Picture the ubiquitous MGB, launched in 1962 and for many years the world’s best-selling sports car.
Nothing could be more at odds with the famous roadster, you might think, than the current crop of Chinese-sourced MGs that major on electric power and family accommodation.
But consider this. Back then, the sports two-seater was the car people most coveted. Now, an SUV fills that role. Back then, BMC’s doughty B-series engine seemed a modern choice. Now, an electric powertrain does. In short, the venerable roadster and the MG ZS SUV may look markedly different, but today’s MG appeals in much the same way as its predecessor did all those years ago.
That’s backed up by MG’s sales success in the UK. In March, it sold more cars – in excess of 9000 – than in the whole of 2018. Last year, it increased sales by 66% in a market that was almost flat, due to the global semiconductor shortage.
Its top-selling car is the petrol ZS, although the electric variant isn’t far behind, appealing to young, environmentally conscious families.
“There are the 30- to 45-year-olds with a bit of money who want to be early adopters of electric cars,” explains MG commercial director Guy Pigounakis, “and then there are the customers thinking back to the halcyon days of MG.
“The people who know the MG brand are probably slightly older people who have warm memories of MG sports cars and nice saloons. And then the youngsters know very little about the brand, or what they do know is picked up from other people.”
It has been a gradual rise back to the top since MG fell into the hands of Chinese firm Nanjing Automobile Corporation in 2006. The ensuing 6 saloon and 3 supermini made little impact, but in recent years MG’s upwards trajectory has accelerated significantly, helped by relevant, reliable and affordable cars.
Pigounakis has overseen this kind of success at MG before: he was responsible for launching the popular F sports car in 1995, alongside engineer Brian Griffin and designer Gerry McGovern, now of Jaguar Land Rover fame.