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MG plans family sized SUV flagship

Multiplying: MG’s new ZS compact SUV will be the Chinese company’s second SUV in Australia this year, but there’s more to come.

Seven-seater set to join MG SUV line up ‘in two or three years’

MG logo19 Apr 2017

By RON HAMMERTON in SHANGHAI

MG MOTOR is developing a new flagship seven-seat SUV to sit on top of what could become a four-model SUV range for Australia by 2020.

The line-up could even include an all-electric mid-sizer drawn from MG’s Roewe sister brand in China should plans for a right-hand-drive export version come to fruition for the United Kingdom.

MG Motor Australia only recently launched its first SUV here, the mid-sized four-cylinder GS, but already has plans to add another – the slightly smaller but more modern ZS to go up against the likes of Honda’s HR-V and Mazda’s CX-3 in October this year.

Powered by a choice of 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder and 1.5-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder engines, the ZS is a front-wheel-drive-only urban crossover.

With the compact-SUV segment covered, MG engineers and designers plan to then move up a couple of sizes to the family seven-seat vehicle segment with an unnamed wagon mounted on a new scalable SUV platform developed by MG parent company SAIC Motor.

SAIC executives told GoAuto in Shanghai this week that like its other SUVs, the new vehicle would straddle two segments, in this case the medium and large segments.

While the vehicle has been confirmed as a three-row seven seater, powertrains have not been disclosed. However, SAIC is developing all of its new-generation vehicles with a full suite of petrol, petrol-electric hybrid and battery-powered full electric drive systems.

Potential competitors could range from Nissan’s X-Trail to Haval’s H7 and H8 SUVs.

Asked when we could expect it, the executive said in “two or three years”.

By then, MG Motor Australia might already have a seven-seat SUV in the range, as the GS is scheduled for a full model change in late 2019.

The word within SAIC is that the new model will get a seven-seat version to compete against vehicles such as the new Honda CR-V.

To achieve this, the GS is likely to be stretched somewhat to accommodate the third row – a move that will put a bit more clear air between the GS and ZS which are currently close in size and concept.

If that wasn’t enough, plans are also afoot to develop a right-hand-drive export version of SAIC’s new all-electric Roewe eRX5 mid-sized SUV for export markets, including the UK, Europe and – if MG Motor Australia puts up its hand for it – Australia, by about 2020.

To avoid confusion, the export eRX5 will probably be badged as an MG instead of Roewe, which is the Chinese name for the former Rover brand that was acquired from Britain along with MG by SAIC in 2005.

A SAIC source said the petrol version of the RX5 would not be considered for export as it could not achieve a high Euro NCAP crash rating, nor pass a Euro 6 emissions test.

However, the full electric version could be modified for a five-star Euro NCAP rating and right-hand drive. And, of course, being full electric would remove any emissions issues.

In China, Roewe is regarded as SAIC’s up-market brand, while MG is the sporty brand.

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