My motoring week : AROnline and the MG6 GT

Keith Adams

A week with the MG6

A week with the MG6

Okay, it’s been a busy week at AROnline Towers but, apart from our hosting issue, it’s all been good. It started on Monday, as weeks do, with a flying visit to Longbridge to pick up an MG6 GT from the inner sanctum. Well, I say inner sanctum, more like the car park outside the iconic building that more seasoned staff at MG Birmingham call ‘the Kremlin’. I’d rattled up there in my Bangernomics special Volkswagen Golf TDI Mk4 and was certainly looking for a more effortless – and comfortable – drive home.

MG’s PR man Doug Wallace handed over the key and smiled as he told me to enjoy the car. Some might see that as a challenge or dare (especially following Autocar‘s damning recent Road Test) but, as I’d already come away from the first drive having been impressed with the 6’s chassis, I was reasonably confident that I would do just that.

That said, a day’s drive on a carefully pre-planned launch route is one thing – running a car day-to-day in real life situations is something else and that’s why I’ve decided to throw away my road tester’s hat (well, motoring writer’s), and treat the car as I would if it was mine. It certainly looks good in metallic Granite Grey, riding on 18in alloys.

I do wish MG would put some weight into the car key. It’s a transponder that you push directly into the dash – it’s far too light and feels nasty when you start-up. MG, please put some quality into it!

Initial impressions are pretty favourable. The K-Series (I mean TCI Tech) engine is smooth at idle and well insulated and the driving position’s a little on the low side. That’s emphasised by the high shoulder line and dark interior. Visibility isn’t looking too good either, with fat B-posts, a high dash and slit-like view behind through the rear view mirror. The leather steering wheel is nice; the gearknob less so. Oh, and that handbrake!

MG6 handbrake feels nasty

MG6 handbrake feels nasty

Underway, it’s pretty good. The light throttle and flywheel combination makes smooth getaways quite difficult – you either rev it up like a granny or hop away searching for the right amount of gas. After the numb solidity of the Golf, it’s a different world. Heading for the M6, it feels solid and planted on the road, thumping satisfactorily over the ruts and potholes in a sporting, but not crashy manner. Engine refinement still feels good as I’m getting re-acquainted – and I rapidly came to the conclusion that it’s the nicest ‘cooking’ K-Series installation yet…

On the motorway, it still feels refined, humming along at 70mph with around 2500 revs on the tacho. Actually, at the UK limit, the wind rustle around the door tops and road roar are the dominant noise sources – even then it’s not that much at all, making it all rather hushed.  The B-road thrash of the launch had me saying nice things about the 6’s poise in the corners and it’s just as competent on the motorway. That’s a good job too, as it’s probable that most customer MG6s will spend their time plying three-laners.

The cruise control is easy to use, which is also good. Its overall hush, light throttle and build up of turbo boost conspire to have you well over the limit without realising. Switching on the digital speedo with automated limit warning (via GPS) helps but not as much as using the cruise control.

Time to cover some serious miles. A trip to London followed by a run that’s the long way round backed up my initial impressions of excellent motorway refinement. At UK speeds, it’s hushed and the MG6’s firm damping and relatively soft springing work well here. There’s half a tank showing, so I stop for a fill-up – and it takes £45 to get it brimmed. Imagine my disappointment when the computed range shows 390 miles. I guess I’m too used to long-legged diesels now.

MG6 interior divides opinions. Some like it, some don't. It's business-like, and the plastics you touch the most are sturdy enough.

MG6 interior divides opinions. Some like it, some don't. It's business-like and the plastics you touch the most are sturdy enough.

I arrive in London and meet up with some friends and keen to canvass their opinions of the new 6. They’re all car people and clearly care about MG’s heritage. The car’s size comes as a surprise to them and talk of the 6 being a Focus rival is soon scuppered – even when I say that the entry level price of the 6 is £15,000. There are some negative comments about the car’s bob-tailed look and overall anonymity, but I think that, like all new cars, it’s just going to take time…

Underway, the comments from the back seat are largely okay – that’s impressive considering how lumpy London’s roads are. ‘Firm and controlled’, seems to be the concensus although ‘crashy’ is used once the road gets particularly rough. One owns a Skoda Octavia and I ask the inevitable question. ‘Different league’, is his reply when it comes to quality.

