The 2020 MG GS coming soon: China’s best vehicle yet
CHINESE quality will surpass anything we've seen before when MG's updated mid-size SUV arrives.
Tipped to reach Australia later this year or early 2020, the new GS replacement has improved build quality to be better placed in the competitive genre which includes Mazda's CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Tucson.
The new model was revealed ahead of last week's Shanghai motor show where SAIC - the company that bought the famed British marque after MG Rover collapsed in 2005 - trumpeted its research and development facilities.
Chinese cars of the past from the likes of Foton, Chery and even the most successful, Great Wall Motors, have been criticised previously for build quality and durability.
China's biggest car maker, SAIC produces more than seven million vehicles a year and has upped its quality game.
For the past four years, safety testing and analysis have been foremost in new factories. Durability testing includes robots simulating the effects of 10 years of ownership and varying weather conditions on such items as doors and console buttons.
MG design director Shao Jingfeng may have been mixing his geographic metaphors when he said the plan was to "make MG great again" but there is no confusing the logic.
SAIC aims to exploit the historical connections of MG when a British brand while also using its manufacturing might to build vehicles that live up to the name.
Range-topping Trophy grades on display last week made liberal use of leather and soft-touch surfaces to add an air of refinement.
This doesn't mean MG has a premium trajectory. Spokesman Pavel Merck says MG will retain its current "value for money" philosophy, which last year led to the brand increasing its 2017 sales tally fivefold - from 600 to 3007.
"It's been strategic in terms of our brand growth and we have obviously picked the right partners in terms of our dealer network," he said.
"Product quality … started with ZS. We are targeting the young at heart and the young as well. We are striving to be a brand that offers something for everyone.
"Our vehicles are built in world-class facilities. We think of them as international vehicles not Chinese vehicles."
All sheetmetal on the new model have been changed and it looks like a grown-up version of the popular ZS compact SUV.
Pricing and will details will be revealed closer to launch, but expect drive-away deals to keep undercutting the big guns. Likely pricing will be $25,490-$33,990.
On the road
MG has no immediate plans to rekindle the spirit of past roadsters and coupes. Driving thrills come via a new red "super sport" switch on the steering wheel.
On a brief drive at SAIC's test track outside Shanghai, the new GS (wearing the local market's HS badge) showed adept handling traits.
Chinese buyers typically like softer suspensions for a luxurious feel - Australia will take vehicles set up for European markets - yet the vehicle tested remained strong under acceleration and compliant over varying surfaces.
The four-cylinder turbos (119kW/250Nm and 162kW/350Nm) carry over but tweaks to the automatic transmissions are aimed at improving response.
Inside it felt well put together, with a 10-inch colour screen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster for the driver, along with a Bose audio, flat-bottom steering wheel and full internet connectivity.
Full specification will be revealed closer to launch. The seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty will be maintained, as will the five-star safety rating awarded in 2017.
Getting full details is a difficult task in China but, no matter which versions land here, they will be better than anything we've previously seen from MG.
Price: $25,490-$33,990 drive-away (est)
Warranty: 7 years/unlimited km
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbo, 119kW/250Nm (FWD); 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 162/350Nm (AWD)
Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, rear view camera, emergency brake assist