MG has gone back to its British sporting heritage – almost – with the E-motion electric coupe concept unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show.
The flared hips of the sleek four-seater recall those of the 1955 MGA roadster, according to design director Shou Jingfeng in an address to journalists at a preview of the car ahead of the show. However, the size of the fastback car and the effect of luxury touches bring to mind the muscular curves of a Bentley Continental GT far more than they do any of the cheery, everyday sports cars produced at Abingdon.
Jingfeng and MG’s Chinese owners SAIC are trying to boost sluggish sales of the brand in China and global markets, including the UK, by taking a new design direction. “The styling will be more emotional and natural and not so sharp and cold,” Jingfeng said, referring to the pointed nose and minimal grille Chinese MGs used from 2010 until the MG ZS small SUV unveiled earlier this year. The E-Motion takes the ZS’s wider, friendlier grille and gives the DRG a more sporting glare, partly by narrowing the headlights.
Jingfeng favours flowing curves instead of abrupt edges, including on the famous octagon badge. For the concept, the angles on the badge have been rounded off a little to make it friendlier. “Before it had eight angles, so lots of direction changes. It gives it an angry face, we don’t want it to look so angry.”
The inspiration of the interior trim of the car was the Hermes version of the Apple watch with its brown leather and “cool metal” finish, Jingfeng said. The glossy black surfaces hide information screens embedded in the centre console and between the two front occupants. The ‘butterfly’ doors add to the luxury glamour and suggest MG would like to be seen as a more upmarket alternative brand.
Jingfeng says the car could even be produced, if opinion is strong enough at the show - although it seems unlikely to us, given MG’s focus on more practical models.