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MG not just about SUVs

Next phase: While it is unclear if the facelifted MG6 (below) will come to Australia, an update to the small MG3 hatch (left) is expected mid next year.

Passenger cars still on the cards for MG Motor buts SUVs are the priority

MG logo27 Nov 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MG MOTOR has committed to offering traditional passenger cars in Australia, despite admitting that SUVs are expected to become the mainstay of the range, backed up by its recently announced SUV-exclusive seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

While the SAIC Motor-owned company declined to confirm if or when the recently facelifted MG6 mid-size sedan would be imported, it plans to bring in the revised MG3 light hatch with more suitable specification for the Australian market by mid-2018, including an automatic transmission that has previously not been available.

Further down the track, the long-mooted return of the MG sportscar, as well as SAIC Motor’s multi-billion-dollar electric vehicle development program, would come under serious consideration for the Australian market.

This is according to MG Motor product planning manager, Pavel Meck, who was speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Chinese company’s second SUV offering in Australia after the mid-size GS, the Mazda CX-3-rivalling MG ZS.

“Next year we’re looking at a facelifted MG3 with an automatic transmission, though the exact launch of that car is yet to be confirmed at this point of time… but it will be sometime before the middle of the year.

“So, we’re definitely going to continue with passenger cars. We can’t simply turn around and walk away from that. The compact and small segments are still the largest contributors to the Australian market and very important for entry-level new-vehicle ownership.

“With regards to the MG6, there has been a facelift just announced for the Chinese market. Whether or not that will be coming here we are yet to find out.

We are still having discussions at the moment.

“We want to bring the right product here. If we are given the opportunity to do so then of course we will do so.”

The facelifted MG6 was revealed at this month’s Guangzhou motor show and has been restyled to look more like its newer SUV siblings, ushering in a new front fascia, revised bumpers, different tail-lights and fresh powertrains – including the option of a plug-in hybrid PHEV version.

The cabin has had a complete overhaul, bringing with it updated multimedia systems as well as a digital instrument cluster.

In some markets, the turbocharged 1.8-litre unit will be replaced by a 1.0-litre three-pot shared by the ZS small SUV, as well as a pair of naturally aspirated and turbo 1.5-litre four-cylinder units. That PHEV mates the 1.0-litre with an electric motor, making it MG’s first production hybrid.

“These (and other models) are certainly things we are discussing at the moment,” Mr Meck revealed. “We can’t ignore those market segments, but at the moment our key focus is on establishing, as a player in small and medium SUVs.

And as to when these vehicles become available, we will be discussing them very strongly.” SAIC Motor marketing and senior communications manager for MG Motor Australia, Danny Lenartic, said that MG Motor was realistic about what consumers are looking for and is prepared for its SUVs to dominate sales.

“You just have to look at the VFACTS data to see that the SUVs will be our better sellers,” he said.

Relaunching initially only in Queensland and New South Wales in October 2016 after a failed attempt under private importer Longwell Motors years earlier, the MG6 has been the best selling individual model to the end of October, with 352 registrations. MG has sold 108 GS SUVs (released in March), while the diminutive MG3 found just 43 homes.

However, with the combined sales of the ZS, which kicks off from $20,990 plus on-road costs for the 1.5-litre auto-only Soul and $23,990 for the better-equipped 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder Essence auto, MG Motor is confident the due will soon overhaul the ageing passenger cars.

A lower-priced entry-level ZS is also slated for a release late in the first quarter of 2018, offering a starting price of about $19,000 with auto.

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