MG HS PHEV review: A simple but effective plug-in SUV - MrLiambi's blog


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Saturday, 15 October 2022

MG HS PHEV review: A simple but effective plug-in SUV

MG, the iconic one-time British brand has been back in operation for the last few years thanks to its current Chinese owners. The result is a growing range of cars with the emphasis firmly focused on value for money. The MG HS PHEV is a plug-in hybrid variant of a car that first emerged back in 2020 and has since been tweaked a little, helping to make it a bit more desirable.

In fact, considering its relatively low price tag the MG HS has plenty going for it. The interior is spacious and reasonably well appointed. There's a very decent level of kit on offer too, just as long as you plump for the Exclusive addition, which covers most bases. In addition, there's a seven year or 80,000 mile warranty, as found on other cars in the MG range.

However, because of the affordability factor, the MG HS does have some less appealing aspects, including a fairly unrefined petrol engine and bouncy handling. The styling isn't overly inspiring either, but the positives still outweigh any negatives.

Functional design

If you're looking for a fairly high-up SUV, the MG HS makes a sound choice as it offers a lofty view of the road. Admittedly, the styling of the MG HS isn't exactly dazzling with fairly humdrum design lines that are workmanlike rather than exciting. The car lacks a little bit of identity in that respect and there's not much on offer that makes it stand out from the crowd. Nevertheless, it's got everything in all the right places and, if you're not too fussy about the badge on your car, it's a very agreeable thing.

The front end of the MG HS PHEV is perhaps its most interesting aspect, with a distinctive grille with the logo as its centrepiece. The LED headlights, fog lights and chrome flourishes add a little sparkle to the looks too. The effect is less impressive from other angles, with a profile that's fairly anonymous and a back-end that gets the job done with little in the way of additional highlights.

Our car being the MG HS Exclusive meant that it arrived with all of the bells and whistles expected from a top-of-the-range car. The 18-inch diamond cut wheels looked quite cool, as did the chrome roof bars that add a touch of panache. As you walk around the car you really do get a sense of its height, and we were particularly impressed at how good is was at going down challenging moorland tracks - the ground clearance coped admirably with ruts and ditches, albeit at very low speed.

Comfy and spacious

The MG HS might be all about value, but sit in the cockpit and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the level of fixtures and fittings that are on offer, especially if you head in the direction of the Exclusive edition. There's lot of space too, making the car instantly appealing to families or anyone who regularly needs to carry four or five passengers. The rear seats can even be reclined, which adds to the versatility.

Up front, you get a lofty driving position, which can be altered slightly thanks to the electric seats in the Exclusive model. MG has done a great job with the seats in this car and they're certainly comfortable, although they also add to the slightly squishy feel of the ride thanks to their accommodating softness. Everything falls nicely to hand if you're sat in the front too, with similarly comfy armrests and a nicely executed leather steering wheel design offering up fingertip controls for everyday tasks.

Although the space in the main cockpit area is impressive, the MG HS is less great when it comes to the boot area with 448 litres on offer, compared to the 463 litres found on the non-plug-in car. Nevertheless, it's easy enough to split the 60/40 seats if needed to squeeze in anything that won't quite fit onto the flat floor. Underneath this, by the way, is a home for the charging cables along with other accessories.

Great audio performance

Another area where the MG HS leaves a positive impression is when it comes to the technology on offer. Sure, get under the skin of the infotainment system and it's easy to pick holes in it, but on face value there's everything most owners will want. Central to this is the 10.1-inch infotainment screen in the middle of the dash, which is pretty decent to look at - though we did find it a little lazy from time to time.

It's not as refined as others you'll use either, with a little too much faff involved needed to execute some moves. Practice using it does help a little, but it still seemed a little bit slow on the uptake, which is perhaps its biggest drawback. Nevertheless, there's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay if that's your thing, while the DAB radio is solid as is the six speaker sound system (two more than the cheaper end of the MG range). The audio delivery is really rather good, actually.

The screen in front of the steering wheel doesn't really do all that much in terms of enhancing your driving. We're not sure about the font used for the speedo reading either as the blocky style isn't as clear as more conventional round typography. MG's attempt to do things a bit differently is commendable, but it's not really needed. On the other side of the readout is a display showing power usage, which is interesting enough though you can easily live without it.

A little rough and ready

Driven carefully the MG HS PHEV has the capacity to be quite frugal, especially on longer motorway runs where you can sit back in those comfy seats and just take your time. MG's official WLTP figure for the PHEV is 155.8mpg but, of course, expect less during everyday real world use. The 1.5-litre petrol engine doesn't like too much pressure put on it, and combined with the automatic transmission, the performance can feel a little bit rough and ready if you start pushing your luck with it.

However, this being a plug-in hybrid you also get the added benefit of electrical assistance. This comes in the form of a 16.6kWh battery that works in tandem with a small electric motor to make the MG HS PHEV good for around 32 miles without the need to call on the petrol engine. If you tend to do quite a lot of short runs around town then it's really worth making the effort to plug in the car overnight and exploit this undeniably practical aspect of the car.

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