MG Cyberster: Budget electric sports car to be revealed in 2023

  • New electric roadster to celebrate MG's 100th anniversary
  • To feature scissor doors, steering yoke & three cockpit displays
  • Poised to be the only affordable electric roadster in Europe
  • Price to be a "staggeringly good value for money" says MG Motor UK manager

Update: ‘Nebula platform’ and ‘Price & Release Date’ sections updated and ‘TopElectricSUV says’ section added.

At the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, MG showcased its vision of a two-seater sports car using the MG Cyberster concept. To celebrate MG’s centenary (2024), the brand is looking to fast-track the production version of the Cyberster to offer an ‘affordable sports car’ for enthusiasts, according to an Autocar report dated February 7, 2022.

The development is no surprise as an MG electric sports car has been anticipated since 2021. CarAdvice Australia stated in April 2021 that the exciting MG Cyberster would enter production for both left- and right-hand drive markets. The information was communicated to the publication by a spokesperson for the brand.

‘MGC’ branding in Europe?

‘Cyberster’ may be a good pick for China, but the European subsidiaries would probably request SAIC a shorter title to maintain branding consistency. SAIC has filed a trademark application for ‘MGC EV’ at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and at the Institut für Geistiges Eigentum (IGE) in Switzerland. The latter has already granted it the trademark. In the UK and Ireland, MGC EV would be in sync with the brand’s game-changing new electric hatchback, the MG Mulan, which is called MG4 EV in these markets.

Exterior design & features

Concept

SAIC’s London design center did most of the MG Cyberster’s design (concept version), ensuring the car turned out as British as possible. According to a report from Auto & Design, the first studies came up in the UK, where the designers drew to a large extent on the brand heritage and the core of European driving culture. The exterior work, from sketching to digital mock-up, and scale modeling, almost entirely took place in the UK. In the final stage of the design process, the London-based team members visited their counterparts in Shanghai, China.

The Cyberster concept is a proper European roadster design with a long and low nose, a steeply raked windscreen, and a rearward cabin. The two-door, two-seater electric sports car concept, which the company says takes a few design cues from the MGB roadster, comes with ‘Magic Eye’ headlamps that open when turned on. The black grille, dubbed ‘Windhunter’ (as reported on cardesignnews.com), is a nod to the past, with the headlights positioned above the grille. MG says the electric sports car features flattened ‘kamm tail’ rear, and stands out with the ‘hacker blade’ alloy wheels.

Production model

A few days ago, patent images of what appears to be the production version of the MG Cyberster concept surfaced online. Following this, MG released a teaser video showing both the exterior and interior of the showroom-bound design, which we’ve studied to construct an exclusive realistic rendering (above). We’ve also incorporated the usual dose of production car elements such as sensors, windshield wiper, badge, a dual-tone color, and a realistic charging door.

The road-ready model lacks the concept’s dramatic design, but it has a special appeal. It looks to have adopted proportions similar to entry-level sports cars car like the BMW Z4. Be that as it may, it does not appear as fluidic from the rear as the Toyota Supra or Nissan Z.

The silhouette resembles the concept, but that’s about it—the rest of the car has been redesigned to comply with the global homologation rules. The gaping front grille has been replaced with a more conventional unit. It appears aggressive with sharp lines and it features a prominent splitter to improve downforce. The grille might be housing sensors for L2/L2+ autonomous driving features.

In contrast to the concept version, the production model has a proper roof. With smaller wheels and higher ground clearance, it looks more compact and less aggressive from the front. It is also worth noting that the final car features conventional headlamps that resemble BMW’s Z4.

Among the appealing characteristics of the concept version was its steeply sloping roofline, which didn’t translate to the production version. In the concept car, overhangs were extremely short, but this is not the case with the final product. It is a good thing that scissor doors have made the cut, the door handles are hidden, and the sharp tail lamps have arrow-shaped structures that are wider than those on the show car.

