By 12 November 2010 26 Comments Read More →

MG still has the power to frustrate!

Words: Keith Adams Photographs: Simon Davies/Pegasus Photographics

MG6 unveiled at the MPH Show

MG6 unveiled at the NEC's MPH with Top Gear Live Show

MG Motor UK has finally launched the vitally important new MG6 model for the UK market – it’s a brand new car, a break from the past and, hopefully, a fresh start. AROnline has been following the development of this car pretty much since day one and, although we’ve not been afforded an inside view, there has been enough information coming out of China to know exactly how things have been progressing.

The MG6 looks good in a conventional way and seems to have been met with a warm reception – especially in China, where sales have been brisk. However, in a market where the kudos of UK association isn’t polluted by what came before (I still believe AROnline is blocked in the PRC), the car has all the ingredients to succeed.

The message in Europe – and, more specifically, the UK – has been much more confused. There has been a mix of Chinese news stories and the odd snippet from Longbridge but, on the whole, the launch lead-up for the MG6 has been almost farcical. I was at the Paris Motor Show and found it astonshing that there was no attempt whatsoever to begin MG’s re-launch – no stand, no cars, no advertising. Nothing. Lest we forget, France and Italy are both traditionally good markets for British cars – or they were – and yet MG didn’t pitch up at all.

More specifically, the lead-up to the launch has also been poor at best. It’s been good that selected jounalists were able to drive Chinese-spec MG6s in and around Longbridge (including ourselves), but also frustrating, because there’s nothing worse than testing a car, to be told… ignore that, we’re going to change it all.

Less good has been the slow PR build-up – the lack of Press Releases in what has been a historic year for MG; the lack of officially sanctioned news from China; the failure to engage the press beyond showing them around SMTC UK’s Technical Centre at Longbridge.

And now this… ‘launching’ the car at the MPH with Top Gear Live Show. To my mind, unveiling a car that already looks highly familiar at an event so closely associated with Top Gear’s terrible trio shows a complete misunderstanding of the situation MG Motor UK finds itself in. Is it likely the guys are going to say anything good about MG? No. Maybe MG were being bullish? Naive, if that’s the case.

It’s a shame because the reactions from people who actually buy these cars have been largely positive. All that will be undone, though, by one unfavourable soundbite from the King of Soundbites. Anyway, we shall see…

Something else troubles me: no, not the lack of a diesel model at launch (something that will kill the MG6 pretty much stone dead in Europe), but the fact that the MPH ‘unveil’ has been touted as a UK launch for the company – and yet no firm prices were spoken of, nor even a specifc launch date announced. No wonder the launch’s been met with a fat slice of apathy by the mainstream press.

A personal plea, then, to the guys at MG Motor UK: please try harder – this is a delicate time for your brand re-launch and, as far as I can see, you’re squandering the opportunity.

Click HERE for a Gallery containing Simon Davies of Pegasus Photographics‘ other photographs from the MG stand at the NEC’s MPH with Top Gear Live Show.

Watch the BBC News report HERE (13 minutes in, opens in a new window).

Posted in: AROnline Blogs
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

26 Comments on "MG still has the power to frustrate!"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Charles Bishop says:

    Absolutely spot on with your mild rant. It really is bewildering trying to understand what MG Motor UK are playing at.

    I worked in the Advertising Deptartment at Alfa Romeo in the early ’90s when – save for the 164 – we had a truly awful range of cars to sell and seized any possible opportunity to butter up the press with clever model placement, press launches etc. I even got J Clarkson on our side buy selling his GTV6 which was totally rotten and generally knackered in exchange for a favourable write up on our truly pathetic 33 16v Permanent 4! What a result that was.

    We even sold possibly one of the worst modern era cars, the 33 1.7 16v Boxer, by the shed load through very clever marketing and press relations.

    It’s super frustrating to see this MG opportunity squandered and I really think they should sack the marketing boys now and find somebody who knows how to sell sand in the desert, because this rather dull, generically Asian-looking motor car with no diesel engine is going to be a non-starter.

  2. Rob B says:

    What this indicates to me (the MPH launch) is that the Honourable MG/NAC/SAIC Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Company UK hasn’t got a pot to p**s in when it comes to a marketing budget. A stand at MPH isn’t a lot of money. A stand at the Paris Motor Show is.

