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Driven: MG GS crossover rolls in

Split personality: The MG GS straddles the small and mid-size SUV segment, with the company pitching it against the Nissan Qashqai, Honda HR-V and Hyundai Tucson.

First MG SUV tries melding CX-3 pricing and near-CX-5 sizing to make a splash

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MG logo30 Mar 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MG MOTOR has released its first SUV in Australia with the GS featuring keen driveaway pricing for its first few weeks on sale, as well as a spacious cabin, two turbo powertrain choices and a competitive list of standard features.

Initially kicking off from $22,990 driveaway for the base Vivid in manual-only, front-wheel-drive, five-seater guise, the offer is valid until the end of May, when it rises to $23,990 plus on-road costs, according to MG Motor Australia general manager, Zhu Chao.

“It is a special price to help promote the car in Australia,” he told Australian journalists at the GS launch near Geelong in Victoria this month.

“After that the price will not be driveaway.”

MG Motor will remain an eastern seaboard proposition for the time being, with only Sydney’s inner west, Brisbane’s inner north and Coffs Harbour scoring a dealership, although another retail site is planned for Melbourne by the end of this year.

Further up the GS range, the mid-spec Core automatic starts from $25,990 plus on-roads, adding a dual-clutch transmission as well as a rearview camera, climate control, an improved audio system, a 6.0-inch touchscreen and 17-inch wheels.

However, no AEB Autonomous Emergency Braking is in the pipeline for any variant in the foreseeable future, while the lack of audible rear seatbelt reminders means that the GS rates only four out of five stars in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

The four-variant model range also extends to the Soul auto from $27,990 plus ORCs, which introduces an 8.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, leather trim, driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, front foglights, rain-sensing wipers and 18-inch alloys.

MG Motor parent company SAIC Motor Corporation Limited has high hopes for the $34,990 Essence X, since its four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine grows from 1.5 to 2.0-litres, and it also gains all-wheel drive, hill descent control and anti rollover tech, paddle shifters, Xenon headlights and a sunroof.

Despite the AWD, ground clearance remains at 174mm.

Based on an all-new SUV-only architecture known as SAIC Scalable, the GS’ 2650mm wheelbase is one of the longest in its segment, exceeding that of the Toyota C-HR by 10mm, and sitting midway between Mazda’s best-selling CX-3’s (2570mm) and CX-5’s (2700mm) respectively.

At 4500mm long, it is also a significant 225mm longer than the CX-3 and just 50mm shy of – as well as 15mm wider at 1855mm – than the CX-5.

As a result, MG Motor cites models larger than the CX-3, such as the Honda HR-V, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson, as the GS’ main targets, pointing to generous rear-seat packaging – that includes central air vents from Core upwards as well as reclining backrests – and a 483-litre luggage capacity.

The GS is powered by a choice of two new-generation Euro 5 emissions-rated four-cylinder direct-injection petrol engines, with the smaller one co-developed with General Motors as part of its Small Gasoline Engine family.

All front-drive models are powered by a 1.5-litre turbo ‘Cube Tec’ engine (also dubbed Net Blue), pumping out 119kW of power at 5600rpm and 250Nm of 4500rpm.

Mated to the six-speed manual in the 1420kg Vivid, it returns 7.3 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, or 0.1L/100km more with the in-house seven-speed dual-clutch that pushes the front-drive GS’ weight up another 40kg.

Moving to the Essence X AWD, an SAIC-designed, Opel-tuned 2.0-litre twin-cammer steps in, delivering 162kW at 5300rpm and a hefty 350Nm at 4500rpm.

Driving the front wheels (until traction requirements call for up to 50 per cent of torque to travel to the rear axle) via a six-speed dual-clutch, it averages 9.6L/100km, partly reflecting this variant’s substantial 1642kg kerb weight.

Like the Qashqai, the GS employs a multi-link rear suspension system, joining the CX-3 AWD’s de Dion and C-HR’s double wishbone back axles in breaking away from the torsion beam norm of most small SUVs, although the front falls in line with a pseudo MacPherson strut arrangement.

Steering is via an electric rack and pinion design, while all four wheels employ discs for brakes.

On the safety front AEB and other semi-autonomous driving tech are not offered, but all versions feature electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, cornering brake control, emergency brake assist, six airbags including full-width curtain head protection, LED daytime driving lights and rear parking sensors.

MG Motor designed and engineered the GS in England, as per the 93 year-old marque’s spiritual base, but it is manufactured in Shanghai, China. Sometime in the next couple of years, all right-hand-drive production is expected to switch to SAIC’s Thai facility.

The GS is the third MG model released in Australia, following the MG3 supermini and mid-sized MG6 sedan launched last October in NSW and Queensland.

2017 MG GS pricing*
Vivid$23,990
Core (a)$25,990
Soul (a)$27,990
Essence X AWD (a)$34,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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