Model: HS +EV
Engine/Transmission: 1.5 litre turbo/liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery/ 10 speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 1.7L/100km combined/60km electric range
Price: Around $52690 drive away (from $49690 for the “Excite”)
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t looking forward to this week – the EFTM Calendar had me locked into an MG.
I don’t have anything against the brand, or even Chinese cars generally, it’s just that I predicted a fairly lacklustre experience where the overwhelming feeling was ‘close, but no cigar’. I thought I’d eat my own hat before I fell for an MG! I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Saic Motor Corp is the State owned company behind MG products. I kinda wish that Saic had just stuck to their guns and did away with the whole MG charade. The only thing MG about an MG is the badge and a small design studio in London. Still, what do I know? It’s been a huge marketing success and sees Saic’s products really starting to gain traction in the crowded Australian market. And so it should, because MG or no MG, the HS +EV is a bloody great car.
This HS +EV is my favourite type of EV – a plug in hybrid (PHEV). The benefit of the PHEV platform is that you will never be left on the side of the road with a flat battery pack. The disadvantage is drastically reduced range (around 60km in the case of the HS) and the added complication and weight of a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE). For many, PHEV is the only way they are going to get into an EV. Rural owners, for example, might do the vast majority of their driving in a small radius around town – perfect EV territory – but they still need the ability to travel vast differences at short notice. Only ICE can provide that.
For the price (and the PHEV drivetrain), the MG HS +EV is remarkable value. Everything, including the kitchen sink, is included in your sub$53k outlay. The 12.3″ customisable dash isn’t going to give Audi and their Virtual Cockpit designers any loss of sleep, but, for the money, MG’s system is very good. Likewise, the MG’s 360 degree camera, while lacking the almost 4k resolution of some luxury brands, has a degree of usability that would embarrass many other brands. In fact, I think I’m going to call the MG system my favourite of 2022. Like so much of the HS, its not fancy – it just works!
This configurable dashboard is supplemented by a 10.1″ infotainment screen. This serves as the hub for built-in SatNav, Carplay and Android Auto and heating and cooling functions (more on this later).
MG Pilot provides a suite of advanced safety features, including adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and lane change assist. None of this is cutting edge but works away, unobtrusively, keeping you safe and ticking ANCAP stars all the way up to 5.
The headlights and taillights are LED versions in the ‘Essence’ grade. Even the turn signals are posh sequential numbers.
Having an optional MG ChargeHub wired in at home can, MG claims, significantly reduce charging time, but, honestly, I wouldn’t bother. Unlike some EVs, charging the MG won’t trip your circuit breaker and can be accomplished easily overnight (a recent visit by Hyundai’s glorious Ionic 5 constantly fried my, admittedly, truely ancient circuit breaker and took what seemed like days to charge on 240v – both problems that are easily fixed by installing a fast charger at home). The MG’s modest battery pack (and even more modest range – around 60 kays) simply doesn’t demand a lot of juice to be flowing through the wires.
It is impossible to consider this MG’s most impressive feature being anything other than value for money. It is, quite simply, remarkable. It’s not that the HS +EV’s price of admission is headline-grabbingly bargain basement, like it was initially for MG’s MG3. It’s that for the blend of features, equipment, quality (yes, I said quality) and peace-of-mind seven year unlimited kilometre warranty, the MG is hugely compelling. For example, Mitsubishi’s Outlander is generally less well equipped and more expensive, although AWD and Mitsubishi’s 10 year warranty are important points of difference. Mazda’s CX-5 G25 Akera is similarly priced, beautifully appointed and AWD but petrol only so not really an apples vs apples proposition. Kia’s Sorento PHEV is brilliant but much, much more expensive. No matter which way you cut it, the big MG deserves a close look.
NOT SO IMPRESSIVE:
The HS range has been criticised as lacking driving panache. I didn’t especially find this to be the case. If, for example, you are a keen driver than I would suggest that an MG HS is not going to be high on your list of mid size SUVs. In fact, I would suggest that no SUV would be high on your list. Something like a Skoda Octavia or Volkswagen Golf wagon will provide miles more smiles for the passionate driver. As it stands, the HS +EV is entirely comfortable on all sorts of roads and utterly fit for purpose.
Much more disappointing, and more concerning to the target market than razor sharp handling, is the HS’s HVAC controls. Heating and cooling is only accessible via the central touch screen display. By pressing the screen … and waiting for what feels like hours (but, in reality, is only a second or two) access is granted to all of the regular HVAC features, like fan speed and temperature. Like the radio, just give me a knob or a dial, people. Touch screen for these sorts of everyday functions is just silly. Of course, MG aren’t the only offenders in this regard.
ON A TEST DRIVE:
The EV space, including PHEV, is going to get more and more crowded and more and more competitive. Saying this, the MG HS +EV absolutely has a right to demand your attention. You’d be mad to not look at one very closely, including taking it for a good long run on the sorts of roads you use every day. MG is here to stay and worthy of your consideration. I’m certainly still chewing on my hat!