The MG GS proved to be something of an anomaly for us here at Engine + Powertrain Technology International. On paper its Opel, SAIC, MG and Shangai GM co-developed 1.5-liter turbocharged small gasoline engine (SGE), which serves as the sole engine to the entire GS range, has impressive stats. The all-aluminium, DOHC inline four utilizes direct-injection, stop-start, an integrated turbocharger and manifold, as well as a composite variable length intake manifold, whilst all variants are capable of running on multiple fuel sources, including CNG and ethanol. The swept capacity of 1,490cc is achieved through a 74mm bore and 86.6mm stroke, with a maximum rpm of 6,500. GM stated, on completion of the engine’s development, that the turbocharged units develop 90% of their maximum 249Nm between 1500 and 5000rpm.
As said, on paper at least, the unit seemed like it should help the GS deliver a respectable, solid entry in to a market segment already full to bursting. The reality is, however, that in situ in the MG GS, the SGE feels much like the rest of the car; around two generations behind its closest rivals. Compounding this feeling is, as mentioned, the rest of the car from the hollow sounding when tapped interior plastics to the questionable ergonomics, to the previous generation Opel/ Vauxhall steering wheel and switchgear.
When driving, the claimed 224Nm of torque available until 5000rpm never feels like it arrives and leaves you feeling like you are constantly shifting through the gears in search of an acceptable rev range. An unwillingness to rev freely leads you to work the engine quite hard, negating any form of fuel saving offered up by the agricultural stop-start mechanism and other technologies. Twice whilst driving, the car effectively stalled for no apparent reason as the revs fell away. This happened to two separate occasions, leading us to diagnose either an over-zealous stop-start function or an underlying problem with our specific test car.
Away from this, once the car is up to speed it does regain some composure cruising at speed, as the drivetrain’s NVH softens in to the background noise. GM claims that the 1.0-liter variant of the SGE family is some 3dBa quieter than Ford’s Fiesta and 6 dBa quieter than VW Group’s 1.4-liter turbo. The 1.5-liter, however and in use in the MG, has a harshness and unpleasing tone to it that is present across the rev range.
What makes all of this even more perplexing is the fact that the SGE family of engines appears in a wide variety of other cars, namely Opel’s Adam and Corsa models in Europe and none of those seem to display the crassness of the MG. It is a real shame though, as the MG is a stylish, well-priced, and surprisingly well-built practical car.