By 20 February 2011 20 Comments Read More →

The MG6 and AROnline

Keith Adams 

MG6: We're rooting for it...

MG6: We're rooting for it...

It’s been a complex relationship between the MG6 and AROnline. Strange really, as it’s yet to be consumated… but, as is often the case with the car industry, it’s the backstory that provides the frontstory. We’ve followed the car’s development slavishly since its first appearance as a disguised mule in Australia, through its launch as the Roewe 550 and subsequent development into a UK-built MG. 

It’s been fascinating and a real microscosm of how the industry is set to develop in the coming years – China learning quickly, by working with the Europeans. Let’s face it, now China is the world’s second largest economy, with the USA firmly fixed in its sights at number one, we should all take notice. 

Adam Sloman, Clive Goldthorp and our mysterious friend in China have all driven the car on behalf of this website (at various points during its development programme), so I feel like I should know this car – but, as I’ve yet to get my sweaty mitts on the MG6, I’m going to reserve judgment until those all important First Drives take place next month. 

However, despite all that – and my own in-built pessimism and cynicism – I really hope this car succeeds – if only for the psyche of our great nation. Mass-production of mainstream British-badged (and design and/or engineered) cars here might just be a distant memory now, but the thought of MG building its cars in the UK to line-up alongside Jaguar Land Rover, MINI, Honda and Toyota fills me with some kind of hope that we haven’t retrenched the UK volume industry to the point of extinction. 

I like to think that, thanks to the efforts of Clive Goldthorp, Adam Sloman and Steven Ward, we’ve provided the most comprehensive online launch coverage you’ll find on the MG6. The interaction from you, the readers, has been invaluable in driving us onwards with this – the feedback has certainly been mixed, with an overall feeling of cautious, realistic optimism being the flavour of the day from the AROnline readership. 

I’m aware that this is an enthusiast website, so thought that we might all be a little close for a rational view. Hence, via Twitter, I’ve also asked for Vox Pops from the people who follow AROnline‘s tweets. The roster includes a mixture of general car enthusiasts, magazine editors and writers, and PR people. It’s an interesting mix of car people – but far from partisan. 

The responses back have been numerous and fascinating. Here’s a selection of answers to my question: ‘will the MG6 make it, does it have what it takes? Yay or nay?’ 

  • @aronline_uk Nay don’t see what it can offer as a brand unless it has a zillion year warranty and loads of free servicing and undercuts oppostion
  • @aronline_uk Prob a good car underneath, but the badge will be its biggest problem. MG is a dead brand to UK car buyers. Hope I’m wrong.
  • @aronline_uk YAY I think a reasonable effort – but no doubt everyone will slag it off and not give it a fair chance.
  • @aronline_uk No, it won’t. Why buy an MG6 when you can get a Skoda Octavia for so much less?
  • @aronline_uk More Nays than a French slaughterhouse I’m afraid.
  • @aronline_uk Nay – the brand doesn’t represent much any more and the product doesn’t make up for the apathy.
  • @aronline_uk Sadly, nay… this is now a brand in name only, divorced from history and emotion.
  • @aronline_uk Not without a diesel. MG3 will be a hit though, I think.
  • @aronline_uk I’d like it to succeed. Here’s hoping they release an “in your face” version akin to the ZR, ZS and ZT.
  • @aronline_uk It’ll depend on the UK media. TG will destroy it for sure, and I’m don’t think the rest will like it as it’s not German.
  • @aronline_uk It’s a Nay from me, I think. I met the MG crew at MPH in Nov and it all seemed a bit… lacklustre. Ambitious, but not quite there.
  • @aronline_uk Chinese will win on price at first (as did Japanese, then Koreans). That means UK-built car will struggle, I think.

 

That’s, of course, a purely random selection of quotes, but it’s an interesting cross-section of the wider industry view. I suspect, as one influential Tweeter says, the MG6 may struggle until the diesel arrives, but the MG3, suitably jazzed-up for the UK market, could well go down a storm. 

Either way, we’re rooting for it here at AROnline, however irrational that may look. We want to see a five-star NCAP rating, a great dealer experience (from those I know, that’s guaranteed), and tactile quality that suggests good build. Finally, let’s just hope the driving experience lives up to my high expectations (Andy Kitson and the guys behind it know more than a thing or two about chassis development), and it masters the black art of body control in a way that British cars do better than anyone else…

Posted in: AROnline Blogs
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

20 Comments on "The MG6 and AROnline"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Andrew Elphick says:

    The MG6 will swim if it has a stupidly sharp, edgy chassis which the hacks – sorry Journalists – love but, if launched to the press with an owner-friendly set up, then man the life boats…

  2. Andrew Elphick says:

    BETTER.

  3. Simon says:

    I think the very modest sales forecasts of 2000 units will be met, but this hardly constitutes a volume car. The exterior of the car looks fine but the colour and trim range need to be worked on to make the car feel more British. Why can’t the car be trimmed in the UK? Honda-derived ARG products felt very different becuase of this.

    However, if these issues are addressed and a good 6 speed diesel is launched, it might build up to 10,000 units per year, before its replacement comes in.

    I see people in the UK becoming ever more inclined to buy German brands and even French and Italian cars are really struggling now. The car market is split between value: Kia and Hyundai type and premium: Audi, BMW, Mercedes and VW. Mainstream manufacturers are struggling.

    MG hasn’t got a strong brand or USP – they need to chase Kia but with MG style. The good news is that, with a few changes to marketing and a more aggressive line up they could succeed – I want an MG Six Vitesse in Trophy Blue with blue leather seats and a 2.5 V6 or a high performance 160hp diesel. The puny 1.8 reworked K-Series is a problem, make no mistake. Can’t the fascia plastics be grey instead of black and the instruments reflect MG heritage a bit more?

    My ZT with Monogram trim is a nice place to be – not like the car I saw at MPH – cheap and nasty inside even with leather straight out of DFS.

    SAIC Motor may be one of China’s biggest OEMs but they are not doing anything like enough to launch in Europe successfully. We spent £15m when we launched the Rover 800 in 1986 – that would be £25m in today’s money. Are you listening SAIC Motor?

  4. Darren says:

    “Rooting for it.” Me too!

    I just hope that MG Motor really understands how suspicious the public will be when they see the MG6 for themselves…

    It looks good and will probably drive very much like it’s rivals BUT people have long memories and “some” will not understand that MG Motor UK are nothing the to do with the old MG Rover etc. and will also make all sorts of assumptions about poor quality and unreliability.

    MG Motor will have to work very hard to address this. Surely one way to do build confidence would to have offered a 5yr warranty?

    Anyway, the very best of good luck to all involved. Let’s hope that it’s the start of something great.

  5. Shep says:

    The MG6’s not really my kind of car but I look forward to seeing lots of them on the road :).

  6. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Rooting for it? Yes. They seem intent on selling it above the Kias – and the branding is contributing to that, as possibly, is the 3 yr warranty. After all, 7 year warranties sell cars with few other USPs and no image.

    The level of investment in Longbridge is remarkable and shows a degree of commitment to the UK/EU market way beyond the level of 2000 sales a year. However, 2000 a year through a small number of dealers will get them off the ground and may help to preserve residuals – if the car is good to drive, there may be demand beyond the level of supply which will keep the secondhand prices high. Early reports seem to suggest the driving experience will be very good and sporty. Promising for an MG…

    My concern is about the styling – it looks neat, quite attractive, but bland and derivative. Not a premium look and reminiscent of the Fiat Marea from the back, hardly a compliment. The MG3 is better.

    Overall, they’re playing a long game. Big investment and small sales won’t work, but may help to build the brand, which will generate higher sales and higher prices later on. The company seems big enough to afford such a strategy. It’ll be fascinating to see how sales and image develop over the next decade.

    Oh, and please keep off Facebook guys. Telling us you’re running a marketing campaign from your folks’ back bedroom is so far away from the image you’re looking for!!

  7. Marty B says:

    They’ve overpriced it and, as inflation is rife in China at the moment, the current price is only going to go skywards. Whoops!

    Incidentally, it’s not looking good for Spanish carmaker Seat – VW could be very close to pulling the plug but, as for their Skoda brand, there is no stopping it, with a new small car and coupe waiting in the wings for later this year…

  8. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    NCAP: I believe my C3 only gets 4 stars, due to not having ESP as standard. NCAP doesn’t even figure in my buying decisions. Actually, I suspect it matters to a surprisingly small percentage of buyers. Go and ask any BMW owner what their car’s NCAP rating is and see if they know…

  9. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    Keith Adams :
    @Andrew Elphick
    Equivalent to the MG ZS?

    The ZS is very good – but, as a buyer, I found the MG TF and Streetwise utterly unpleasant in normal driving, yet very accomplished when giving them the beans and travelling at the legal limit on twisty roads.

    I didn’t close the deal on the TF because the contract hire figures didn’t stack up against an RX8 while, on the Streetwise, it was just inappropriate for the car – at 40mph, the ride was unresolved, jiggly and both cars made me feel a bit queasy unless being caned.

    The MG F was a far more impressive all-rounder for daily use than the TF – in my opinion – and, had the Streetwise been given that sort of ride quality, it would have been stunning.

    From the MGR cars I’ve driven the ZS actually stands out as unusually accomplished, rather than typical. I found the ride of the ZT 260 unbearable and wished I’d had the opportunity to try a Rover V8 instead.

  10. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    Finally, before I go and do more useful stuff – brief, but promising words from Carcoat Damp… I mean, Quentin Willson: New MG6 is a practical and feisty family motor, Sunday Mirror, 20th February, 2011.

  11. Andy Clarke says:

    The MG6 deserves chance – I think this incarnation of the Roewe 550 is looking good! Having owned and lived with a family that has owned a long line of AR/MG/Rover cars, it’s time to look promisingly at a future prospect.

