A coupe version of the MG7 – haven't we seen this before?
Yes, if you cast your minds back to late 2004, when the MG Rover Group unveiled it wearing Rover badges. However, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and in the meantime the sleek concept car has received a brand makeover as it stumbles closer to production reality. This MG7 Coupe may have been tucked away from prying eyes at the recent re-opening of Longbridge, reserved for management and VIPs' eyes only, but CAR Online managed to get an exclusive close-up view of the car. The re-branding of the Peter Stevens-styled car is a clear indication that NAC MG is considering this car for potential future production.
They haven’t changed much at all – and isn't that a Rover badge on the steering wheel?
Yes it is – but the two-door concept looks so right that it could be argued that nothing really needed to be changed. As our pictures reveal, the MG logo sits in a Rover-shaped recess on the grille, and there’s a neat new boot spoiler to cover up the badge plinth that formerly resided there, so plainly there’s work to do. More interestingly, this was the first opportunity to take a close look at the beautifully crafted instruments – and the wood 'n' leather laden interior, a traditional Rover styling cue. When the car first appeared, it won plaudits for its balanced styling, despite being conceived purely to demonstrate to the then-potential partner, Shanghai Automotive, that Longbridge could design desirable cars – keeping the upcoming deal on-track.
That’s all well and good, but why show it off again?
Although the reborn NAC MG company would not readily confirm anything other than TF roadster production for Longbridge, Nanjing Auto’s CEO Yu Jian Wei stated that a new Coupe could be launched, followed by all-new sportscars – assuming that sales for the roadster were satisfactory. Although it is a good bet this will be the TF GT, unveiled alongside the original Rover 75 Coupe back in 2004, the presence of the MG7 Coupe is certainly interesting. It indicates that the Chinese company is clearly ambitious, and that given the money, could be interested in building this range-topping halo model. There were VIP guests at the re-opening ceremony that could indeed help make this happen.
But will it go into production?
The chances are pretty slim, but never say never. Much of the tooling to get the MG7 saloon into production at Longbridge is still there, although installing new presses for the coupe-only parts would require significant investment. However, the newly scaled-down Longbridge would be the perfect place to effectively hand-build the new car, and British assembly would add kudos to the model if it were to go on sale in the status-conscious Chinese market. Against the 3-Series coupe and Audi A5, it would undoubtedly struggle, but as a bargain-basement baby Bentley, it could certainly work on some markets.