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Old 6th December 2018, 14:25   #1
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Default With MG Motor at Shanghai, China

China is, and has always been, a peculiar country – rich in history and heritage and perhaps, a tad aberrant.

Today, things are a bit different. Whilst the aberrance is firmly retained, the country has transformed itself into an industrial juggernaut, with one of the largest road and rail networks in the world, an eccentric society with a penchant for Artificial Intelligence, and an economy that shows no signs of slowing down in the immediate future. Oh, and the explosion that the domestic automotive market has witnessed in the last 10 years has to be seen and experienced to be believed.

So when you get an e-mail from MG Motor India, requesting you to check out their latest range of cars and their manufacturing / R&D facility in China, you do the right thing and clear your schedule without further notice.

Pulling out all the stops, and all set to make an impression - MG Motor India:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9979.jpg

We checked into our hotel on a Sunday afternoon after a 9-hour flight, a brief layover at Hong Kong, and the seemingly impossible visa-related hurdles and innumerable security checks that we had to endure, including nifty facial recognition security barriers straight out of Hollywood’s best. Understandably, we were exhausted. But that didn’t stop the 50-strong media contingent from hitting the streets of Shanghai on foot and painting the town red!

With over 50 people from the press, this was the largest media contingent to have ever been flown overseas by any brand thus far:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-4.jpg

After having sampled the local cuisine along with a few SAIC Honchos at a popular spot in Shanghai, the contingent stepped-out for a short stroll towards the city’s famed skyline, through streets riddled with security cameras and subliminal messages, for a first-hand experience of the country’s arguably dystopian future. Look past the hyper-surveillance and subtle propaganda and you will see a bustling city teeming with curious locals, buildings bathed by the faint glow from neon fixtures and holographic projectors, and a large selection of strange looking automobiles from obscure brands.

One could argue that in today’s world, MG is just as obscure. It’s obscure because in today’s automotive climate, the focus is no longer on a car’s sporting pedigree in as much as its ability to ferry 4 or 5 passengers as quietly and efficiently as possible. Cars today cocoon you from the outside world and are increasingly good at numbing general sensation. Whilst cars priced under 15 large may still be a bit bare-bones, anything above it is engineered to desensitize, unless you spring for the special models. Back then, every model was a special model, with charm and character.

People from more than a few generations ago would fondly remember MGs and Morris cars, amongst many other cars from that era, because there is a certain something about the way classic cars look, smell and feel. Such sensations are tedious and impractical to replicate in this day and age, and perhaps a touch misunderstood in today’s world of touch screens, instant gratification and social media. Speaking of which, the MG of today’s times - a company that was packed up and shipped off to the East via the Orient Express - knows exactly which side of their bread is buttered. Which is why, you’d notice - if you are an avid user of social media - their aggressive marketing campaign featuring only their greatest hits, including the MGA, the MG Midget, and the MGB. It’s an attempt at exhibiting the brands legacy from the '50s and '60s - a time when everyone, including the members of the Royal Family and even your friendly neighborhood Moderator, would be seen in one, on a summer’s day with the top down... either cruising through town or dropping a gear and giving it a little more throttle than you would normally on a regular commute, just for the heck of it and not because you’re running late for that meeting.

Funnily though, the MGs of today are designed to appeal to the market’s seemingly predictable needs and thus, engineered to insulate you from the road as far as possible - as is the case with most executive cars. They could pull it off and launch a people’s sports car like the Mazda MX5 Miata, and I firmly believe that they should, if they are serious about actually reviving their legacy as sports car giants from a bygone era. But they won’t, as Rajeev Chaba may have hinted, since the domestic and global consumers would much rather plonk their money on a comfortable, fuel efficient and spacious car - with room for five, enough ground clearance to dismiss speed breakers and pot-holes, and a flashy grille with a familiar logo that makes a statement. They don’t want an impractical two-seat sports car, or a fast little sedan that’s rough ‘round the edges. Between you and I, that’s a crying shame.

