MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

The MG HS has gone from an also-ran to an affordable PHEV frontrunner, ideal for a family – read on to find out why…

Launched in 2019, the MG HS is a worthy mid-sized SUV that has the unenviable task of stealing sales from the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Kuga and Hyundai Tucson.

Sitting above the successful ZS in the fast-growing Chinese brand’s range, up until now the HS has only been available with a 1.5-litre petrol engine that isn’t class-leading when it comes to pulling power, economy or refinement.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

On the plus side it’s offered big bang for your buck because it’s priced from just £22,995, and it delivers good looks, practicality, space, a pleasant driving experience and generous equipment levels.

Fast forward to 2022 and a plug-in hybrid version has been introduced. Suddenly the HS is a serious contender. Starting at £31,095, it’s one of the best value PHEVs on the market.

Like all plug-in hybrids, it offers the best of both worlds, delivering some of the experience of an EV without any of the associated range anxiety.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

MG has used the same 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the regular HS, but here it works in tandem with a 90KW electric motor (drawing power from a 16.6kWh battery) to give a combined output of 254bhp (and 273 lb ft of torque), enabling it to reach 0-60mph in just 6.9 seconds with a top speed of 118mph. 

Perhaps more importantly, it has an electric-only range of 32 miles (plenty for most commutes). 

On paper, it’s capable of as much as 155.8mpg if your journeys are modest and you keep your battery charged up, while CO2 emissions are as low as 43g/km. That last figure is crucial for business users because the lower the emissions the higher the tax benefits.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

The MG HS Plug-in Hybrid uses a new 10-speed automatic transmission which works with both the petrol and electric motors to optimise power delivery and efficiency. Power is delivered to the front wheels only (unlike some rivals, an all-wheel drive version is not offered).

As for charging, the battery can be topped up to 100% in 4.5 hours using a 7kW home wallbox.

MG has kept things simple and there are just two trims levels – Excite and Exclusive.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

Standard equipment on the ‘entry-level’ Excite model includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10-1-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, plus a 360-degree camera system. 

Upgrade to the Exclusive and it brings upgraded LED headlights, smart leather sports seats and a panoramic sunroof.

MG Pilot – a suite of driver assistance systems that gives the MG HS one of the most comprehensive safety packages in its class (helping the HS achieve a maximum five-star rating) is also standard.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

In other words, driver assistance and safety aids include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Intelligent Headlight Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detection.

MG is best known as a budget brand these days, but the HS is anything but cheap and cheerful.

The cabin is well put together with quality materials (the leather upholstery on the Exclusive model is especially good). It has a solid feel and the doors close with a satisfying clunk.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

The digital driver’s display works well, though the central infotainment screen is a little sluggish and unfortunately also includes the climate controls, which isn’t ideal in hot and cold weather.

There’s plenty of space. In fact, rear passengers have a superb amount of head and legroom. The boot is a decent 448 litres, expanding to 1,375 litres when the 60:40 rear seats are folded.

Like many plug-in hybrid SUVs, it’s at its best cruising along. Most are let down by their gearbox/engine combo which invariably sends the revs shooting up if you put your foot down.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

The MG HS is one of the better ones, but not perfect. More spirited drivers will find it a little hesitant, while the engine can become a little vocal if you floor it.

That said, it’s fine if you take it easy, offering pleasantly refined driving with ample power in reserve for overtaking.

It’s no performance SUV, so don’t go expecting massive amounts of driving engagement, but it covers its brief well and feels substantial and planted.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

The transition from electric to petrol and vice versa is fairly seamless, while running in electric-only mode is beautifully smooth.

The driving position is commanding (though I’d prefer the option to be able to lower the front seats a little more), visibility is good and the ride is comfortable.

Fuel economy will depend on keeping the battery charged up and the length of your journeys, so your visits to the service station for petrol will be few and far between if you complete most of your trips in EV mode.

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

However, on long journeys where you’re almost totally reliant on the petrol engine, economy can dip below 40mpg.

The good thing about the PHEV system on the MG HS is that it will feed in the electrical assistance, leaving you with a little charge even at the end of a long trip.

Finally a quick mention for the factor which may swing it for many as the cost of living crisis bites – not only is it great value, but the HS offers peace of mind thanks to a generous seven-year warranty.

Verdict: With the introduction of plug-in hybrid technology, the MG HS is now the tempting family car it could always have been. Comfortable, safe, refined, well built and economical, it’s one of the most affordable PHEV SUVs on the market. 