The fuel level’s dropping rapidly on the way home as I start playing on A- and B-roads. It’s here that the first disappointments come – the TCI Tech sounds strained at revs and acceleration isn’t as strong as you’d hope with 160bhp to play with. However, this is a solid – and heavy – car. The computer’s saying 32.6mpg but that includes running through the city.

I stand by my comments about the handling – on typically cambered and pock-marked British B-roads, the 6 puts in a fine performance. Sight-lines are destroyed by that fat A-pillar and bulky door mirror, but I guess in time you get used to it. Bobbing my head side to side to compensate does feel silly, though…

It’s my birthday and I’ve promised myself some relaxation time so, I pop over to the home of fellow AROnline fan, computer enthusiast, and tech-journalist, Richard Kilpatrick. He’s 40 miles from me and, once again, it’s a nice mix of M-way and A/B-road driving. I’m finding that, while I’m getting used to the sensitive throttle pedal, it’s a car you leave in gear and waft along the twisties. Rowing through the gears isn’t as rewarding as I remember, but ye gads, this thing really grips well and is poised. The steering is pretty communicative and well-weighted.

Richard Kilpatrick casts a critical eye over the MG6

Richard Kilpatrick casts a critical eye over the MG6

I’m there to look over Richard’s MGF and, as an ex- and current-Citroen owner (as well as someone who’s owned 136 cars), his opinions are important. For one, he actually buys new cars and is an enthusiastic driver, as well as someone who’s sympathetic to the UK car industry. He could buy this car.

Like me, he’s impressed by the paint finish and general external quality and tight shutlines. However, the visibility is an issue for Richard, too, and he soon picks up on some of the cheap-feeling plastics used in places inside. ‘These will be chafing and squeaking in six months,’ he says. Hmm. The gadgets are something he’s interested in and he’s impressed by the ergonomics.

‘The sat-nav looks like it’s using a Garmin skin,’ he comments. As the owner of a Nuvi, I can confirm that (male voice, ugh, I prefer being told where to go by a woman)… and that it won’t find the Isle of Man. It also doesn’t do Postcode searches…

Finally, he comes up with something that gets me thinking. Why hasn’t MG shown a Police version? Get the forces on-side, and the company would sell most of its 2000 cars-per-year allocation to the boys in blue. Good point, well made.

Thursday and Friday
Days in the Octane office and chance to line-up the 6 alongside the car MG would like this car to be considered alongside, the Skoda Octavia. The Czech product has the MG licked in terms of interior quality, but I’m not so sure when it comes to its paint finish. However, as for styling, sorry, but I think the car from Longbridge has it…

MG6 meets Skoda Octavia. Which looks best to you?

MG6 meets Skoda Octavia. Which looks best to you?

More opinions are canvassed – this time from the ladies. One, who owns an MG TF just says, ‘it’s awful’ while another loves it. Divisive cars are a good thing, aren’t they?

More motorway driving and, by this time, I’m now impressed. As a tool for Ronnie Rep, the 6 really should do the business. It feels happy living in the overtaking lane and can easily keep pace with firmly driven TDIs – if only it had the range and fuel consumption. I’m really getting used to the ergonomics and control set now – and it all works really well. In the miles that have passed, I’ve not fallen prey to backache or general discomfort and, at a rest stop, I fill up the boot with shopping. Again I’m impressed, because it’s a great size and well shaped. Reps will love this.

By this time, the average fuel consumption is showing 34.0mpg. Perhaps I am being harsh – but I am used to diesels and I suspect that most of its potential customers are.

The MG6 puts in a good motorway performance.

The MG6 puts in a good motorway performance.

Final thoughtsthe end of the week
With the shine of the new car launch out of the way and the sheer relief of Longbridge’s return to new car production blowing over, it’s time to start being more analytical about the MG6. After a week of treating this car as my own – and as the typical 2011 UK owner would – I can conclude that it’s good. For the first effort by a fledgling manufacturer, it’s an astonishing achievement, and one that bodes well for the future of MG.

When I rolled back into Longbridge with it, I was asked – by one of the Engineers who helped dial-in this car – ‘go on, do you love it?’ That’s a tough one to answer, because it’s not the sort of car I need in my life. However, from the perspective of a potential buyer and what they can get for the same money, it’s more than good enough. My initial criticisms, which now look a little harsh, were softened, but not eradicated as my week with the car came to an end.