That is not to say modern cars are bad, or perhaps mere white-goods and kitchen appliances as I have made them out to be. They’re certainly fast and comfortable. And fewer people die in car crashes these days. You really can’t go too wrong with any car you buy today, because they are all good all-rounders and cater to most people’s needs. The new range of MG cars do it particularly well too, it must be said. The range includes a recently face-lifted hatchback called the MG3, a large Superb-sized notch-back called the MG6 and a Compass / Tucson sized SUV called the MG HS, amongst other cars. They even have a stellar looking low-slung electric sports car concept, complete with gullwing doors, retractable headlights and the kitchen sink. It’s called the E-Motion and it’s due to hit the assembly line in a couple of years, is what MG says. I’ll believe it when I see it.

If it hasn’t been established by now, MG is a sports car marque from the mid-1920s and it was registered by the defunct MG Car Company Ltd. The marque has changed many hands since its inception and its latest owner, SAIC Motors a.k.a. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation as it was formerly known, is a Chinese automotive conglomerate that has a seemingly insatiable appetite for growth and the financial muscle to get noticed by the big boys from Wolfsburg and Detroit.

SAIC has established four major manufacturing bases across China: Lingang, Nanjing, Henan and Fujian, where MG cars are built. SAIC also produces MGs in Thailand, where they have set up their 2nd facility at Rayong. Presently, MG cars are sold in the United Kingdom, China, Thailand, Philippines, Australia and the Middle East. SAIC is all set for their Indian innings with MG, and are scheduled to begin operations at Halol, India, in the second quarter of 2019. The Halol plant is currently capable of churning out 80,000 cars each year and can be expanded to handle an additional 1 lakh cars should the requirement present itself.

An investment of 500 million USD is being considered for the first phase of SAIC Motors and MG's expansion in India, and it is claimed that this investment should be sufficient for the first 3 years of production and service. A sprawling office space, as well as a MG exclusive brand-store, is also in the pipeline, and this would require an additional 100 crore investment according to SAIC Motors.

Having expressed their intention to penetrate the brand / price sensitive market that India is, SAIC Motors invited us over to the Mecca of MG – Oxford, United Kingdom, earlier this year. The media contingent sampled some of the most desirable cars from the brand's golden age of motoring. This time, however, they summoned us to China, where they have been carrying out operations since the brand’s acquisition by Nanjing Automobile Group in the mid-2000s. Whilst the Oxford visit was purely a marketing exercise, and an event organized to showcase the brand’s history and heritage, the visit to Shanghai was to give the media a sneak peek at their latest portfolio and to demonstrate their abilities in R&D and manufacturing.

Last edited by Aditya : 6th December 2018 at 14:27.
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Old 6th December 2018, 14:26   #2
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Monday: 15th October, 2018.

R&D Center:

Unfazed by the early start to the week, I hopped onto the bus along with my colleagues from the fraternity and approximately 5 minutes into the bus-ride, we found ourselves knocking at the gates to SAIC’s R&D Center. What followed thereafter was a sneak peek into the workings of SAIC.

Located in Anting, SAIC’s R&D facility spans across 419,000 square meters and set the company back a cool 4 billion Yuan back in 2005. One amongst four R&D centres across the world, the other three located in Longbridge, London and Nanjing, the Anting facility is state of the art as you’d expect. From laboratories specified for thermal energy emissions, NVH testing, thermal laboratories, new-energy laboratories and even a sophisticated wind-tunnel, the Anting R&D Center has accomplished its objective with the completion of the 3rd phase of its construction.

Walk into the facility, and it becomes apparent that the investment pumped into the R&D Center has borne fruition. SAIC has gone to great lengths in acquiring sophisticated equipment installed in the grey laboratories within the facility, specifically calibrated to apply varying levels of stress on the chassis and components of all their cars. Watching these tests being conducted live is a treat and thoroughly satisfying!

Post lunch, we were driven to the Lingang manufacturing facility, located about an hour away from the R&D Center.

Representatives of SAIC Motors walking us through the floor-plan of the factory:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-factory-floor-plan.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-factory-intro-1.jpg

Introductions to the factory and plant facilities:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-factory-intro-2.jpg

According to SAIC, the plant is almost entirely automated and requires minimal human intervention, with 3 separate lines producing cars such as the MG3 hatchback, the MG6 sedan, the HS SUV and Roewe’s Marvel X, amongst other cars. The facility also comprises of a paint shop, engine assembly plant and it is capable of rolling out about 40 cars an hour!

