The MG SV has been worked on for nine years by three different manufacturers. If time spent in development is directly proportional to the quality of the product, it ought to be the best car we’ve ever driven.
It began life with de Tomaso, went into production briefly as the Qvale Mangusta in 2000 but was hauled back into a darkened room when Qvale was bought by MG later that year.
Four years of concepts, rethinks and a total carbonfibre reskin followed; it was only last week that we finally found ourselves holding a set of MG keys, looking at an SV and an open road.
The temptation is to jump in, belt off and see just how good nine years of thought can make a car. But the SV is so arresting to look at that you can put the driving off for another 10 minutes just to walk around it. It looks exactly like what MG needs it to be; a hero car, festooned with outrageous details which can be toned down and echoed on MG’s humbler offerings.
When combined at full volume on one car, the result is monstrously aggressive and quite unlike anything else on the road. But you could never describe it as pretty and, prompted for specific criticisms, we’d identify the amount of air in the wheelarches, which seems to shrink the 18-inch OZ rims, and the very un-sports car-like gap between the ground and the front air dam.
The mad detailing distracts your attention from the SV’s very conventional three-box profile and a roofline which, at 1320mm, is only a little lower than a BMW M3’s; the sports and supercars it’s aimed at sit at least 100mm lower still.
You can get in and out easily, and there’s masses of headroom, light and visibility, but the driving environment is a bit saloon-like and can’t match the drama of the exterior.
The windscreen and dash are both very upright, and the excellent Recaro chairs adjust commendably low, but leave you with no view of the long prow. An electric seat-height adjuster raises the chair should you be sitting too low, but it lifts only the rear end of the seat, to tip you towards the dash.