The lack of visibility is shameful, parking camera or not; and the interior’s rough edges and petrol-ish fuel consumption are still there but, other than that, the MG6 goes about what it needs to quietly and efficiently. I could happily live with it, would not feel short-changed and would enjoy great motorway performance, as well as the odd B-road thrash.

However, as for the long game, that’s down to the dealers – if they can deliver a feel-good factor (that works so well for Skoda as well as former bed-fellows, Jaguar), the residuals are acceptable (an issue which we’re hoping MG will address in the near future), and the diesel version comes on stream soon, then it’s a car that I’d happily place on my drive.

MG, it’s over to you…

MG6 back at home in Longbridge.

MG6 back at home in Longbridge.

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created 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.

64 Comments on "My motoring week : AROnline and the MG6 GT"

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  1. Jon says:

    The problem with Octavia comparisons is that the second generation Octavia is now nearly seven years old and its replacement has already been seen in concept form – if the MG6 can’t beat the current Octavia, that doesn’t bode well for when the replacement comes along.

    Skoda would have to drop the ball like they did with the 2007 Fabia…

  2. Rob C says:

    I think thick pillars are one of the ‘bonuses’ of new cars – it seems they’re getting thicker and thicker as manufacturers all chase that NCAP 5 star rating. It’s something you get used to – the thick pillars on the Ford S-Max are now not even thought about.

  3. Hilton Davis says:

    I haven’t read the Autocar Road Test, but there seem to be a lot of potential negatives in this test/feature. I prefer the look of the 6, but the poor rear visibilty and handbrake issues would put me off somewhat. I need to examine one for real to form my own opinion.

  4. David 3500 says:

    @Rob C
    Maybe, although thick pillars also mean restricted visibility and that’s potentially a safety concern from another persepctive…

  5. Oliver says:

    The MG6 would have been a nice car had it arrived in 2005 as a replacement for the MG ZS/Rover 45, but that was six years ago and this car was up to date six years ago! However, the MG6 is now an old-fashioned car which does not have the build quality of any new Skoda, Ford, Vauxhall or any other European competitor.

    The time for MG is over and Chinese cars will probably only be able to to win a competition with a European, Japanese or Korean car in another ten years time!

  6. Johnos1984 says:

    The MG6 seems like a car which everyone wants to love but can’t.

  7. Richard Moss says:

    ‘The light throttle and flywheel combination makes smooth getaways quite difficult.’

    Yes, it’s true folks, the K-Series LIVES ON!

  8. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Nearly there, then, but just not quite – a bit like a Kia, pre-Cee’d. A promising start for a new company, though, and worthy of the MG badge because of the sporty character.

    The fact that MG Motor UK only wants to sell 2000 this year means that they have time to get it right before looking for bigger sales. Changing the quality of the plastics (inc. handbrake) can’t be that big a job, can it? We know the essential diesel engine is coming too. Those were Autocar’s two main criticisms and seem similar to Keith’s.

    The point about maintaining momentum is important. This car won’t look good against the next Skoda Octavia and already looks out of date compared to the current Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. That’s just about okay if it’s sold at a competitive price (which it is). However, there’s a very uneasy tightrope to walk between marketing a mildly sporty, premium brand and selling a car to compete with Hyundai and Kia.

    I would be interested to try one out, but I don’t think I would buy one because of the running costs.

  9. Jon says:

    I reckon that it’s lucky for MG that the new Focus is such an ugly creation. The MG5 seems to have a lot of similarities to the current Astra or is that just coincidental?


  10. Kev Davis says:

    I own an MG ZT which has the original version of the MG6’s engine and would like to see how it compares, but I have to say the ZT still looks more ‘meaty’ then the 6.

  11. Hilton Davis says:

    The MG6 does, perhaps, look nicer than the all-new Focus. However, at end of 2009, I saw an earlier (Ford issue) mock up picture of the Focus MK3 which looked really sharp and modern – much nicer, in my opinion, to the actual car Ford has just launched. I do therefore prefer the look of the MG6 – just.

  12. Tim_Burgess Tim Burgess says:

    I am someone who struggles to tell the current Astra, Megane and Focus apart – they all look bland and generic to me. However, I rather like the look of the MG6. I haven’t seen one in the metal yet and I think the saloon will look better balanced, but that’s true of any number of cars.

