2016 MG GS – Automan Test drive

Powerful New Contender – 2016 MG GS

MG_GS_9Morris Garages or MG has bounced back as a brand with some very interesting new models. The last Dubai motorshow saw it unveil the MG GS in the region and the compact SUV has now come to Oman

Author: Raj Warrior  |  Photography: Elvis John Ferrao

Everyone may not want to buy a compact SUV , but every manufacturer seems to want to manufacture one. After all the value proposition is right there – you are extending an existing car platform to accommodate a higher ride height, a straighter sitting posture and hopefullyt some extra luggage over that the car carries. And there you have it – a crossover that can then be marketed for more money than a car.

In this case the latest brand to enter the crossover space. MG is a brand owned now by SAIC of China and has moved its manufacturing completely to China. The new crossover is built on a new scalable architecture called the SSA platform that has been jointly developed with SAIC and the model takes a lot of cues from the CS concept that they fielded a few years ago.

That design and much of the engineering work and engineering processes continue to be done by British personnel.

The GS is compact in size with dimensions of 4500mm x 1855mm x 1699mm on a wheelbase of 2650mm. The height is kept a little lower than expected at 1699mm by keeping a sharply coupé like profile. this is aided by the fastback tailgate.

The frontal styling is also something that remains etched in your mind as the grille takes pride of presence with two slivers of grille sweeping away from it with a large lower airdam area that combines the foglights, honeycomb mesh and large bumper elements. And yes, the car also gets a front and rear rub plate to protect the ends of the underbody.

The platform sits on a ground clearance of 185mm and thus isn’t really meant to be an outright off-roader despite being equipped with a rather powerful engine in the 220PS, 2.0-litre turbocharged unit that offers torque of 350Nm. This is mated with a six-speed automatic gearbox with paddleshift gear controller.

The engine is also shared with other SAIC models including the Roewe RX5 but in this case is used to make a difference with the other offerings in the region.

We had been introduced to the car initially at the motorshow, with an outdoor display highlighting the off-roading abilities of the model. These will no doubt continue to be the main draw, including the AWD with lockable centre differential. Apparently there is an option available with upto 4 diff locks, but we don’t see that coming to the region anytime soon.

The cabin is definitely well thought out. The quality of touch points and plastics is above par, with some instrumentation actually looking good enough to be on premium brands.

The central display is one such story. It is good, but it suffers from a bit of glare induced drop in visibility and the graphics seem out of place by a couple of years. None of that is a deal breaker though – if we were buying the car we would put an antiglare film on the display and not have any worries.

The advantage is that the rearview camera shows a video stream that is of a higher resolution than many others do and the overlaid path markers move along with the turn of the steering wheel.

Another feature you don’t expect in a car from China is the automatic switchover engine start/stop system. For some time we didn’t believe it worked until we were out away from the city. It does.

Driving Impressions

MG_GS_8Honestly, the GS is more powerful than we expected. It competes head on with the regular batch of 2.4 and 2.5-litre cars and offers some healthy power and torque. But the catch is that the turbocharger does have a noticeable lag and you tend to paddle your way into a cog that keeps the engine revs above 2,000rpm, especially when you are indulging in a lot of overtaking. It really helps that torque is available in the mid-range to push ahead.

The brakes are good, suspension response is firm and predictable and steering input is linear.

The car is also equipped with hill descent and ascent control through its automatic brake hold. Naturally this translates into an electronic parking brake arrangement.

Verdict

MG_GS_5The GS has the wherewithal to be competitive in its segment and offers a feature to feature benefit in most cases. Now it will need to be offered at the right price keeping in mind its positioning.

About Raj Warrior
Raj Warrior is the managing editor of Automan Magazine and has been a part of the Middle East’s automotive landscape from the past 15 years. He has run top rung car magazines in India and Oman and is often referred to as the Automan of Oman. With a background in mechanics, mechanisms and software programming, he is able to visualise the intricate workings of the modern automobile and brings a mix of technical and lifestyle based assessment to his writing. He is also an avid Photographer, often shooting the cars and motorcycles he tests for the magazine. As comfortable on a motorcycle as he is in cars, Raj is driven by his love affair with all things on wheels and brings his passion to all his automotive ventures. Raj has chosen Oman as his home base because he loves the country, its friendly people and its great driving and riding roads.

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