I just want to casually drive away yet it feels like I’m suffering from the worst ever turbo lag on a 1980’s diesel, yet this is a modern petrol engine.
Around town, on the freeway – not an issue, it’s a sweet ride. But I’ve found the low speed stuff annoying, to the point that I opted to drive my 10 year old Mazda 2 to kids sport this weekend.
Out on the freeway I was baffled to find what was clearly a cruise control info display on the digital dash, but how the hell do I activate it?
Took me two days to find the cruise control stalk under the indicator stalk on the left. Hidden behind the wheel it’s impossible to see while you drive, so make sure you learn those functions by heart before you hit 100km and hour and want to use it.
At $43,690 (including the $700 paint choice), this is top of the MG HS range, but personally I’d take the base model RAV4, CX-5 or Tucson every day of the week.
I’m desperate now to drive the smaller MG3 which really challenges the sales in the small car market, and I can tell you the ZS EV is a great car – so don’t write off MG here folks, perhaps just look at the other models in their range.