After a quick briefing and overview of the plant by SAIC Motors’ representatives, four golf-carts were pressed into service for a quick splash ‘n dash through the expansive facility:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-golf-buggy.jpg

Awards on display - a constant reminder to the employees and workers of the achievements of SAIC Motors:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-awards.jpg

Cars at their infancy:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-cold-shell-assembly.jpg

A demonstration of the lengths gone to, to strive for flawlessness - a fender being examined under bright lights for blemishes:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-individual-parts-being-examined.jpg

A Roewe SUV on the assembly line:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-roewe-midassembly.jpg

Brake assemblies waiting to be installed:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-brake-assembly.jpg

Barely audible through the crackling audio-devices provided to us during our guided tour, the representatives informed us that the factory is equipped and tooled out to manufacture not just cars powered by internal combustion engines, but also electric cars on the same line! We were also informed that the Halol plant in India will benefit from similar tooling and practices employed at the Lingang manufacturing facility.

Finished cars are driven off the assembly line and straight over these bumps installed on the factory floor in order to identify rattling and suspension issues:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-bumpyroad-simulation.jpg

Final inspection of cars straight out of the oven:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-final-inspection.jpg

Shortly after the tour, the contingent was whisked into a ‘top secret’ room where a certain concept car, flanked by some of the production cars, caught our attention. “The E-Motion concept is not just a design exercise, but an actual sports car that MG intends on putting into production by 2020!”, a representative exclaimed the moment he was prodded with questions on the car.

SAIC Motor's design center had on display some nifty models like these, only to demonstrate that they have what it takes to rub shoulders amongst the crème de la crème of the design world:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-mmexport1539621356352.jpg

Eager journos getting a back-stage pass for an up-close and personal experience with the E-Motion concept:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-mmexport1539621334556.jpg

Barring the shock value and visual appeal the E-Motion Concept brings to the table - with its gullwing doors and retractable / pop-up headlights – little is known about the car’s proposed specifications. Upon enquiry, we were informed that it would most likely be powered by a hybrid-powertrain and may even come with a full electric powertrain variant.

Press Conference:

With many questions going unanswered, it was decided by SAIC Motor’s head honchos that a press conference would be organized and the questions of the media would be addressed. But the media queries were put on hold briefly and the press was instead treated to various presentations and infomercials on the MG brand from the era bygone followed by more infomercials of the MG brand of today.

Rajeev Chaba and Michael Yang, flanked by representatives of SAIC Motors:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-mmexport1539619570837.jpg

Rajeev Chaba addressing the press:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-mmexport1539621324185.jpg

The press thereafter shot several challenging queries to the panel, most of which were answered satisfactorily. Despite breaching the time schedules, the panel indulged the press and even admitted the challenges that the brand would face in our sensitive market.

It was refreshing to experience a panel of individuals being fairly transparent whilst addressing the press. However, a lot of big questions still went unanswered and the contingent were politely asked to wait a little longer for a clearer picture insofar as the exact specifications of the products are concerned. Questions regarding the brand’s challenges surrounding the stigma associated with Chinese products were also answered, and there was a sense of confidence in the manner it was addressed.

We love the confidence, but we would have appreciated further clarity on the specifications of the products slated for production in India.

Last edited by Aditya : 6th December 2018 at 14:27.
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Old 6th December 2018, 14:26   #3
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Tuesday: 16th October, 2018:

Guangde Proving Ground:

With the factory visit and press conference done and dusted, we were packed into three chartered buses and driven 300 kilometers away from Shanghai and towards the east coast of country, for what we would later describe as the highlight of our visit to China.

The five-and-a-half-hour drive through the countryside and our late arrival at the resort on Monday night was energy-sapping, and the prospect of an early start the next day was not what some of us had expected. However, the prospect of finally being able to get our hands on a car after all the 'show 'n tell' was mouth-watering:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-2.jpg

Located in the Anhui Province of China, the Guangde Proving Ground is a half hour’s drive from the resort and is the result of a joint venture between GM Motors China and SAIC Motors. Commissioned in 2012 and spread across 1,400 acres, it’s the largest proving ground in Asia, comprising of about 60 kilometers of test roads and more than 70 types of road surfaces. SAIC Motors claims that their cars have undergone over 20 million kilometers of testing on these grounds!

