A Chinese crossover with a British badge

The MG marque has been around for a very long time, first seeing use in the ‘20s. Throughout the course of its history, a variety of owners have come and gone, with the latest being the Shanghai-based SAIC Motor Corporation. And while most associate the brand with sports cars like the MGB, lately the automaker has focused on creating models that are a little more capable when it comes to padding the bottom line. In the U.K., that means hatchbacks (the MG 3) and sedans (the MG 6), and now, there’s a third body style coming down the pipeline – a compact crossover. It’s called the MG GS, and although the brand is calling it new, it looks more or less unaltered from the MG GS currently sold in China.

We first saw the MG GS in concept form at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Back then, it was called the MG CS, and it showed a ton of promise, at least aesthetically speaking. Two years later, MG dropped a production variant at the very same show, consequently offering it as an exclusive product for the Chinese market. Now, it’s coming to the U.K., following a debut at the London Motor Show.

In addition to a highly affordable price tag and the availability of a new double-clutch transmission, the automaker is proud to advertise the MG GS as its first-ever SUV, undoubtedly piggybacking off the trend set by high-end makes like Bentley and Jaguar. And while the market is certainly eager when it comes to crossovers, it’s questionable whether or not the MG GS will have what it takes in a segment already overflowing with competition.

Official specs are scarce, but given the MG GS’ current availability in China, I feel confident about filling in the gaps. Read on for details.

Continue reading to learn more about the MG GS.

Exterior

2017 MG GS
- image 674829

Let’s start with the MG CS Concept, which informed much of the styling used on the MG GS. Front to back on the MG CS, the lines are sharp and aggressive, with highly angular cuts and dips that lend a sense of futuristic sportiness. The fascia gets narrow headlights and C-shaped lower daytime running lights, while the suggestion of skid plates can be seen under the nose and tail. The stance is tall and purposeful, while the fenders are high and flared. Cargo rails are on the roof, and a central exhaust occupies the rear bumper.

The fascia gets narrow headlights and C-shaped lower daytime running lights, while the suggestion of skid plates can be seen under the nose and tail

The production MG GS is nowhere near as good looking as the MG CS, but the inspiration is obvious. The fascia is a little duller and rounder, but the character lines on the hood and in the lower bumper are still there. Up top, you still get roof rails, while shiny sills replace the concept’s black skirts along the flanks. The raked window line remains somewhat intact, while the taillights keep the same teardrop shape and black connector strip off the hatch glass. Below are dual exhaust tips housed in a silver lower insert.

While it’s slightly disappointing to see what could have been with the MG CS, the MG GS is by no means an ugly crossover – quite the contrary. To my eye, it still looks rather sharp, with just the right amount of angular embellishment and character. It would have been great to see more of the aggression of the concept, but I don’t blame MG for what it did, and the MG GS does a great job of tweaking the original idea into something much more production-friendly.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 104 Inches
Length 177 Inches
Width 73 Inches
Height 66 Inches

Interior

MG has yet to release too much official info about the U.K.-bound MG GS’ interior, but in all likelihood, we can turn to the Chinese-spec model for an idea of what it’ll include.

First off, there will be seating for up to five passengers, with the rear bench folding down for increased cargo space. Climb into the driver’s seat and you’ll find a three-spoke steering wheel with a few thumb-length controls. Behind the wheel are dual gauges for engine rpm and road speed, between which sits a small driver’s information display.

The center console consists of several flat-bottomed diamond shapes, starting with the centrally mounted vents and infotainment display

The center console consists of several flat-bottomed diamond shapes, starting with the centrally mounted vents and infotainment display. The screen will most likely come standard as a 6-inch unit, while larger options will be available on higher trim levels. Satellite navigation and a backup camera with reversing guidelines should both come as standard, as should Bluetooth smartphone integration. Below the screen, you’ll find a collection of buttons and knobs for added system control.

MG was widely criticized in the recent past for its use of cheap-feeling hard plastics, so it would be great to see a step up from this with the U.K. model, especially when it comes to higher trim levels. Complementing this should be the availability of leather upholstery.