With the production MG Cyberster, the roof can be folded out and stowed back in with ease thanks to the electronic operation. The fabric roof will be lighter and more convenient than a metal roof. Additionally, it will be cheaper to manufacture, making the car more affordable. MG UK’s design head Carl Gotham told Autocar earlier that the production version would wear a more ‘toned down’ design compared to the concept. He added that the new electric sports car would capture the brand’s sports car DNA and be technologically advanced.

Production MG Cyberster roof teaser
The production MG Cyberster has an electronically-folding fabric roof. Image Source: MG (official video screenshot)

Interior design & features

Concept

Inside, the MG Cyberster gets what the company calls the ‘digital fiber’ cockpit with the driver and passenger’s space parted using a tunnel connected to the dashboard. The design takes on a driver-centric layout, with a sizeable LED instrument cluster with a second central screen. The driver’s screen offers key vehicle information in a minimalist fashion, while the display in the center has its more interactive features. The gaming controller-inspired steering displays music playback and other non-vehicle relation information.

MG Cyberster interior
MG indicated that 2024, which is the brand’s 100th anniversary, would be a year to reflect between the old and new, indicating that the Cyberster could enter production by then. Images: MG Motor

MG’s ‘Zero Gravity’ seats have floating head restraints, while the door panels and red leather handles reflect the ‘laser belt’ that runs down the car’s exterior. Other features on the MG Cyberster include intelligent driving modes, ‘active-upgrading’ technology, 5G connectivity, and level 3 autonomous driving capability.

Production model

As expected, the interior of the production MG Cyberster is far less radical than the concept. Even so, it is strikingly more futuristic-looking than some of its gas-powered competitors.

Behind the steering wheel, there is a triple-screen gaming computer setup with all three displays on a single panel. This steering yoke has an F1-inspired design that gives the driver an open view of the main driver information display and the road ahead. A bridge-type center console appears to house a touchscreen for controlling the climate control and infotainment system functions. The two-tone red and white color scheme and the shiny metallic finish of the rollover hoops further enhance the premium look.

Performance

The MG Cyberster features a module-less battery technology with a claimed 500 miles (800 km) range. While the company did not release the specifications, MG Motor says the electric sportscar concept can do the 0-62 mph (0-100 kmph) sprint in less than 3 seconds. The specifications of the production model are awaited.

MG Cube program for the production of the Cyberster

The production version of the MG Cyberster was confirmed at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, and according to Autocar, MG’s crowdfunding campaign has managed to rope in 5,000 prospective buyers. The buyers signed up for the marque’s Cybercube initiative, which delivers production-related updates, progress reports, and other details about the EV to keep its customers informed.

MG estimated that the production of Cyberster to be a CNY 1 billion (USD 144 million/GBP 124 million) project, and it set a target of receiving 5% of that amount — CNY 50 million — from its crowdfunding program. MG reached its aim of having 5,000 shares to start production of the Cyberster, with each share priced at CNY 1,000 (USD 144/GBP 124). The campaign was open till July 31, 2021, and the shares can be used as a deposit towards reserving the Cyberster.

Is the MG Cyberster electric sportscar the MGB of the 2020s?

The release of the MG Cyberster concept leads to a question: Could this become the spiritual successor to the classic MGB sports car of the 1960s? Don’t dismiss this as wild speculation, as one of the influential design bosses at SAIC had expressed the desire to have a roadster, and an electric one at that, about five years ago.

“This is my desire. I would love to have this type of car for MG again,” Jingfeng told Australian publication Drive.com.au, which reported the interaction in a story titled ‘MG B roadster to be revived,’ in April 2017.

1965 MGB Convertible
The MGB was known as one of the easiest sports cars to own and was largely regarded as reliable and well-built, with spares that were easy to find. Image: MG Motor

Drive.com.au reported that the designer admitted the skateboard-style platform underpinning the E-Motion concept could be downsized to create the base for the battery-powered convertible. He is said to have conceded that MG would need a smaller battery pack to preserve the handling, but that wouldn’t bother customers in this segment as sportscars are usually driven shorter distances and used less frequently than a family car. “I will try and convince the management we can do this car,” he signed off.

