Following Rover’s former sister brand making an attempt at a revival, MG turns up at this year’s Auto Shanghai with a brace of new models. But can they propel the company back into the British car market?

Since MG’s very public bankruptcy and subsequent demise in 2005, plans for a revival of the brand by its Chinese parent companies have been taken with a pinch of salt by anyone tuned into the automotive industry.

However, the Longbridge-designed MG3 and MG5 concept shown here at the Shanghai Motor Show proves new owners SAIC are investing the time and money required to get the brand back on its feet. If executed successfully, MG could become a credible alternative to budget brands such as Hyundai, Kia and Chevrolet.

Despite the recently released MG6 going some way towards restoring confidence in the marque, the company has been crying out for a hatchback to gain some volume sales. Enter the MG3; a Fiesta-sized hatch based on the Zero concept and due to arrive in the UK in the Spring of 2012.

While the looks have been toned down for production, the 3 is a smart looking budget car ready to take the fight to the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto. The interior styling is particularly interesting, with the white steering wheel inserts and interior door handles reminiscent of Apple’s first-generation iPod.

The MG3 was joined on stage by the MG5; its soon-to-be bigger brother. While the 3 was production ready the 5 was presented in concept form, meaning its taut lines and aggressive stance will undoubtedly be restrained during translation to road-ready guise. A resemblance to its Alfa Romeo Giulietta rival can be seen, in particular the bonnet creases and tail-lights.

One value of the MG its new owners seem keen to promote is its Britishness. The showstand at Shanghai proudly displays the Morris Garages moniker and Union Jacks are prevalent, while the promotional film for the MG5 features London extensively.

The next few years will be crucial for MG, but the early signs of the new model lineup look promising. And if it can build good value cars and sell them in large numbers rather than mildly refreshing cars developed in the early nineties (a la MGTF), SAIC can take pride in having rescued MG from the fate suffered by British Leyland, TVR and countless others.