    It’s this disappointment with the modern cars in my price range – they are, to my mind, bland, overpriced and made from the cheapest materials the makers think they can get away with – which led me to go down the “budget car” route and buy a used Proton Impian followed by an ex-demo Ecologic. Both have exceeded my expectations and provided comfortable, cheap, reliable transport.

    I love the way that we all bang on about interior plactics and I’m convinced that it’s only us anoraks who really notice. I drive a lot of different cars in my job – this week that’s oncluded a Renault Koleos, Skoda Roomster, Honda Civic, Audi A6 and a current VW Polo which were all less than 3 years old.

    Apart from the Audi, I couldn’t put a fag paper between any of them for interior quality. To my eyes the quality of plastics was pretty much a disappointment in all of them – especially the Polo which, at a shade under £10k in base engine and poverty spec trim (according to VW’s website), made my Ecologic (£11,500 top of the range and fully loaded) look top notch.

    I reckon that, if MG Motor UK can get ‘real people’ as opposed to ‘car people’ to have a look at the MG6, most of those in the former category will probably be more than happy with the car as it stands – even more so once there’s a diesel version.

    The real struggle will be to get back folk like me who have become disillusioned with the modern mainstream offerings and gone budget.

  13. Andrew Elphick says:

    Johnos1984 :
    The MG6 seems like a car which everyone wants to love but can’t.


  14. David Dawson says:

    I actually rather like the MG6’s exterior styling. The ‘fastback’ profile and frontal aspect are quite distinctive.

    The interior isn’t bad but why didn’t anyone see the need to make it a tad more distinctive? How about some three M-like touches such as red seatbelts, pinstriping etc?

  15. David Mckenzie says:

    The things that are letting the MG6 down are the engines – no diesel or bigger petrol engine – and no auto either. The MG6 may do well in China but over here there are too many better cars to buy in the same price range. Sorry MG but it’s a case of ‘must do better’. I hope they do…

    By the way, is there a Euro NCAP result yet? I’ve tried to find one but cannot – has the MG6 been tested?

  16. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    @David Mckenzie
    Not as yet – I understand that will happen in the autumn.

  17. Oliver says:

    Let’s be honest here! The MG6 is a car which nobody really needs and which has the appearance of an Austin Ambassador.

    MG was a famous marque but that’s now in the past and I think that we should not revive a marque which has no models worthy of carrying the MG badge. That would also apply to any attempt to revive Daimler or Rover!

    I could live without the MG6!

  18. Dr Bobby Love says:

    Skoda v. MG?

    There’s only one problem here – the Octavia is WELL overdue for replacement. I doubt the MG will be as close a match to the new Czech mid-liner when it arrives – especially if the hype about the next generation Octavia is to be believed.

  19. Evans says:

    The MG6 looks miles better than the Octavia and have you seen the price of it?! I reckon the Octavia seems to be the car which Rover owners would buy – it’s ideal for the older driver.

  20. JH Gillson says:

    The main criticism seems to be the TCI-Tech engine’s lack of refinement and, as we know, the engine is yet another development of a unit which the motoring press was calling ‘venerable’ back in the early Noughties. I always wondered where that left VW whose in line fours date back to the 1970s…

    Anyway, we’re told that there’s turbodiesel next year and did I read there’s also to be a 2-litre petrol turbo? (I live in hope that it’ll be an Oriental T-series, but I suspect I’m going to be disappointed.)

    For those wondering what the point of these ramblings is, I’m not sure myself, except that SAIC Motor isn’t going to go away any time soon, and I wish the company well – if only because I want its European HQ to be at Longbridge, England.

    Oh, and as for MG being a marque of the past, not worthy of reviving, can I just say ‘MINI’?

  21. John says:

    I agree totally. MG is over – this car looks crap.

  22. WarrenL says:

    “‘Different league’, is his reply when it comes to quality.”

    I assume the person concerned meant that the Skoda is better?

    I’m hoping to take a good look at the 6 next time I visit the UK. I don’t see it coming this far south (to New Zealand) any time soon. However, you never know, perhaps some enterprising dealer will take on a franchise. The 75 sold quite well here during the couple of years it was available.

  23. Ianto says:

    A brilliant car – so much more than the sum of its parts. Once there is a diesel-engined estate version of the MG6, it will go onto my list for serious consideration. Absorbing!

  24. KennyG says:

    I think the MG6 should be looked at in the same way as the early Hyundais AND Kias. MG know that it is not up to Focus or Golf standards but they have to start somewhere.

