AS OF 2018 MG has two SUVs in its revamped line-up (now sans the MG6 family saloon), but there's a third on the way.

Since its November 2017 launch, the MG ZS compact-SUV has become the fastest-selling MG Motor UK model, with more than 400 orders taken in the first month alone. That’s not going to give Nissan salesmen sleepless nights. The Japanese giant sold more than 20,000 Qashqais (albeit across Europe – MG only supplies the UK market for now) in January, but it is good progress for MG.

In fact, in the year to date MG is the fastest-growing automotive brand in the UK and as such is on track to double its sales volume.

The original ZS was based on the venerable Rover 45, itself spun off from a Honda platform which, had it been human, would have been old enough to vote.

The new ZS is based on an entirely different platform. It also features a new corporate design language whose most notable feature is the large full-frame grille which allows for a much bigger MG badge to take centre stage. Machined alloy wheels, atypical of a compact SUV at this price point, look good and the whole vehicle is neat and contemporary. MG calls it efforts “emotional dynamism” but the reality is that it’s a perfectly fine, but rather generic-looking, compact crossover.

Although MG says a UK team has reworked the ZS for UK roads they seem to have concentrated their efforts on the ‘Dynamic’ mode (available on Excite and Exclusive trim levels). In Normal and Urban modes the power steering is very light – it feels like a Japanese car from the early-80s – but it weighs up nicely in Dynamic. If the ZS were my car I wouldn’t select any other mode.

Ride wise it feels fine. Darlington's interesting collection of potholes failed to trouble the cabin and the suspension doesn’t collapse when you corner.

Engine options are a 1.5 DOHC VTI-tech, four-cylinder engine with smooth and responsive five-speed manual gearbox, or a 1.0 GDI turbocharged, three-cylinder, automatic version. The smaller engine is fitted to the more expensive models and it provides ample power. The two powerplants are fairly closely matched – 105bhp vs 109bhp, but the smaller engine is more frugal and in keeping with the current zeitgeist for downsized powerplants.

Like-for-like, the 1.0 models cost £2,000 more than their 1.5 counterparts. The three-cylinder has more torque than the raspy 1.5-litre and feels better suited to the ZS.

The first thing you notice is just how much space you get for your money.

The ZS costs less than a Juke but offers the accommodation of a Qashqai. That’s a compelling USP.

The seats (six-way adjustable in the Excite and Exclusive models) are comfortable and the fascia looks good. MG scatters around metallic and chrome finishes, plus what it calls “carbon-esque” textures to give the cabin real appeal.

But look closer and you can spot where MG has saved a few quid. There’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel and you won’t have to look too hard to find brittle, scratchy plastics. Nevertheless, I think that’s acceptable on a compact crossover which costs less than many superminis.

The entry-level Explore model costs just £12,495, meaning it undercuts the cheapest Juke by a handy £2,385. The model tested is the range-topping Exclusive, which costs £15,495 and comes equipped with a leather interior and Apple CarPlay on the standard 8in infotainment touchscreen.

Entry-level models get LED day running lights, electrically-adjustable door mirrors, projector headlights and 15in alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control and USB and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.

Move up to the Excite and you’ll enjoy DAB radio, Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto), climate control, heated wing mirrors, front foglights and 17in alloys, while the range-topping Exclusive model adds rear parking sensors and a handy reversing camera.

The designers haven’t forgotten the practical elements either, with storage and stowage a key feature of the MG ZS – including a double cup holder, 1.5 litre bottle capacity in the doors and a split-level boot.

The MG ZS has 55mm additional rear shoulder room and 80mm rear headroom compared to the average Compact-SUV and a huge 448 litres of boot capacity, which is 60 litres larger than the typical car in its class. There’s also a split-level boot that provides plenty of room for luggage, groceries and leisure equipment.

The three star NCAP crash rating is nothing to get excited about, though, and the fuel filler cap feels especially flimsy, springing open with a comedy 'boing' when you pull the lever, which feels as though it might come off in your hand. Thankfully, it didn’t!

It’s good to see MG getting behind its products. The MG ZS comes with a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty, which is one of the longest in its class.

The three-cylinder engine is capable of nearly 50mpg on a gentle motorway cruise and about 35mpg around town. The ZS has a range of about 500 miles.

My verdict? It’s a real curate’s egg, the MG ZS. You undoubtedly get an awful lot for your money and the roomy interior is the best you’ll get at the price point – but the unnatural power steering and the skittish handling in crosswinds suggest MG’s engineers still have more work to do.

The 1.0T Exclusive Auto, as tested costs £17,495.