British car brand MG returns to Singapore

The ZS compact crossover is the first MG model to return to Singapore.
The ZS compact crossover is the first MG model to return to Singapore. PHOTO: DAVID TING

Classic British car brand MG, now owned by Chinese automotive giant SAIC, is back in business in Singapore, after an absence of nearly 15 years.

It has appointed Simply Cars - a used car trader and parallel importer of popular German brands since 2006 - as its agent.

The company first revealed plans to bring in MG cars back in 2014. It is finally happening now.

The first model to debut is the MG ZS compact crossover and an initial batch of 20 cars has arrived.

The ZS sold in Singapore is made in Thailand, but imported from Britain, where the MG factory makes changes to the car's exhaust system to make it comply with Singapore's Euro 6 emission standards.

The ZS - MG's second sport utility vehicle - is powered by a turbocharged 1-litre three-cylinder engine (made in Zhejiang, China), with a six-speed automatic gearbox transmitting 111hp of power and 160Nm of torque to the front wheels.

The car's zero to 100kmh acceleration is 12.4 seconds and its top speed is 180kmh. The speedometer is UK-spec (UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence), so its mph digits are more prominent than its kmh digits.

The front end of the ZS looks a little like the previous Mazda CX-5, but the MG is much closer to the Honda HR-V/Vezel in size and wheelbase.

Two versions of the ZS are available - the basic Excite version and the better-equipped Exclusive. The latter has additional features such as xenon headlights, a 360-degree camera system and a Garmin navigation system - all of which are fitted in MG's Thailand factory.

The Exclusive version is also retrofitted in Singapore with leather upholstery and electrically adjustable front seats.

The ZE Excite is priced at $113,000 with a "guaranteed certificate of entitlement", while the tag for the Exclusive is $120,000.

The basic model has an open market value (OMV, or approximate car cost before taxes) of about $19,000, so it is eligible for 70 per cent financing.

Simply Cars senior director David Ng says that he plans to open a dedicated MG facility at the Leng Kee Road motor belt "by the end of this year". In the meantime, he has tied up with two workshops to offer a five-year/100,000km warranty for the new MG ZS.

The next MG to be introduced in Singapore will be the MG3 hatchback, a compact five-door with the same 1-litre drivetrain as the ZS. It is scheduled to arrive next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2018, with the headline 'British car brand MG returns to Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe