MG Rover has revealed its long-awaited high performance sports car named the MG XPower SV.

Following development of the original Qvale Mangusta-based X80 concept first shown in 2001, the new MG has been radically evolved, is lighter and has more power with up to 965bhp on tap.

All models will be marketed under the MG Sport & Racing XPower brand.

The exterior styling of the two-seater MG sports car owes much to the demands of airflow management required for competition cars.

These elements give the car an aggressive and overtly sporting stance implying its potential for high performance.

Targeting “the premier driving enthusiast”, the company says the new car will become “the icon of the MG brand” and, like top Porsche 911 models, is intended for both road and track use.

Peter Stevens, MG Rover Group’s product design director, previously with McLaren, Lamborghini and Lotus, has been appointed managing director of a new company specially formed to produce the new road-going racer.

As part of the project’s weight reduction objectives, all body panels are made from lightweight carbon fibre. The flat underfloor and inbuilt front and rear diffusers manage the aerodynamic airflow for high-speed stability. Suspension geometry has been designed in collaboration with Steve Randle, responsible for the dynamic set-up of the McLaren F1 road car.

Rollover protection is provided by a tubular structure designed to comply with current FIA competition specifications. A rigorous development programme including high-speed stability tests at the Nardo circuit in Southern Italy saw the XPower SV regularly exceed 200mph (320km/h).

The XPower SV is a part of a unique range of products, which will ultimately be available with “some of the most extreme levels of road performance ever offered”. MG Rover claims.

The XPower SV range starts with a car powered by a 326bhp 4.6-litre Ford quad-cam V8 engine. Weight is forecast at 1,450kgs, which will provide performance of 0-62mph (0-100km/h) acceleration in around five seconds and a top speed of around 170mph (273km/h).

Nearly 70 years ago, MG produced the K3 Magnette – an ultra high-performance supercharged road and track racer. The K3 was built for enthusiast owners who wanted to drive to a race, compete and drive home again.

In keeping with this tradition, the XPower SV Club Sport will allow customers to buy either a complete car ready for road and track, or to enhance the specification of their car with competition derived parts.

The XPower SV Club Sport features a more powerful five-litre V8 with 410bhp, a 0-62mph time of about 4.4 seconds and a top speed electronically limited to 195mph (314km/h).

The car revealed at the British International Motor Show this week is the XPower SV Club Sport spec, in this case powered by a special 465bhp Sean Hyland-tuned five-litre V8. A top speed in excess of 200mph (320km/h) and a 0-60mph time of about 4.2 seconds is claimed.

Engines with much higher stages of tune, even with factory approved nitrous oxide injection kits, will be available to produce so-called “extreme” power outputs.

Typical of the way in which a prospective customer might specify their XPower SV, the show car is fitted with Sparco carbon shell racing seats, a cabin-installed spare wheel, custom helmet storage cubbies, four point electrically-locked harnesses and Motec racing instrumentation.

Some of the specification of the show car will be carried over to production versions.

MG XPower SV UK prices will start at £65,000.

Commenting on the project, Peter Stevens said: “I’ve been working with a small team of experts and enthusiasts to ensure we produce an MG car that will deliver the ultimate in driving exhilaration. The XPower SV is a car with appeal to passionate sports car drivers who will relish its extraordinary racetrack performance characteristics.”