    Let’s hope the car is good enough to bring the brand back into the public eye as being worthwhile. SAIC Motor are here for the long journey so this is the car to lead the way and at least re-establish the brand.

    The next models are the ones to be really interested and will tell us whether SAIC Motor/MG are capable of mixing it with the big boys.

  25. Marty B says:

    GM will be bailing them out next year – just like they had to do with their Korean sweatshop known as Daewoo.

    The next generation Skoda Octavia will be on stream before much longer. However, in any case, the Octavia Mk2B is still selling well – especially the diesel and capacious estate variants – with huge waiting lists and the base 1.4 petrol is now under £11k, has low road tax and reasonable spec.

    The MG6 is dead in the water and the Euro NCAP should have been done before launch. Five months down the line isn’t good enough and, if it fails to get a 5 star rating, they may as well pack up and go back to China because nobody will buy one.

  26. Dennis says:

    The handbrake looks very Citroen-like – wacky in design, but which somehow works. Your comments on the touch and feel aspect of the MG6 suggest that the interior is very Citroen too. Mind you, Citroen still sell lots of cars and makes a profit, so love them or hate them…

    The poor visibility is a feature of modern cars – to make the roof stand up to crush forces they have the make the pillars thick. Look, for example, at the latest Citroen C5 – from the outside the windows look big, from the inside they’re tiny.

    I think that, overall, the 6 looks good, although I don’t know why they insist on using black cars for the adverts as that hides all the black detailing in the mouldings – the lighter coloured cars look much better.

    I’m amused, though, when people just say “it looks crap”, but then the general consensus is that the MG6 looks like this German car or that Ford. Are they therefore saying that all modern cars look crap?

  27. Farmer Myles says:

    I and my two brothers test drove an MG6 last Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised by the car although, as Keith pointed out in his article, there are niggles such as visibility, the handbrake and some cheap looking plastic interior parts, which ruined the overall feeling of a decent car.

    I have not driven a K-Series-engined car for a few years so it was nice to hear a familar engine. My brother was so impressed that he bought an MG6 that day!

    Me? I wish MG well, though I’m not tempted to replace my 75 just yet… I may well reconsider after the MG6 has had couple of years to prove its reliability in day to day running.

    The introduction of a diesel engine and a British Racing Green colour might also help change my mind but, until then, I will continue to enjoy my 75!!

  28. @Marty B
    An article by Mark Hamilton in the Insider section of CAR Magazine, June 2011 suggests that the next generation Skoda Octavia will be launched ‘at the end of 2013’ i.e. as a MY14 model.

    Incidentally, your assertion that ‘GM will be bailing them out next year’ would appear to fly in the face of the facts about SAIC Motor Corporation Limited’s profits and sales figures as reported on AROnline’s News pages… SAIC Motor is the Chinese Automotive Industry’s No.1 OEM and currently ranks No.8 in the world.

  29. Steve says:

    The MG6 may not be as accomplished as the Octavia, but bear in mind that this is the first car from a (to all intents and purposes) brand new car company.

    The interior quality isn’t up with the best, but it’s close enough. Thick pillars are commonplace (even my ZT has them). The price is good and the driving experience is very good. I’m sure most people could happily live with one.

    I reckon that, for a first effort, it’s outstanding.

  30. Phil Simpson says:

    How about this for a Skoda comparison?

    The first car Skoda made after making cars long past their sell by date for years was the Favorit. That was keenly priced, had a tweaked version of the venerable unit from its rear-engined antecedents but still blew head gaskets at alarming rates (something that, I understand, has been resolved in the SAIC’s case) and had dreadful plastics.

    However, look where Skoda are now!

  31. James Riley James says:

    Well, to be fair to Skoda, their Favorit and Felicia ranges were probably more reliable than anything Rover threw out right up until 2005.

    I’ve had a number of each of those models, have never suffered any head gasket problems and all of them have racked up well over 100,000 miles without missing a beat. The Felicia was WhatCar’s best budget car for 6 years in a row and it cost less than a Fiesta. This is why Skoda is now one of the most respected manufacturers because they took time to get it right with those cars which is why they can now attract serious attention with cars that are no longer cheap, style-less or budget priced.

    Skoda has never sold as many cars as the company does now. Quality will see many manufacturers through difficult times and MG is no exception.

