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MG planning ambitious Oz comeback

Back with a bang: The MG6 small sedan and hatch will be the first MG products to launch in Australia.

Easter launch for re-born MG in Australia with up to 20 dealers within two years

MG logo5 Feb 2013

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

THE famous MG brand will re-launch in Australia at the end of March, with plans to build a network of up to 20 dealerships across Australia by the end of next year.

The official Australian launch for the Chinese-owned British car brand will coincide with the MG Car Club’s national meeting in Toowoomba, Queensland, to be held over the Easter long weekend (March 29 to April 2).

The first local dealership will be a portion of the former Rick Damelian premium used car dealership on Sydney’s Parramatta Road, which has been undergoing renovation and rebranding since late December.

MG owner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation’s overseas market manager, Xiaomin Xi, told GoAuto that between six and eight more MG outlets in different states are under consideration to open this year, with the total expanding to between 15 and 20 by the end of 2014.

“Franchising is undergoing right now,” he said.

Initially, only the Chinese-built Cruze-sized MG6 sedan and hatch will be offered, with the MG3 light car joining the line-up by the end of this year. More models are in the pipeline.

49 center imageLeft: MG3.

Mr Xi said it was possible that sourcing for Australia-bound MG products could eventually shift from China to Thailand, where SAIC recently signed a joint-venture agreement with the Thai Charoen Pokphand Group to build MGs in the Kingdom.

Mystery surrounds the origin of the new local MG distributor, Australia Longwell Motor, which government records indicate was established in November 2011 and appears to be running operations from the Parramatta Road premises.

According to Mr Xi, Australia Longwell Motor is a private company with more than 15 years’ experience dealing with European brands including Audi, Volkswagen and Peugeot.

He said the new company was awarded sole distributorship of MG “because Longwell Motor has many years experience in car dealerships, they have got passion for MG (and) they have a strategic long-term plan for Australian market”.

“They are committed to this iconic brand (and) they are ambitious to bring the best after-sales service to the customer.” Asked why there has been no announcement of MG’s return to Australia, Mr Xi said: “There are many things to be done (so) we’d rather take each step firmly.” Documents viewed by GoAuto showing the MG models that have received approval for this market suggest the MG6 sedan and hatch will be limited to one variant each at launch.

Both will be powered by a 118kW/215Nm 1.8-litre turbo-petrol engine driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission, delivering them from 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds.

In terms of standard equipment, the documents only list 17-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights.

There is no mention of an automatic transmission, suggesting that, like the right-hand-drive British market, Australia-bound MGs will be manual-only propositions.

In some markets the MG6 is offered with a five-speed auto of dated design, but a more advanced dual-clutch unit is reportedly in the works.

An all-new 110kW/350Nm 1.9-litre turbo-diesel engine with idle-stop recently became available in the UK and could eventually be offered in Australia.

MG last month returned to New Zealand, where the MG6 sedan and hatch are priced from $NZ29,990 ($A24,331) plus on-road costs, each with three specifications – S, SE and TSE.

However, Australia’s small-car segment is hotly contested, with large sales volumes and a lot of action in the low-$20,000 price range, so and MG is expected to enter with keen pricing and generous levels of standard equipment.

Because the MG6 is built in right-hand drive for the UK and subject to that market’s stringent safety and emissions standards, it stands to be one of China’s best-suited vehicles for export to other developed right-hand-drive markets.

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