That proud British motoring marque MG may be under Chinese ownership, but it has drafted in English actor Benedict Cumberbatch to be its face in the Far East as it launches its new sports utility vehicle.
The suave actor, who plays Sherlock Holmes on TV and portrayed wartime code-breaking genius Alan Turing in the film The Imitation Game, was at the recent Shanghai Motor Show to oversee the unveiling of the new MG GS, which the company has confirmed will go on sale in Britain late next year.
He has appeared in TV adverts there, too — in which he does some sleuthing around the UK to find his ‘girl’, which involves him driving the new SUV past landmarks such as Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, a red telephone box and the London Eye, as well as doing some off-roading. The climax takes place on Tower Bridge as the two sides of the road are raised.
MG have drafted in Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured) to be its face in the Far East, and the actor was at the Shanghai Motor Show for the unveiling of the MG GS
The advert reminds me of my childhood. As a teenage fan in the Seventies of the TV sci-fi series UFO — from the stable of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson — I well remember the aliens taking second place to the much more alluring sights of both the cool heroine Colonel Virginia Lake, played by the beguiling Wanda Ventham, and those weird gull-wing cars that represented ‘the future’.
Often they appeared together. Be still my beating heart.
Decades later, I learn that Miss Ventham is actually the mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. Acting and cars clearly run in the genes.
Back to the car in question — MG is now owned by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and its new five-seater GS SUV has already been on sale in China for a couple of months.
It was styled under the eagle eye of MG’s British design boss Anthony Williams-Kenny as part of a collaboration between design teams at Longbridge in the West Midlands, where it owns the factory, and in Shanghai.
Its looks maintain a clear lineage to the recently introduced MG3, MG5 and MG6 models — with the traditional octagonal MG badge on the bonnet.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s mother Wanda Ventham is pictured here with a futuristic gull-wing car in Seventies sci-fi show UFO
Engines for the new off-roader in the UK are expected to include a turbo-charged two-litre, fourcylinder petrol engine, with speculation about a frugal turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol unit, as well as a turbo-charged 1.9-litre, four-cylinder diesel.
Two cars are rolling off the Longbridge assembly lines: the MG6 medium-sized fastback and the MG3 super-mini.
And new figures reveal that last month was the best April for registrations since MG Motor UK was formed — sales were up 39 per cent on last April.
The firm noted: ‘MG’s registrations, from January until April, have pushed the manufacturer past the 1,000 mark, which means in the first four months of 2015 MG has more than doubled the 2013 figure.’ MG’s head of marketing, Matthew Cheyne, said: ‘These figures are increasing month by month, and this is all before the new MG6 has officially landed.’ MG CARS were the creation of Cecil Kimber, general manager of Morris Garages in Oxford, who in 1923 fitted special sports bodies on to standard Morris chassis. After years as part of British Leyland and its many incarnations, it is settling down after a tough few years.
First it was sold to Germany’s BMW — who then offloaded it with the blessing of a Labour government to the infamous Phoenix Four directors, led by John Towers, before it went bust. It was then snapped up for a song by the Chinese, who have owned it since 2008.
Value-for-money car-maker Dacia, with prices starting from less than £6,000, has clocked up its 50,000th new car sale in the UK — just two years after arriving in Britain.
The budget car manufacturer sold 9,849 new cars in the UK as at the end of April — a rise of 11.9 per cent on 2014.
Dacia’s biggest seller in Britain has been the Sandero Stepway (pictured) which is priced from £8,395 with 16,834 sales
Sales in April alone were up 17.2 per cent at 2,320 vehicles with a market share for the month of 1.3 per cent for the no-frills car firm that is part of the Renault group.
Dacia’s biggest seller in Britain has been the Sandero Stepway (pictured) priced from £8,395 with 16,834 sales, while the Duster sport utility vehicle from £9,495 accounted for 16,541 of the 50,000 total. The Sandero hatchback, priced from £5,995 and Logan MCV estate, from £6,995 achieved 12,432 and 4,193 sales respectively.
Dacia’s UK boss Andy Heiron said: ‘When Dacia arrived in the UK, it struck a chord with new car buyers looking for maximum value for money. We are now seeing repeat business from customers moving into their second or even third Dacia.’ The 50,000th Dacia sold was a Duster Laureate dCi 110 4×2 in khaki. It was sold by Westover Dacia in Corfe Mullen, Dorset, and was bought by Steve and Debbie Joy, who partexchanged another Duster they had bought new when it was first launched.