IT MAY cause MGB owners to splutter into their string-backed leather driving gloves, but MG is hoping to hook a new generation of young buyers with a car traditionalists regard with horror: a crossover SUV.
The five-seat GTS is the latest model with which MG’s Chinese owner, the Shanghai Automobile and Industrial Corporation (SAIC), is attempting to revive the marque’s once-proud octagon badge. Roughly the same size as the Nissan Qashqai, the SUV will compete in the fastest-growing segment of the new-car market but will face tough competition from the popular Nissan, as well as the Mazda CX-5 and the revamped Honda CR-V.
Four-wheel drive will be an option, and a dual-clutch automatic gearbox will be offered as standard, but it is not known whether a diesel engine will be available when the car is launched: only a 2-litre turbocharged petrol unit has been confirmed. As these official images show, the car will ride high on its suspension and have a roof that tapers to the rear to make it look more dynamic.
MG is likely to play on the brand’s sporting heritage and market the model as a performance SUV — it already claims that the GTS can sprint from 0 to 62mph in eight seconds — but the car is also likely to undercut its more established rivals in price when it arrives in Britain once it has been launched in China in spring this year.
After the collapse of MG Rover in 2005, the rights to the MG badge were bought by SAIC, which launched its first model, the MG6 hatchback, in 2011. Final assembly work for British cars took place on the site of the old factory in Longbridge, Birmingham, and the company later launched a British design centre, but sales of the car were slow. The arrival of the MG3 supermini has given them a boost, but the most recent figures show that Dacia, Renault’s budget brand, sold 10 times as many cars as MG in 2014.
Whether an SUV is going to be enough to help the badge recapture its faded glory remains to be seen.
MG GTS specifications
Engine 2 litres, petrol, turbocharged
Torque 258 lb ft
Transmission 6-speed, dual-clutch automatic
Acceleration 0-62mph: 8sec
Release date Early 2016 in Britain
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As if the road car were not hardcore enough, Ariel, maker of stripped-down sports cars, is to unveil an off-road version of the Atom. Described as the Atom’s mucky brother, the Nomad is geared towards driving on forest tracks and off-road courses. Despite its chunky looks, it’s two-wheel drive and road-legal, but an estimated 200bhp and a low body weight will help it over rough terrain.
On sale Orders taken now; deliveries in spring
Hyundai i20 coupé
Price: to be announced
Hyundai hopes this new three-door version of the i20, badged as a coupé, will attract buyers away from streetwise rivals such as the Mini, Citroën DS3 and Vauxhall Adam. It has a lower roofline than the five-door version, giving it a younger, sportier look. The engine range will be the same as in the five-door, though a turbocharged 1-litre petrol unit is due later this year.
On sale Spring
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