MG has launched the new HS model in one of the busiest parts of the Australian new car market. Competing with big-name players, the all-new MG HS model will need to offer more than just good value for buyers to consider it. So, how does it stack up?

If you plugged a computer into Australia’s car market and had it design a car, I’m fairly sure it would come up with something like the MG HS.

Does it compete in one of the hottest-selling segments in Australia? Yep, it’s a mid-size SUV. Does it compete on price? Yep, it’s impressively cheap when compared to segment favourites. Is it well specified? Yep, it ticks pretty much every box there is to tick when it comes to gear. Does it look good? Yep, it borrows key styling elements from successful rivals.

Now the tricky one: Is there more to the story? Yep, turns out there is.

See, while MG has made impressive progress with its colour-by-numbers approach to car design, selling increasingly large numbers of its MG3 hatch and ZS small SUV, it’s still had a lot of catching up to do to be considered serious competition for Australian consumers.

So, should you be wooed by the HS SUV? Does it represent true progress for a fledging competitor brand? We went to its Australian launch to find out.

This mid-size SUV is incredibly cheap for the segment.

MG has the HS stickered with drive-away prices of $30,990 for the entry-level Vibe or $34,490 for the top-spec (for now) Excite.

There’s not much between them, and generally the specification ticks off almost every box on our checklist.

Both specs get the impressive 10.1-inch touchscreen and semi-digital dash cluster which looks genuinely impressive, although you can tell where the corners have been cut. The processor for the multimedia software is painfully slow, and the screen quality is average, presenting with both glare and ghosting. The Excite gets built-in nav, but you won’t miss it. It’s extremely slow.

Both specs also get the faux leather trim everywhere, digital radio, LED DRLs, reversing camera with guiding lines, and the full safety suite (skip down to safety to see what that’s all about).

All of that for the price of a base model RAV4, Sportage, or Hyundai Tucson is undeniably good value, no matter which way you cut it.

The Excite only adds LED headlights, 1-inch larger alloy wheels (18-inch), a sport drive mode, the electric tailgate, auto wipers, the laggy nav system, and an ambient lighting package. Nothing necessary there, but the small jump in price doesn’t break the value equation either.

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