While NAC-MG used the TF as itís flagship to rally behind, it was clear to them that a car based on the 75/ZT was going to be the major bread winner in China. This was, after all, the newest car they had at their disposal by a long shot, and also the most suited to Chinese tastes, all they had to do was transport an entire production line from Longbridge to Nanjing, put it in a factory that was yet to be built, then redevelop the car and source suppliers for the new model. No small task, made a thousand times worse buy the fact that they needed to beet SIAC with there very similar 750 model, despite SIAC being greatly more wealthy and experienced, while NAC had no experience of producing cars and very little money at there disposal. When you look at it like this, itís a wonder they ever made a single car, commentators at the time noted that they couldnít be better stewards of the MG name, being in nearly exactly sort of predicament MG-Rover was in.
Hope for MG-Rover fans began in late 2006, when NAC bought MG-Rovers remaining assets, yes Rover was already planned to live on with SIAC, they had already bough the rights before the company went bust. But these were the people who failed to save MG-Rover from administration in the first place (much like Gavrillo Princep was solely responsible for the Great War, you see?) so this unknown Chinese company was a much more palatable steward for the brands that so many held dear. They cemented this perhaps misplaced popularity by making in appearance at the Longbridge rally, one year on from MG-Rís administration ordeal. All they had to do now was say theyíd bring Longbridge back to production, and everyone would be happy. However this was not their priority, cash was low, and what was most important was getting the car that would make them all the money they needed in China in to production.
Trucks queue to transport things from longbridge
NAC went through Longbridge with a fine tooth comb, taking bits an bobs everywhere, most importantly they took the most modern production line, that of the 75, which had already journeyed from Cowley (now BMW Oxford) to Longbridge, and now was to be sent all the way to China. As things were transported over there was suddenly an abundance of Longbridge built cars spied around China, NAC with the benefit of no experience whatsoever had began attempting to productionise the cars. It seemed obvious they had no hope of getting there new saloon on to the market before the 750, which was eventually launched in late 2006, less than two years since they got there hands on the project. It wasnít to be until March 2007 that MGís new factory opened, it was a hurried affair with construction still going on the night before. Not only that but cars that sat on the production line were clearly from Longbridge, with the changes to the TFs and MG7s that made an appearance limited to new badges and more colour keying on the TF, giving the onlookers the impression that NAC simply intended to do nothing to the cars.
A Rover 75 in china, some thought it was a 750, but trademark NAC duct tape disguise gives it away
The truth was not so different. The MG7 was finally launched mid 2007 just more than a year since NAC bought MG-Rovers remaining assets, rather than not progressing NAC chose to regress the MG7 to differentiate it from the 750, by using the components from the MG ZT MK1. The result was a very confused looking car, featuring the chrome side features, contrasted to a distinct lack there of on the front and rear. The interior too mimicked the 75ís luxury focus with wood and leather everywhere; changes there were limited to new sunroof controls, new ICE and HEVAC controls, and externally some new tail lights. To add to the confusion MG added a surprise model, the MG7L based on the LWB 75, which remained a wholesale copy of what MG-Rover were producing in 2005, with the addition of MG badges, adhered to the now standard fit full depth grille. The SWB version was equipped with a manual box mated to the 1.8 turbo engine while the LWB got the 2.5v6 with auto box.
The MG7 attracted attention internationally at itís launch
The MG7 launched to much attention of the UK press, more so than SIACís 750, but in china it failed to cause the initial sales surge that the 750 did. The cars principle problem was that the Chinese in general vastly prefer comfort to sport, and the MG7 breaks this convention in just about every way possible. The foremost problem being the manual box, NAC put a brave face on buy claiming they had a large proportion of the market for manual cars from sales of the MG7, but in reality this is a tiny market. Itís sporty suspension and looks won it few friends either, the suspension wasnít as hard as the UK ZT, but is still harder than most cars in the same class in China. What about the more adapted MG7L with itís 2.5V6 and auto box you ask? Well no one seems to know is the answer, though he car was launched and is listed on price lists, it seems next to none have left the factory, we reckon that there were problems in itís production in early stages (NAC possibly using there trick of displaying Longbridge models at launch events). It does seem a side effect of this lack of popularity in china has been that the car and brand has gained an instant following of hardcore fans who appreciate the sporty orientation of the MG7, in a survey 96% of people who had bought one said they would recommend it.
MG7L: MG-ROEWE.co.nr has only seen or heard of one having been registered.
This, however, was no good for NAC, they had thrown everything at the MG7 in the hope that itís mass market appeal would fund the rest of their ambitious plans for the brand, but the severe lack of sales, coupled with a completely failed JV with Fiat, left them with only there main concern, commercial vehicles, for funds. This was not nearly enough and NAC found themselves in spiralling debts, which lead them to the Chinese Government for help, indeed they could not have been more like MG-Rover and itís predecessors. The Governments response was logical, they forced talks between SIAC and NAC with the outcome in early 2008 that SIAC owned almost all of NACís MG concern. If the problems with the MG7L were ever sorted it seems SIAC werenít keen to sell any, the car after all resembles the 750 very strongly, it would appear that theyíre just going to let it disappear. While the MG7ís biggest problem, the manual box was addressed 6 months after the take over, with the auto being launched, with the addition chrome at the front and rear, giving it a more coherent look. It does seem that SIAC appreciate that the MG7 just isnít going to be the mass market car NAC hoped it to be, and thatís good for them too, they donít want a car stepping on the toes of the 750. Instead they seem to be trying to stimulate the small fan base of the car into buying it by offering large reductions on the range, while concentrating on increasing production at NACís brand new factory with other models.