A quick briefing session with one of SAIC's test drivers helped us get the best out of the cars:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-kavv0065.jpg

The expansive grounds allowed us to experiment with various features such as remote-access to the car's controls via the car's dedicated App:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-ds6a7759.jpg

The ominous overcast skies and the expansive manicured green off-setting dark-grey tarmac were the views we were treated to on the morning of the 16th, as we spotted various test-mules being gradually tortured into submission. We also noticed a convoy of certain cars that we have gotten familiar with thanks to the barrage of brochures and presentations we were subjected to during the course of our visit. The convoy included cars from SAIC Motor's Roewe and MG brands:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-kavv0075.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean0105.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean0379.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean0528.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean0720.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean0780.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean0806.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean1287.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean1316.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 6th December 2018 at 14:29.
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Old 6th December 2018, 14:26   #4
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First up, we were given a quick spin in Roewe's eRX5 hybrid SUV. Dubbed as 'the internet car', the eRX5 was unveiled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma back in 2016, and it's powered by a combination of a turbocharged petrol engine and a 11.7 kWh ternary lithium battery-pack good enough to propel the compact SUV to a top speed of 200 km/h whilst being fairly quiet and fuel-efficient.

Pictured here is the full electric version of the RX5 called the ERX5:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9697.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9699.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9703.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9708.jpg

You will find Chinese lettering not just on home-bred cars like this one.. even Volkswagen have it:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9719.jpg

There's more than a hint of Volvo in the design and layout of the dashboard, don't you think?
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9749.jpg

Rotatory dial, a la Jaguar / Land Rover:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9730.jpg

It is likely that the all-electric SUV that MG is hinting at will be loosely based on the ERX5:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9709.jpg

Next up is MG Motor's HS SUV. Although it's apparent that it borrows much of its design cues from the likes of Mazda, Mercedes, Hyundai and even Porsche, it's a rather handsome looking car. In profile, it's certainly one of the better-looking compact SUVs out there:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9785.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9787.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9795.jpg

With a turbocharged petrol engine doing duty under its bonnet, the little MG SUV gets going without much fuss. When we finally had a go in the HS, what impressed us was the car's road manners, especially over varying road surfaces and undulated stretches of tarmac. I could say that it felt composed and controlled over the perfectly undulated pieces of tarmac. But what impressed us the most was the feeling that the car felt well screwed together.

Not only is it a fairly good-looking SUV, it also drives well and feels premium enough to compete with a class of cars above its segment. The only real drawback, I believe, would be the upright rear bench and high floor-board, making life for taller passengers potentially uncomfortable over longer journeys.

There's something very Mercedes about that studded grille, wouldn't you agree?
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9811.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9818.jpg

Red accents may be a bit too much for some, but it really works in this cabin. And yes, it feels just as premium as it looks:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9827.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9884.jpg

The 'Trophy' trim level is, presumably, the top of the line variant of the HS. MG says that the HS is being evaluated for an Indian launch in 2019:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9837.jpg

We reiterate that the details and specifications of the HS slated for India are sketchy at the moment. There is talk that the car will be brought to the country as is, and there are speculations of a larger version of the same car and built on the same platform with an additional 3rd row of seats. Some say that the version we get will be a heavily watered-down variant. However, we can confirm that there will be petrol and diesel engine options.

Last edited by Aditya : 6th December 2018 at 14:29.
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Old 6th December 2018, 14:26   #5
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And then came the flagship automobile from SAIC's Roewe - the Marvel X. I'm going to avoid the comic-book cliches and tortured puns, and get right down to business. The all-electric Marvel X is an astonishing car:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9429.jpg

At first glance, it's hard to differentiate the Marvel X from the eRX5. But get closer and you will notice that the Marvel X has a certain presence to it that the eRX5 just doesn't:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9426.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9424.jpg

Liberal use of chrome will appeal to many! The badges and branding are tasteful though:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9427.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9428.jpg

