China’s MG has defended the lack of more advanced active safety technology in its most affordable vehicles.
Launched in recent weeks, the four-door 2023 MG 5 is priced from $24,990 drive-away. By undercutting the Hyundai i30, Kia Cerato, Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 – and even the one-size-smaller Mazda 2 sedan – it becomes Australia’s cheapest sedan.
We can provide any model with five-star [credentials], but that costs money.
Not without cost, however. While its rivals are dearer, they're more richly equipped when it comes to safety features. The MG 5's suite is limited to low-speed autonomous emergency braking – a requirement for all brand-new vehicles introduced in Australia since March 1, 2023.
Missing active safety features that are assessed by safety organisation ANCAP include lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, and speed recognition and driver monitoring systems.
The entry-level MG 5 Vibe is also not fitted with rear seatbelt reminders, while all variants lack blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts.
ANCAP assesses active safety equipment in its ‘safety assist’ and ‘vulnerable road user’ categories – with minimum scores of 70 per cent required to achieve a five-star rating or 60 per cent for a four-star rating.
MG Australia chief executive officer Peter Ciao said the brand has no plans to provide MG 5 vehicles to ANCAP. If the safety organisation plans to assess the MG 5, it would need to purchase the test vehicles.
When asked if an ANCAP rating below five stars could affect MG 5 sales, Ciao said the brand made a choice between lower prices or more-advanced safety features.
“With each model, what [a five-star safety rating] really is, is a business decision, not a technical one. Because when we develop each model, we will decide, we will make a choice: How much? And what kind of technology to provide?” he said.
“We can provide any model with five-star [credentials] but that costs money, you know, and now in Australia this safety requirement is now so high it’s ridiculous.”
Speaking previously with Wheels Media, ANCAP CEO Carla Hoorweg said that “safety-related costs are undoubtedly a factor in vehicle pricing, but only one relatively small component," something that MG and other brands don't necessarily agree on.
“We do not apologise for encouraging increasing levels of safety when too many lives are lost, and serious injuries are still occurring on our roads," added Hoorweg.
"The technology is available and becomes even more important for purchasers of smaller cars given the fundamental mass differences between them and larger vehicles they mix with on our roads today."
Without a five-star ANCAP rating, the MG 5 would be excluded from some government and business fleets, and popular ride-share service Uber, if an exemption isn’t provided.
Both vehicles are the cheapest in each segment – and highest-selling – with the MG 3 light hatch priced at $19,990 drive-away and ZS small SUV at $23,990 drive-away.
A new MG 3 is expected here in mid-2024. It will require autonomous emergency braking to be sold in Australia.
“[MG] launched in Australia six years ago but the business decision is survival first, so we focus on affordably priced [cars] under $20K and under $30K,” added Ciao.