Future Models - MG 2012 MG5
China’s grand plans for MG
High five: MG’s global small-car contender emerged at the Shanghai motor show as the MG5.
MG flame flickers with new MG5 small car, MG3 mini, MG6 fastback – and much more
2 May 2011
CHINESE-OWNED British brand MG is preparing to make a massive comeback to international markets, possibly including Australia, with a host of new models – including an all-new sportscar.
Other key passenger vehicles for the revamped marque include the MG5 small car unveiled in near-production concept form at the recent Shanghai motor show, the MG3 light hatch already available in China and the MG6 small-medium five-door ‘fastback’ that has just hit UK showrooms.
In addition, an all-new sportscar, an SUV, an MG7 replacement and a host of new engines, including a hybrid and all-electric powertrain, are also understood to be in development.
An Australian program is still to be confirmed, although MG owner SAIC – China’s largest car-maker, which took control of the MG and Roewe (Rover) brands when it merged with Nanjing Automobile in 2008 – has made it clear that its heavy investment and ambitious product plans will ultimately reach global markets outside China and the UK over the next five years.
While dubbed a concept, the MG5 is close to production and should hit the Chinese market through Nanjing Auto later this year alongside the MG3, which was first seen as the Zero Concept at last year’s Beijing motor show and was recently launched in China.
From top: MG5 concept and sketch, MG Zero concept exterior and interior, MG6 exterior and interior.
MG Motor UK, which is also a subsidiary of SAIC and is now building the MG6 fastback at the reborn MG-Rover plant in Longbridge, Birmingham, said the MG5 five-door hatch was designed in the UK under the watch of SAIC’s global design director Tony Williams-Kenny and is aimed at a “slightly more mature and sophisticated audience” than the Williams-Kenny-created Zero, “with a more refined and dynamic style and chic technical finish”.
Details are scarce at this stage, but overseas reports indicate the MG5 will hit the UK market in 2013 to compete with European small cars such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall/Opel Astra and Volkswagen Golf. It will be based on the Roewe 350 platform.
SAIC’s Roewe website shows the 350 four-door sedan is based on a 2650mm wheelbase and measures 4521mm long, 1788mm wide and 1492mm high, with a luggage capacity of 458 litres.
It uses a 1.5-litre VCT four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 80kW of power at 6000rpm and 135Nm of torque at 4500rpm, driving the front wheels through a conventional five-speed manual or a five-speed ‘SSG Multi-Mode’ automated transmission.
The suspension set-up is a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear, with standard 16-inch alloy wheels and 205/55-section tyres.
As part of the prestige Roewe brand, the 350 has a high level of standard equipment including premium stereo (with DVD and USB interface), climate-control air-conditioning, a seven-inch touch-screen, voice navigation system (with iPod access and image viewer), trip computer and alarm.
Standard safety equipment includes dual front airbags, front thorax airbags and front/rear side curtain airbags, ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist, electronic stability control, cornering brake control and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
Britain’s Autocar reported that the MG5, codenamed AP12, will initially be powered by the existing ‘NSE’ series petrol engines, ranging from 1.3 to 1.8 litres, but in 2014 will offer a new ‘SGE’ series that SAIC is developing with General Motors and which will include 1.0, 1.2, 1.4 and 1.5-litre turbocharged engines.
New 2.0 and 2.4-litre engines are also reportedly in the pipeline, along with a 1.9-litre turbo-diesel.
Autocar also reported that an all-new sportscar, an SUV, a replacement for the MG ZT/Rover 75 and a petrol-electric hybrid version of the MG6 are all in development at SAIC for the MG brand, with design and engineering shared between Longbridge in the UK and Anting in China.
China will be the main production base, but assembly at Longbridge is also on the cards.
Other overseas reports indicate that an all-electric city car is also in development as SAIC works towards a goal of 700,000 annual sales for the MG and Roewe brands by 2015.
The hybrid will be one of the first of these new models to be launched, scheduled for the UK in late 2013, when a facelifted model is expected.
A two-seater sportscar successor to the TF – which is still in production – could be as far as five years away, with Autocar citing SAIC product planning chief Liu Tao as admitting that the company does not have a suitable platform but considers such a model a priority for the MG marque.
The SUV is said to be codenamed AS21 and unrelated to the Roewe W5 available in China, with a launch set down for 2014, while a redesigned MG7/Roewe 750 premium sedan is likely to appear in 2015.
The first UK customer deliveries of the MG6 – said to be the first all-new MG in 16 years – will take place this month with prices in the UK starting from £15,495 ($A23,640).
The MG6 features a 118kW/215Nm 1.8-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox and can hit 60mph (96.56km/h) in a claimed 8.4 seconds. Combined-cycle fuel economy is rated at 7.9L/100km.
MG Motor UK said substantial engineering work was undertaken to meet the higher dynamic benchmark in Britain and Europe compared to China. Notably, the MG6 has a multi-link rear suspension (struts up front), 17-inch alloy wheels, electro-hydraulic steering and a host of sports-oriented equipment and detailing.
The MG6 measures 4651mm in length, 2008mm in width (including mirrors) and 1472mm in height. It weighs from 1485kg, rests on a 2705mm wheelbase and has front and rear track widths of 1558mm and 1555mm respectively.
Sydney-based motor industry executive Adam Kaplan, who was involved with former MG Rover distributor Motor Group Australia, told GoAuto that he was unaware of any plans to relaunch MG in Australia “at this stage”.
He said he understood that the MG6 would be launched in New Zealand later this year, as that market took UK-spec cars directly, but said he had no plans to reintroduce the brand in Australia.
Mr Kaplan is managing director of Supercar Investments, a company he formed in 2005 after MG Rover’s operations in Australia were wound down. Motor Group Australia was previously also responsible for the Pagani supercar brand, which is now under the Supercar Investments stable.
Mr Kaplan is also managing director of the Hunter Holden group of companies.