Door handles sit flush with the bodywork when not in use, and pop out promptly when the you walk up to it. I'm not sure about the chrome though:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9438.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9441.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9445.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9449.jpg

Massive chromed and squared-off grille is grotesque, and dominates the front end of the Marvel X. Also, notice the LED piping bordering the grille and the headlights! It's not to my taste, but it will be a hit with most people, I'd imagine:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9451.jpg

The choice of colour for the press-drives is bang on too! It makes you want to take a bite out of the bodywork:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9455.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9458.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9465.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9514.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9523.jpg

Whilst the exterior may not be wall-poster worthy, the interior is exceptional. The sheer quality of the material used to cover the insides of the Marvel X ought to be experienced, for it's an absolute treat for being able to appeal to the traditionalists and the tech-geeks:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9551.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9566.jpg

Inspired by the Mercedes S-Class and JLR, the Marvel X has just the right amount of opulence whilst housing a very Tesla-esque central console dominated by a screen large enough to give iPads a complex. There is no dearth of equipment either! It's loaded to the gills, with autonomous driving tech and a 360-degree camera. The steering wheel even jolts you with a liberal dose of vibration when it senses you straying from your lane and flirting with the lane-markers. Despite the tech-laden interior, however, there is a sense of class that is conveyed through the liberal use of brushed metal inserts and intricate seam-work. The steering wheel, for instance, is straight out a Mercedes Benz S-Class, and the rotary dial finished and knurled in metal seems like a direct lift from Jaguars and Land Rovers! The large panoramic sunroof adds to the theatre of it all, and the whole package just comes together beautifully.

Once you're done admiring the fabulous and inspired interior, give the loud-pedal a firm nudge and you will get going in typical electric-car fashion. It's quick from the get-go, but you really do feel the weight of the car as it makes no attempt to mask it:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean1351.jpg

Pushing both the HS and the Marvel X around a series of bends reveals a lot about their abilities as cars. Both cars feel sure-footed around even the sharper bends and although there's plenty of body roll, it's certainly not disconcerting. It must be said though, that the HS seemed to be able to handle the rough stuff a smidgen better than the Marvel X, which happened to bottom out a few times over some of the really bumpy sections of the controlled test track.

All in all, both cars were fairly impressive for tech-laden SUVs, but you simply cannot get over the feeling that there's a general disconnect whilst driving them, especially the Marvel X. Your typical neighbourhood petrol head will certainly feel the disconnect and the lack of interaction from the Marvel X. However, the word "interaction" is defined very differently in SAIC's dictionary, as the Marvel X is considered to be one of the most 'unconventionally interactive' cars available today! Touted to be the world's first 'intelligent' vehicle, the Marvel X interacts with its driver and passengers via augmented reality and other nifty little features that are designed to make your experience behind the wheel of these cars as fuss-free as a ride in a luxury cab with complimentary concierge service.

Next up was a strange drive in a Roewe's all-electric ERX5 SUV, through a curtain of water-fountains over a slippery surface that's been tiled to mimic icy conditions:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-1.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-2.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-4.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-7.jpg

We were asked to boot it for maximum effect. The purpose of this test was to demonstrate the car's stability over such surfaces and to induce the ABS into frantic operation when the brakes are applied. A boot-full of throttle predictably sent the wheels into a frenzy, but the car was unfazed as it negotiated the surface without breaking a sweat. We even got to experience the ABS kicking in as the needle was just about nudging 20 km/h on the dial.

Last edited by Aditya : 6th December 2018 at 14:30.
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Old 6th December 2018, 14:26   #6
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The final car we had the opportunity to experience was the eMG6 plug-in hybrid:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9615.jpg

The eMG6 is what you'd call a fairly spacious car, capable of accommodating 5 individuals should the need arise. And just like the other cars in SAIC Motor's portfolio, the eMG6 is tech-laden and good enough to keep the most incorrigible geeks happy. It doesn't look bad either... there are shades of Porsche Panamera when looked at from the rear three-quarters, and the front end is very Mazda 6:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9623.jpg

As the saying goes, imitation is the best form of flattery. Not sure how flattered Mercedes would be about that studded grille, though:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9619.jpg

