Review: MG GS vs Suzuki Vitara twin test

Review: MG GS vs Suzuki Vitara twin test
Review: MG GS vs Suzuki Vitara twin test

MG has launched its first SUV, the GS: how does it stack up against the impressive and good-value Suzuki Vitara?

MG’s gradual rebirth continues. First we had the MG 6 large hatch, then the MG 3 supermini, and now the most significant new model of all has arrived: the MG GS small SUV. With value pricing a key part of its appeal, we’ve pitched the mid-range £17,495 1.5 TGI Excite against our current favourite budget SUV, the £16,249 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 SZ-T.

Engines and driving

Currently, MG doesn’t offer a diesel GS, which is why we’ve pitched it against the petrol-engined Suzuki. But its 1.5-litre TGI turbocharged engine is nevertheless impressive, with a healthy 166hp delivering strong performance. It does 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds, a full second faster than the Suzuki, and serves up plenty of low-down pulling power.

Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 SZ-T
★★★★☆
Price £16,249
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol
Power: 118bhp
Torque: 115lb/ft
0-60mph 9.7sec
Top speed 112mph
Fuel economy 53.3mpg combined
CO2 emissions 123g/km

But don’t think this means the Vitara feels sluggish. Its power delivery is also more consistent than the MG, which can come with a bit of a pause-rush at times, and the engine is quieter (although this is countered by more wind and road noise at speed). The Suzuki’s controls are generally more refined than the MG so it feels a bit better quality in action.

The Suzuki has a smoother ride quality, proving more settled both in town and on faster roads. The MG is bigger and heavier, and feels it: there’s less agility, less grip and less body control. The steering is heavier and slower as well, which doesn’t help things – the Suzuki is much easier to park and manoeuvre.

Space and practicality

The MG’s size advantage outside is felt inside: there’s little difference up front but it has better headroom and legroom in the rear, plus a bigger boot with a more accessible, easy-to-load opening. The Suzuki isn’t particularly cramped though, and both have a split-fold rear seat that gives a flat, even load bay.

In the front, both have commanding driving positions and multi-adjust seats to suit all sizes. Each has supportive seats, despite neither having lumbar support as standard, and both are also impressively well-equipped despite their value-led list prices.

Equipment

For example, they both have climate and cruise control as standard, plus DAB radio with steering wheel controls, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, alloy wheels and all-round electric windows. Each has an alarm too, plus reversing cameras to make parking more painless.

mg-gs-vs-suzuki-vitara-10

MG GS 1.5 Excite
★★☆☆☆
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol
Price £17,495
Power 164bhp
Torque 184lb/ft
0-60mph 8.7sec
Top speed 118mph
Fuel economy 46.3mpg combined
CO2 emissions 139g/km

A touchscreen infotainment system is fitted to both models as well. The MG has the larger screen at eight inches, and it’s good to use and easy to read. The Suzuki’s is smaller at seven inches, but is just as crisp – and includes standard sat nav, a feature missing on the MG. It also pairs up with smartphones.

The downside in either car is some hard, brittle plastics that are a little too obvious in places. Both brands have tried to smarten their cabins with chrome detailing and textured surfaces to hide the cheap materials, but neither is fully effective here.

Neither car has autonomous emergency braking either, although the Suzuki has scored a five-star Euro NCAP rating despite this: the MG hasn’t yet been tested.

Value for money

It’s early days for the MG in terms of long-term residuals, but already the experts are predicting it to be worth less than the Suzuki after three years – and the Vitara is cheaper to run as well (fuel economy alone is more than 10mpg better). The savings are stark: a private buyer will spend more than £3,000 less on the Vitara compared to the GS, and Suzuki dealers’ willingness to offer discounts reinforces the price advantage as well. Whichever way you look at it, the Vitara will cost less to run.

Verdict

You’ve probably guessed the result. The MG is a strong performer, and is the roomier model with the faster engine, but it can’t quite measure up to the Suzuki overall. The Vitara is almost as practical, more fuel-efficient, feels more substantial and will be worth more on the used market. Good effort, MG, but the Suzuki wins the twin test this time round.

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