Nebula (MSP) platform

Reports say that MG will build the Cyberster on the Nebula platform, called Modular Scalable Platform (MSP) in Europe. The new platform, which debuted in the MG4 Electric, is suitable for vehicles with 2,650-3,100 mm wheelbases, allowing SAIC’s car brands, including MG, to create models with various body styles. On September 13, 2022, during the digital premiere of the Euro-spec MG4 EV (MG4 Electric), Xinyu Liu said that the MSP allows launching “various kinds of cars, from A to D segment, sedan, SUV, and even a sports car.” Liu is the CEO of SAIC Motor Europe.

According to a report from autohome.com.cn, Nebula is a dedicated EV platform. Models based on it can get 800-volt charging technology that allows adding 200 km (124 miles) of range in just five minutes and charging up to 80% level in only 15 minutes. The low-end EVs with 400-volt charging technology will gain 100 km (62 miles) of range with five minutes of charging and take half an hour to reach the 80% level.

One Pack battery

MG4 One Pack battery pack
The MG Cyberster could share the Nebula platform (MSP) and the One Pack battery system (albeit in different specifications) with the MG4. Image Source: SAIC

The production Cyberster’s other commonality with the MG4 could be the One Pack battery system, called Rubik’s Cube battery system in China. The compact hatchback uses SAIC’s flattest battery, one that measures 110 mm tall. That’s an industry-leading height (the lower the better), MG claims. Theoretically, MG can offer 40-150 kWh One Pack battery capacities depending on the energy requirement of the model. Plus, One Pack battery packs are swappable, meaning customers can opt for a smaller unit initially and then replace or upgrade to a longer-range battery pack when needed.

Price & Release Date

Conversing with MG Motor France PR Manager Clément Lefèvre during the digital premiere of the Euro-spec MG4 Electric, Liu indicated that the Cyberster will debut and go on sale in 2023. Below is what he said:

Next year, as said, we will start the celebration of 100-years anniversary of MG and this is very important for us to pay tribute to the long and rich history of MG. Well, do you remember that I told you that we would have 10 models by the end of 2025? The next model will be the return of a true legend: a high-performance two-door roadster with an electrified heart. The MG Cyberster is now close to final tests, and I can tell you it is stunning.

Xinyu Liu, CEO, SAIC Motor Europe (MG Electric digital premiere on September 13, 2022)

David Allison, Head of Product and Planning, MG Motor UK, has told DrivingElectric that the Cyberster will go on sale in the UK in “mid to late 2024,” the British publication reported on September 1, 2022. Guy Pigounakis, MG Motor UK’s commercial director, has confirmed to Auto Express that the electric sports car’s price would be “staggeringly good value for money.” Could MG shock the market with the base price set at well under £40,000?

MG in the United States

In 2018, British publication The Telegraph spoke to Alan Magnuson, who managed UK liaison for the MG Car Club in the United States. He estimated that there could be about 30,000 families in America that own MG cars. He claimed that MG produced 511,000+ MGs from 1962 to 1980, and 60 percent of the production was shipped to North America and that more than 50 percent of the MG cars produced after World War II were sold in North America. The MGB and the MGA appear to be local favorites.

MG relaunched in the North American market by entering Mexico in 2020 with two crossover SUVs. In the U.S., the MG brand has been absent for about 40 years. While it has hinted at the possibility to return to the United States at least since 2006, previously having aborted plans to set up a production facility in Oklahoma (as reported by NYTimes.com), the EV-friendly Biden administration policies could spark conversations at the highest levels in the Chinese HQ to reopen the file.

TopElectricSUV says

Sports cars are loved by the public, but they hardly ever buy them. The business case for this body type has weakened over the years, leading to the discontinuation of many fabled nameplates, and options have evaporated in the mainstream segments. In the case of MG, the brand is taking a long-term view and not discounting the big PR and marketing gains that an electric sports car launch brings with it. MG’s new product is sure to be as significant for its brand as it is for customers who are looking for an electric roadster that won’t burn a hole in their pocket!

Featured image: MG Motor