Shanghai Motor Show preview: MG CS Concept takes this storied British brand in a different direction

MG CS concept rendering front three quarterMG, the British brand famous for small, nimble sports cars, will bring a small crossover concept to the upcoming Shanghai Motor Show. Called CS, it could be an Anglo rival for the Nissan Juke.

Like the Juke, the CS is compact but with a high driving position, all wrapped in styling that’s more at home on a city street than in the wilderness. The CS looks more aggressive than the Juke, though, with a gaping front air intake that suggests a steam locomotive’s cow catcher.

This very edgy design is a complete about-face from the retro Icon concept MG unveiled at last year’s Beijing Motor Show. That concept looked like someone hastily stuck big tires under an MGB GT and called it a day, but the two vehicles could have a lot in common.

MG isn’t revealing the technical details of the CS yet, but since it’s about the same size as the Icon, it could very well be based on the same ZP platform, which underpins the MG3 and the Chinese-market Roewe 350.

The Icon had a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with 135 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. We’ll have to wait for the CS’ Shanghai debut to confirm what it has under its hood.

MG CS concept rendering rear three quarterFunky SUVs are a far cry from the small sports cars MG is famous for making, but the brand’s new owner, China’s SAIC, hopes to resurrect it by making it mainstream.

MG’s current offerings (not sold in the U.S) are all average-priced sedans and hatchbacks; the MG badge is the only thing that really distinguishes them from the competition.

Nonetheless, MG says the CS “oozes British design flair while embracing the sporting DNA of MG, an iconic brand.”

Do you agree? Tell us in the comments and check back for more on the MG CS and the Shanghai Motor Show, which opens April 20.