SAIC’s best performing own brand continues to be Roewe, a division created just shy of 15 years ago. Mostly restricted to China, the model range continues to be expanded, with a handful of new vehicles still to be launched this year.
The i5 is a (4.6 m long) sedan version of the Ei5. However, unlike that battery-electric wagon, the i5 is powered by petrol engines. It has been hugely successful, Chinese market retail sales numbering some 150,000 in 2019. A facelift is due in mid-2022 and a successor towards the end of 2025.
Slightly lengthier than the i5 and closely related to the MG 6, the i6 has been around since early 2017. It replaced the 550, a sedan which was intended to be a rival for the Nissan Sylphy and others in that class such as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. The more powerful i6 Max, announced only a few days ago and soon to be on sale, is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine which produces 178 hp and 275 Nm.
Also revealed online earlier in September, the i6 Max PHEV boasts 308 hp and 480 Nm thanks to the same 1.5-litre engine as the i6 Max but with the addition of a single motor. Production of all three cars – i6, i6 Max and i6 Max plug-in hybrid – is due to end in 2024. Depending on consumer preferences and the policies of the Chinese government, not all are likely to be replaced: it could be the case that their successor is the second generation ER6, an EV (see below).
An MPV will be added to the Roewe line-up later in 2020. It was previewed by the iM8 (pictured) at a brand event held in May. This concept, claimed to be 4,722 mm long and with a 2,715 mm wheelbase, was powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo engine. SAIC told the media that the production vehicle’s name would be iMax 8. As for propulsion systems, expect turbocharged 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines with outputs of 180 hp and 224 hp, as well as an EV.
The RX3 became available in November 2017. Roewe’s second SUV is 4.4 m long and manufactured at SAIC’s Zhengzhou plant. It was the first vehicle for this factory, which has an annual capacity of 400,000 vehicles. A facelifted model premiered at the Chengdu motor show in July and there likely won’t be any significant updates between now and the arrival of a second generation model in 2023.
The fact that the RX5 is the oldest current Roewe model speaks volumes for the overall average age of the brand’s line-up. Launched at the start of 2017, this was the first vehicle for the SAIC’s SSA architecture. It is also sold under the MG marque in some countries, retaining the RX5 name.
A high-spec RX5 Plus went on sale in China in June as part of a facelifted range. It has the same 169 hp and 250 Nm 1.5-litre petrol turbo engine as other RX5s. The replacement model is due to arrive in early 2024.
Available in China since March, the Clever is a 3,140 mm long two-door electric car. There is no Roewe logo on the front end: instead, the word CLEVER is where the grille would be. The 37 kW (50 horsepower) and 100 Nm motor is said to be supplied by JJE (Jing-Jin Electric). The 27 kWh battery pack gives an NEDC maximum range of 260 km, SAIC says.
The life cycle for the Clever should be six years, which means a facelift in 2023. Other battery packs should become available too, offering buyers an extended range.
As well as being an electric car, the Ei5 is unusual for being a wagon. This EV is said to share its platform with the Roewe 360 and Buick Excelle GX and it is of a similar size to those cars. The single motor is powered by a 52.5 kWh battery pack.
The first time that the Ei5 was seen was as a prototype at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2017. Also, the soon to be launched MG 5 will be more or less the same car. As for the Roewe original’s production cycle, that should last until 2025 after a styling refresh in the fourth quarter of next year.
Originally due to be called ei6, the ER6 is an 4,724 mm long electric version of the i6. Available for order in China since May, the first deliveries took place in August after the car had its motor show premiere in Chengdu in late July.
The ei6 had been announced and shown as a prototype in April 2017 with its powertrain claimed to be a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine plus one electric motor. The ER6 is instead an EV. The single motor has a stated output of 181 hp, the battery’s output is 70 kWh and the NEDC range is up to 605 km.
The life cycle of this model should last until 2024 after a facelift in the first half of 2024.
Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.
Future platform intelligence
More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of GlobalData’s Automotive Intelligence Center. That includes the Roewe vehicles not included in this report.
This, the second of three features outlining the current and next generation models for SAIC’s brands, follows a look at Maxus/LDV. MG will be the third and final part of the series.