New MG HS 2023 facelift review
The MG HS SUV has been facelifted for 2023, but it still feels dated compared to its main rivals
The facelifted HS doesn’t move the family SUV segment on in any way - in fact it feels rather dated in many areas, but the bargain price tag can’t be ignored. MG has shown there’s a place in the market for cheap, well-equipped, practical family cars and this HS certainly fills that brief.
MG is on a seemingly endless upward trajectory at the minute with the Chinese-owned British brand increasing sales last year by a whopping 66.8 per cent. The firm estimates it should see similar growth this year, but despite that, big changes are in store for MG’s model lineup - including this revised MG HS.
The HS may only have received a facelift in May this year, but MG is looking to replace it and most of the rest of its lineup (MG4 aside), by the end of 2024. So this HS facelift will be very short-lived, which makes us wonder why MG has bothered to do it in the first place.
In terms of looks, the redesign is quite extensive. At the front there’s an entirely new grille, headlights and bumper and the rear also features new twin exhaust tips and LED rear lights. There are also new 18-inch wheels, which are standard across the range.
Instead of Excite and Exclusive trim levels, the HS takes on the same trim level structure as the MG4 with SE being the standard version and Trophy replacing Exclusive as the range-topper.
Our car is the Trophy with the dual-clutch automatic transmission but we’d recommend taking a look at the SE, which starts from an attractive £23,495. The HS also gets plenty of kit in SE form with those new LED headlights, a rear parking camera, keyless entry with a start button, cruise control, four USB ports and even hill descent control.
The Trophy starts from £25,995 with the six-speed manual or £27,495 for the DCT-equipped version and adds features such as electronically adjustable and heated front sports seats, dual-zone air conditioning, rear tinted windows and an upgraded sound system. In the case of our automatic model, we also get a selection of driving modes.
On every model you’ll find a 10.1-inch central touchscreen that MG says has been improved with ‘faster and smoother functionality’. The simple menu layout is easy to understand and the resolution of the display itself is fine, but it can lag slightly if you’re too keen with your inputs. The in-built sat-nav is also easily flummoxed, although we expect most drivers will rely on the standard-fit Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility here.
The overall interior design is the same as before - as is the general feel and quality of materials. You don’t have to look hard to find some cheap-feeling plastics, but all of the common touchpoints are solid and the physical switches on the centre console are a thoughtful touch.
The rear is perhaps the biggest surprise where this HS is concerned. There’s a huge amount of legroom back there, easily enough for someone over 6-foot tall to sit behind another 6 footer. The low window line means it’s not claustrophobic in the back either. MG has clearly prioritised rear passenger comfort over boot space, however. A rather dismal 463-litre load space is well off the 591 litres afforded by the Kia Sportage and 521 litres from a Skoda Karoq.
With the same 1.5-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder as before, there’s no changes to the way the HS drives. It won’t give a Ford Puma a run for its money in the handling department, the HS feels like a traditional top-heavy SUV from behind the wheel. There’s a MacPherson strut front end and multi-link rear, but the focus is on comfort rather than cornering speed here - although the steering feels consistent if not confidence-inspiring. The position of the rear-view mirror is also a curious issue as it’s way too low on the windscreen, hindering visibility far too much.
There’s plenty of power available from that petrol unit, although beyond 4,000rpm it drops off significantly. If you mash the throttle into the floor there’s a bit of a groan from the engine, but on a cruise it's quiet enough. Our HS featured a selection of driving modes, consisting of ‘Eco’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ - the latter can be speedily enabled by a rather out-of-place red ‘Supersports’ button on the steering wheel.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is smooth in its changes but is frustrating at times, even in the sportiest setting it can refuse to change down a gear, leaving you wondering if the HS will stall going up a steep incline. You can of course manually change gear with the steering wheel paddles, but it’s still a rather sluggish transmission. The two-pedal HS Trophy also sees fuel economy drop to 36.6mpg compared to 37.9mpg for the manual.
Refinement is certainly one of the HS’ stronger attributes. The seats are superbly comfortable, as is the setup of the suspension. Wind noise can creep through but road noise is mostly kept at bay.
Without a doubt the biggest weapon in the HS arsenal is its price tag and now it’s £60 cheaper with this facelift across the range. It undercuts all its key rivals (this side of a Dacia Duster at least) and this Trophy model is still cheaper and better equipped than a base-spec Kia Sportage. The SE model with a manual gearbox looks like even better value and is well worth considering for any family - especially those with long-legged children.
|Model:||MG HS Trophy|
|Engine:||Turbocharged 1.5-litre, four-cylinder|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|