Following hot on the heels of the show car unveiled at the Shanghai motor show, MG has revealed an almost production-ready version of its new Cyberster convertible sports car. Although it is seen by many as a successor to the famous MG B of the 1960s and '70s, Chinese-owned MG clearly sees it as more of a statement of intent than a major money-spinner.
For a kick-off, the Cyberster is significantly larger than the old MG B, and it's bigger than most small sports cars. Certainly, it dwarfs the Mazda MX-5 - a car originally built to emulate the MG B. Instead, it will be a similar size to the Porsche 911 or Mercedes-AMG SL, and it comes with quite an upmarket cabin.
The red-and-white colour scheme of the example shown here won't necessarily be standard, but the touchscreen infotainment system and the bank of digital driver displays are expected to feature across the range. MG hasn't confirmed exactly how the software will look and feel, but there's clearly a focus on digital interfaces.
The production-ready car shown off by MG isn't quite finished, though, so it still has some features that won't make full production - at least at first. The yoke, for example, is expected to be offered as an option eventually, but the first customer cars are likely to come with conventional round steering wheels. The scissor doors, on the other hand, have been confirmed for production from day one, giving the Cyberster a bit of supercar pizzazz.
MG hasn't confirmed the Cyberster's electric powertrain yet, either, although more than one option is expected to be available. Battery size is still unknown, but we're expecting to see single-motor, rear-wheel-drive versions of the Cyberster joined by more powerful two-motor, all-wheel-drive options.
High-performance design forms a major part of the Cyberster's appeal, from the big alloy wheels and the Brembo brakes that lurk behind them to the sharp rear-end design that's intended to improve aerodynamic performance. Of course, some parts are purely design led - the Union Flag rear lights are particularly bold - but aerodynamics have had their say in the styling.
It's clearly a sports car, but there's something of a greatest hits album in the design. The nose reminds us of the Toyota Supra, while there's something Aston DB11-ish about the front wings. Further back, the tail sweeps up like an old Corvette, while the rear lights have an air of MINI about them.
"Our intention was to create a completely new roadster ready for a new generation of sports car drivers and which opens a bold and compelling new chapter for MG," said Carl Gotham, the advanced design director at MG's London design studio. "The focus for Cyberster was to create a design that was respectful of the brand's illustrious past and to bring back that sporting bloodline, while also being absolutely clear that it should be modern and forward-facing like the MG of today, completely in-tune with the rapid transition to electric vehicles."
But for MG, it's clear the Cyberster is more than just an addition to the existing product line-up. The company is well aware of how a return to the two-seat roadster market will be perceived by customers, and there's no doubt that some will appreciate the nod to the brand's heritage.
Yet the Cyberster is part of a bigger plan for MG, a brand with designs on the top table when it comes to sales. While MG sits at 23rd this year so far in Ireland against all the other marques (hamstrung by supply more than demand), in the UK, the company sits 11th in the overall sales chart, behind Mercedes-Benz, yet ahead of fellow value-orientated firm Skoda, among others. And it's growing fast, expecting to surpass its 2022 registrations before the end of this summer.
What's more, MG is embarking on a range refresh that will see pretty much everything revamped in the next 18 months or so. By the end of 2024, the company has promised an almost complete refresh of the brand's line-up, and the Cyberster will be part of that.
Those who want to join MG's 100th anniversary celebrations with the Cyberster, however, will likely need deep pockets. MG has not confirmed Irish prices yet, but don't expect it to be less than €70,000.