Chinese-owned MG Motor has reinvented the MGB for the modern day with this new Icon SUV concept at the Beijing motor show today. The concept confirms MG owner SAIC’s intentions to put a compact Nissan Juke-style SUV into production in 2013, and also previews its new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
The Icon is based on the SAIC ZP platform that also underpins the MG3 supermini. SAIC is keen to spin multiple models off the same platforms, and believes a small sporty SUV is a logical next step for the brand given the success of models like the Juke and Mini Countryman.
Indeed, MG believes the MGB may well have evolved into a car of the Icon’s type had the brand’s troubles not intervened. The references to the MGB, in its 50th anniversary year, can be found throughout the Icon’s design. However, MG insists incorporating these touches into a SUV rather than a sports car makes the Icon no slavish retro car.
The fixed-roof MGB GT lends most to the Icon’s design, particularly in its C-pillar, roofline and tailgate design. The front-end grille and headlight design also references the MGB. The Icon’s ride height has been raised 90mm over the MG3 to accommodate larger carbonfibre-trimmed wheels.
The four-seat cabin is accessed by pillarless ‘clap-hand’ doors. The rear bucket seats can be folded into the floor, another MGB GT-inspired feature. The centre tunnel sits above the seats to give the impression of a low, sporty driving position.
Steve Harper, a Brit who has previously played a role in the development of the MG Metro, Masetro, Montego and MGF models, oversaw the design of the concept.
MG didn’t officially confirmed the Icon’s engine ahead of the show, but Autocar understands it to be the new SAIC 1.5-litre turbo. The direct-injection unit boasts 135bhp and 148lb ft, and will feature in the MG5 in China before the end of the year.
Enjoy the week's top pictures in our free Car Pics iPad app - great high-res photography (1024x768 pixels) exclusive to the iPad