News : MG Icon images leaked before debut

Keith Adams

MG Icon Concept, to be unveiled in Beijing next week
MG Icon Concept, to be unveiled in Beijing next week

MG’s going back to the marque’s stylistic roots with its latest concept car. The Icon, which will be unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show this month, promises to lead to an intriguing small-crossover if it’s signed off for production. The car was styled by former Austin Apprentice and renowned Designer, Stephen Harper – a man with some interesting credits to his name, such as the MGF and Montego Estate.

The car is clearly inspired by the MGB and manages to combine sportiness with strong identity – the Icon will surely be one of the design concepts stars of the Beijing Motor Show. The MG model range is currently gaining momentum in sales in China, with a youthful and ‘English’ image, which is seemingly at odds with customer perceptions in the UK.

The Icon’s job, therefore, is to try and address this situation, while investigating a new market niche for MG in China. Sports cars are almost non-existent in China so it makes sense to position any more obvious MG within the faux-SUV sector, as typified by the Nissan Juke and upcoming MINI Paceman-derived car.

The Icon is expected be underpinned by the same platform as the forthcoming MG5.  Stay tuned to AROnline for exclusive coverage of all MG’s exhibits at the Beijing Motor Show.


Keith Adams
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  1. Well they’re certainly trying, I’ll give them that. There is a European market for this kind of thing, as various Mini versions and the Nissan Juke show. And the MG styling cues work quite well even if MG has no tradition of the SUV market. Not sure I like it but it could sell well here, with the right marketing and support.

  2. I said MGC simply because, from the front view, the bonnet ridges almost seem to give that ‘bulge’ look of the C, which externally was basically MGB anyway; a trick of the light, no doubt.

  3. I think it looks really good and is a bit different from all the other Euroboxes. Should give a bit of competition to the BMW/Mini guys.

    Also reminds me of the Nissan Juke. However Stephen Harper has obviously taken time to finish the design properly and not gone off on a Friday afternoon and left the finishing touches with the Janitor…….as Nissan must have done.

  4. I am surprised that MG Motor UK Ltd has not seized the opportunity to show us a conceptual proposition of how a new MGB might look, especially with 2012 being its fiftieth anniversary and the fact that a new sports car is approximately two years away. It would have been good publicity for the brand in the same way as last year’s Jaguar concept car whetted everyone’s appetite for a new smaller Jaguar sports car to sit below the current XK range.

  5. What the heck? Great interior though, and I quite like the profile, and what they are attempting with the front. Not sure about the front bumper projections, look a bit PA Cresta to me… least SAIC is trying to put a legacy model together.

  6. Actually, if you study the rear tailgate profile, together with the headlamp and grille relationship and shallow front windscreen, it does have some evidence of the MGB GT in it.

    In my eyes, it certainly looks more appealing than the Nissan Juke.

    However, the MG badge on top of the grlle does look disproportionatly large!

  7. A Nissan Juke which escaped from the Mad Max films.

    Regardless of its styling, there seems to be a market for this kind of thing, so if it will sell, make it.

  8. The only styling clues I can spot from the MGB are that it has headlights, wheels and windows in approximately the same positions as on the MGB. And I agree with Bernard about those – frankly silly – Chevy like ‘over riders’. Externally there is nothing here to like. I do like the interior though. Nice.

  9. Hmmmmmmmmmmm…. If theyre going for a retro mgb, they might as well make it sports car….. To me this looks like a nasty accident between a vw karmann ghia mk1 and a mini countryman. The front is cute but the sides snd rear are hideous

  10. There’s a great discussion going on the Facebook page about this – including Stephen Harper himself

  11. I agree with 3 / paul it looks good from the front….but from the side and rear… have they got different drugs to everyone else? alex

  12. It’s an interesting design.. and it’s does work… but I really dis like the faux bumper over riders / light units…

  13. They need to make this actually happen, MG-Rover where good at showing ‘concepts’ to woo investment and generate publicity, however sadly nothing came to much reality.

    This car could potentially have a great on street presence, which could prove successful in the same way as the Mini has.

    A few tweaks here and there (not sure about those bumpers) and it could prove to be a new foundation for MG.

    However anyone can draw a car, making it high quality and selling it as a decent price is what counts!

  14. Can’t see those bumpers making production with those bits sticking out. Take those out and you’re left with a juke. Nice to see them doing something modern though.

  15. I like these images, and one comment: Perhaps add another 4/6 inches in the wheelbase? Just to prevent it
    looking a bit squat! It would also increase interior room without damaging the preportions.

