MG's HS medium-sized SUV finds new energy with a $53k EV model for New Zealand
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MG can't claim its new HS Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle is the cheapest PHEV in New Zealand: Toyota still has that nailed down with its $49,490 Prius Prime.
But it still argues it has the "best value" PHEV, the new $52,990 HS SUV going head-to-head with the hugely successful Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (currently winding down towards a new model and starting at $52,490).
The Chinese car industry refers to alternative-power vehicles (hybrid/EV/hydrogen/flux capacitor, whatever) as New Energy Vehicles (NEVs). The new HS is the second MG NEV to be launched in NZ. The first was the ZS EV, currently NZ's cheapest pure-electric model at $48,990.
The medium-sized HS (think Toyota RAV4 or Mazda CX-5) isn't a 100 per cent electric model like the smaller ZS. It combines a 16.6kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion plug-in battery pack and electric motor with a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine. It's rated for 52km of pure-electric driving on a charge (five hours on a 7kW wallbox or overnight on a domestic socket) and official fuel economy of 1.7l/100km.
That equates to a Clean Car Standard-beating CO2 figure of just 39g/km.
It's the flagship of the HS range, the combined power (119kW/250Nm from the petrol engine and 90kW/230Nm from the electric motor) giving a 0-100km/h sprint of 6.9 seconds.
It's FWD only. The HS's transmission has 10 gears, albeit using some MG maths: the electric motor has four ratios to itself, then there's a further six for petrol/hybrid operation.
Much of the value argument will come from the HS PHEV's high standard specification. It comes only in top Essence trim and features the full MG Pilot suite of driver-assistance features, full-size "Stargazer" panoramic roof, twin virtual instrument clusters, 360-degree cameras and leather/Alcantara upholstery.
While the MG brand is a relative newcomer to the NZ market under its new-era Chinese ownership, it's an old hand at EVs.
Parent brand SAIC (China's largest automotive group) is investing heavily in EVs and even makes its own batteries. Last year SAIC NEV sales hit 320,000 globally, a year-on-year increase of 73 per cent.
The HS PHEV comes with a five-year unlimited-km vehicle warranty and eight-year, 160,000km battery warranty. MG says the battery should still have around 70 per cent of its original charge capacity available after that distance.
Meanwhile, MG has also moved to give the HS a bit more SUV cred with the addition of two petrol-AWD variants. The Excite X starts at $39,990, the Essence X at $45,990.
It ups the ante with a 2.0-litre turbo engine (FWD HS models have a 1.5l) making 168kW/360Nm, with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission and locking differential.
The new HS PHEV and AWD models arrive in NZ in April.