MG is on track to unveil its ‘Project E’ two-seat electric roadster in April next year ahead of first UK deliveries in the first half of 2024, the brand has said.
The sports car, first previewed by the 2021 Cyberster concept and known internally as ‘Project E’, was due to be unveiled this month at the Guangzhou motor show but has been put back to next year after concerns the November event would be postponed or cancelled due to Covid disruption.
The production car “will be a game-changer in terms of perception of the brand,” MG UK commercial director Guy Pigounakis told Autocar at a recent event. The car will be available in either two-wheel drive – most likely rear-wheel drive - or as a “very high-performance” all-wheel-drive dual-motor version.
The car will become a halo model sitting above the rest of MG's line-up. UK executives had to rethink its positioning when the first full-scale prototype of the production car arrived from China in advance of the reveal originally planned for this month. “Right up to when the model was arriving we were looking at it as a natural successor to the MGF. It’s completely not. It’s in a completely different sector of the market,” said Pigounakis, without revealing pricing.
The car was teased in a video posted to social media in August (below) that showed off the roadster's sleek, long-nosed silhouette, electric folding canvas roof, yoke steering wheel, two-tone sports seats and distinctive LED headlights. Other definitive design cues visible at this early stage include a subtle 'ducktail' rear spoiler and a rear lighting design modelled on the Union Jack - a nod to MG's British roots.
Tellingly, MG captioned the video 'return of the legend', which strongly suggests the final production car will resurrect a sporting nameplate from the brand's illustrious past. Earlier this year, the brand trademarked the name 'MG C EV', which references a lesser-known, straight-six-powered version of the brand-defining MGB from the late 1960s.
The two-seat electric sports car was previewed as an outlandish concept in 2021, which company bosses said was given the green light for production after receiving more than 5000 expressions of interest from potential buyers.
The official preview and recently filed design patents show just how far the design has come since that concept and indicate that the Cyberster – which will essentially serve as an electric rival to the likes of the Mazda MX-5 – is nearly ready for an official unveiling.
While the production car's silhouette bears a visual relation to that earlier concept, it's all change elsewhere, with a total redesign bringing the car into line with MG's production models and rendering it compliant with global homologation rules. It sits higher than before, for example; the wheels are smaller and wrapped in chunkier tyres; the headlights are now uncovered; and the gaping front grille panel has been swapped for what looks to be a subtler, decorative item, perhaps housing an array of sensors.
It still looks to be a two-seater but features a folding roof rather than sticking with the concept's open-cockpit arrangement, and the prominent streamliners running from the headrests to the trailing edge of the bootlid are gone.
Despite the car appearing more or less undisguised in these renderings, still little is known about its powertrain, pricing or performance potential.
The concept was said to be based on a bespoke EV architecture, offering a range of 497 miles and a 0-62mph time of less than 3.0sec, and as a spearhead for MG's new youth-focused Cyber brand, the convertible is expected to be priced affordably - potentially even competing with today's entry-level combustion-powered sports cars.
Talking about adding 'Project E' to the MG line-up, Pigounakis previously told Autocar: “The problem with sports cars is that everybody loves them but not many people buy them.” He added, however, that MG’s global volume means it can “afford to invest in sports cars and take a longer-term view on when there will be a return on investment”, adding that having a sports car “will bring us massive PR and marketing benefits”.
The Cyberster will build on the Chinese brand’s recent phenomenal success in the UK: sales grew 66% last year, from 18,415 in 2020 to 30,600.
The MG 4 hatchback, however, arrived first, as the initial offering in a family of EVs based on parent company SAIC's new Modular Scalable Platform, which is likely to also be used by the Cyberster. That paves the way for 167bhp and 201bhp rear-wheel-drive powertrains – in keeping with its affordable sporting brief – but also a 443bhp dual-motor range-topping option.
The MG 4 is available with both 51kWh and 64kWh batteries, but packaging constraints and less strenuous range requirements could see the Cyberster sold with only the smaller of the two. Expect a range figure comfortably north of 200 miles, in any case.
A third new MG to arrive by 2024 hasn’t yet been confirmed, but it is likely to be a third SUV, given the continuing consumer demand for high-riding vehicles.