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Beijing show: MG premieres Icon SUV concept

Inspiration: MG’s Chinese owner SAIC has applied classic British sports car design cues to a modern SUV shape with its Icon concept.

Coupe-styled Icon SUV draws heavily on MG’s heritage but adds a modern twist

23 Apr 2012

UPDATED: 24/04/2012CHINESE-owned British brand MG unveiled a retro-styled compact SUV concept at the Beijing motor show this week.

Called Icon and styled with inspiration from classic 1960s MG sportscars like the MGB GT, the concept could point to MG’s future product direction given it does not yet have a product to sate the world’s appetite for SUVs.

The Icon is a creation of MG’s global design team headed by British director Anthony Williams-Kenny, who said the SUV concept “demonstrates the brand’s capacity for progressive design with respect for its long heritage”.

To complement the cute curves, round headlights and a radiator grille in the traditional MG style, SAIC’s designers have cleverly placed daytime-running lights and rear fog-lights vertically on the bumpers to simulate the chrome bumper uprights of classic MGs.

The shape and angle of the rear windscreen apes the MGB GT, as does the position and style of the tail-light clusters, while the side vents ahead of the front doors and chunky rear wheelarches are more modern and similar to those seen on the Lamborghini Urus SUV concept also unveiled at Beijing.

Mr Williams-Kenny said the design team “balanced familiar brand cues, such as the wide and powerful front end graphic interpretation and, as one would expect, with a strong focus on the unique MG octagon”.

49 center imageLike BMW’s modern Minis, the Icon has glazed pillars to give the effect of a windscreen that wraps around the sides of the car as a single piece of glass.

A modern interior design – apart from the retro-styled steering wheel – features a wrap-around dashboard and floating centre console and borrows from BMW’s Mini range in using the British flag motif in its upholstery design.

A stylish “English” burgundy colour scheme with metallic grey accents is used throughout the cabin and the sporty seats are set low beside the transmission tunnel to recreate the seating position of classic MG sportscars.

All four seats have a hard-backed ‘shell’ construction and in a nod to practicality, the rear seats can fold flat to the floor, creating a large load space.

Mr Williams-Kenny said the Icon “clearly demonstrates a progressive and soulful British spirit and has a lithe and powerful stance”, and described its proportions as “harmonised by feature lines interpreted from MG’s iconic greats”.

“The MG Icon highlights a global vision for MG’s design and represents a milestone for the brand, particularly this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the MGB,” he said.

Overseas reports suggest a direct-injection 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine is located under the Icon’s bonnet, sending drive through a dual-clutch transmission.

The 117kW four-cylinder drivetrain will power the Volkswagen Golf-size MG5 hatch, due for release in China later this year and exported to markets such as the UK and New Zealand in 2013.

As GoAuto has reported, a deal to sell MG cars in Australia is currently being negotiated, but the distributor is yet to be named.

MG’s owner Shanghai Automotive (SAIC) may be attempting to follow in BMW’s footsteps by capitalising on its British brand’s heritage and appears to be testing the public’s reaction to what could become a competitor to the Mini Countryman.

However, not all retro designs have succeeded, as discovered to the cost of MG’s now-defunct sister brand Rover, and also evidenced by the Jaguar S-Type and previous-generation XJ.

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