Tested: MG Express
The idea of a “boy racer” van has been down before, but not by MG Rover or any of its antecedents. The result is the MG Express, and for the moment, it is touted as being the fastest delivery van in the country – and with 160bhp, one can see why!
Roger Blaxall tests the Express and find it an interesting experience…
I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at some recent MG product planning meetings. Imagine the one where someone floated the idea of an MG ZR van. Let’s hope it wasn’t at the same time as discussions about the new SV – imagine the fun with both press releases juxtaposed…
Wishful thinking perhaps, but as it is the new MG Express is either the bravest – or most foolish – move the company has made in recent months. Just how many pints did it take for the bosses to be persuaded to produce it?
As an interested/cynical outsider I suppose the question shouldn’t be ‘why’ but ‘why not?’ Anyway, whatever else has gone on behind the scenes, the choice of the name Express was inspired – after all this is the fastest commercial on the road with a top speed of 131 mph. Mind you, it’s not available in white (even Olde English White) so white van man is going to be disappointed.
This feisty new model moves MG into a completely new market – full marks for that. And it offers some enterprising youngsters a novel way of getting MG ZR performance on the cheap, too. With its rear seats removed along with standard kit like the Trafficmaster (don’t van drivers need it, MG?) and remote steering wheel audio controls it’s only a little different from the donor ZR – and the good news is it’s still brimful of character!
I used it to collect some Christmas charity shoe boxes from a church in Rhosneigr, Anglesey. Jaws dropped when I pulled up in the car park but we packed all the boxes in. The trip down the brand new A55 was superb – it’s a brilliant road for some concentrated Express style driving where I let rip in every gear proving the new van is a worthy recipient of the MG name.
You’re always reminded it’s a van though with the constant boom from the back and with less weight the front wheel Express proves skittish even in the dry. The interior’s in need of an upgrade … and not the half hearted one from the latest Streetwise although being a van, MG might get away with it.
Standard kit is generous for the £11,471 (remember, many buyers won’t pay VAT) and includes air con, anti lock brakes, a close ratio sports gearbox, electric windows/mirrors and front fogs, remote control central locking and perimetric alarm. The finishing touch on the trophy blue pearlescent test vehicle van were the beautiful ‘Straights’ alloys.
The Express is available in two petrol variants – the powerful 160 and 115 and economical two litre diesel which is no slouch either. Rover fans who want to sample a small commercial can opt for the Commercial. I’ll be doing just that in April.