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MG enters ute segment with Extender

Chinese-owned MG gets utilitarian with Extender ute – but not in Australia

12 Aug 2019

UPDATED: 13/08/2019


MG COULD have been the next brand to field an entrant in one of Australia’s most hotly contested segments, but the Chinese-owned British brand has elected to not import the recently revealed Extender ute from Thailand, where it will be produced in right-hand drive for local consumption.


In a statement sent to GoAuto, MG Motor Australia said: “We are aware that the MG Extender ute has been launched in Thailand this past week, however this product is not on our agenda now or in the foreseeable future.”


The Extender was seemingly a shoo-in to join MG Motor Australia's growing model line-up and the ute segment, which accounts for a massive 19.0 per cent of the new-vehicle market to the end of July.


In fact, the two best-selling overall models in Australia this year are utes, with the Toyota HiLux (29,491 units) and Ford Ranger (24,664) together accounting for 8.5 per cent of the total market, so the Extender’s volume potential was undoubtedly strong.


However, some consumers may confuse the Extender for another recent arrival in the ute segment, LDV’s T60 (1926 units, 1.9% segment share), which is a near carbon-copy of MG’s newest model. This is due to both brands being owned by SAIC Motor.


Aside from its ‘MG’ badging, the only elements that separate the Extender from the T60 are its unique grille insert and alloy wheels (measuring up to 18 inches in diameter). Their exteriors and interiors are otherwise identical.


One point of difference, however, is the Extender’s 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that produces 119kW of power at 4000rpm and 375Nm of torque from 1500-2400rpm, with the T60 instead motivated by a 2.8-litre unit that develops 110kW at 3400rpm and 360Nm from 1600-2800rpm.


Extra- and dual-cab pick-up versions of the Extender are available in Thailand, with the former only offered in rear-wheel drive, while the latter can also be had in all-wheel-drive guise.


RWD variants come with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, while a six-speed torque-converter automatic unit is optional. AWD versions are exclusively mated to the latter.


The extra-cab Extender’s tub measures 1900mm long, 1510mm wide and 530mm tall, while the dual-cab variant concedes 415mm in length but has the same width and height.


Like the T60, the Extender’s power steering is hydraulic, while its suspension set-up consists of double-wishbone front and leaf-sprung rear axles. It also features disc brakes at all four corners, which is a rarity in the ute segment.


These similarities extend to the Extender’s cabin, which is highlighted by the same 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system as the T60.


Advanced driver-assist safety systems extend to lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring, with autonomous emergency braking a notable omission. The latter is required from a five-star rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), which may have influenced MG Motor Australia's decision.


Other safety gear includes six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), a reversing camera, hill-start assist, hill-descent control and tyre pressure monitoring, among others.


The Extender is MG’s second light-commercial vehicle, joining the V80 mid-size van sold in Thailand that is a rebadged version of LDV’s identically named model.


While the Extender and V80 would undoubtedly increase MG Motors Australia’s volume potential if they were introduced, the company is still one of the few success stories of 2019, with its sales up an incredible 253.0 per cent, to 4420 units, on the back of strong demand for the MG3 light hatch (2043) and ZS small SUV (2036). 

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