    I don’t think Europe is being taken at all seriously as a market by the Chinese.

  3. Doodle says:

    The Car Assemblers at Longbridge have not done anything other than some painting and security work for the last 6 months – they haven’t built anything.

    The MG6 currently comes in 75% built and in a crate. The engine is taken out and then refitted and the front end built. The word from the inside is that they are having major problems with the engine, pistons etc. and that the quality needs polishing up.

    Former MG Rover employees have been waiting with anticipation for this launch to see if there are any employment opportunities but the inside information is they intend to build with the 20 Assemblers they have.

    Talking to an employee yesterday,the entry-level MG6 model will start at around the £17,000 mark while the level 2 and level 3 models will be about £19,000.

  4. Jon says:

    The Top Gear guys are bloody ignorant idiots!!

    It’s nice of BBC Midlands to pass up on the chance to give us an informative story about the progress of MG at Longbridge but, instead, just give a shameless plug to their boring motoring comedy programme and it’s infantile presenters.

    I live in Brum and am hoping MG actually do something here but maybe it’s just not worth the effort??

    Jon

  5. Magnus says:

    I seem to remember that, when Ford’s Sierra was being developed, the Chief Designer handed Ford’s head honcho a photograph of the new car with the message “view daily until familiarity is achieved.”

    With the near-daily views MG seem to be giving us of the 6, familiarity was achieved long ago, intimacy is upon (some of) us but boredom is approaching and rigor mortis can’t be far away – and all that before the car has even been launched!

    I don’t doubt (or criticise) the Sales and Marketing Director’s enthusiasm but he should learn that, sometimes, less is more.

    Furthermore, if there are, as ‘Doodle’ claims, “major problems with the engine,” then there is a very real risk of this whole adventure going pear-shaped – in the UK at least – and, if that happens, there really won’t be another chance for MG.

  6. Alex Scott says:

    I would have to say the front end view shown above is the best shot of the MG6 I’ve seen to date.

    There are some interesting themes in the comments above. The weird thing is that the car might sell well simply because people are familiar with the design – if the British public has a clear idea of what the car looks like and then (and if) it looks better in the metal it might be second nature to buy it.

    Anyway, as far as the engine is concerned, you would think that, if that was the only hold up, then they could come to some arrangement with Peugeot (or Chrysler in South America – remember the first BMW MINI engine) for an interim engine solution. That makes me wonder whether there are any other issues which they haven’t resolved.

    I would agree that the assembly process in the UK is unlikely to amount to much other than some fine-tuning of suspension and brakes and trim options so, given that the cars are already available in China, what really is the hold up for the UK cars? Yes, it seems rather odd but I must say they’ve got some balls to go straight to a Top Gear show!

  7. Alex Scott says:

    Clarkson hated MG Rover as a company – he said something along the lines of why don’t they curl up and die… Does anyone remember the AOP Rover 45 song and the car names “Toyota Invincible” and Rover Breakdown”?

    That was, perhaps, all rather unfair but the point is Clarkson hated Rover. I wonder what he’s got to say about the Chinese cars? I can’t wait. Alex.

  8. Alex Scott says:

    Another odd thing: when we first started seeing pictures of the MG6 it looked quite odd. Ironically, if you now look at, say, the new Volkswagen Golf or the Renault Zoe (See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11732595) the MG6’s starting to look quite normal to the point that it could go unnoticed. Alex.

  9. Jon says:

    The MG6 does look better in the metal but, in photographs, the 2003 Nissan Primera-like rear 3/4 view does it no favours.

    Jon

  10. @Alex Scott
    No need to wait any longer for Jeremy Clarkson’s take on the MG6 – check out the BBC News clip accessed via the link at the end of the above article.

  11. Andrew Elphick says:

    Why are they bothering? No diesel model in a market that has eight private buyers a year? The MG6 needs to be specced as a fleet model – climate, half-leather, alloys and spoilers – a thug’s Alfa 159.

  12. RamseyMGR says:

    The MG6 looks really nice – what’s wrong with you lot????

