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A plug-in hybrid variant of the MG ZST has supposedly been leaked, as new 3D patent drawings have been filed with the State Intellectual Property Office in China.
The ZST serves as a replacement for the ZS in China, although Australia currently receives both versions, with the original ZS as a budget offering, and the so-branded ZST as a more premium turbocharged option with more mainstream pricing.
These new renders filed with the Intellectual Property Office could either be an anticipated PHEV version based on the ZST, or could also reveal the look of the updated all-electric model early.
The new renders follow the ZS' Korean Kia Niro rival in blanking out its grille and mounting the charge port in the front. Unlike the current ZS EV, the supposed ZST PHEV appears to have a separate flap for its charging components, rather than mounting it behind the MG badge, likely indicating the presence of centrally-mounted radar or camera-based safety equipment behind the front clip.
The renders also show a more streamlined panel design with eco-friendly alloy wheels and a large battery pack below the lower bumper.
While little else is known about a potential hybrid ZST for now, Chinese media is reporting it could be equipped with the same 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and electric motor present elsewhere in the brand's range. In the case of the larger HS PHEV, this produces 119kW/250Nm, with 90kW/230Nm provided by the electric motor. It drives the front wheels via a 10-speed torque-converter automatic.
The HS has a relatively large 16.6kWh lithium battery good for a 63km EV-only driving range, however the smaller dimensions of the ZST are likely to lower this capacity. Its Kia Niro PHEV rival, for example, has a 8.9kW battery pack good for a claimed 58km range.
MG Australia had nothing to say on the potential for a ZST plug-in hybrid for our market but reminded us that the ZS EV update will merge the affordable battery electric onto the newer ZST design. This facelifted EV expected to launch in Australia some time in the second half of 2022.
The brand has told CarsGuide in the past it generally aims to have a focus predominantly on hybrid and electric vehicles going forward, although hasn't yet confirmed when the Australian market will see the new 'third generation' design language seen on its latest Chinese domestic market vehicles, the MG5 sedan and MG One mid-size SUV.
The ZS range is proving overwhelmingly popular in Australia and ranks in 10th position of all models, having sold 1786 units to the end of July 2021. This time last year, the brand had only moved 327 units, representing a year-on-year increase of a whopping 435.6 per cent.