Drivetrain

2013 MG CS concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 502971

Note: 2013 MG CS Concept pictured here

MG says its new crossover will come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline engine, which almost definitely means the four-cylinder that was co-developed with GM, a.k.a. the all-aluminum GM Small Gasoline Engine (SGE). As such, I expect output to be 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, essentially matching that of the Chinese model.

MG says its new crossover will come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline engine

With that in mind, MG will also most likely offer the Chinese-spec 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder (215 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque), as well the 1.9-liter diesel engine (148 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque) from the MG 6.

Routing the power will be a six-speed DCT, which will probably come as an available option on higher trim levels. MG says this is its first automatic gearbox, which is a bit confusing, given the Chinese MG GS gets the option for a seven-speed DCT.

Regardless, the standard transmission option will most likely be a six-speed manual, with FWD for base models and AWD available on higher specs.

Underneath, the MG GS rides on a new scalable SUV platform from parent company SAIC Motor, which could be used to build an even smaller MG-badged crossover sometime in the future.

Prices

MG declined to specify pricing for the U.K.-spec MG GS, but did say there would be three separate trim levels, and that it was focused on offering it at an affordable price point. Expect more information this coming June.

If I were to guess, I’d wager a price tag less than £15,000, undercutting the competition by a significant margin.

Competition

Nissan Qashqai

2015 - 2018 Nissan Qashqai
- image 628478

Without a doubt, one of the most popular crossovers in the U.K. is the Qashqai. It’s been around for roughly a decade, with a second generation debuting in 2013. The powerplant lineup includes a slew of inline four-cylinders, with both diesel and gasoline variants available. Both a six-speed manual and a CVT are offered, while FWD is standard and AWD is optional. Pricing starts at £17,595.

Read the full review here.

Kia Sportage

2017 Kia Sportage High Resolution Exterior
- image 643208

The Sportage has been around even longer, first breaking cover way back in 1993. It’s now in its fourth generation, with a debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015. Engine options include four turbocharged gas units and a single diesel, while customers can pick between a six-speed manual, six-speed automatic, and seven-speed automatic when it comes to the transmission. Like the Nissan, both FWD and AWD are available. Pricing starts at £18,000.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

Even though competition in the compact crossover segment has never been higher, I’m confident the MG GS has what it takes to thrive. Simply put – it’s affordable. Very affordable. And even though it’s essentially a Chinese model imported for British consumption, I think consumers won’t feel uncomfortable, given the letters MG plastered on the bodywork.

We’ll see what happens when the MG GS launches in Britain in June, but for now, things are looking up. And hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, sales will be good enough to produce a new sports car sometime soon.

  • Leave it
    • Doesn’t look as good as the concept
    • Abundant competition
    • Basically a Chinese import

Press Release

MG Motor UK has unveiled its all-new SUV, the MG GS, at the London Motor Show today and announced an automatic DCT gearbox will be available.

At an exclusive preview event at the Battersea Park show, MG has proudly pulled back the cover on the GS to reveal the striking new addition to the UK model range.

MG was also pleased to announce that the GS will come with the British manufacturer’s first automatic transmission. The SUV’s top specification model will be available with the option of a DCT gearbox; which will be more responsive and provide customers with a much smoother ride. The GS will also come with an agile 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine and will be available in three different trim levels.

Matthew Cheyne, Head of Sales and Marketing for MG, said: “When considering transmissions and engine choices, we listened to our customers and looked at market trends. It’s not only a momentous occasion to unveil our first SUV, it is also a significant moment to announce our first automatic – something many of our customers have been waiting for, and so we’re thrilled to be offering it to them.”

MG is assuring customers that when prices are announced in June, they will reflect the family pricing strategy.

Cheyne added: “Regarding how much this fantastic new car will cost, it will be consistent with our other models. We’re proud of the fact our prices are transparent. When we say our cars are affordable, we mean it. The price structures are easy to understand and have no surprise additions.

“When we officially launch the GS next month, people will be able to find out more about the car’s performance and when they can get behind the wheel of one.”

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