The GS’s ‘more for your money’ sales proposition feeds directly and positively into the dynamic appeal of the car via its turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine, which gives you about 25% more power and torque than the going rate for a petrol-powered, £18,000 compact crossover.

That’s enough urge to make the GS a sub-nine-second car from standing to 60mph – and something MG itself may be interested to find out, given that it quotes a conservative 9.6sec to 62mph.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
There’s enough power to make steeper inclines feel quite gentle. In normally aspirated petrol rivals, they wouldn’t

Few direct rivals manage the sprint in much less than 10.5sec, and the diesel-powered alternatives tend to be slower still, albeit usually more flexible.

You wouldn’t, however, expect that many crossover buyers shopping at the bargain end of the price spectrum to be motivated by an added-value performance selling point if it wasn’t delivered with good refinement, driveability and fuel economy.

The GS goes some of the way towards completing the picture; it’s quiet both at idle and at a relaxed urban and extra-urban cruise, and it accelerates assertively in higher gears through the lower reaches of the rev band, thanks to that 184lb ft plateau of torque being available from well under 2000rpm.

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But that turbocharged 1.5-litre engine is no paragon of smooth, even operation.

When pulling from low revs and at full power, it fights its way through a flat spot at around 3000rpm that interrupts the car’s forward momentum notably.

It’s only for an instant, but it’s in every gear and at a point in the rev range through which you’ll pass repeatedly and routinely on every run up through the gearbox’s ratios.

You wouldn’t imagine that Ford, Volkswagen or even Hyundai would allow such an irritating quirk to slip through the development net.

Neither would you imagine those better-established car makers signing off an engine quite as tremulous and buzzy as this at high revs – because above 4500rpm, the GS’s four-cylinder unit makes its presence both heard and felt through the seat and controls.

This is the biggest-capacity, longest-stroke version of the ‘Small Gasoline Engine’ that SAIC has developed jointly with General Motors, and at times it certainly feels like it.

The GS’s primary controls speak of closer attention to detail, being pleasant, usable and generally uniform in their weight.

Braking performance is powerful and consistent, aided by reliable ABS – although a pronounced pitch forward over the front wheels might affect high-speed stability if you needed to stop and steer to avoid an obstacle.

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