For a whole generation of drivers, the name ‘MG’ conjures images of two-seat British roadsters. They might not have worked every day and leaked like a colander when it rained, but when they worked they were a load of fun. MG might finally be returning to those days, with rumors that the now Chinese-owned company is working on another two-seat roadster.
Auto Express describes the car as a spiritual successor to the MG TF, a mid-engined sports car sold in the 1990s and 2000s that for a time out-sold the Mazda Miata in the U.K. Speaking to the British magazine, an insider confirmed that MG bosses have discussed a return to the roadster market, and intend to produce the vehicle once the brand has re-established itself under Chinese ownership.
MG has not revealed a timeframe for the model just yet, as it’s keen to develop its existing range of vehicles and put several other volume models on the market first. One of these is likely to be a compact SUV based on the CS concept unveiled in Shanghai last year. The other, badged MG5, will compete against vehicles like the Ford Focus. Whether either of those models will find their way to the U.S. is unconfirmed.
The company is also hard at work developing new powerplants for the MG range, led by a team at SAIC’s U.K. technical center.
LONDON — Engineers at MG Birmingham continue to work on an all-new replacement for the storied British marque’s midengine TF roadster. With the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky out of production, Mazda’s MX-5 Miata once again has the U.S. roadster market all to itself, and MG may now consider this a prime opportunity to return to the United States.
Now under Chinese ownership, the Shanghai Auto affiliate is engineering the future TF as a front-engine roadster, as the midengine layout of the current car can’t be developed further. The chassis may come from the rear-wheel-drive MG ZT V8.
Although initial production of the new TF is likely three years away, engine options for the future roadster are expected to include a General Motors-sourced turbodiesel, a V6 gasoline engine, and a hybrid powertrain based on the Roewe 750’s system.
Keeping with the pure roadster appeal of the original MG drop tops, the new shapely sports car will undoubtedly offer a fabric soft top instead of an expensive, heavy retractable hardtop.
Shut down last fall, production of the current TF is restarting in England, but the model is not expected to live much beyond the end of 2010.
MG officially exited the United States auto market in 1980, with the death of the U.S.-compliant MGB.
There are optimistic reports from UK asserting that MG is currently working on three new models in addition to the TF LE500 roadster. Just a few years ago, MG was reported to be planning new models with its Chinese parent company Shanghai Automotive (SAIC).
Since the release of the refreshed TF LE500 roadster, there have no recent developments shared by MG. According to the recent UK reports, the new cars will be produced at the former Austin factory in Birmingham, UK, with the first model rolling out this October. To be produced first is the MG6, a compact sedan and hatch similarly sized to the Ford Fusion. The MG6 is essentially a rebadged version of the Roewe 550 sedan sold in China, which itself is based on a modified version of an old Rover 75 platform. Next to be produced will be a smaller hatchback based on the Roewe 350 that will compete against cars like the Volkswagen Golf. Lastly, MG is expected to launch a new minicar model that will be shown in concept form at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show this April. Unfortunately, MG plans to distribute the cars only in Europe.
MG has announced details of two new versions of the relaunched TF roadster, including a standard model and a special edition 85th anniversary model.
The standard specification TF135 is expected to be priced around £13,500, less than the £16,055 LE500 launched last year and making it a more affordable option for MG enthusiasts. It will be equipped with the same revised 135bhp K-Series engine found in the LE500.
At the same time, the 85th Anniversary model is due for launch later this summer, priced around £15,750. It will be available in a choice of three exclusive colours featuring special graphics and a bespoke interior trim.
The cars were unveiled to MG enthusiasts at the Royal Windsor MG Heritage Festival last month.
Reports have suggested a new MG saloon and hatchback – the MG6, shown in Shanghai last month – could join the TF as early as next summer, as the company seeks to expand its model range.