Roewe 350 : SAIC Motor’s forgotten midliner

Keith Adams 

Roewe front three-quarter view
Roewe 350: will there be room for an MG5 derivative between the MG3 and MG6?

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… 

Keith Adams
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  1. The dimensions for the MG6 given above are for the Fastback.The MG6 Saloon’s dimensions are as follows:
    Length: 4653 mm
    Width: 1827 mm (without mirrors)
    Height: 1480 mm

    Interestingly, the new Volvo S60’s dimensions are as follows:
    Length: 4628 mm
    Width: 1865 mm
    Height: 1484 mm

    Both versions of the MG6 are, therefore, longer than the latest D-segment contender. Mind you, while the MG5 will presumably fall into to the C-segment in terms of size, the MG6’s anticipated pricing of £16,000 to £20,000 might present MG Motor UK Limited with something of a problem when deciding how to price the MG5 if and when that model comes to the UK…

  2. The dimensional comparison between the MG6 and Volvo S60 is most interesting. A bit of downsizing in the D-segment wouldn’t be unwelcome – at least, in my opinion. However, owners of the previous S60 must feel a bit cheated – their car was seen as a BMW 5 Series rival but the new one’s aimed squarely at the 3 Series.

    Anyway, back to MG. I find myself thinking that the best hope for relaunching the marque in the UK would be a direct ZR replacement. The ZR was one of the rare success stories of the MGR era – the best selling performance supermini which outsold the equivalent Rover – and still has a strong following. Why not bring it, or something similar, back as the basic building block of the range and develop brand loyalty with an MG ‘constituency’ trading up to the larger offerings?

  3. This Roewe 350 looks quite nice to me – a bit like a Chevrolet Cruze at the front and, perhaps, a BMW 3 Series at the back. I don’t doubt it could sell well in the UK – if that becomes a reality…

  4. I think this is more pleasing on the eye than the MG3 and, to some extent, the MG6.

    I agree that a ZR ‘replacement’ is required – the Metro was also a good seller. The supermini class has been missing a bit of MG ‘zip’ for too long now.

  5. I did wonder what was going on with this car. Surely it would make more sense to go for the C-segment with this sized car rather than the 6 which is really lost between two segments? MG Motor would then have three models: one small, one medium and one large.

    Any idea if the Roewe 350 is actually a decent car or one we’d rather leave in China?

  6. The MG6 is basically the same size as a Skoda Octavia which is a bloated VW Golf for a few grand less – pretty much the MG6’s main competitor then.

    The Octavia sells very well so I can’t see the MG6’s odd size causing issues. The original Fabia was always seen as larger than a Polo as well but it wasn’t really – just packaged better.

  7. I think that the MG5/Roewe 350 has the potential to be very successful. It’s closer in size to the the ZS than the 6 and, if it handles anything like the old MG-R car, it will have a lot to offer. It’s the new MG which I am most interested to see.

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