  32. Glenn Aylett says:

    The MG6’s not bad, but it’s not something that Ford will lose any sleep over. However, I reckon that, with a better interior – including a replacement for that stupid handbrake – and TDi engine, the MG6 could catch on and might perhaps scare the likes of Hyundai and Kia.

    The MG6 deserves to do well if it proves to be a reliable car with keen pricing and MG Motor UK appoints good Dealers.

  33. James Riley James says:

    Steve :
    I reckon that, for a first effort, it’s outstanding.

    I agree, but many people will not respect the fact that SAIC Motor/MG is actually a new car company because it really isn’t. Everyone knows that MG Motor UK is, in effect, a reincarnation of MG Rover which has been on ice for 6 years. Indeed, as someone else said, had the 6 appeared in 2005 when it should have done, it would have blown a great many people away, but it is now in danger of looking outclassed and outdated before many people will ever see one.

    I want to believe that the MG6’s a great effort, but it’s a struggle to justify why anyone would buy one aside from any brand loyalty. However, thankfully they have low sales expectations and it’s probably recognised as more of a pre-cursor to better things with the MG3 and MG5 but will the public see it that way?

  34. David Dawson says:

    @David Mckenzie
    The MG6’s launch is only intended to be a soft, slow one. I think the MG6 has more than enough appeal to achieve the modest sales targets which have been set. Just think how sales could grow with an R8-style expansion of the range…

    Why wasn’t it launched earlier though? A long time seems to have passed since I first saw pictures of the finalised, production-ready car.

  35. Alex Scott says:

    An interesting article, Keith. I guess the MG6’s shape is starting to grow on me and it certainly looks better in some colours than others.

    Your comparison with the Skoda is interesting but I wonder how you would compare it with, say, a Hyundai or Kia, which I think is where the real competition may be – especially as those cars are now quite nicely styled and well finished but perhaps they are dearer in the UK.

    However, where I think MG need to focus (including a good quality trim) is on attempting to recapture the hype of the Triumph Dolomite Sprint or, in my life time, the Rover 827 Vitesse (which I loved) and it sounds like the MG6 might be on the way to that.

    Keith, what do you think about comparing the MG6 to the 827 Vitesse (which also had marginal trim in some areas, great seats and was quiet and comfortable yet nicely sporting)?

    Anyway, I wish everyone at MG Birmingham well – I think they might pull it off.


  36. Alex Scott says:

    Incidentally, visibility is a problem in many new cars inlcuding the Subaru Legacy. I like getting back in my own 1995 Disco and Jaguar XJ40 because I can see what is going on. The Jaguar may be 5 metres long but it’s easier to park than the shorter Legacy.


  37. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    The handbrake isn’t Citroën-like, but Renault have a similar design and it’s similarly disliked by many people!

    I want to expand on what I thought of the MG6 – particularly the tactile qualities of the car – and I should really drive one sometime. I’ve found that the A47 has some lovely fast bits, so I know where I can put something through its paces locally and get a feel for it. However, showroom appeal is what will make or break many cars.

    The build quality of the interior is an interesting one. I commented to Keith (whilst prodding the rear door trims and remembering the way the last Primera visibly got cheaper in the back half of the car), it feels like the engineering, the way the design has been translated into a production reality, is a bit cheap – too many individual components of similarly hard plastics – but it’s well screwed together.

    The blade shaped-and-painted-chrome-plastic door pulls reminded me strongly of the Toyota Auris – a car I wanted so badly to like given how awesome Border Toyota of St. Boswells (shameless plug) were with my Sera/MR2. The Auris, when you twisted the door pull, separated leaving a sharp edge between the painted chrome cover and back grip. The MG6 did not.

    The tactile qualities of the interior aren’t well thought out and there are too many individual parts for a long-term, noise-free existence, but it wasn’t put together badly. The plastic quality was on par with the non-tactile elements of the C3, but this extended to the dash as well where I’d like to see higher quality materials.

    The pricing is where I feel this car will struggle, regardless of engine. I am not referring to the list price – my C3 Airdream has a list price of £15,510 and is a smaller car with considerably less equipment. The issue is that, on contract hire, the C3 ranges from £150-£250/month depending on the offers around. MG needs to put these cars out at £199/month PCP to compete effectively in the market – no third-party firm is going to offer those sort of figures and realistically they’re not producing the volume to discount the cars enough.

    The paint finish and solidity of the body really couldn’t be faulted.