  16. Actually, the interior in particular has a distinct Frog Eye Sprite look to it.

    Come to think of it, because this thing is somewhat more rotund than the MGB, it’s exterior could just as well be based on the Austin Healey classic.

  17. Frankly if people buy something as ugly as a Nissan Juke then they’ll buy anything.

    MG/SAIC need cars like this to help fund the sportscar we all look forward to.

  18. OMG! I normally do not critise but I think this car looks ugly beyond belief. To my untrained eye I can see no trace of heritage. Would I buy it. Eh no….

  19. Most comments have covered my own thoughts, and it’s good to see them start doing something more radical.

    As with the R50 MINI, any final version wil be very toned down and more proportionate. I like the fact they have alluded to the MGB grille, and hope any production model keeps this. Agree the MG badge should be toned down though.

  20. Wow, I didn’t see that coming after the dull MG 5.

    Please please please build this car. It’s exactly what’s needed and I’m sure would do to MG in Europe what the Qashqai & Juke have done to Nissan

  21. I like the general style which picks up cues from MG sports cars in the past but those protusions at the front are just ridiculous. They look as if the car has just come away from a plastic surgeon after chest (polite substitute for a word you might not use in genteel company) enlargement surgery.

  22. As I said on the forum post, a coupe with hints of MGB would be fine.
    But why does everything on the modern car market have to be an SUV?

    Stephen Harper, without wanting to discredit his work – the MGF in particular was something of a masterpiece, had hints of old MG in the shape and was well proportioned for a mid engined roadster, he knows what MG is about – but to be famous for the Montego estate? I mean, its a Montego with a couple of slabs of glass on the back? 🙂

  23. This is a very clever exercise – it is exercising everyone’s minds even before we have seen an actual 3D concept. Bear in mind these are leaked sketches ahead of a formal reveal of a concept car – so some way from amny production car. These kind of exercise are always designed to provoke debate of some kind as they are exploratory steps into the future. If the MG Icon shows a new design direction for MG, then I’m all for it. I’m sure that if the best bits of this design can be picked up, then a future sports car could be stunning – imagine some of the relevant styling cues such as the headlights, grille, front wing (fender) line – but maybe without some of the wackier ones like the ‘over-riders’ and the jacked-up proportions – applied to a car about the size of a Mazda MX-5 or BMW Z4, and with proper front engine rear wheel drive layout. Will that happen? Who knows – but if it really fits in with a new family identity then it would make sense, if the business case can be made. China may not yet ‘know’ modest sports cars but their market is growing at a phenomenal rate and their tastes are evolving all the time. Well done Steve and the team!

  24. The illegitimate offspring of a one night stand between an MG-B and a Porche Cayenne

    Fugly was the word that first sprang to mind

  25. A Z4/MX5 replacement with these styling cues would be great.

    While China may not ‘know’ modest sports cars, we must remember that the early days of Japanese exports some of the most interesting cars copied Western cars (240Z had hints of E-type, Celica had hints of Mustang)

  26. The trouble with the concept is it will look nothing like the actual car.
    See the MG Zero concept, a great little hot hatch that could have taken over where the small Z cars left off. It was watered down into the bland, dull and uninspiring 3.
    They seem to show us MGs and then give us Austins.
    (No offence to Austin fans).

  27. You know what… if MG are heading towards the introduction of a MG grille then that’s brilliant…

    Grilles are so important to a brands identity.. Look at Rover in the 90’s. Look at KIA right now.. a family grille is becoming more and more obvious on their cars and, to me.. seems to at least be giving the brand a stronger identity and unifying the product line…

    MG have this grille, and it must be quite easy to manufacture and integrate..

    I guess the next question should be.. are we going to see a return of the stick on grille for the 3, 5 & 6? lol.

  28. “…well it started badly, tailed off a little in the middle, and the less said about the end, the better. But apart from that it was brilliant…” Capt. E. Blackadder, formerly of the 1945th Afr. Rifles.

    I thought the Nissan Puke was ugly – this thing looks like someone bolted the front of an US Spec VW Beetle to an AMC Pacer. How on earth does this represent the storied history of BL precisely? The nearest this car comes to having a relationship to BL, as far as I can see it, is that AMC used Renault engines and Renault is/was sold along with BL in the UK.

    This illustrates my point about Chinese mis-understandings of BL/ARG/MGR perfectly. There is precisely zero BL DNA present here at all.

    Contrast this with the new Indian built Royal Oilfield (sorry Enfield). They look right, sound right, but have been properly and gently updated and upgraded – so they dont leak oil like the Exxon Valdez and dont need their carbs retuning every time you ride over a speedbump (always assuming the bike hasnt punted you into the nearest bramble bush).

