MG Rover unveiled its new luxury high performance sports coupe, the MG X80 at the Frankfurt motor show, which it claims will compete when it goes on sale in the summer of 2002 will compete against the likes of the Porsche 911, Maserati 3200GT and Jaguar XK8.
The car, an MG Rover spokesman, said will cost "under £50,000" and will be built in the "hundreds".
It is based on the Qvale Mangusta, acquired by MG Rover in June. Production of this car has been suspended.
The aluminium bodied MG X80 (its codename) will powered by a 4.6-litre V8 engine. Possible features include electronic traction control, ABS braking, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather interior and six-speaker entertainment system. The car is positioned above the MGF roadster, the new MG sports saloons, ZR, ZS and ZT, and the ZT-T sports wagon.
A roadster version of the X80 will be launched in 2003. Both versions will be available in manual and automatic.
A Rover spokesman said: "The X80's drive and ride quality means we can compete against the Porsche, while remaining affordable."
Frankfurt also saw another first for MG Rover. Microsoft's automotive website MSN Carview hosted the online launch of the MGX80 (pictured below), demonstrating a new commercial strategy for both parties. MSN Carview exclusively broadcast the car's unveiling and interviews with MG Rover executives. MG Rover has in the past been critical of the amounts of money spent in TV and press marketing campaigns. The use of new media for the company, which is still working to distance itself from the debt-ridden days immediately after BMW sold the firm, meets its needs to reach a mass audience economically.
Neither MG Rover or MSN Carview would reveal how much the deal had cost, but it was understood to be a five-figure sum for the launch coverage and sponsorship of MSN Carview online Frankfurt coverage in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
Andrew Warner, MSN Carview's European marketing director said: "MG Rover is still a small company financially without a considerable marketing budget. But the internet allows the company to reach a much greater audience at much less cost than traditional media. The internet also allows a company to push one consistent message which, by their nature print and TV can't achieve."
MSN Carview has also signed site sponsorship deals with Volkswagen (branding on a mobility service, featuring timetables, street maps and traffic bulletins. Shell is also a sponsor of the Frankfurt coverage.