If there’s a common thread among performance EVs, it’s people bemoaning a lack of involvement. After all, when you take natural engine and gearbox character out of the equation, chassis tuning and powertrain mapping becomes critical. However, some small companies are intent on adding a bit of involvement back into low-volume converted EVs with the reappearance of manual transmissions. This is the Frontline Cars MG Bee, an electric MGB with a difference.
Upon first glance, it’s hard to pick this classic British sports car out as an electric conversion. You won’t find uncharacteristically modern projector headlamps, gaudy big wheels, or even a hint that this classic British sports car can be plugged into the mains just by looking at the exterior. To the untrained eye, this is the MGB as we’ve always known it, just with a few subtle aesthetic tweaks. I’m a huge fan of the chin spoiler, and the steel-look knockoff wheels are the absolute business. However, look a bit harder and you’ll notice the lack of a tailpipe, the subtle black ring behind the old-school filler cap, and a seemingly uncomplicated underbody. How delightfully subtle.
Here’s something else that’s cool: The MG Bee revs to 9,000 RPM. While that would be astonishingly high for a combustion-powered car, it’s fairly low for an electric motor. The upside to this is that multiple gears suddenly become useful, and Frontline Cars has made the most of this by fitting the MG Bee with a Mazda-derived five-speed manual gearbox. While there are a few differences in manual gearbox operation in an electric vehicle compared to in a combustion-powered vehicle — stalling at the lights shouldn’t be an issue, and drivers should theoretically be able to take off in any gear — you should still be able to heel-toe and row up the gears as you would in a combustion-powered classic. Although this certainly isn’t the fastest way to get around, it sounds like heaps of fun.
Diving deeper into the powertrain, the MG Bee sports a Hyper 9 electric motor that pumps out 114 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque, not far off of most combustion-powered economy cars. However, thanks in part to a reasonable 40 kWh battery, the whole package is surprisingly light, clocking in at a reasonable 2,617 pounds. While 22.95 pounds per horsepower isn’t an outstanding number, it isn’t far off of a stock car’s 21.4 pounds per horsepower. Moreover, outstanding torque contributes to a claimed zero-to-62 mph time of 8.8 seconds, so the MG Bee should go down the road alright.
So what are the downsides? Well, the MG Bee doesn’t have DC fast charging capability, so it won’t be the best road trip machine. Level 2 charging is limited to a fairly slow seven kilowatts, and Frontline Cars quotes an ideal zero-to-100 percent charging time of five hours. Range isn’t phenomenal either. Figure 140 miles on the optimistic WLTP cycle. Then there’s a matter of cost — Frontline Cars hasn’t released pricing on the MG Bee, but it’s safe to assume that a conversion this comprehensive won’t be cheap.
However, for a select few, the Frontline MG Bee will represent the pinnacle of green weekend motoring. Classic looks, clean power, and a little bit of unexpected involvement. If you’re at Bicester Heritage on Oct. 9, you’ll be able to see it in person. Oh, and if electrified classics aren’t your jam, don’t worry — Frontline Cars is still happy to stuff a V8 in an MGB for you.
(Photo credits: Frontline Cars)
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