Focus-sized Shanghai show car leaks onto internet ahead of debut
7 April 2011

MG will reveal this five-door hatchback, called MG 5, at next week’s Shanghai motor show, giving the firm a conventional rival to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

The reborn British brand is scheduled to restart its Longbridge production process next week, assembling MG 6 models that arrive 80 per cent completed from China. But while that car is designed to take on the Golf and Focus by offering a longer wheelbase, more cabin space and a larger boot for similar money, the MG 5 is likely to compete on price.

These leaked sketches from China show that the car - codenamed AP12 and styled under the direction of UK-based MG design chief Tony Williams-Kenny - mixes established ‘new MG’ cues, such as the Zero concept-esque front end, with a deep-sided profile that could almost be a crossover. It also appears to have a glass roof with integrated spoiler, and a neatly integrated diffuser - although these elements are likely to be optional at best, and most probably for the show car only.

The AP12 is the second model to be built on the AP platform developed by MG’s owner, SAIC; the first vehicle was the Roewe 350 saloon, launched last year. That car is offered with 1.5 and 1.8-litre petrol powerplants, and five-speed manual and four-speed transmissions. However, a turbocharged version of the smaller motor is known to be under development, offering around 150bhp, and SAIC’s powertrain division - which fills a large chunk of the firm’s R&D facility in Longbridge - is also working on a pair of diesels.

The Roewe was linked to production in Longbridge as recently as last year - and while it’s no longer being mentioned in connection with the UK plant, its sister vehicle could make it to MG’s home factory. The prices of such a model could keep it viable for UK assembly - whereas the smaller, Fiesta-rivalling MG 3 is almost certain to be produced in full in China, in a bid to maximise profit margins.

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John McIlroy

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