When it comes to China-debuted concept cars from the modern-day, SAIC-owned MG, we’ve seen the magnetically gorgeous, the really weird and the entirely forgettable. The new Cyberster promises to be all three, flashing a bevy of beautiful curves, answering to an odd name that feels like an April Fool’s joke Elon Musk thought up while high, and wearing some styling cues we intend to forget.
We could probably find it in our hearts to forgive MG for creating a portmanteau of Tesla model names (Cybertruck and Roadster) — the Cyberster is just a concept car, after all. But to earn that forgiveness, the name would actually have to work on some level. Cyberster looks awkward, has to be essentially hocked out of the mouth, and doesn’t appear to have any meaning original enough to prevent it from feeling like a Tesla ripoff every time it’s uttered or eyed.
Luckily, the awkward name largely takes care of the “really weird” part of the Cyberster equation. The car itself looks rather stunning, particularly from the angle pictured at top.
MG says the headlights were inspired by the rounds of its classics, but they remind us more of a modern-day Jaguar E-type interpretation. They rely on “Magic Eye” operation to open when turned on, but to be honest, we’re not sure if they’re open or closed in the first set of teaser pictures. It feels like they could be open, using an extremely thin LED or laser outline configuration, but they might be closed, hinting at the more robust lamps below retracting eyelids. Either way, the lights look quite unique and compelling, especially on their perch at the front of voluptuous fenders that burst forward from the more compacted muscle mass over the rear tires.
Where we run into some styling we find mediocre and forgettable is in the lower grille design. It looks sporty and performance-focused from the initial tilted three-quarter angle, but from straight-on, it looks uncomfortably like a creepy clown smile, complete with a pair of fangs in the center. We can’t imagine a world in which the grille wouldn’t look better if it were straightened, shortened and thinned, or simply deleted entirely.
The mediocrity continues around back, where the MG Advanced Design London team opts for a Kamm tail, a feature that might work if it had a little more curve or style to it. As it is, the flat, rectangular fascia framed neatly on the sides and top by strips of LEDs feels out of place on the otherwise sleek, curvaceous electric roadster. We do like the Union Jack-inspired tail lamps, though that idea is no more original than the concept name.
“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,” explains Carl Gotham, director of SAIC Design Advanced London. “Sports cars are the lifeblood of the MG DNA and Cyberster is a hugely exciting concept for us.”
The Cyberster has an electric powertrain and comes loaded with hopeful numbers like a 500-mile (800-km) range and three-second 0-62 mph (100 km/h). MG says it also features 5G connectivity.
MG will divulge more details about the Cyberster during the world premiere at Auto Shanghai 2021, which opens to the media on April 19. Perhaps the more awkward bits of styling will come together better in the bright light of the expo hall.