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First MG car shipments arrive

Welcome: SAIC Motor Australia general manager Zhu Chao is formally welcomed to Australia by China Chamber of Commerce representative Ms Zhang Xiaoxi at the official opening of SAIC’s new Sydney office.

Chinese-made MG3s land in Sydney as former British brand gets set to reboot

18 Aug 2016

THE first stocks of Chinese-built MG cars have arrived in Australia ahead of the re-launch of the historic British brand by its current owner, SAIC Motor, in October.

A shipment of Toyota Yaris-sized MG3 light hatchbacks can be seen in bond storage at Prixcar’s yards at Minto, near Campbelltown in Sydney’s south-west, after arriving from Shanghai.

These cars are expected to be joined by fresh shipments of the larger Holden Cruze-sized MG6 liftback and the GS compact SUV to complete the three-model range in time for the October launch in Australia where the new factory-backed distributor, SAIC Motor Australia, this week formally opened its new quarters at Woolloomooloo, in inner Sydney.

A Chinese-style formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the offices, attended by visiting SAIC Motor International marketing executives Cao Zongquiang and Luo Mingzhi with newly appointed general manager for Australia, Zhu Chao.

More than a year in the planning, the latest attempt to re-establish the modern version of the 92-year-old Morris Garages brand in Australia follows the failed attempt by Chinese-owned distributor Longwell Motor to launch the MG6 from a single Sydney dealership in 2013.

A frustrated SAIC – China’s biggest motor manufacturer with an annual production of six million units – took back the distribution rights along with 388 unsold MG6s on January 1 this year, with the intention of doing the wholesale distribution itself.

Rather than a single model with only a manual gearbox, MG is being re-launched with a three-model range sold via a national dealership network that apparently includes outlets in all states, with more to come.

SAIC already has a foothold in Australia through its LDV budget van range distributed by independent importer Ateco Automotive – an arrangement that will continue, according to SAIC.

Like MG, LDV (Leyland DAF Vehicles) is a one-time bankrupt British brand snapped up by SAIC.

So far, two MG models – the MG6 and MG3 – have received Australian Design Rule certification, with the GS yet to come.

All three models are already on sale in right-hand drive form in the United Kingdom where MG maintains its design and engineering operations at Longbridge.

The five-seat MG3 is powered by a 1.5-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder engine mated with a five-speed manual gearbox. An automatic transmission alternative is due next year.

The flagship MG6 to be sold in MG showrooms is the facelifted version that supersedes the version that Longwell tried to sell. Those old vehicles, most with minimal kilometres on the odometer, are currently being sold as used cars via dealerships from Queensland to Tasmania.

While the MG6 was available in both sedan and liftback styles when originally launched in Australia, only the liftback body will be offered here this time around.

In the UK, the MG6 comes exclusively with a diesel engine these days, but petrol will be the fuel of choice for Australia.

According to ADR documents, the 2016 MG6 has a 1.8-litre four-cylinder normally aspirated engine packing a sprightly 118kW of power. Because sales of manual gearbox cars in this class in Australia are minuscule, the only transmission choice will be a six-speed automatic.

The GS – the newest of these three models – will also be petrol powered, in this case by a 1.5-litre turbo engine. In the UK, where the GS was launched in June, the car comes with a choice of manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

So far, ADR certification for the GS is yet to be posted on the federal government’s official website.

According to MG UK, several more models are planned “for the immediate and long-term future”.

Recent investments to fulfil these vehicle developments include an expansion of the UK design team and new engine test facilities, including a new “rolling road” vehicle testing cell.

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