The once-famous British Morris Garage is back in Europe as a Chinese automaker with its own developments and an idea of how a modern car should work. For our weekly test, we tried a plug-in hybrid compact SUV called the EHS.
The MG brand has always been lucky in its nearly 100 year history. Since his 80s in the 20th century, someone has always put in millions of dollars to rebuild the company at the last minute, despite countless financial troubles.
The last time this happened in 2007 was with SAIC, China’s largest automaker, which assembles the likes of Volkswagen and Skoda for the local market. If measured, it appears to be one of the most stable periods ever for MG. After finding success in the UK and developing markets, mainly Colombia and Chile, MG’s Chinese bosses decided it was time to give the established car companies of continental Europe a hard time.
Just one first look at the 4.57-meter-long SUV reveals that today’s Chinese cars don’t look like they did 20 years ago. The white color is deep, the bodywork seams are regular, the doors fit easily into the locks and make a deep thump. Even the neutral smell of leatherette in the interior suggests that toxic glue is a thing of the past. And what about the price? Comparing the EHS to a plug-in hybrid Ford Kuga of roughly the same dimensions saves about 150,000 crowns. And we’re not talking about equipment.
So where is the dog buried? Probably everyone who has been behind the wheel of a Chinese car for the first time asks. Drivers will immediately notice the trivial graphics of the on-board system combined with the large amount of information. The speed of the electric motor, the voltage of the 12 volt battery and the traction battery can be read here, and a detailed breakdown of consumption has not been forgotten, of course, especially for the petrol 4-cylinder and the electric motor, for the MG Gearbox and he are part of one unit. For fans of numbers and statistics, scrolling through MG’s in-flight menu is an experience akin to visiting Müller’s villa in his Střešovice in Prague for lovers of functionalism.
So the car tries to be as helpful as possible, as if it doesn’t want to forget what someone happens to want to know. At the same time, however, controlling in-vehicle systems is illogical and time-consuming by European standards, which also apply to setting up in-vehicle assistants.
And MG fortunately has a lot of them, even basic equipment such as cruise control with automatic distance keeping. Few people would be surprised by For example, the Lane Assistant feature can be adjusted so that the car uses the full width of the road between defined lanes. Or vice versa, when he drives right in the middle.
However, we found one comfortable specification for Chinese in-vehicle systems. Most of what the driver sets here will remain set permanently. It’s hard to say how this got past European regulators, but it also applies to fog lights, for example. It stays on all year round until someone turns it off with the lever under the steering wheel.
The MG’s chassis has been tuned to significantly improve comfort, the car sways longitudinally in off-road waves and the body does not lean when cornering. At the same time, the electronic stabilization system frees the driving behavior for a long time. This is also why the front wheels seem to oversteer in faster passages, with the ESP intervention being fairly mild with some lag.
The designers paid special attention to the soundproofing of the interior, which is best seen when the windows inside the car are open. Only then do people hear the screech of an electric motor with their backs turned, but the crew of the enclosed car does not know about it. But overall, a comfortable trip he has only one drawback. Although not very comfortable, the backrest is narrow and the lateral guidance is almost imperceptible.
The Chinese have avoided using stepless CVT transmissions common in hybrid vehicles. Instead, it used a 6-speed robotized one. It also has his four stages for shifting electric motors. The notorious feature of the “robot”, namely the delay between shifting individual gears, is successfully covered by the MG with the help of an electric drive. As a result, the drive is smooth and at the same time somewhat more economical than can be achieved with a CVT.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles primarily benefit owners with access to a power outlet. Empty batteries can be recharged from domestic batteries in about 7 hours. This is enough for about 40 kilometers of pure electric driving. However, everyone gets tired of constant charging. Luckily, the MG works very well in automatic hybrid mode, where the car controls the drive itself.
In this mode, the energy from the traction battery is also reduced, but much more slowly than if the EHS were powered by the electric motor alone. The power supply therefore lasts about 200 km, but you also need to add 4 to 4.5 liters of fuel every 100 km.
Engine: petrol 4-cylinder, 1490 cm3 + electric motor
Power: 119 kW (162 hp) at 5500 rpm + 90 kW (122 hp) at 3700 rpm System power: 190 kW (258 hp) Rev. Torque: 250 Nm at 1700 – 4000 rpm + 230 Nm system at 500 – 3700 rpm Torque: 370 Nm
Top speed: 190 km/h
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 6.9 seconds
Combined consumption (WLTP): 1.8 l/100 km
Luggage compartment volume: 448 – 1375 l
Price: From CZK 887,940
But the idyllic partnership between petrol and electricity ends as soon as the traction battery dies. Drivers perceive this primarily by consumption, which suddenly crosses the 7-liter mark. Also, the 4-cylinder reaction is less stoic after pressing the gas pedal.
The sympathetic properties of the plug-in hybrid MG are therefore only available if the owner keeps the traction battery charged. In this case, the car will be rewarded with low consumption and good performance. Other scenarios don’t make much sense unless a seven-year factory warranty and a rich mix of equipment attracts interested parties. And at an attractive price that can overcome the confusion of the unknown someday.