Lurking around the streets of Melbourne in simple black and white camouflage is China’s next big car, a mid-size family SUV from MG that will come to battle against the ever popular Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4. But unlike its previous attempt, MG looks to have a chance of becoming a genuine disruptor.
Photos sent in by a reader show the second-generation GS SUV in testing, confirmed to Wheels by MG Australia marketing director, Danny Lenartic.
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If you’ve so far missed the news, once-British car maker MG was sold to China’s biggest automotive group SAIC. It still has a design team in London, but is overseen by the mothership based in Shanghai, where it leads design, development and production. Yes, MGs are now rolling off a production line in China.
Previously selling a half-baked product in Australia, the SAIC-owned brand relaunched in 2016 with a more purposeful lineup backed by a deep pocket full of funding. It culled and refreshed its models, and had a crack at the important mid-size SUV segment with its first-generation GS.
A bit rough around the edges, it never flourished, but the newer, smaller ZS and a strong seven-year warranty as standard has bolstered sales. Last month, it recorded an increase of almost 800 percent; the month before, it jumped by almost 850 percent.
Speaking to Wheels, Lenartic said that sales are “so far, so good” in March, with the importer on track to take over established brands such as Volvo, Renault (selling the mildly popular Koleos rival) and even Lexus on the sales ladder.
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“We’re not focused on rival brands and what they do; we’re just making sure our 30-strong and growing dealer network is in the best possible place to continue with our success,” Lenartic said.
“I can confirm that [those photos] are of the new GS, SAIC is testing the vehicle here. And no, we will not bring in a [previously speculated] seven-seat version.”
Though unconfirmed, it appears from the photos that the testing regime includes local tuning, aiming to bring a more sophisticated ride that the current model lacks. As Wheels understands, further work involves upgrading technology, ensuring features like a widescreen infotainment system and potential fully digital drivers display are on par with (or above) rivals.
Outside, the model will mimic features found on the MG X-Motion concept unveiled last year at the Beijing motor show, using the brand’s new ‘sensual and emotional’ design language that’s undoubtedly inspired by European machinery. Engine options are yet to be detailed, but the company has previously said it is working on hybrid and plug-in electric powertrains.
While visiting Australia for testing purposes, local launch timing is yet to be confirmed.