MG’S eagerly-awaited SUV is set to go on sale in China in May this year, though UK buyers will have to wait until 2016 before being able to snap one up.
The new vehicle - which will be known as the GTS in China - is tipped to be unveiled at the Shanghai motor show in April and will go on sale just a month after.
The vehicle will be based on the CS concept, which proved a sensation when it was revealed at the Shanghai motor show in 2013.
At the time it was widely hailed as the most exciting vehicle yet unveiled by the revived British marque, now enjoying a renaissance under Chinese owners Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).
Pictures released in China show the GTS has remained faithful to the bold concept and one of the distinctive design features is a traditional octagonal Morris Garages badge on a simple front grille.
It was designed under the guise of MG’s global design director Anthony Williams-Kenny, in a collaboration between the company’s Shanghai and Longbridge design teams.
The company’s UK technical centre (SMTC) at Longbridge employs 300 engineers and designers.
The new SUV is set to compete in the compact SUV sector, one of the fastest-growing areas in the global automotive world, against cars like the Nissan Qashqai and Vauxhall Mokka.
Although MG in the UK has remained tight-lipped on the plans, MG’s Chinese website has referred to press reports in China on the new model and published pictures of it.
MG’s UK operation has previously confirmed an SUV will come to the UK but has not indicated when or given any further details about it.
Speaking in the wake of the recent reports, Guy Jones, MG’s sales and marketing manager, said: “We have confirmed that the MG SUV will be the next all-new MG to be launched in Europe but so far no technical details have been released for the European version. The launch date for Europe has not yet been announced.”
The new GTS will be available in China with a 217bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine developed by SMTC UK at Longbridge and is predicted to sell for between 120,000 and 160,000 yuan (£12,500-17,000).
It is to be based on a new scalable architecture developed by SAIC Motor called SSA, rather than a modified version of the current Ssang Yong Korado’s platform, as had been suggested in the Chinese press.
Both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive versions will be available, with a 168bhp 1.5-litre petrol also likely to be offered at some point.
UK versions will almost certainly come with a version of the 148bhp 1.9-litre diesel engine currently used in the MG6.
The 2.0-litre petrol version in four-wheel drive will accelerate from 0-60mph in around eight seconds.
MG displayed the CS concept in June last year at Silverstone, as part of the brand’s 90th birthday celebrations.
Speaking to the Post at the time Guy Jones said the production version would stay true to the concept.
“The shape and size of the CS is roughly what the production vehicle will be and it will look like that,” he said.
Mr Jones also revealed the vehicle would help take the car-maker to the next level.
The firm saw its UK sales soar in 2014 thanks to the launch of the MG3 supermini - in the first half of 2014 it sold double the number of cars than in the whole of 2013.
He added: “We started with one model and one powertrain and have added a second model.
“With an SUV as a third model line it would transform the business.
“SUVs are the mainstream for Nissan now. I started my career at Land Rover and we used to try and predict when the SUV bubble would burst but it seems that phenomenon has not only continued but escalated.
“In emerging markets that is what they want to drive in a city so an SUV will be a very important third model line and it will make the franchise very attractive
“There is a global market for SUVs and it will have another massive step change within the business.”