Rounded corners, raked pillars, a high beltline and a relatively shallow glasshouse are all well deployed here, making the GS distinctive and dynamic-looking – and not at all, on first acquaintance, like a plain budget option.

That must have been a primary goal of its designers, and they have succeeded at it.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Why spend on leather for interior surfaces rather than on nicer door handles or column stalks? It’s on areas like this that MG has the most to prove

Most testers reacted positively to the styling from almost every angle, with the notable exception of the

rear, where the expanse of sheet metal between badge and bumper (broken up by a pronounced lateral crease) makes the car look like two hatchbacks that have been married vertically – and from a great height.

Look closely at the bodywork and you’ll find signs of questionable finishing that betray the car’s budget roots.

The shutlines and panel gaps vary from millimetre-tight to big enough to fit a pound coin into. Our Arctic White test car also showed a perceptible difference in paint shade between the plastics of its bumpers and the steel of its wings.

Top 5 Crossover hatchbacks

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the MG Motor range

Driven this week

These flaws don’t condemn the GS, but if MG is aiming to reproduce European build quality at a reduced price, it’ll need to be addressed before more discerning customers will be convinced.

The raked looks disguise the GS’s size well. At 4500mm long, 1855mm wide and 1665mm high, it’s markedly longer, wider and taller than a Nissan Qashqai and within touching distance on all three counts of a Ford Kuga.

It has a longer wheelbase than a Honda CR-V and yet it’s priced to undercut most supermini-based crossovers: the Renault Capturs and Mazda CX-3s of the burgeoning SUV set. By any measure, it represents a lot of metal for your money.

The GS is based on a new scalable SUV platform, accessed by MG Motor via parent company SAIC, and is entirely conventional, featuring a transversely front-mounted four-cylinder engine, a choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes and, for now, front-wheel drive only.

Power comes from an all-aluminium turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine that has been co-developed by SAIC and General Motors and is closely related to the 1.4-litre unit in the Vauxhall Adam and Corsa.

It makes an ample 164bhp and 184lb ft but is currently the only engine on offer. MG’s 1.9-litre diesel is mooted to follow later.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the MG Motor range

Driven this week