MG has introduced a new entry-level version of its mid-sized HS SUV, just sliding in under the $30,000 barrier.

    Priced at $29,990 drive-away, the HS Core sits under the previous entry-level model, the Vibe, which is priced at $31,990 drive-away.

    It’s available for pre-order now, with deliveries beginning in January.

    The Core substitutes the Vibe’s leatherette upholstery for cloth, which MG says was in response to requests from customers.

    The six-speaker sound system of the Vibe is also downgraded to a four-speaker unit.

    Despite the lower cost of entry, the Core still has a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as keyless entry and start.

    It also features the MG Pilot suite as standard, which includes adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

    Like the rest of the HS range, the Core is front-wheel drive and powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine producing 124kW of power and 250Nm of torque. It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

    Next year, the HS range will also be supplemented with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder variant, as well as a plug-in hybrid model called the e-HS.

    The introduction of the Core allows the MG HS to undercut most rival mid-sized SUVs, with one notable exception.

    Entry-level versions of the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Mitsubishi Outlander all fall just under the $30,000 barrier, though those prices are before on-roads. Each of those established rivals, too, comes only with a manual transmission.

    The HS also faces competition from its fellow countryman, the Haval H6. However, that’s a considerably older design lacking active safety technology like autonomous emergency braking.

    Perhaps the toughest competition comes from the similarly fresh SsangYong Korando EX, which also packs a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, an array of active safety technology, but an even sharper price of $28,990 drive-away.

    It also offers a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

    The Korean Korando is well behind the HS in the sales race, however. The Korando reached the Australian market late last year, a few months before the HS, but it’s the HS that’s leading them in the sales race. This year, it’s outselling the Korando by over 10-to-one.

    MG has sold 2393 examples of its HS this year, also putting it ahead of the Ford Escape (1581), Haval H6 (846), Jeep Cherokee (351), Peugeot 3008 (846) and Renault Koleos (2161).

    It’s also selling around ten times better than its predecessor, the MG GS.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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