Still, the overall ambience remains one of a car that looks and feels considerably more plush and luxurious than you expect it to; and one that isn’t blessed with digital infotainment and instrumentation technology that you’d ever find on a premium-branded car, but whose appeal isn’t totally undermined by what it does have, either.
The HS’s 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine starts fairly quietly and runs smoothly at low revs, and with plenty of accessible torque moving the car’s mass easily from low speeds. The dual-clutch gearbox, meanwhile, acts almost as unobtrusively as any on the market in response to smaller pedal inputs, timing its shifts well and executing most of them smoothly enough.
The well-mannered demeanor of both engine and gearbox begins to deteriorate when your right foot goes looking for greater urgency out on the open road, though. Above 4000rpm, much of the old GS’s buzzing coarseness returns and hurried gearshifts executed under load are considerably less slickly handled by the gearbox than the ones performed under less pressure.
For those reasons, and also because of a gearbox calibration that manages the clutches quite abruptly when you’re looking to whisk the car into a gap and can all too easily exceed what traction there is under the driven front axle, the HS isn’t a car you’re likely to enjoy driving quickly. It has a fairly authoritative-feeling outright performance level but is a lot more uncouth when working hard than at other times; and if you want better than 35mpg from it as a real-world, day-to-day fuel economy return, you’ll be well advised to ration your experiments with full throttle.
That’s equally good advice if you want to maintain a comfortable ride in the HS. The suspension does a creditable job at smothering longer-wave lumps and bumps and makes the car perfectly comfortable when moving at bog-standard, everyday-traffic sort of pace – except when sharper edges and potholes present, which the 18in alloy wheels of our test car didn’t deal with too well. (Smaller rims are available on lower-spec models.)
Quicken to a brisker stride, though, and the HS soon begins to run out of body control – much sooner, at any rate, than the better-sorted cars in this class would, and quite suddenly, too. It’s a shame since the car has well-paced, decently weighted steering and handles quite accurately, and so would otherwise cope with pacier driving well. It’s not a dynamic shortcoming serious enough to be likely to put off many SUV drivers, though, especially considering what else they’ll like about this car.