DRIVE: MG GS EX­CLU­SIVE

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - DO­MINIC RYAN

THE last time I drove an MG it had a wooden steer­ing wheel and wire wheels. My MGB GT was, in my bi­ased opin­ion, an au­to­mo­bile of out­stand­ing beauty and un­bri­dled joy, even if through our years to­gether we had our ups and downs and un­fair share of tow-trucks.

My com­pan­ion this week, the MG GS, is not a cre­ation of the leg­endary Mor­ris Garages.

It was put to­gether in China fol­low­ing its top car mak­ers giv­ing shel­ter to MG Rover when it went bust in 2005, but it strives to be a thor­oughly Bri­tish SUV.

In fact it was de­signed in Blighty, which prob­a­bly ex­plains why up front and in your face is that un­mis­tak­able and much loved oc­tagon MG badge.

Over­all, it’s markedly dif­fer­ent in de­sign from the cur­rent crop of lozenges on wheels.

The roof rails and run­ning boards add an el­e­ment of dy­namism to a car that blends curves on its bon­net with creases in it sides.

If I were to de­scribe the GS in­te­rior as plain and sim­ple that would not be an in­sult. In place of the ma­hogany and stitched leather favoured by sports car driv­ers of the Six­ties, is hard plas­tic . . . but the gen­eral feel is of a spa­cious cabin that edges on de­lib­er­ately un­fussy min­i­mal­ism.

The in­te­rior feels roomy, with space in the rear for three adults who love sal­ads, and plenty of head and legroom in the front. The feel­ing of space is sur­pris­ing as there must be a short­age of glass in Shang­hai: the win­dows are all nar­row, es­pe­cially the rear screen, which doesn’t make for ideal vis­i­bil­ity.

Thank­fully, this model has a rear view cam­era to help park­ing, while the car’s nim­ble-footed con­trol means it’s not dif­fi­cult to scoot around town.

In terms of knobs and switches, there’s just enough of them in places easy to see and reach. The cen­tral touch-screen of­fers swipe graph­ics that are min­i­mal but easy to use, which is re­fresh­ing at a time when car man­u­fac­tur­ers seem to be spend­ing far too much of their time devel­op­ing in­creas­ingly com­plex in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems that bam­boo­zle and baf­fle.

Stan­dard mod­els of the GS come equipped with cruise con­trol, auto head­lamps and air-con but my Ex­clu­sive edi­tion also boasts heated leather seats, hill hold, sat­nav, DAB ra­dio, Blue­tooth and those rear park­ing sen­sors and cam­era.

Changed days in­deed. My GT had a mono speaker and a cas­sette player lodged with much pad­ding in the hole where an eight­track ma­chine had been.

Much more mod­ern, too, is this MG’s 1.5-litre, four-cylin­der petrol en­gine, mated to a six-speed man­ual box.

Mid-range it’s more than will­ing to pro­vide enough torque to do the job, but in this man­ual ver­sion it soon be­came ev­i­dent I needed to give the en­gine ad­vance no­tice of Kin­tyre’s steeper hills.

If the ride qual­ity is stiff, it is also edged towards sporty, be­ing planted into the Tar­mac with steer­ing that feels on-mes­sage and well weighted.

While it’s nat­u­rally no sports car, this is a good thing in my book, given that badge on the front.

Whether you’re a life­long MG fan cu­ri­ous to know how the mod­ern car feels, or brand new to the badge, this is a car that’s dis­tinct in a world of ho­moge­nous SUVs and well worth test driv­ing.

The MG GS of­fers value for money and dis­tinc­tive styling in a world filled with SUVs

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