MG UK

MG HS Plug-in Hybrid review

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid is an intriguing car. Its sleek ‘coupe SUV’ styling gives it serious kerb appeal, there’s plenty of room for all the family and it’s a full hybrid, so there’s no need to plug it in.

Add Renault’s solid five-year warranty, plus all the latest safety kit it comes with, and this Nissan Qashqai-sized crossover ticks a lot of boxes on paper.

Slotting between the Captur and Kadjar in the Renault range, the Arkana is available with two engine options – both fitted with automatic gearboxes.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The TCe 140 model consists of a 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol engine, offering 138bhp and a combined fuel consumption figure of 48.7mpg. It’s the quickest of the two Arkanas, reaching 62mph from rest in less than 9.8 seconds.

The car we tested, the E-Tech Hybrid, combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, offering a total of 143bhp. Fitted with a small 1.2kWh battery, the system prioritises all-electric running unless full power is required and Renault claims it can return up to 58.9mpg with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds, while CO2 emissions are a low 109g/km.

First impressions are good. The Arkana stands out from the crowd and looks particularly good in Zanzibar Blue. There’s a real feeling of space inside and the attractive dashboard layout is similar to the Captur, on which the Arkana is based.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Soft-touch surfaces are welcome and overall build quality is impressive inside, while up front it’s more solid and functional than flash. There’s a digital instrument display behind the steering wheel and a portrait-shaped 9.3-inch infotainment touchscreen in the centre console (7.0-inch in the entry-level model).

The driving position is relatively high (the car itself is taller than you might think) and there’s ample leg and headroom for adults to travel comfortably in the rear. There’s a useful 480 litres to boot space (slightly down on the mild hybrid model which has no rear battery), expanding to 1,263 litres with the rear seats down.

Visibility is generally good. Our only gripe was that our test car was not fitted with a rear wiper, which is especially annoying on motorways in the wet.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

You’re likely to start off in EV mode and the petrol engine will only kick in if you boot it. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the Arkana’s six-speed F1-derived clutchless auto transmission, which is supposed to be more efficient and smoother than a conventional automatic, is the car’s weak point.

The gearbox is sluggish and unpredictable at times, meaning that the engine’s revs rise alarmingly at the slightest encouragement. This often-noisy driving experience is a shame because the Arkana package as a whole has a lot right with it.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

There are three driving modes (Eco, Sport and MySense). The latter is effectively the ‘normal’ mode, and the setting you’re likely to leave the car in.

There’s also a button on the dashboard for manually switching to electric mode yourself, as well as a ‘B’ mode on the gear selector for extra regenerative braking (the system that adds charge to the battery by harvesting energy otherwise wasted during braking and coasting).

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The transition from electric power to engine propulsion, and vice versa, is reasonably smooth – and engine noise aside – it’s no slouch. Naturally it’s hushed in EV mode, but it’s also fairly refined on a motorway cruise.

The Arkana’s set-up is on the firm side, so it handles surprisingly well with controlled body lean, there’s decent grip and it generally feels composed.

We tested the mid-range S Edition, though more spirited drivers might want to consider the top-of-the-range RS Line model which features sporty design cues. That said, we doubt that it is any more dynamic on the road, even in Sport mode.

We couldn’t get close to Renault’s claimed economy figures, but depending on your route and driving style, anywhere between 40-50mpg is realistic.

Verdict: It would be easy to dismiss the new Renault Arkana as a case of style over substance. Yes, it’s an eye-catching coupe SUV and, yes, there are some issues with the gearbox, but overall, it’s a comfortable, practical, quality package backed up by a decent five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Renault UK

Kia Sportage review

Kia Sportage review

Kia ended 2021 on a high with a record UK market share of 5.5% before getting off to a cracking start in 2022.

The South Korean brand finished January as the best-selling brand (9.1% share) – a first in its 30-year history.

This success was led by the Kia Sportage, which was January’s most popular car overall, having ended 2021 as the ninth best-selling popular new car.

Kia Sportage review

It’s remarkable that this family favourite was still flying out of the showrooms in 2021 and early 2022 because these were the last of the fourth generation Sportage (originally launched in 2016) models.

Which brings us to the all-new Mk 5 Sportage – one of the most striking new crossovers on the road.

Rocking a bold, confident new design, hi-tech interior and a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid (mild, self-charging) engines (with a plug-in to follow), the range is priced from £26,745 to £38,445.

