Carrier with a catch
a seven-speed dual clutch auto, rear camera, hill holder, dualzone aircon with rear vents, Arkamys audio, leatherwrapped wheel with infotainment controls and a cooled storage box.
The $28,990 Soul gets 18-inch wheels, more supportive front seats, leather upholstery and lumbar adjustment, eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, foglights and auto wipers.
It’s then a big jump to the $34,990 GS Essence X, which runs a 2.0-litre turbo, sixspeed auto and allwheel drive. It adds paddle-shifters, autolevelling headlights, sunroof, hill descent control and extended stability control to include rollover protection.
The sheetmetal is more interesting and attractive than your typical Euro-box SUV.
That trait does not, unfortunately, carry over into the cabin. It’s an uninspiring place, with dated, unimaginative design, a wall-towall grey palette relieved only by a few swathes of gloss black plastic trim in up-spec models and dull and unresponsive touchscreen infotainment and instrument displays. There’s and no voice control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio or driver assist safety tech in any variant.
There’s ample space for four, with plenty of driving position adjustability. Front seats are comfortable and supportive Essence X and you get the highest outputs in the class (162kW/350Nm) but on the road it feels as though 40kW or so has gone missing in action.
The larger engine is also a less than happy match with its sixspeeder, faltering and lagging occasionally at low revs, buzzing excessively at the top end and generating reverberation in the cabin, amplified on coarse bitumen by tyre roar.
Essence X operates as a front -driver until slip is detected, when up to 50 per cent of drive can be sent to the rear wheels. Drive can be locked in a 50-50 split for low traction surfaces.
Dynamics also favour 1.5-litre models, which enjoy a 182kg-222kg weight advantage over the heavy (1642kg), cumbersome Essence X.
They’re firmly suspended and agile, with reasonable balance and sharp, wellweighted steering.
A firm, slightly agitated ride, especially for rear passengers, will become trying on rough roads.
As with any bit player brand, especially one that has come back from the dead, you’re taking a leap of faith if you put your money down on an MG GS.
Backed by SAIC, MG should survive but resale values may be weak, reliability is unproven and, in the GS, 21st-century safety and infotainment tech is conspicuously absent.
At these prices, the GS is a tough sell when similar money will put you into a no-risk, bluechip Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3 or Suzuki Vitara.