MG EHS: the unexpected plug-in hybrid SUV

MG EHS: it could be the code name for a new prototype stealth aircraft. But it’s not. It is the name of a new hybrid SUV from MG. Originally, it was MG Motors, a British car manufacturer. Today, the two letters refer to the Chinese car giant, SAIC. A manufacturer that is entering the European market with an SUV that should shake up the segment: the MG EHS.

Strike a blow

With this car, the manufacturer from the Middle Kingdom wishes to strike a blow by offering a vehicle at prices approaching those of the lower segments. In partnership with the MG Motors Montpellier dealership, we took the wheel of the “Luxury” version. At first sight, the car has a nice size. With its 4.57 metres in length and 1.66 metres in height, this SUV makes a statement.

Some may say that this Sino-British SUV would seem to be bland. It is not. The car has a neat design with flowing lines for an eye-pleasing package. The car is, of course, based on the SUV codes. High ground clearance, increased habitability and large boot volume. A newcomer in the world of SUVs that has a few assets. It should make more than one person think. To do this, we took the EHS MG on a variety of terrains, between country roads, cities and motorways.

Premium highlighted on the MG EHS

Once you get behind the wheel, you’ll find a fairly hushed environment. The seats are welcoming and comfortable. On our test version, the red leather upholstery announces the colour. MG is banking on premium. Put your foot on the brake, press the start button and we’re ready to go. The first few laps of the wheel are done in the city and in a silence distilled by the car’s electric mode. Size of the car is quickly forgotten. The hybrid road is opening up to us.

Two driving modes and a 10-speed automatic transmission

One of the special features of this car is its engine. Here, MG’s engineers have gone in search of savings. On the driving modes. Forget the Eco, Comfort, Sport, Mud, Snow choices, the EHS is not a 4WD SUV. It is a permanent 4 x 2 with a ten-speed automatic gearbox (six for the combustion engine, four for the electric). These elements shed light on its vocation as a road car.

Under the bonnet are two engines. A 162 hp 1.5-litre combustion engine works in tandem with a 122 hp (90 kW) electric motor for a combined power output of 258 hp (370 Nm). Inside, the atmosphere varies between soft and voluptuous. It is clear that the emphasis has been placed on the well-being of the driver and passengers. The cabin is well equipped with a digital speedometer (12.3″) and a central screen (10.1″), with integrated GPS and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

As well as dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats. An SUV that also has the package of driving aids such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, active lane keeping, and automatic emergency braking.

Our Luxury test car also had a panoramic sunroof, 360° parking cameras and 100% LED lights. Leather seats and an electrically operated tailgate which, when opened, offers a fairly large storage capacity. 448 litres of volume, up to 1,375 litres with the seat folded down. A trunk volume within the norm of the segment.

Performances of this new Eastern car was an invitation to take to the road to discover it. The first real drives were on the motorway. Installed on the right-hand lane of the A9, between Montpellier and Sète, the car invites you to a supple and flowing driving, well wedged in the red leather of the seats. Once refuelled, the car has a range of just over 350 km.

The combustion engine engages above 40km/h

This seems a bit low, but with a 37-litre tank, you’ll have to keep an eye on the fuel consumption over the whole of your journey. The on-board computer estimates consumption at around 12.4 l/100km… Without forcing this electric mode, the Chinese SUV evolves in hybrid mode and wakes up its combustion engine from 40 km/h. While the competitors wait until 70 km/h to switch between the two energies. The transition generates a small jolt, but not enough to affect the driving experience. Comfortable over bumps, even at low speeds, and quiet at steady speeds, even on highways.

100% electric driving: it’s possible

It should be noted that it is possible to drive this MG in 100% electric mode. To do so, simply press the EV button near the gearshift. This forces the electric drive once the four-cylinder engine has warmed up. The idea is that you can drive in electric mode a very large part of the time. If you take the highway, you can accelerate electrically up to 130 km/h. Once the speed has stabilised, you can switch back to the internal combustion engine. When you leave the highway and enter a more urbanised area, you switch back to 100% electric mode, especially as the battery will have been recharged.

In this configuration, the kilometres go on and on. Up to 52 km, the brand promises. We went up to 48 km, but in the streets of Montpellier, we did use this mode. A nice asset that positions this SUV as an electric alternative in town. If you use it in the city, you’ll often be driving in 100% electric mode and in SUV comfort… Otherwise, the “marriage” of petrol and electric power is maintained, and the driving experience is smooth and quiet.

However, a curious ‘gap’ in acceleration is detected around 80 km/h (which certainly coincides with a gear change). We were surprised to see the petrol engine restart when we had been in electric mode for about ten minutes. This meant that the EV mode had to be re-engaged. A procedure that was repeated often during our test drive.

Fast ramping up

Once the motorway was behind us, it was by climbing the foothills of the Moure massif, between Aumelas and Vendemian, with the Pic Saint-Loup in our sights, that a few winding departmental roads played the role of judges to discover the road behaviour of our MG. An opportunity to highlight the gearbox of this SUV. The successive series of turns are on the horizon. We mash the right-hand pedal a little to rev up the engine and make the power speak.

The combined 258 hp and 370 Nm of torque are called upon. Together, the two blocks can reach speeds of up to 140 km/h and provide plenty of power to the drive wheels. Yes, it pushes quite a bit when you mash your right foot. Speed increases are quick and straightforward, even if there’s a little hesitation around 80 km/h. A question of gear ratio, certainly… This power increase is linear.

Optimal for “smooth and flowing” driving

Curves that put a lot of stress on the chassis and cause some body movements. The driving position is still as comfortable as ever, but you can feel that the car is showing its limits. The 10-speed gearbox is put to the test. It’s more at ease with shifting on more continuous inputs. It is not about having a sporty attitude with this MG. It’s best to forget about attacking curves in the mountains. The MG EHS is made for a “soft and flowing” ride. Here it is one of the best in its class.

MG EHS: the very affordable SUV

In the end, this MG EHS is a real paving stone in the SUV world. With a price tag of €36,200, this model offers a price/performance ratio that will turn heads when you consider that, in the same segment, a Citroën C5 Aircross hybrid, with 225 bhp, costs around €39,950, and that a Tiguan eHybrid exceeds €42,000. Even if you go down a segment, a Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech plug-in hybrid 160 bhp is advertised at €37,450. Not everything about this MG EHS is perfect, but it has the nerve to make this category of vehicle more than accessible to customers who want an SUV of a certain size. It will be even more enjoyable in urban areas and on long journeys.

Pierre-Jean Côme

Length: 4.57 m

Width: 1.87 m

Height: 1.66 m

Wheelbase: 2,72 m

Ground clearance: 145 mm

Trunk volume: 448 l

Trunk volume (bench seat folded): 1,375 l

Unloaded mass Comfort: 1,737 kg / Luxury 1,775 kg

Maximum allowable axle weight front: 1,095 kg / rear: 1,101 kg

Engine type: 1.5 turbo petrol GDI

Type: 10-speed transmission

Maximum power: 90 kW (122 hp) 3,700 rpm

Maximum torque: 230 Nm 500 to 3700 rpm

Battery power: 16.6 kWh

On-board charger: 3.7 kW

Maximum speed: 190 km/h

Acceleration from 0-100 km/h: 6.9 sec

Electric range*: 52 km

Consumption*: 240 Wh/km

Fuel consumption*: 1.9 l/100 km

CO2 emission*: 43 g/km

Battery warranty: 7 years or 150,000 km

*Manufacturer's data in WLTP standards

Metallic paint: 650€

Red leather upholstery: €1000

A test carried out with the help of the dealership Lattes Tressol-Chabrier MG Motors authorised MG dealer Plan du Néga Cat 34970 Lattes

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