MG hatches SA assault, bargain prices

Published Oct 7, 2011


This century has seen a rocky road for the iconic MG brand, and it looked like the very end when its British-owned parent company went under, back in 2005.

Yet the brand was soon snapped up by SAIC of China, which maintained a British design and engineering presence in the historic Longbridge plant; the two hatchbacks you see here are the first fruits of that effort.

And now South Africans will get to taste them too, and at lower prices than you'd expect, with Combined Motor Holdings set to sell and distribute the cars, initially through 15 dealers.

Both the MG6 and MG3 are on display at the Johannesburg International Motor Show, and the Ford Focus-sized MG6 hatch and sedan will be the first offering - going on sale this month.

The MG6 is powered by a 1.8-litre turbopetrol engine that churns out 118kW at 5500rpm and will be offered in three trim levels - Comfort at approximately R209 000, Luxury at R219 000 and Deluxe, which will set you back R229 000.

Each has basic safety features such as front and side airbags and ABS, and comforts such as air conditioning and a CD/USB/Aux sound system, with the Luxury adding a rear parking aid, leather steering wheel, navigation and cruise control.

The Deluxe pours it on with leather seats (heated and electrically adjustable up front), dual-zone climate control and a high-end navigation system. In line with the car's sporty positioning, all models are fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels.

For those seeking their MG style in a smaller wrapping, the MG3 will be launched next year and, although prices have not yet been finalised, the indicative prices range between R139 000 and R160 000, pitching them slightly above sub-B offerings such as the Ford Figo and VW Polo Vivo, but below the more modern Fiesta and Polo. With its fairly cheeky design elements, and black pillars and roof, the little MG is sure to attract some attention in its segment.

Two petrol engines will be on offer - a 1.3-litre with 65kW on tap at 6000rpm and 117Nm at 4500rpm, and a 1.5 that puts out 80kW at 6000rpm and 135Nm at 4500rpm.

The standard model packs in the basics - aircon, CD player and trip computer - while the more luxurious Comfort version adds niceties such as climate control, electric windows, multi-function steering wheel and alloy wheels.

Both the MG6 and MG3 are built in China, albeit with much engineering input from the company's British arm. From my brief touch-and-feel inside the show cars, I can say that interior quality is leaps and bounds ahead of any Chinese car I've experienced, but still some way off the German standard.

The MG3, in particular, feels cheap in places, albeit with decent build quality, while the MG6 comes rather closer to emulating the European feel - although they did opt for a dashboard that resembles that in the BMW 3 Series.

We look forward to test driving these new Anglo-Oriental MG's in the near future, to gain a full insight into their inherent quality and we certainly hope that the keen prices they've announced are not too good to be true.

MG South Africa will be represented by 15 dealers nationwide when the brand goes live in October and is planning to launch at least another four models in the medium term.

Related Topics: