Score out of ten?

We finally have pictures of the MG Zero from the Beijing Motor Show.  Oh dear, what have the Chinese done with the brand?  I’m absolutely astounded that with a clean sheet of paper, something quite so ugly would emerge from the ashes.  It’s a concept car after all so this should be the exciting stage where we can ignore production limitations and accountants’ purses.  I’m really saddened by the fact it was designed here in the UK (MG Global Design in Birmingham).  Could we not have pencilled something a little more distinctive, prettier even?  (And if not, then perhaps we should have gone to see some Italians.)

Commenting on the exterior style, Design Director Tony Williams said “This concept shows a bold, individual soul.  The bonnet is formed around the famous octagonal badge, the graphics flow into striking lamps and the large lower grille completes the confident, sporty character.”

Actually, it looks like a fish with a pinched nose.  Even Peugeot is moving away from large mouths now, understanding that some things are better left under water.  Higher up the nose, the Zero has some cues from the VW Golf.  Side on, we have Suzuki Swift.  The rump is more City Rover.

He continues: “The body-side has a strong shoulder, a dynamic scalloped feature in the doors and flared arches to give a wide stance and strong road presence. The feature lines have been designed to give a strong relationship to the wheel arch demonstrating the fun nature of the cars dynamics.” 

In fact, the rear arch is very previous generation Fiat Punto, especially with the rising waist line towards the back.  The arch itself doesn’t seem very flared at all so will it really look quite so “fun” shod with 15” wheels on the lower trimmed production variants?

Guy Jones, MG Motor UK Sales and Marketing Director summarised by saying “MG Zero is crucial to the development of the brand globally, as it gives clear direction for the future beyond the current products. We are all proud to see our British-designed vehicle wearing the MG badge creating such an impact in Beijing. With the MG TF back in production in Birmingham, sales increasing and the MG6 coming at the end of the year, the MG ZERO has come at the perfect time to build further awareness and interest in the brand here in the UK.”

At this point, I should make it clear that MG is a brand I’m very fond of – and under any ownership I’m keen to see it move forward.  Nor have I had the hang-ups around the badge engineering over the years.  In fact, the first M.G. (yes, it had the dots after the letters back then) was a rebadged Bullnose Morris.

Some cars just don’t come over as well on paper as they do in the metal.  However, while I haven’t been to Beijing, the images are all I (and the rest of the world) have to go on.  I fear I’m not alone in my thoughts looking at the responses rolling out across the internet.

My final concern is that I cannot spot the MG Zero’s unique selling point.  Brand alone is not enough and until we see full specifications with prices it’s hard to make value comparisons.  All we have today are its looks, and aesthetically it just doesn’t offer sufficient magic.

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