The fastback profile and Porsche Panamera inspired greenhouse can't be more apparent from this angle:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9628.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9633.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9642.jpg

Cameras underneath the ORVMs are the tools used to monitor lane changes and provide warnings when necessary:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9644.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9649.jpg

Minimalism is the way forward, and it shows in the interior of the eMG6:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9661.jpg

And the rotary dial makes an appearance in the eMG6 as well!
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-sean9674.jpg

Powered by what seems to be a measly 1-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged engine, the Skoda Superb sized sedan hustled its way around the tight makeshift track with the sort of ease I've experienced only in cars making north of 200 horsepower. There's a very good reason for that, and it's the electric motor supplementing the internal combustion engine! It even sounds interesting, especially when it's wrung by its neck. The interior, as is with the HS and the Marvel X, is impressive enough to get your rich Dubai-based, Lexus-owing uncle blush briefly.

Here are a few pictures of the eMG6 being put through its paces around a makeshift track set up with cones at the Proving Ground:
With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-11.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-2.jpg

With MG Motor at Shanghai, China-3.jpg

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Old 6th December 2018, 14:26   #7
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A proud moment for SAIC Motors and MG:


My take-away after experiencing SAIC's latest is the sheer real-estate that Chinese cars have covered to arrive at this point where the lines between cars from established names and Chinese cars are blurred.

During the course of our experience with the cars, SAIC stressed that all their cars are built on similar platforms, and that the platforms between the brands are interchangeable, allowing them to utilize the underpinnings of one car from one brand for another car from a different brand within the SAIC umbrella. This ensures that SAIC's possibilities are endless and that the company could adapt to changing market dynamics without starting from scratch.

SAIC and MG Motors has promised us two cars over the next few years. An all-electric SUV that's in the works and will be ready by 2020, and the MG HS crossover that will be positioned above the Creta and a touch below the Tucson when it's launched sometime next year. That puts the MG HS crossover bang in Jeep Compass territory! And the confidence of the bosses at MG clearly stems from the fact that the products have potential.

However, there's no denying that there is an elephant in the room, and that's the stigma associated with Chinese products. How are they going to convince people that these cars are worth the big bucks and are not mere use & throw devices that consumers have become accustomed to? How would you persuade your average Joe into walking away from a premium product from an established brand and get them to plonk their hard-earned money on what is essentially a Chinese car with a British badge? The bosses at MG are, for the moment, putting their faith in the products and will be focused on heavily marketing not just the cars, but the brand as well.

Cars from MG Motor's 2018 portfolio are, without a doubt, a far cry from the sporting 2-seat convertibles from the '60s. And that can potentially rile up any classic sports car enthusiast worth his salt. But the fact remains that the world of automobiles has experienced something of a paradigm shift in the last few decades. The focus is not on sporting cars any more, and a fun little two-seat sports car will no longer get the cash registers ringing. For a brand like MG to survive in this world, they are required to keep up with the times, and SUVs are clearly the flavour of this decade and will be for the foreseeable future. As a self-proclaimed enthusiast, I would love to see that stunning grille from the MG 6 / HS set in the nose of a petite little convertible powered by a rorty 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. But it's extremely unlikely that we will see such a product, and even if it does it's unlikely that it will be powered by fossil fuels.

Disclaimer: MG invited Team-BHP to China. They provided us with the above photographs / videos and covered all the travel expenses for this event.

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Nice write up Suhaas & definitely a interesting line up by MG.

When the HS SUV launches in India is there any indication what will it be pitched against (price idea) ?

Also i see there is liberal use of competition names like Mercedes, Tesla, Porsche & JLR etc. were these your observations or during their presentations they were open & admitted taking these design inspirations from the above said brands

Last edited by karan561 : 6th December 2018 at 14:54.
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Old 6th December 2018, 16:10   #10
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Thanks a lot for a very nice thread Suhaas.

I did not know these guys made some very good looking cars.
The full electric version ERX5 sounds very promising and I hope such all electric cars get reduced import duties.
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Old 6th December 2018, 19:11   #11
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Awesome. Those are some very beautiful looking cars. I hope they don't become wall-flowers and that the beauty comes with performance, reliability, and good after-sale support. If they do, I am sure these will do well. Much more so if they become among the first few to offer all-electric options. I will certainly queue up for the 2nd gen cars!

