Chinese-owned MG has expanded its limited range of Australian offerings with a new small SUV model called the ZS, bringing the brand’s choice of models to four.
Priced from a sharp $20,990 starting price (plus on-road costs) the new ZS enters the urban SUV market, targeting competitors like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai Kona.
“We are at the forefront of a new generation of high quality and innovative cars which are being produced in China,” said local MG general manager Peter Cao. “This is the new generation of made in China.”
As with the MG3, the MG6 and the MG GS already on sale, the ZS comes from China courtesy of China’s largest carmaker, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC).
For the $21k spend you get the entry-level ZS Soul, which comes with a basic level of standard equipment, although features like 17-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple Carplay, cruise control, leather-look trim, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors stand out as highlights.
MG has also matched industry leaders when it comes to warranty coverage, extending the existing six-year program by one year for a seven-year protection plan.
Mechanically the ZS Soul falls short of some competitors powered by a modest 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 84kW and 150Nm matched to a four-speed automatic.
The standard automatic transmission boosts the ZS’ value against competitors, though its old-fashioned four-speed configuration trails most competitors. When it comes to value only the smaller Suzuki Ignis undercuts the MG when teamed with an automatic.
There are catches: The engine in the ZS Soul requires premium unleaded and is among the thirstier in the small SUV class, with claimed consumption of 7.1 litres per 100km.
For another $3000 the higher-grade ZS Essence, adds push button start and a panoramic sunroof plus a more advanced 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine with 82kW and a stronger 160Nm of torque.
The ZS Essence also comes with a six-speed automatic and is more efficient at an official 6.7 l/100km, but still calls for premium fuel.
Neither model has the latest active safety features, such as auto emergency braking (AEB) or blind spot warning, however MG is hoping to add those features to the ZS by the end of 2018.
The 10-strong MG dealer network is in its infancy and currently covers Brisbane and Canberra as well as predominantly rural areas in NSW.
MG Australia’s senior manager of marketing, Danny Lenartic, won’t say how many cars will be sold, but concedes the numbers will start off small.
“We’re ambitious but we need to be realists too,” he says. “The business is focused on establishing a strong dealer network, good partnerships, building a brand, getting people to understand … what the brand is today.
“If you get all of those pillars right, sales will come.”
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