2021 MG HS Core (car review)

THE 2021 MG HS Core is at the forefront of a revolution in affordable SUVs. Built by the now Chinese-owned moniker that was once the hallmark of British sports cars, it boasts a decent list of features, a great price, and plenty of safety technology.

The MG HS Core is the base variant in a seven strong line-up that includes the Vibe, Excite, Excite X, Essence, Essence X and the Essence Anfield, with the range topping model carrying a signature Liverpool FC look and feel.

Only the X variants are all-wheel drive, with all other offerings available in front-wheel drive only. But what makes the Core stand out, is its drive away price of just $29,990 – for a medium-sized SUV.

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Sure, you can only have yours in one of three colours, York White, Black Pearl Metallic or Surfing Blue Metallic (as tested), but there’s plenty of decent inclusions for a sub-$30K vehicle that’s reasonably economical and pretty nice to look at.

And when we say decent inclusions, we mean it. That list includes, for example, 17-inch alloys, the full MG Pilot driver safety suite, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, driver seat height adjustment and fabric seats.

A 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smart phone connectivity, including Bluetooth, and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also features. But, it’s here where we have to call out our first issue with the MG HS Core.

On not one, but four occasions, we managed to crash the wired Android Auto connection, hanging the infotainment system. It’s worth noting, we’re aware of similar issues with iPhone connectivity to Apple CarPlay.

On two of those occurrences, the system fixed itself after a few minutes, but the other two required disconnecting the cable and cycling power to the infotainment system. Clearly that’s not something you can do while driving.

Glitches with smartphone integration aside though, the infotainment system is easy to navigate. You get used to the fact it pretty much controls all of the car’s functions, including climate, and that it can be very touch sensitive at times.

It’s the one area MG needs to focus its attention for improvement, in a car that’s pretty damn good to get around in otherwise. Well, that and a lack of second row air vents or power sockets.

There is in fact just one USB port in the whole car, and one 12V socket, both in the front of a reasonably roomy cabin. That’s a bit unworkable when someone other than the driver or front seat passenger needs to charge something.

Okay, some finessing of the engine and gearbox combo would be good to. That pairing, of a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 119kW of power and 250Nm of torque, married to a 7-speed twin-clutch auto offers solid power delivery for the most part.

It randomly seems to forget what gear it should be in though. On a trip to the Blue Mountains, it occasionally decided to rev its little heart out as it searched for the right sweet spot in its transmission tune.

It wasn’t disastrous though and if you spent more time with it, you’d get used to the way it drives, and adapt. It has a 55-litre petrol tank and fuel economy sits at a claimed 7.3-litres/100km.

That’s not unreasonable, and real world testing saw us average around 7.9-litres in a pretty good mix of driving conditions, including pouring rain and heavy traffic.

Boot space in its normal 5-seat configuration is 463-litres, which grows to 1,287-litres with the split fold rear seats laid flat. Second row seating offers plenty of head and leg room for adults, which means loads of room if you only have smaller humans.

The 2021 MG HS Core comes with a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating. That’s in part thanks to the impressive MG Pilot safety system offered across the entire range.

It includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane assist, traffic jam assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, intelligent headlamp control and intelligent speed assist.

The list of standard safety features also includes six airbags, ABS, emergency brake assist, stability and cornering brake control, hill launch assist, automatic hazard light activation, and auto door unlocking in an accident. Impressive to say the least.

It competes with a serious list of rivals, but is the cheapest offering by far, particularly with an automatic transmission. Those opponents include Toyota’s RAV4 GX, Kia Sportage S, the Nissan X-Trail in its base form, and at a stretch, Mitsubishi’s Outlander ES.

Overall, it’s a very attractive car to look at, with a pretty good looking interior too. It should have the budget conscious buyer grinning from ear to ear. And why not, it’s a well priced package, that offers a lot of car for not a lot of money, all things considered.

Our test vehicle was provided by MG Motor Australia. To find out more about the 2021 MG HS Core, contact your local MG dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - affordable SUV; decent list of inclusions; solid drive for the price.
Cons - crashed Android Auto four times in a week; limited colour choices; lack of second row goodies.
Mark Holgate
Mark Holgate
A journalist with more than 24 years experience, Mark Holgate has worked with a number of regional, suburban and metropolitan newspapers, as well as stints with motoring specific publications like Which Car? Motorsport News, Auto Action and Street Machine. He is also a contributor to DriveTribe.



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<strong>Pros -</strong> affordable SUV; decent list of inclusions; solid drive for the price.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> crashed Android Auto four times in a week; limited colour choices; lack of second row goodies.2021 MG HS Core (car review)