The resurgent company is growing at speed, but an image-leading sporty car still sits in purgatory.
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MG Motor insists it’s “working on” a production sorts car to tap into its heritage, but the reality seems to be nothing is due any time soon, as SUVs and electric cars remain the priority during its global rollout.

It was two years ago at the previous Shanghai motor show – an event that makes the vaunted Geneva or Paris shows look piddly – MG teased everyone with the E-Motion concept coupe, penned by designer Shao Jingfeng’s team.

While hardly a cut-price convertible MGB successor to tackle the Mazda MX-5, it was a gorgeous thing with hints of Aston Martin and Bentley, wild upward-opening doors, an an electric drivetrain with a claimed 500km range and a 0-100km/h sprint capability of 4.0 seconds.

Alas, despite speculation to the contrary, the production take on this, or any other, dedicated sports car seemingly lives on in the minds of its developers, and nowhere else.

We asked MG executives this week in Shanghai when we’d see a production sports car inspired by the E-Motion, or indeed anything else.

“Latest information is we are working for this car, [it’s the] right answer at right time,” designed Shao answered, cryptically.

The deputy managing director of SAIC Motor’s overseas operations Matt Lei added his two cents, acknowledging that “a big team of customers are very keen on this concept vehicle”.

“Still we are internally studying how to bring that to those customers. A traditional sports car is representing the future in the past, but in this moment we see a trend where people are shifting tastes from sports cars more to SUVs.

“So we are trying to figure out how can we bring such a concept to future. This is very difficult but we are still working on it. It’s not the moment yet.”

Clearly a sexy, sporty halo seems an obvious bet given the company has stated global aspirations.

For one it has kept a toe in Britain, with design studios in Birmingham and London, and a testing centre, augmenting SAIC’s colossal test track facility in Anhui Province. It also has a racing version of the MG6 designed for TCR, priced at €100,000.

For context, the British-branded company is a subsidiary of SAIC Motor from Shanghai, a vast group that made 7.05 million cars including joint-venture VW and GMs last year and has 23% share of the world’s biggest car market.

While it leverages its history of affordable convertibles and race cars, today’s range is much more sensible. The line-up comprises the ZS, GS, RX5 and RX8 SUVs, MG6 sedan, MG3 hatch and eZS electric derivative (SAIC sold 140,000 EVs last year alone).

With joint-venture regulations to be changed as well, SAIC Motor seems to be hedging its bets by pouring billions into its native brands, with export plans to Europe and Asia/Oceania key. It hardly wants to rely on its JVs to drive all the volume.