    It’s about time the ‘great’ British public, rightly known as whinging poms in certain parts of the world, stopped looking for the negatives and opened their eyes instead.

    I’m looking forward to having a go in one but it will have to be seriously cheaper than a Mondeo etc. to stand a chance because people know that it’s come from a low-wage economy.

  13. Jon says:

    I went to the NEC today and sat in the MG6 SE and TSE spec models. I have to say that the cars are very impressive close up and the ‘Primera’ problem is a photographic illusion. The TSE was lovely and loaded with kit – even the TF looked nice and I’m not usually a fan.

    Jon.

  14. Lord Sward says:

    This car is shaping-up to be a worthy Maestro successor!

  15. Dolomitefan says:

    I had no idea that this was the launch but then, given our only Motor Show has been cancelled, what else is there to do?

    I saw the MG6 at Silverstone in June this year and thought “yes, it’s a nice looking car but the launch and promotional response has been woeful. I really do get the impression that the company are only interested in the Chinese market. They need to get on, get the car to market and start generating some revenue to help fund future models. OK, so it’s not going to set the sales charts alight but it’s a start. Just look at Hyundai and Kia today compared with where they were a few years ago.

    Come on MG get on with it, let’s stop messing around, get the car on sale, priced and promoted. Do they have any sales projections?

  16. Simon Woodward says:

    @Jon
    I’m 100% behind you on that one.

    I’m a fed up Brummie but the recent good news at JLR is something positive to look forward to. However, MG Motor does need to get its finger out and start publicising itself with the press.

  17. @Dolomitefan
    Yes, with an on sale date in Q1/2011 and deliveries commencing during Q2/2011, the Sales and Marketing Team at MG Motor UK are apparently aiming to sell 2,000 MG6s next year.

  18. Justin says:

    2,000 MG6’s next year at, say, £4,000 profit per car = £80,000 – not a lot of money for a car company… I hope it does well, but it’s looking old before it’s even in the showroom.

  19. Mike C says:

    I am, as was the case with previous generations of mid-size BMC/BL/ARG cars, slightly puzzled as to which competitors the MG6 is aimed at.

    It’s not aimed at the Koreans at the budget end of the market, as it’s too fast and ‘sporty’.

    Is the MG6 a large Focus-type car, but with only a powerful 1.8 engine and no diesel or is it a small Mondeo/Insignia rival? Is it aimed at the sporty brands like Alfa or (in their dreams) Seat?

    Mind you, if they are only aiming to sell 2,000 next year, clearly it’s a tiny niche market product, which makes you wonder how viable Longbridge is?

  20. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    @RamseyMGR
    I have had some very worrying feedback about the products since the Chinese takeover regarding back up, quality, parts availablity and product. A Dealer close to me has since stopped selling the brand. Why? Well, because, and I quote, “the quality is nothing short of shi* ” – that’s not from me but from the Dealer Principal.

    I, along with many others, want to see MG succeed, but I get the feeling the Chinese are “playing” with the brand. There seems to be too much cloak and dagger stuff going on and virtually no form of “revving” the public up to an exciting launch of a new car.

    Sadly, it’s all very poor practice for an already tainted brand!

  21. David McLennan says:

    Justin :
    2,000 MG6′s next year at, say, £4,000 profit per car = £80,000 – not a lot of money for a car company… I hope it does well, but it’s looking old before it’s even in the showroom.

    Or even £8 million taking 2,000 cars at £4k profit per car 🙂

  22. Dennis says:

    Justin :2,000 MG6′s next year at, say, £4,000 profit per car = £80,000 – not a lot of money for a car company…

    I think you need a new calculator…

  23. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that one of the Choir Boys from Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” video is sitting in the driver’s seat of the red MG6?

  24. @Mike Humble
    Our Photographer, Simon Davies, thought that effect was rather amusing! The chap sitting in the driver’s seat of the MG6 is, in fact, Steve Childs from MG-Rover.org.

  25. Mark Pitchford says:

    @RamseyMGR
    Yes, the MG6 looks nice. Yes, I’d like one. A diesel please, but when?

  26. Jack Yan Jack Yan says:

    When SAIC took over some years ago and invited journalists to register for accreditation, I duly complied in order to support the company. I await their response.

Have your say...