The MG 7L, a Chinese take on a British classic

This magnificent machine is an MG 7L. For those of you who don’t know, when MG Rover went bust Nanjing Auto and SAIC were in a heated battle to get the brands. Nanjing ended up getting the most and made cars based on the 75/ZT badged as MG’s and SAIC obtained enough from the sale to make Rover Roewe badged cars based on the same platform. So yes, at one point there were two different companies making essentially the same car just 300km apart. Eventually someone realized this was a bit silly and SAIC ended up buying Nanjing Auto in 2007.

Interestingly enough, SAIC started right from the outset by making the 750 slightly longer than the original 75 on which it was based. Nanjing Auto continued to make the ZT, now badged as the MG7 in exactly the same wheelbase as it’s British made cousins. Once MG was brought under the umbrella of SAIC it continued to be sold as a Nanjing product until the MG7 was killed off in 2009. The 750 lived on until 2016.

Original Nanjing Auto MG 7. 4749mm in length.

Original SAIC Roewe 750. 4865mm in length. Apparently the Chinese didn’t much care for the rear end so Roewe redesigned it and fixed one of the biggest problems people had with the 75 – a tight second row and smallish boot. Of course lengthening a car to sell it in China is par for the course for almost all automakers with brands such as Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes and even Volvo selling their cars in long wheelbase versions to suit Chinese consumers’ tastes.

The MG 7L was longer than both the MG7 and the Roewe 750, with the the 7L measuring 4949mm in length, 84mm longer than the 750 and some 200mm longer than the MG7 and Rover 75. Interestingly enough there was a Vanden Plas model of the British made 75 with a wheelbase and overall length (4950mm and 2946mm for the Vanden Plas against 4949mm and 2949mm for the 7L) almost identical to this 7L. It seems likely then that Nanjing Auto somehow got the design of the Vanden Plas in their deal as well. The similarities run further though, as I shall discuss later.

The earlier Chinese Rover Roewe and MG products based on the Rover 75 and MG ZT all used this beautiful interior. Later on the 750 had a comparatively drab interior with none of the beautiful curves and wood trim of the original.

You can see the basic shape is still there but it just isn’t as nice. At least the steering wheel is still there, although it looks quite out of place.

As with any good long wheelbase car the biggest benefit of the stretch is to be found in the back! As you can see even with the front passenger seat quite far back there is still loads of room for the people in the back. Some 7L’s had TV’s in the back of the front seats’ headrests. In this picture we can see another clue as to whether this is indeed a Vanden Plas in disguise – the console on the roof, something that was also found in the Vanden Plas (as mentioned in this review

TV’s like this were found in many Chinese cars back in the day, including Buick GL8’s and Regals!

The DVD player robs quite a lot of space from the glovebox.

The front end of the 7L was the same one that was found on the very interesting V8 powered and RWD Rover 75’s, just like the Vanden Plas!

Nanjing MG badge on the back of a white one I saw in Wuxi. Characters say Nan Jing (Nanjing) Ming Jue (The Chinese translation of MG).

There were two engines available with the 7L. The first was the Rover KV6, a 2.5 liter V6 making around 175hp and 240Nm of torque. This engine was available with either a 5 speed manual or a 5 speed automatic gearbox. Price of the auto in 2007 was around RMB300,000. In 2008 it could be had with the manual for RMB260,000 or RMB272,000 in a higher trim level. Highest trim level only came as an automatic with the same price of around RMB 300,000.

The other engine was a 1.8 turbo 4 cylinder Rover K series engine making around 160hp. Available only in 2009 and mated exclusively to the automatic gearbox, the 1.8 cost between RMB215,000 and 249,000.

I’ve only ever seen two of these magnificent Sino-British limousines and it’s unlikely I’ll be seeing anymore soon. The MG7 was only made for 3 years and the 7L was always a weird car in the eye of customers. Luxurious yes, but there was always the cheaper 750 which was almost as long but not as expensive. It will thus always be a pleasure to see one and I’m happy to say that 100% of the ones I have seen are in great condition! Even thought that may only be two. May there be many more!

Useful links:

Price info and some pictures