    I understand the ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ thing about BL and related tin – but this bears no relation to it – MGR is dead, long live MG-knockoff.

  29. MG are damned when they do mainstream cars and damned when they try something different.There is no pleaseing some people on here.

  30. Why are so many people hell-bent on BL DNA or whatever? Did the ’59 Mini look anything like anything before? Rover P6? Rover SD1? Austin 18-22 (Princess)? All excellently styled cars with no hang-ups from previous models. Austin Metro even? They were all cars that tried to point the way forwards styling wise. Only Porsche & MINI seem now to be getting away with playing the same old tune (Oh, & Range Rover).

  31. Ok til you get to the b pillar then yuck. Interior actually looks good. But it will never look like this – look at the MG5 concept car and compare it with the actual product!

  32. Those aren’t overriders, they’re inflight refuelling pods. Or someone having a mammagram.

    But about the car – there’s no point in making “me too” products like the MG6. The badge is the only thing on the MG6 that has any visual resemblance to any previous MG – without that, they could call it the SAIC Chow Mein for all anyone cares.

    People have to have a reason to buy an MG.

    This thing, like it or not, has links to old MG’s, so people are buying brand, not bland. I think they should build it.

    But don’t call it Icon – Ford have the trade mark on Ikon for the booted Fiestas in RSA and India.

    MGGGT, anyone?

  33. “there’s no point in making “me too” products like the MG6. The badge is the only thing on the MG6 that has any visual resemblance to any previous MG”

    You can say the same about the Fiesta or Corsa though. They’re both “me too” products and sell in decent numbers. Neither have any resemblance other than their badges to the previous Ford Fiesta or Corsa (actually even the Corsa’s badge is different to the last generations!)

    One of the biggest problems the firm had over the years was making too many niche products that sold in lowish volumes.

  34. Trying to dislike this ( can’t stand the crossover/SUV trend) but I like what they’ve done… If it turns out almost as interesting as the concept it will be great

  35. Even uglier than a Nissan Juke… even though I keep hearing how good they are and I dont doubt it. Not for me

  36. this is whats needed in my opinion forward looking the retro era didnt work so what are the designers supposed to do? what bugs me is if it had got a a BMW badge or merc everybody would be slathering over it, still the same old leyland days prejudice !!!!

  37. @ 42 – Did you actually read the article, this is supposed to be something that ‘harks back’ to the history of ARG/BL et al. Its supposed to represent at least in some small respect the history of the ‘marque’ or of the ‘marques’ that made up the company as was.

    About the only thing you can say for it (at least in the sense of BL) is that it makes a Vanden Plas 1500 thats been resprayed in BL Delhi-Belly Brown into something that has showroom appeal.

    The manufacturers of the MGx cars ARE NOT and WILL NEVER BE MGR or whatever era suits your taste. This excrescence of a vehicle proves it. I dont think there is a BL car that I haven’t seen in the flesh (up to and including the lummox of a thing that is the 4-litre-R, and I thought that was quite an imposing car). I cant see any, of any of them, in this monstrosity – even if I squint out of the corner of my eye after too much Ibuprofen.

    Ooh look, its got Faux overriders and round headlights… wow, they really pushed the boat out on that one.

    They could have taken the original Allegro drawings and worked from those. Did they? nope. They could have come up with something based off a Farina, as someone has already mentioned. Guess what, nope.

    They could even have picked the blindingly obvious, the SD1, and done a Chrysler on it. Make a V8 out of two of the MGKX engines with added hybrid, modify the dash arrangement on the SD1 so the driver station can be swapped at the press of a button, side to side. Push Button manumatic, OBDII HUD, exterior airbag systems.

    The possibilities were endless…

    And they decided in their infinite English-ness – lets bake a cowpat in a pottery kiln and spray it with metallic paint…


  38. Why don’t we wait to see what the concept car actually looks like when it appears on the stand? These are leaked design sketches of a concept which we haven’t seen yet and which in turn may or may not provide some clues to a future production car. I think it shows some intriguing ideas and possible design direction; yes there are some rather wacky features such as those odd vertical protuberances which are presumably supposed to resemble over-riders – but again there are some clever bits like the fender shapes, the MGB inspired grille and the oval headlamps with the slight recessed ‘pockets’. But shouldn’t we wait until we see the show car before we condemn it…?

  39. If the bonnet was a little bit longer I think it’ll work.

    Ironically this might be the way to go, get people loving/hating something because it looks like/doesn’t look like an old MG is exactly what they need: to be talked about.

