MG Rover Group has launched a high performance sports car that it hopes will rival the likes of Porsche, Maserati and Jaguar. The MG XPower SV is “an extremely powerful car”, said MG Rover chief executive, Kevin Howe. And not only in terms of horsepower.
“The car illustrates how far we are prepared to extend the MG brand,” said product design director Peter Stevens. “It’s just the first of a series of cars from MG Sport & Racing.”
MG Rover has created the “Sport & Racing” brand to “manage the development, manufacture and sale” of the XPower, Mr Howe said. Mr Stevens will be MG Sport & Racing’s managing director.
The XPower, costing £65,000 in the UK, should help improve the image of MG Rover’s sports car unit MG. Its image might also have been boosted by the appearance of the girl band Atomic Kitten at the MG stand, where they impressed crowds of journalists by purring statements such “lovely” and “when I learn how to drive”.
But whereas the musicians attracted only casual attention, more critical eyes were cast over the car: Would people really prefer an MG to an established supercar such as, say, a Porsche? MG Rover insisted they would. The new car is not merely about marketing the MG brand, it will be profitable in its own right, PR manager Greg Allport insisted.
The XPower is based on the MGX80 concept shown last year, although it weighs less and has more kick in the 4.6 litre V8 engine. “We’ve radically evolved the car, made it lighter, more powerful,” said Mr Howe. The MGX80 concept was itself based on the Qvale Mangusta following the acquisition of Qvale Automotive Group’s Italian subsidiary from its US parent in 2001.
The cars will not be made at MG Rover’s factory in Modena in northern Italy, where the Mangusta was made. Instead, the UK car maker has decided to shift the production of the car to its Longbridge plant.
The group’s decision to launch the car in the UK was welcomed by British car industry officials. “As an international showcase for the industry, the event is the perfect place to show the strength of British design to the rest of the world,” said the chief executive of the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Christopher Macgowan. “We are thrilled.”
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