Do you know the difference between a convertible and a roadster? A convertible has a top you sometimes put down under ideal conditions. A roadster has a top you sometimes put up during dreadful conditions. Since the earliest days of the automobile, the roadster has a been a talisman — a symbol of freedom, youthful exuberance, and the joy of following a road just to see where it leads.
Over the years, several manufacturers have attempted to add some of the luster associated with roadsters to their cars by adding the “-ster” portion of the word to the model name. Porsche has the Boxster — an amalgam of “boxer” and “roadster.” (The car has a horizontally opposed gasoline engine, a configuration popularly known as a “boxer” design that harks back to the original Volkswagen Beetle.) Hyundai has the Veloster, a blend of “velocity” and “roadster,” even though it only comes with a fixed roof.
MG, the former British car company now owned by SAIC, is introducing the Cyberster, an electric car that reinterprets the roadster legacy that began with the MG TA in 1936 and ended with the last MGB in 1980. The company unveiled the concept car this week in advance of the upcoming Shanghai Auto Show, which opens on April 21. Specifications are scarce. In fact, they don’t exist except for a rumored range of 497 miles (NEDC) and a claimed 0 to 100 km/h time of under 3 seconds.
Other than that, we know nothing about the Cyberster except that it was designed at SAIC’s London design center and is supposed to represent a “vision of the future.” Carl Gotham, head of the design center, tells Autocar the Cyberster is “a bold statement that looks strongly into MG’s future, touching on our heritage but more importantly building on our cutting edge technology and advanced design.”
The new MG concept is certainly a vibrant styling exercise, one that could offer a less expensive alternative to the Tesla Roadster 2.0 in much the same way the MGB was affordable to many who could not pay what it cost to acquire an XK-E or an Aston Martin. You may or may not like everything about it — the front end treatment is perhaps a bit extreme — but there is no denying the MG Cyberster will turn heads. Will SAIC build it? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.