This is MG’s new supermini, designed at the company’s Longbridge engineering centre and likely to go on sale here in 2011 following a Chinese debut in the second half of this year.
This concept version, called MG Zero, is a lightly modified version of the real thing, which will be called MG3. The showroom version will feature less elaborate exterior lighting and do without the (rather effective) LED-lit front grille, as well as the illuminated MG logos in the head restraints.
But the bodywork itself is representative of the showroom car, as are the outer casings of the headlamps and tail-lights. MG’s owner, SAIC, says the car was designed with a UK flavour from the start, the design team led by Briton Anthony Williams.
SAIC is aiming the car at so-called G-90 consumers, who are aged between 18 and 28 and expect a car with a high level of connectivity.
No details have been given of the MG’s interior equipment, but the advanced infotainment system of the newly launched Roewe 350, which has been developed in league with China’s second biggest mobile company, China Unicom, suggests that the MG3 could be pretty sophisticated in this area. Mechanically the MG3 follows the format of virtually every other supermini on the market. That means a transverse, front-wheel drive powertrain, MacPherson strut front suspension and an H-frame torsion beam rear axle.
Although the layout is identical to that of the MG Streetwise that this car will replace in China (that’s the Streetwise, cross-over version of the ancient Rover 25, which is moderately popular in what is now its home market), the MG3 rides on an all-new platform that shares no parts with the outgoing model.
SAIC product planning boss Liu Tao says the new MG’s wheelbase is the biggest in its class at 2.5m, and provides above-average interior space as a result. A glance through the locked doors of the show car confirmed above-average rear room.
Besides riding on an all-new platform, the MG3 also uses a completely new range of four-cylinder engines. Codenamed NSE, they have just debuted in the Roewe 350, and will come in 1.3 and 1.5-litre capacities producing (somewhat average) outputs of 67bhp and 107bhp respectively.
A turbo version of the 1.5 is also a possibility; it produces 156bhp and would give the MG performance more appropriate to the marque’s sporting heritage.
The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, and there’s an automatic option on the 1.5. Liu Tao says there are plans for a diesel, but no date has yet been set for its availability.