27 October 2012

MG Returns To New Zealand

MG Rover cars sold well in NZ in the late 90's. Although data from those misty times is hard to find, in 1999 I believe they were the 13th best selling brand and the biggest of any Euro marque. However, once BMW stopped being the importer, things were not the same on the sales front thereafter.

Fast forward to 2012/13 and the MG brand is about to make a comeback, initially in the form of the MG6. This has the Rover 75/MG ZT platform as a basis and the engine is an improved 1.8 K series engine. What does it have for and against it?

Plus: Prices will be competitive, sourced as they are from China (yet to be announced). Based on a Euro car means it has a respectable 4 star crash rating. It has a hatchback variant, essential in NZ as Kiwis love versatile vehicles. It steers quite well apparently too. In my eyes, it is stylish and I put value on that.

Minus: It is off the pace a little for interior quality and for some it will feel a little dated inside the cabin. NZers also love automatics and for now it is only manual. The turbo charged engine isn't that sporty for those who want that.

Overall: Will sell in very small numbers until at least the auto arrives. Hopefully potential buyers will give it a go as it is definitely a step up from other Chinese offerings.

How have Chinese brands sold here? Great Wall sell an SUV and Ute (small truck) and for nine months of 2012 sold about 750 units  in a market with 75,000 total sales. I would give that a pass. Chery sell two small cars and a small SUV at bargain basement prices, yet sold only 140 vehicles in the same period. Fail. Geely bought in a few cars for evaluation but have done nothing.

My call: MG is certainly worth a look, Great Wall if you are desperate to buy new on a limited budget. Chery to be avoided, for now anyway.

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