Roewe 350 : SAIC Motor’s forgotten midliner
It’s funny how we’ve placed so much emphasis on the Roewe 550/MG6, MG3, and Roewe 750/MG7 in recent months but left the inoffensive little Roewe 350 slip by without much of a word. It’s not that the mid-sized Roewe isn’t without interest – it features an all-new VVT-i 1.5-litre engine, an Android O/S enabled sat/nav/media system and, ultimately, we know that it’s going to spawn a hatchback MG variation, which will inevitably be called the MG5.
What the Roewe 550 clearly shows is that SAIC Motor is up and running and freeing itself of the shackles of the MG Rover inheritance that led it to produce the Roewe 750. Obviously, the Chinese company understands its customer base and you can bet your bottom dollar that the saloon will sell pretty well, given its conseravtive styling and feature-packed interior – something the buyers at home like, but it does beg the question about how well these cars will travel.
We’ve already seen that MG6 looks pretty good in the showroom, but I do have concerns that it’s a bit of a segment-bridging car, just as the Maestro was back in 1983 and the Maxi in 1968. Look at the MG6, it’s much larger than the obvious Focus/Golf rivals, but not large enough to play in the Mondeo sector. Will buyers see this as offering a big car at midliner money? We’ll see, but it does seem that this odd-sizing is a habit that our company got itself into past and present, for one reason or another.
MG6 Key Dimensions
Length: 4651 mm
Width: 1826 mm (without mirrors)
Height: 1480 mm
Ford Focus Key Dimensions
Length: 4337 mm
Width: 1839 mm (without mirrors)
Height: 1497 mm
That therefore begs a second question: should we be talking about the MG6 as the next MG ZS or will that be the MG5, which will be based on the smaller Roewe 550? Then, of course, there’s the MG3, which has been exciting a number of fans, who see this as the next ZR,and an alternative to a Skoda Fabia vRS. One thing is for sure – they are going to have to develop some gruntier engines whatever happens. The 1.8 in the MG6 is now way off the pace with 158bhp in turbo form; so where is that going to leave the MG3 and MG5?
Anyway, for now, let’s appreciate one happy aspect of SAIC Motor’s model plan: MG and Roewe have been split far more effectively than MG and Rover were in the pre-2005 era, with proper metalwork changes distinguishing the cars.
Watching how all this all plays out should be pretty interesting…