Kia Sportage review

There are five trim levels (2, GT-Line, 3, 4 and GT-Line S) and it will do battle the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai and Suzuki S-Cross.

There’s no doubt that the new Sportage has serious road presence, echoing some of the futuristic styling cues of its pure electric big brother, the EV6.

Inside, the change is just as radical with a smart two-screen infotainment set-up. As standard, there’s a an 8.0-inch main touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and additional digital driver’s display on the right. From GT-Line spec up there’s a larger 12.3-inch screen in the centre.

Kia Sportage review

The curved console is clear, bright, responsive and intuitive to use, partly down to the short-cut buttons below the screen.

We tested three variants (all using a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine) – the entry-level with no electrical assistance, followed by the mild hybrid and the self-charging (or full) hybrid.

Four-wheel drive is available with any of the hybridised models, which are only fitted with automatic gearboxes, while the regular 1.6-litre car only comes with a manual box.

Kia Sportage review

Apart from the obvious kerb appeal, the first thing you notice about the new Sportage is that it’s a little longer, wider and taller than the outgoing car and there’s more room inside.

Overall, it has a more mature, sharper look, it’s well put together, has a quality feel and is generously equipped.

In fact, there’s plenty of space for adults front and back, while the luggage capacity is an impressive 587 litres, expanding to a huge 1,780 litres when the 40:20:40 split rear seats are flipped.

Kia Sportage review

On the road, the Sportage is easy to drive with light steering and good all-round visibility. It would be wrong to say it has the most sophisticated ride thanks to its firm suspension settings, but it does the job and remains reasonably flat when pushed in more challenging corners.

The only slight disappointment is the 1.6-litre T-GDi engine which isn’t the most engaging of units and can be vocal when pushed- a shame because the Sportage is a refined cruiser.

For the record, the conventional engine’s 148bhp is good enough for a 0-60mph sprint time of 9.9 seconds, while the mild hybrid (same engine power, but with 48V battery assistance) is slightly faster (9.4 seconds).

Kia Sportage review

What’s more, on paper the claimed fuel consumption of the basic petrol turbo is 41.5mpg, compared to 40.4mpg for the mild hybrid (though in real world driving you won’t get near 40mpg), so I’m not sure that the latter is worth the extra expense.

Puzzlingly, the CO2 emissions for the all-wheel-drive mild hybrid I drove were higher (158g/km) than the regular petrol (154g/km), so where’s the benefit?

The six-speed manual has an easy shift action, while the automatic options (seven-speed dual-clutch and traditional six-speed torque-converter) are suitably smooth for the mild and full hybrids.

Kia Sportage review

Obviously, if money is not the main concern, then the full hybrid is the most tempting model in the range (until the plug-in hybrid version comes along) – especially if your journeys tend to be longer. There’s extra poke, it’s a more relaxed drive generally and EV mode kicks in at low speeds or when manoeuvring.

The front-wheel drive version I tested delivers a combined 226bhp, a 0-60mph time of 7.7 seconds, fuel economy of up to 48.7mpg and emissions as low as 132g/km.

The Sportage is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance kit including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and, as with all Kia cars, it comes with a generous seven-year warranty.

Verdict: The all-new Kia Sportage goes straight to the top of the family SUV class with its blend of striking looks, hi-tech interior, practicality, top safety features and big bang for your bucks.

Kia UK

Britain’s bestselling cars of 2021

Home / Auto News / Britain’s bestselling cars of 2021

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

The final figures are in and the Vauxhall Corsa was the the UK’s most popular car in 2021, deposing the Ford Fiesta after 12 consecutive years at the top of the charts.

Not only is the Corsa available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, but there’s also an affordable pure electric version (badged Corsa-e) with a range of up to 209 miles.

Latest data from the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) showed that 305,000 plug-in vehicles (electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids) were sold last year, accounting for 18.6% of overall market share.

Electric vehicles accounted for 11.6% of the market, or 190,727 cars, meaning that more EVs were registered last year than over the previous five years combined, with the Tesla Model 3 leading the charge.

The overall UK car market only improved fractionally, thanks to the global semiconductor shortage and COVID. In 2020, 1.63 million cars were sold, while in 2021 it was 1.65 million.

  1. Vauxhall Corsa
    2021 registrations: 40,914
    2020 ranking: 2nd (up 1 place)
  2. Tesla Model 3
    2021 registrations: 34,783
    2020 ranking: 14th (up 12 places)
  3. MINI Hatch
    2021 registrations: 31,792
    2020 ranking: 7th (up 4 places)
  4. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
    2021 registrations: 30,710
    2020 ranking: 5th (up 1 place)
  5. Volkswagen Polo
    2021 registrations: 30,634
    2020 ranking: 8th (up 3 places)
  6. Volkswagen Golf
    2021 registrations: 30,240
    2020 ranking: 3rd (down 3 places)
  7. Nissan Qashqai
    2021 registrations: 29,992
    2020 ranking: 6th (down 1 place)
  8. Ford Puma
    2021 registrations: 28,697
    2020 ranking: 9th (up 1 place)
  9. Kia Sportage
    2021 registrations: 27,611
    2020 ranking: 16th (up 7 places)
  10. Toyota Yaris
    2021 registrations: 27,415
    2020 ranking: 15th (up 5 places)

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review

We road test the stylish new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross – an SUV transformed…

Where the outgoing Suzuki S-Cross lost out in kerb appeal, it gained in practicality, off-road capability, comfort, equipment and value for money.

This third-generation model builds on its predecessor’s plus points, adding style and a comprehensive safety and tech upgrade.

And let’s face it, it has to good because it’s battling it out with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-30 and Seat Ateca in the highly competitive family crossover sector.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

The new S-Cross has a couple of aces up its sleeve. Unlike most of its rivals, not only is it also available with four-wheel drive (AllGrip in Suzuki speak), but it offers more equipment as standard, better fuel economy and lower emissions.

Add Suzuki’s hard-won reputation for reliability and top customer service and it becomes a serious contender.

So let’s start with the obvious. While the S-Cross retains much the same profile as the Mk 2, it now has a bolder, more rugged SUV appearance and it looks especially good from the front.

Priced from £24,999, at launch it’s only available with a lively 1.4-litre ‘Boosterjet’ turbo engine, which features a 48V mild hybrid system (there’s a 0.3kWh lithium-ion battery under the driver’s seat) developing 129bhp in total.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

Delivering a 0-62mph acceleration time of 9.5 seconds (2WD models) for both manual and automatic transmissions and a top speed of 118mph, it is capable of up to 53.2mmpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 120g/km. And those last two stats are class-leading.

To make life less complicated, the S-Cross comes in two trim levels – Motion and Ultra.

Entry-level Motion comes with a 7.0-inch centre touchscreen (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and heated front seats.

Ultra adds a 9.0-inch touchscreen with built-in sat-nav, 360-degree camera, leather upholstery, a sliding panoramic roof and the option of four-wheel drive.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

There’s a step-up inside too. While it’s not state-of-the-art, it’s spacious, comfortable and logically laid out.

It’s well built too, though we’d prefer some soft-touch surfaces. It’s also refreshing to find some buttons and dials in addition to the touchscreen (a big improvement on its predecessor, though still not the slickest system ever).

There’s plenty of space for passengers, but the panoramic sunroof does eat into the headroom, so don’t forget to sit in the back on a test drive.

Boot capacity is a useful 430 litres, rising to 875 litres with the rear seats folded down. There are also useful storage spaces around the cabin.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

Our only gripe is that the driver’s seating position is a little on the high side, but it won’t be a deal breaker for most potential buyers.

On the road the new Suzuki S-Cross is easy and fun to drive. The engine is eager, and thanks to the car’s lightweight construction and that boost from the battery, it feels lively and only becomes vocal if pushed hard.

Like most SUVs, there’s a little body roll in faster corners, but overall it feels composed and surprisingly agile, while both the automatic or manual six-speed gearboxes are a pleasure to use.

It’s ideal for the city, with light steering and good visibility, plus all-round parking sensors and a rear camera.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

What’s more, if you’re no stranger to extreme weather conditions or you simply want extra peace of mind, then four-wheel drive is fitted as standard if you opt for the Ultra trim.

It has four drive modes – Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. Auto is the default. It uses two-wheel drive, switching to four wheels if it detects wheel spin. Sport makes the S-Cross more dynamic, maximising grip when necessary, altering engine response and cornering performance.

Use Snow for the obvious and other slippery conditions, while Lock is for controlling the car in snow, mud, or sand.

Verdict: The new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is something of a revelation. An affordable, no-nonsense family SUV that handles well and offers impressive off-road capability. Generously equipped, spacious and boasting low running costs, it’s packed with safety kit and the latest infotainment technology.

Suzuki Cars