SAIC MG6 Five-DoorEnlarge Photo
The long, sad, failure-ridden story of what used to be England's auto industry has filled many books, and drained many pints of both ale and oil.
But next Wednesday, a new car will roll off the lines of the former Austin factory in Longbridge, England, headed for showrooms later this year.
The new midsize sports hatchback is called the MG6, and it's the first new model sold under the MG marque in 16 long years. It was designed and engineered, says the company, by the MG technical center in Longbridge.
But unlike all previous MGs, the car comes by way of MG's new owner, Shanghai Automotive (SAIC).
MG6 Concept in ShanghaiEnlarge Photo
The MG6 genealogy is complicated, so pay attention.
The MG6 is essentially a five-door hatchback adaptation of the Roewe 550 four-door sedan that's now sold in China, fitted with new MG badges to go with the revised body.
That Roewe 550 sedan was based on a modified version of the Rover 75 launched in 1999 that was the sole new model produced by MG Rover back when it was owned by BMW.
But BMW had based the front-wheel-drive Rover 75 on its previous-generation BMW 5-Series model. (That allowed MG Rover a relatively easy rear-wheel-drive conversion to create an MG sports sedan, back when it was still British.)
So, to recap: The new MG6 is an old BMW 5-Series, modified to front-wheel-drive and Anglicized, then adapted to the Chinese sedan market, then turned into a hatchback.
Elements of the design have been built in Germany, England, China, and now England again.
roewe 550 2Enlarge Photo
SAIC had gone quiet for three years after the launch of a rejuvenated MG TF LE500 roadster, an updated version of the two-seat MGF sports car originally launched in 1995.
The MG TF is built in low volumes at Longbridge and sold through roughly three dozen remaining MG dealers in the U.K. MGs are largely restricted to the U.K. market for now, though SAIC plans to relaunch the marque in Europe soon.
SAIC is reportedly planning a total of three new MG models to roll out over the next few years. The MG6 will be followed by a compact hatchback, and then a minicar.
[Automotive News (requires subscription)]