New generation of MG models are having success in Australia and New Zealand
We’ve touched previously on the roaring success that the new generation of MG models are having in Australia and New Zealand; a right-hand-drive market like the UK, one might assume it would be reasonable to assume that the customer requirements are much the same. That would be an error, however; India and Thailand are both also right-hand-drive markets, geographically a lot closer to ‘ANZ’, and the divergence of MG models on sale in those other two markets are an object lesson in not making blasé assumptions.
For a start, the entry model MG3, which proved a much better entrée to the ANZ market than the somewhat ill-starred MG6, has always been sold in the region with an automatic transmission, with no manual option – because that was what research showed the target customers – used to small Japanese hatchbacks – generally preferred. Moving up the MG range, that universal MG mid-range offering the ZS – in both petrol and EV versions – has proved to be a hit with antipodean drivers, just as it has in virtually every other market where MGs are on sale. Sitting at the top of the range is the HS – again a familiar face in just about every MG market apart from India – but unlike Europe, there is a two-litre petrol all-wheel-drive version on offer (known locally as the HS Essence X). That’s probably as much a reflection of the occasional need for a durable extra-urban powertrain as much as the traditional Australian preference for more cubic inches. We understand that the two-litre was not really considered seriously for the UK – even before the slide to electrification – because it was felt that the sales numbers and higher fuel consumption rating would probably not justify the costs of local certification. That’s a shame as the UK range is slightly the poorer in not having this well-equipped alternative to a VW or Audi equivalent.
It's in the mid-range where things diverge, however; MG Motor Australia has been pushing for what it has referred to as its own ‘Toyota Corolla’ rival – a small-to-medium sized hatchback with five doors which has proved popular in the local market. It is now a poorly guarded secret that prayers are due to be answered in early 2023 when the MG5, already sold in China and more recently in Thailand, will be going on sale in Australia and New Zealand. This MG5 is not to be confused with the all-electric estate car, already on sale in the UK and in a facelifted form on mainland Europe, which is confusingly also called the MG5. Why nobody could have given sensible thought to different naming is beyond us, but perhaps there is some twisted logic somewhere.
The Australian MG5 will, we understand, come in the same petrol-engined variants as in China and Thailand – which means the ubiquitous 1.5-litre SAIC generic powertrain in varied levels of tune, and naturally with automatic transmission. Interestingly enough, the cars for Australia and New Zealand are expected to come direct from China rather than CKD assembly in Thailand. We guess that is more down to profit margins than any doubt about the quality of Thai-built MGs.
We asked our local friends in MG Motor UK about the MG5 ‘sedan’ and they reiterated what they have previously said; that sadly not enough people still buy non-premium hatches, and with the down-under MG5 being petrol-only, it has no future in Europe. We are told we should instead look forward to the all-electric five-door hatch known as MG4, more details on which are expected this coming autumn.
MG Motor Australia and New Zealand have recently been subjecting their top-of-the-range HS – the all-wheel-drive 2.0-litre ‘Essence X’ – to a series of family reports from, as they put it, the ‘mouths of mums’.
The MG5 Sedan is coming to Australia and New Zealand in 2023 – but it will come direct from China rather than the Thai assembly plant.