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Hope for MG

22 May 2009

Execs optimistic about new hatch despite poor TF sales

With sales of the newly revived MG TF falling hopelessly below expectations (just 77 sold in the UK so far this year), the unveiling of the new MG ZR-replacing MG6 hatchback at the Shanghai motor show did little to decrease doubts about the brand’s future – at least outside of China.

‘MG is going to have to evolve; become a bit more aggressive and modern,’ design team leader Jason Castriota told evo. However, despite a six-inch bonnet badge, the general reaction was that the MG6 is an amorphous product, with no obvious heritage link to the old British brand.

And yet design and development was led in the UK by a former Ricardo Engineering Group team. Castriota said the team had worked ‘closely’ with MG’s parent company Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation; just how much freedom the UK-based arm enjoyed appears open to doubt.

Nevertheless, both this car and the MG ZS-sized Roewe 550 saloon that was unveiled last year are under consideration to be assembled at Longbridge (as well as in China) starting as early as 2010-2011.

Executives at MG Motor, SAIC’s UK arm, insist they are not discouraged by MG’s revival so far, even with many of the 500 ‘limited edition’ MG TF LE500s remaining unsold. Critics say the £16,995 price is too high, although the situation may improve with the arrival of a £13,500 entry-level model in the next couple of months.

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