If you thought you could not afford to move up from a family hatchback to a sports utility vehicle then MG might have the answer.

For less than the price of a Ford Fiesta, the five-seater MG ZS offers neat, contemporary styling, a remarkably classy interior and loads of space.

The success of the ZS is one of the factors behind the company’s continuing sales success in the UK.

Inside, the cabin is a proper step forward from previous MG models with pleasant soft-touch materials spread across the top of the dashboard, clear instrumentation and switchgear and a decent level of on-board technology.

But where the Chinese-built ZS really excels is in the provision of space, with plenty of head and leg room for the driver and front seat passenger and for those in the rear.

The rear seats split and fold 60/40 and the boot is sizeable with a height-adjustable boot floor as standard.

Engine choice is simply between the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol driven here, or a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged unit, developed with GM, which is slightly more powerful than the 1.5-litre.

The 1.0-litre comes mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox and adds £2,000 to the price.

The four-cylinder is revvy and if you work the slick, five-speed manual gearbox, the ZS will happily zoom around country roads and cruise at motorway speeds.

Wind noise is well suppressed with any noise intruding in the cabin coming from the road.

MG says its engineers spent six months specially tuning the car for UK roads and they have done a decent job. Though the ride can be a little harsh on less-than-perfect surfaces, there is not too much roll in bends.

Steering is light and comes as standard with three switchable power-assisted modes, which can be accessed through the console-mounted eight-inch touchscreen. The urban setting is useful for parking and around town and the dynamic setting adds some more weight to the steering, but the normal setting is fine for everyday use and that’s where it’s likely to stay.

I had no problem getting the driving position just right, but although the driver’s seat is height adjustable, the steering wheel adjusts only for height and not reach.

The car driven here was a Limited Edition with only 400 going on sale in the UK, packed with a long list of visual and specification enhancements over the mid-trim Excite model on which it is based.

A touchscreen infotainment system comes as standard on every model, with a DAB radio and Apple CarPlay extending the display of an iPhone to the touchscreen allowing you to get directions, make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music.

Cruise control is also included, along with an effective but fiddly-to-operate air conditioning system.

Finished exclusively in Arctic White, the Limited Edition model comes with a high-gloss black grille, red trim highlights on the front and rear bumpers and 17-inch Diamond Cut alloy wheels.

The interior gets red-striped fabric with red leather-style bolsters, red accents around the air vents and stitching on the steering wheel and gear-lever gaiter.

Sales of the ZS have helped MG Motor UK to achieve its 21st consecutive month of growth, following the sale of 1,040 cars last month – a 28% increase in sales compared with the same month in 2018.

The company’s dealer network now stands at more than 100 nationwide and the company says it is on track to meet its goal of 120 sites by the end of 2020.

And to show the marque is well up to speed with the motor industry’s shift away from petrol power, deliveries start next month of the zero-emissions, all-electric ZS EV which is going on sale priced at £21,495.

Auto facts

Model: MG ZS 1.5 VTi-tech Limited Edition

Price: £14,995

Insurance group: 11E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 49.6mpg

Top speed: 109mph

Length: 431.4cm/169.8in

Width: 180.9cm/71.2in

Luggage capacity: 448 litres /16.9 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 10.5 gallons/48 litres

CO2 emissions: 129 g/km

Warranty: Seven years/ 80,000 miles