MG sets out to A-MAZE

MG sets out to A-MAZE

MG's London design studio produces some wild visions of the future


This month our news focus is closer to home, covering two exciting projects that have been run from SAIC’s Advanced Design London studio at Marylebone, less than a mile from London’s Baker Street station and upstairs from MG Motor UK’s headquarters. It is three years since the new studio was opened, as part of a consolidation exercise which saw the closure of some of the older design and engineering facilities at the ever-shrinking Birmingham site, soon after the MG Motor UK Sales and Marketing offices had also moved south.


SAIC Design MG MAZE concept

The vehicle concepts have both been conceived and so far executed as purely virtual digital exercises, although the company remains tight-lipped about any real-world vehicles that might eventually benefit from the thought processes. One of them bears the MG name and the other, the China-only ‘R’ brand – a high-tech off-shoot of the more familiar Roewe make. What the two concepts share is a two-seat configuration, a world away from the family-sized SUVs that have been so successfully marketed by MG recently.

The MG concept is called the ‘MG MAZE and it is clear that Advanced Design Studio Director Carl Gotham and his colleague Rob Lemmens are proud of the work that their team has put into something which, we have to say, exudes more sportiness than any of the MG models currently being marketed by their colleagues downstairs.

Gotham told us that he and the team were keen to create something that was an antidote to the long period of lock-down and limitations on mobility that the Covid-19 crisis has engendered. “With MAZE we wanted to consider what the future of a car community might look like, building from MG’s fan base and following. The move to digital is unstoppable so we wanted to create a concept that connected this digital realm to the physical one that gives us the real joy in driving. Exploring the idea of mobile gaming, we used MAZE as a platform for people to get out and rediscover their environment in a new and relevant way, opening up new experiences with their city.”

In a recent MGE interview, Gotham commented on his personal background in the gaming world so it is no surprise to see the philosophy behind the MG MAZE incorporate such themes. “The gaming aspect of the car reflects a desire to discover and reach new achievements, via a points-based reward system. Our car helps users to re-discover their city and their world by seeking exciting digital street art that is interacting with structures, buildings, and landmarks.”

Building on the futuristic hi-tech theme, the top of the MG MAZE features a transparent carapace which shows off much of the internal componentry. “Floating seats and UX/UI technology have been developed, enhancing the gaming aspect by giving a fun and enjoyable driving experience, while the steering is controlled not by a steering wheel but by the driver’s smartphone.” We’re slightly less convinced of the latter feature but no doubt future autonomous driving technology would prevent the likelihood of swerving accidentally into a lamp post.

But the point of the MAZE is, after all, to be a vision of the future. Connecting the digital and physical worlds of driving could be the next step in MG’s spirit of making driver’s cars. Watch this space, however strange it may seem.


R RYZR

The second concept revealed by SAIC London is a light, almost skeletal, vehicle that sits, visually, somewhere between a motorcycle and a go-kart.

SAIC Design unveils new R RYZR concept

Carl Gotham describes the R RYZR as: “The ultimate symbiosis of man and machine; a car that you actually wear. It features a jacket and a vehicle that interlock to start it, with no need for a key… It offers an escape from crowded spaces by combining cuttingedge technical apparel and augmented reality.” Although MG never quite went as far as to create a hybrid of this type, we can see a few MG sporting traits in the R-RYZR, not least the two-seater layout, lightweight build and exposure to the elements.

Gotham evidently agrees. “The concept is designed to achieve the ultimate ease of use: motorcycle agility with car-like stability". The photos do suggest that its dimensions are also in between motorcycle and car, a curious suggestion of future car design. «R RYZR is a useful, agile, practical and exciting form of urban transport» says Gotham.

«It combines the aesthetic of cuttingedge technical apparel and augmented reality with futurism. It’s an exploration of unconventional modes of transport for the future: new architectures, new experiences and new emotions.” We might add that, in addition, it could be an antidote to the less exciting, public transport focus that seems likely increasingly to form part of our lives, assuming of course that we return to the office commute.

R RYZ needs no key, just a body suit which is also required to protect you from the elements. Curious, centreless wheel design and short-link suspension arrangement. Driver involvement promises to be electrifying and possibly quite scary.


ABOVE: Floating seats are a core component of the MAZE’s concept of a transparent interior space.

BELOW: User interface is all-digital but aims to involve the occupants in their journey using the latest technologies and even some hints of video gaming.

ABOVE AND LEFT: Large glass canopy opens up, via a centrally-mounted air pump, to reveal MAZE’s futuristic interior.

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