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MG Australia “keenly evaluating” passenger car expansion

With right-hand drive Thai production now on the table, MG is plotting a return to the Australian small car segment with the new MG 5.

1 week ago
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William Stopford
Journalist

MG could be getting back into the small car segment.

The new 2021 MG 5 is a possibility for Australia, with marketing and product director Danny Lenartic confirming the company is “keenly evaluating” it, but it needs to still be approved by head office.

“We’re considering it, and we’re considering it from Thailand where it would be the first Thai-sourced MG sold in Australia,” he said.

The second-generation MG 5 debuted at this year’s Beijing motor show and is already being produced in China, with Thai production imminent.

It’s available exclusively as a four-door sedan unlike its predecessor, which was available as a hatch. The larger MG 6, in contrast, is offered exclusively as a five-door liftback.

The MG 5 offers a choice of two engines. The base engine is a naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre four-cylinder producing 88kW of power and 150Nm, mated to either a five-speed manual or continuously-variable transmission (CVT).

Upscale MG 5 models use a turbocharged 1.5-litre four producing 127kW of power and 275Nm of torque. It’s mated exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Unlike the larger MG 6, there’s no plug-in hybrid variant – at least not yet. The MG 5 does, however, offer similar outputs from its turbo 1.5-litre as that in the slightly larger and heavier MG 6.

The MG 5 tips the scales at between 1205kg and 1318kg, and measures 4675mm long, 1842mm wide and 1473mm tall with a 2680mm wheelbase. That’s 15mm longer, 47mm wider and 33mm taller overall than a Mazda 3 sedan, which weighs between 1316 and 1439kg.

The fastback styling is reminiscent of the MG 6, while up front there’s a more dramatic version of the new ZST’s design language. An updated version of the HS has also debuted in China wearing a similar front end to the MG 5.

MG’s Thai factory, which opened in 2014, manufactures eight different models for South-East Asian markets.

In addition to the MG 3, HS and ZS sold here, which we source from China, the Thai factory produces the second-generation MG 6 plus the MG GS and MG Extender ute.

The Asian-market MG 5 isn’t to be confused with another car called the MG 5 that’s sold in Europe.

That battery-electric station wagon is a rebadged Ei5 from sister brand Roewe and it’s not on the radar for Australia.

“The wagon hasn’t been looked at at the moment,” said Mr Lenartic, pointing out the greater popularity of SUVs compared to wagons. And MG has just launched its ZS EV, which promises to be more appealing to Australian tastes than the dowdy, conservative MG 5 wagon.

MG last competed in the small car segment with the first-generation MG 6 sedan and hatch, first introduced here in 2012, relaunched in 2016, and discontinued in 2019. This was the first new MG since the brand’s Chinese takeover to be widely exported to markets like the UK and Australia.

Initially available only with a manual transmission, the turbo-petrol MG 6 eventually offered a dual-clutch automatic. Despite modern styling and the use of a heritage nameplate for the sedan (Magnette), the MG 6 never amounted to much.

In its best year, 2018, MG sold 418 examples. That was more than some Euro-branded small cars like the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Peugeot 308 but well off the pace of established rivals which sold in the thousands and 10s of thousands.

That year, MG sold 1692 examples of its much newer, fresher ZS SUV.


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