MG is entering the one-tonne, 4×4 pickup market for the very first time with the peculiarly named ‘Extender’.
The MG Extender is based on the LDV T70 pickup, but is built at a different factory located in Laem Chabang, Thailand.
MG Extender: Background
MG needs no introduction for petrolheads; it’s an historic British brand established in 1923 and world-renowned for its two-seater sports cars that prioritised fun and style over substance. So how did it make the move into pickups?
MG Rover went bust in 2005 and the assets and naming rights were sold to the Nanjing Automobile Group, who merged with current owners SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation).
SAIC is China’s largest automaker and is placed 12th globally with sales of 5.6 million in 2018. SAIC developed a pickup truck in 2016, which it sells under different names in different countries due to brand perception; ‘Maxus T60’ in China, ‘LDV T60’ in Australia and New Zealand and ‘MG Extender’ in Thailand and the Philippines due to popularity of the MG brand in those countries.
Pickup trucks make up 43% of all vehicle sales in Thailand, with 225,508 registrations in the first half of 2019. By comparison, there were 29,975 pickup truck registrations in the UK during the same period.
However, there is a 200% import duty on light commercial vehicles in Thailand, and so the only solution is to produce locally. SAIC partnered with Thai manufacturer the Charoen Pokphand Group to manufacture the pickup in Laem Chabang.
MG Extender: Design and Architecture
Forget Chinese pickups of the past, the MG Extender is furnished with a wide range of accessories including lane departure warning, LED headlights, leather seats, soft-touch interior surfaces, reversing camera, and an infotainment system with a 10-inch touchscreen.
By employing a heavy-duty ladder chassis with leaf springs at the rear, the Extender will have a one-tonne payload and a 3t towing capacity on four-wheel-drive versions. The double-cab load bed is short at 1,485mm, although it is quite wide at 1,510mm and deep at 530mm.
MG Extender: Engine and Driveline
The Extender is propelled by SAIC’s newly-developed 2.0-litre engine, which produces 161hp and 375Nm, with a choice between a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. Most versions will be four-wheel drive although there is an entry-level rear-wheel-drive model.
MG Extender: Price and Availability
The MG Extender is, for the time being, only being sold in South-East Asia where it’s priced at 549,000 baht (£15,000) for the extended cab, and from 759,000 baht (£20,700) for the double cab.