    If new MG got a reputation for mutant throwbacks at least it would be a reputation.

  40. Jemma – you write well and entertainingly (even if you use that odd vogue Americanism ‘storied’). But while I empathise with some of your logic, I think you might perhaps reserve some of your well-crafted opprobium until we have seen the actual concept model. There are – in my opinion, which is no more or less important than yours – some clever ideas in there and yes some MG DNA, whether or not you like the way it has ‘mutated’. Let’s see the photos from Beijing when they come and then have a grown up debate.

  41. I think it has got a definate BMC heritage to it – MG Magnette Farina, MG 1100 spring to mind. Looks like a cousin to the BMW Mini. No problem if the range is going in that direction. Much better than the MG 3, 5 and 6 to date. Will it make production though?

  42. Lovely stuff, looks very similar to one of the early BINI concepts. Another legendary british motor car from SAIC.

  43. One thing is for sure,it looks more interesting than the BMW mini,i for one hope it sees production maybe without the overriders that look a little fussy.

  44. I think it looks ok (for that sort of thing) but don’t understand the point of the MGB style front – does that bonnet pass pedestrian safety tests anyway?

    MGB diehards don’t want a crossover
    Most young people in the west won’t remember the MGB, or couldn’t care less about it
    No Chinese people will know the MGB

    A nice show car exercise, but I imagine a production model will have a more conventional front

  45. This is MG’s take on the Nissan’s ugly-bug Juke. However, if Nissan can shift so many Jukes then there must be an opportunity for this too.

    Clearly though the brand perception for MG in China is youthful and hip, whereas here it is still largely flat caps and beards (or baseball caps and bum fluff) and that I think is where the acceptance issues will be. More marketing work to be done here methinks.

  46. Like a new mini, Nissan juke & range rover evoque rolled into one! Great looking wee thing! Very quirky & great too see MG designing something that actually suits this century! The interior is stunning! I for one would buy!

  47. Is this a belated April fools or are those guys serious?
    From the front with those vertical things under the headlamps it looks like a walruss to me.
    Put quite simply: I think it’s ugly.

  48. OI, NO!!! (to be said in Harry Enfield accent) That is seriously ugly. I see what Stephen Harper was trying to do, but I can’t shake the feeling he had both arms tied behind his back, was gagged, and the artists sketched from his eyelash blinks…. 🙁

    The interior is okay (colour aside), and I like the wing mirrors (being kept inside the body width, easy to glance at, but can the lenses show the lower bodylines which get hit by things when reversing?).

    I would love to see styling cues make the complete frontal air grille be surrounded by the octagon (dog with bone stuff), and the MG letters upsized to full height of upper grille – be bold! If you can’t instantly recognise/read it, it doesn’t work (think M-B, VW, Toyota stylised T, Mitsubishi’s diamonds, etc).

    Front 3/4 is best aspect for this concept, but direct front view is awful. Remove lower ‘bumper overriders’ front and rear, and curve the bumpers full width. I kinda like the rear tho’…

    But, are we missing the big picture? SAIC only brought 2 things to MG – moneybins of cash, and cheap labour. Yet MG in Europe seem cash starved (hence, lack of marketing), and production of adequate diversity of models and engines just isn’t happening on a realistic timeframe (auto box & diesel for the 6…?@#$!).

    In the meantime there is a plethora of concepts that take forever to hit market. Reeks of Phoenix 4 management at SAIC (the worst BL heritage to carry over). Please SAIC, focus on pushing engine range faster, and marketing the cars you have (3, 5, 6), and maybe patching on different body variants to these to span the market (estate, cabriolet, etc). A tuned engine and handling pack for extra profit at low cost, and to keep MG image sharp. That’s the way to stay profitable…

  49. It looks more like an MG than the 3, 5 and 6 do, and that interior is far superior to anything I would have expected from SAIC.

    I also like how the lines of the ADO16 and MGB GT hatch have been adapted to a crossover, much like how Volvo has given its hatches some of the look of the 1800ES.

    To me, though, the best thing about it is that the styling seems to really be love-it-or-hate-it. Clean up those awful driving light/bumperette/tusk things, and it would look great.

  50. As I said on the FB page, I think the inspiration was an MGB bolted to a Range Rover chassis, then bashed a bit with the ugly stick they pinched from Nissan when they finished using it on the Puke!

  51. Think of the MG3 and 6 as the first Felicia and Octavia, as they move towards the first facelift and second generation they will develop their style and brand identity. The Icon points the way to the future style and it is 100 times better than the faceless montego/maestro/metro identity that ARG perpertrated.

    MG will rise!

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