Also loved the "curtain of water-fountains over a slippery surface" images! If water wasn't a scarce resource, that would make for some very dandy car-wash!

One of the things I would worry about with these products, apart from being "chinese" (lower-case 'c'), is the one about data-sharing and espionage issues! It had made quite some news recently, but hope there will be work-arounds and good control over that.

Look forward to seeing them here.
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Old 6th December 2018, 19:53   #12
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Bit Off-track, but the way SAIC is building / promoting MG brand, It can be good inspiration / template to follow for the owners of other dormant half of erstwhile “MG Rower”.

I always feel that Rower can be more appropriate international mass market brand, compared to TATA, once they are ready with good portfolio of international quality mass market products. (I know Its completely separate discussion whether they are already reached to that point or not but lets not get into that in this MG thread)
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Old 6th December 2018, 20:19   #13
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Thanks for the excellent insight into MG Motors and the cars.
The eMG6 is certainly a looker and will have considerable road presence.

However, as you have already mentioned, the reputation for Chinese products in India will certainly be a tough hurdle to overcome. People wont be ready to give 16-20L to a company which has no history in India. MG Motors will definitely need some exceptional marketing strategies to change people's perceptions.

Having said that, a bit more competition in India will be good for its consumers, as always.
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Old 6th December 2018, 23:28   #14
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Great report. Am not sure how well the MG badge will go far in evolving from affordable sports cars to SUV's. The SUV's seem to have a lot of potential although they do look a bit chinzy what with the chrome etc.

MG will need to be price competitive and offer differentiating features. I guess the MMI interfaces and the electric options will go along way. Second to Tesla, Chinese manufacturers are very strong in this area and that is how they will make their global foray.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Vishal.R View Post
Bit Off-track, but the way SAIC is building / promoting MG brand, It can be good inspiration / template to follow for the owners of other dormant half of erstwhile “MG Rower”.
There is no room for the Rover badge. The niche it held has been snatched and trampled on by BMW and Audi - sporting techno features. After the mid '80's Rover became rather tweedy although they did make some good Honda derived models.

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Old 7th December 2018, 02:57   #15
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Originally Posted by suhaas307 View Post
However, there's no denying that there is an elephant in the room, and that's the stigma associated with Chinese products. How are they going to convince people that these cars are worth the big bucks and are not mere use & throw devices that consumers have become accustomed to? How would you persuade your average Joe into walking away from a premium product from an established brand and get them to plonk their hard-earned money on what is essentially a Chinese car with a British badge? The bosses at MG are, for the moment, putting their faith in the products and will be focused on heavily marketing not just the cars, but the brand as well.
Thank you for being super direct on this important point. I see cars as trust/heart purchase which work on a few parameters:
- Awareness. They are pulling out all stops as the scale of this event highlighted. Kudos on that.
- Reputation. That's why the MG brand is being launched, and not SAIC, to avoid triggering any biases towards Chinese brands. However, the kind of vehicles showcased in this visit report seem premium. Most buyers here would be risk averse - either the Germans or the Japs (Camry/Accord) would rule the roost. MG is not a Tesla that there's automatic brand value.
- Word of Mouth / User experience - hopefully they should not have too much issue here.
- Distribution. This is key. Anecdotally, even Kia is requiring investments of 10-15 crore for a Tier 2 dealer. Would a businessperson put that kind of money given how much India loves MSIL and Hyundai? They would be driven more basis how the Jeep dealers are turning out. Jeep is down from 2828 to 1150 from Nov 2017 to Oct 2018. This is playing in the same price bracket or much higher.
- Touch and Feel. That is not really an issue.

Of course, they could do a Kwid/Ecosport and then really win - but otherwise, it does not seem to be an easy win for them in India.

Regardless, as a consumer who likes many of the features highlighted in the visit report, I wish them all luck and I will be keenly watching their launch.


The other challenge for them is that in 2018, social media is unforgiving and therefore their execution has to be flawless every step of the way, with every on ground resource. This is easier said than done.

Last edited by phamilyman : 7th December 2018 at 03:10.
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