208hp, limited-slip differential, sports-tuned suspension, bespoke body addenda: all things to make supermini hot hatch enthusiasts excited.
But while we were viewing the Peugeot 208 GTi 30th Anniversary at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 recently, MG was quietly rolling out news of a remarkably similar-sounding alternative. Limited-slip differential, sports-tuned suspension, bespoke body addenda and what’s a meagre 1hp difference between friends, huh?
OK, the MG 3 Trophy Championship concept isn’t actually a production car. MG hasn’t rolled out a hot hatch range-topper to the rightly reasonably popular MG3 range. This is, instead, a concept that could lead to a new club racing championship.
But it could do. Very easily.
The firm has listed the changes it’s made to the regular car: a turbo for the 1.5-litre motor running at 1.0 bar, billet pistons, new cams… but standard crank and standard conrods. The gearbox is also standard, just with uprated clutch and drive shafts bolted on. There’s a Janspeed exhaust too.
It has double adjustable coilover springs and dampers, uprated front anti-roll bar and a new rear anti-roll bar. There are uprated bushes for the lower arms and rear beam, plus suspension camber adjustment and 17-inch Dynamics wheels clothing it all.
Factor in the body additions – new front bumper, rear wing, a subtly snazzy bodykit, and you’ve a near-template junior hot hatch supermini. Much more than what the firm simply describes as a concept for a one-make racing championship.
What would it take for MG to create an MG3 Turbo hot hatch?
It thus wouldn’t take too much for MG to create the hot car: the biggest change would be the engine, but if it’s already prepared to make them for racing, surely it could do the same for road cars too? It’s not as if it would be without precedent either: the MG5 is sold in China with a road-homologated version of this 1.5-litre turbo, putting out a meagre 135hp. OK, the hot MG3 road car would probably not produce 204hp and 191lb ft of torque, but it surely wouldn’t take much to push it up to, say 160hp, would it?
Indeed, if all it takes is a new turbo billet pistons and new cams for this engine to cope with 204hp, surely MG Motor could easily go a bit further and aim for parity with cars such as the 182hp Ford Fiesta ST? They’re a clever lot in the engine team at Longbridge: where there’s a will…
How convincing would an MG3 Turbo be?
Here at MR, we remain really impressed with how the MG3 drives. Handling is entertaining and much better than many perhaps realise. The weak point is the engine: it’s too slow, lacks muscle and is raucous. Adding a turbo would cure this. It would provide the power to exploit the MG3’s chassis, and the all-round muscle to transform how it feels to drive. A bit of turbo-softening refinement would also be welcome.
With a convincing bodykit and some beefed up seats inside, we reckon an MG3 Turbo could be quite the car. Ford has proven a sharp, focused driver’s car can sell really well in this sector, so MG needn’t fear for a lack of market. Make the MG3 Turbo as good to drive as the Fiesta – and we know it has the talent there to do this – and the resultant car could be a blast.
MG wants us to email Adrian Guyll, the vehicle engineering specialist leading the team of engineers that’s created the MG Trophy Championship concept, to express interest in the club racing concept. Is he open to the idea of leading a new MG hot hatch project too? Let’s find out. He’s on Adrian.Guyll@saicmotor.co.uk.