    The MG6 deserves to be a success. I, for one, am interested. However, as I only have need for short city hops these days, I am currently driving a MINI Cooper (oops, sorry a BMW in drag) and so would be more interested to see what the MG3 will bring to the market. The new Audi A1 and VW Polo are dull and uninspiring – bring it on MG Motor!

  12. 406v6 406V6 says:

    I want to see this car succeed but describing it as “UK-built” is stretching things somewhat when all the main bits are actually built in China.

  13. Will says:

    The media will hate the MG6 – it’s not German therefore Clarkson and Rutherford will scoff in their sleeves and write witty damning Road Tests, which the German-buying sheeple will read and feel smug about their choice.

    I suppose that, if the suspension is overly-stiff and Germanic, they might at least claim it handles. However, if the suspension is built for UK-style Third World roads, with a bit of comfort, they will laugh as the Stig purposely understeers it into the grass.

    Marty B :
    Incidentally, it’s not looking good for Spanish carmaker Seat – VW could be very close to pulling the plug but, as for their Skoda brand, there is no stopping it, with a new small car and coupe waiting in the wings for later this year…

    I’ve said it before, VW didn’t know what to do with Seat and have ruined it.
    Seat started off building Fiats under licence and then built Fiat-derived cars and vans.

    VW bought the company and wanted to make it the “sporty” marque. They were getting there in the early 2000s with the Ibiza, Leon and Toledo Mk2 were popular (and are still plentiful today).

    However, in the late 2000s they ruined the plan, though, by giving the Altea, Toledo and Leon the same 1-box MPV-like shape. It was like having a choice of a Scenic, Picasso or Verso.

    VW Group wanted to make Seat their “Alfa”, and even poached Walter de’Silva, but they have been using their other brands for sporty cars – the likes of the Audi TT, the VW Scirocco and the forthcoming new Skoda coupe.

    Skoda thrived by being a no-nonsense cut-price VW alternative and is doing well out of it – even if driving their saloons makes one look like a minicabber.

    Simon :
    I see people in the UK becoming ever more inclined to buy German brands and even French and Italian cars are really struggling now. The car market is split between value: Kia and Hyundai type and premium: Audi, BMW, Mercedes and VW. Mainstream manufacturers are struggling.

    This is true – the mid-rangers seem to be building MPVs and SUVs. Take, for example, the likes of Nissan which no longer sells a proper saloon or hatchback (excluding the grey import Tiida) and sells several sizes of off-road or pseudo-off-roader.

  14. Hilton Davis says:

    I’m still looking forward to seeing MG6s on our roads… However, I will wait until they get established and the Dealer Network expands before considering a purchase.

    I would like to return to MG ownership at some point after my previous ZS and Rover 45. Time will tell as it usually does!

  15. Ross A says:

    A very good neutral base to start off with. Not to be oversold, but just enough to get the car into its area of the market.

    Think of this year as a dry run in terms European of sales – once they have a feel for what’s going on, when the diesel arrives, that’s when the sales offensive will really begin.

    After that, then they can start to work out whether the car would need that extra bit of go-a-bit-faster-bling added to it. Diesel sales may account for about 65% of sales of this car so their strategy is correct – they want to get things right before really ramping up production…

  16. Doodle says:

    The proposed tie up with GM would provide SAIC Motor wiith a springboard from which to launch the exciting new MG models.

    The problem with Longbridge is that it will always carry the burden of MG Rover’s products which the public are very unsure about.

    The current factory is run down and, if SAIC Motor want to be serious about MG, then they need to produce these vehicles in a state of the art complex or an existing GM factory to gain consumer confidence and, taking into account the possibility of access to the GM Dealer Network, it is an exciting opportunity that should not be missed.

    We are all aware of the history of Longbridge – bearing in mind that MG actually began in Abingdon – but it saddens me to say that while, they are attempting to build cars there, it may well result in these exciting new products not receiving the attention which they will, no doubt, deserve .

  17. Stewart says:

    @Hilton Davis
    That’s one attitude to make sure of failure…

  18. Ross A says:

    @Doodle
    Actually, I reckon that it’d be cheaper to build an all-new box factory rather than carry on with the present one.

    I agree something should remain to commemorate the heritage but I also believe that new factories should be built to get over the inadequacies of the old ones and it’s the failiure to adopt this attitude which has led many industries to fail.

    Unfortunately, not only can these plants move to Europe wholesale, we can now build anything globally – although global fuel prices and the CO2 issue may work in our favour.

    I doubt that SAIC Motor would keep the Longbridge CAB and build a new set somewhere else close to Birmingham if and when they do decide to keep manufacturing here (technical is pretty safe for the timebeing).

  19. Ianto says:

    @Andrew Elphick
    I agree – what I actually need is the Roewe (Rover) version. I’m too old for jiggly rides.

Have your say...