    The key-start thingy is horrid, in every sense. Material, design, application, feel – it’s a flimsy, nasty thing and is a heinous error in the first tactile part of the car you interact with – when the salesman hands it to you, it’s like a clammy limp handshake when you want a firm, confident greeting. This is car design 101 stuff and an unforgivable error on the part of the Marketing Department.

    The cabin design is not to my taste – the driving position is too low, the waistline too high, dashboard/scuttle WAY too high. I like low scuttle with low instruments – if the car is low I want the dials between my knees, rather than having to peer at the world OVER the dash. However, the electric seats, a big footwell and nice pedal and wheel placement are all pluses. The MG6 feels like it would be comfortable on long trips.

    The pillars have tried the VW Beetle trick of being “flatter”, so the driver’s side one is obtrusive, but not unusually so, whereas the passenger one is horrific. Indeed, if anyone’s coming out of a side road you won’t see them – that’s fine for car safety where the assumption is that people will give way, but for pedestrian safety it’s pretty worrying.

    The body engineering looks less heavy than the GM Insignia, but you do get the impression that the poor showing of China Brilliance’s short-lived appearance in Europe and Euro-NCAP is pushing SAIC to err on the side of caution.

    The skin of the in-car satnav looks, regrettably, like a cheap Chinese “anything electronic”, be it those smartphones that look like iPhones and run Windows CE or the sub-£300 double-DIN DVD/MP3/Nav things which look like Kenwood DNXs until you switch them on.

    Actually, as with those products, I want to go and find the developers and persuade them that shedding the ability to play a few formats in exchange for a high bit-depth and shading on their skins will make the product LOOK much higher quality. I believe that, if MG Motor UK sat down and spent a week developing a new interface for what is undoubtedly a powerful telematics computer, it would look 10x better.

    The MG6’s not been rushed out. It’s a core misunderstanding of how a product is perceived and it’s a product of being developed in a marketplace where there’s very little competition. Think about how an Atari ST/GEM desktop interface looks compared to Susan Kare tweak’s original Mac interface (which originally looked very like VisiOn/GEM, derived as it was from the Lisa). It’s the same basic thing – if you hadn’t seen a Mac, you’d think GEM was awesome (and many people did).

    I do see the MG6’s natural competition coming from the Skoda Octavia and, based on Keith’s description of how it drives, my experience of VAG and the Octavia’s interior (I’ve only driven the older Octavia though), they’re two different animals. The Octavia isn’t rewarding to drive as it’s got that wooden, stodgy feel that typifies VW (and I expect the newer ones also have the evil ESP system which appeared to be all that kept my New Beetle going in a straight line).

    However, as an ownership and driving environment proposition, I’m an Octavia buyer despite my fondness for a decent chassis. I can, though, see people who want an Octavia-class car for that budget, who are happier with a more imposing interior design and want a good amount of chassis feedback being happy with the MG.

    I think the Government should be encouraging UK-produced procurement for Police forces – even if it’s a case of exchanging cuts for manufacturing job security. The MG6 is a perfectly good Panda car with a good boot, decent performance and, in fairness not shocking economy based on Keith’s figures – though bad in comparison to a diesel one. I reckon that, for a 160hp turbo car of that weight, it’s doing pretty well!

    The Jaguar XF is surely an excellent high-speed/motorway patrol vehicle – why do we see so many BMWs? It’s not like a grey XF would be any less distinctive than a grey 5-Series as an unmarked car…

  38. Jeff says:

    I saw an MG6 at a local MG Dealers the other day – it was next to a Mitsubishi something or other which was the same size.

    I was surprised by how similar they look. I was taken aback by the small size of the windows on the MG and how dingy it looks inside. I imagine there will be a limited market for this if it achieves a good rating on the Euro-NCAP. I was surprised to read that had not been done. I guess the British design will help here as, historically, Chinese cars have failed miserably.

  39. DaveH says:

    I find the Autocar report quite funny as MSN Cars , which normally slags off anything which is not German, gave it a reasonable review.

    I’ve not seen an MG6 on the road yet but the adverts hide those dumpy looks well. I just hope that the MG6 is a success for Longbridge’s sake as that will convince the Chinese to invest and create more jobs!

  40. Hilton Davis says:

    “The MG6 seems like a car which everyone wants to love but can’t.”

    I suspect that a reason for this opinion is perhaps that many of us want to believe the new car is still a product of MG Rover, rather than SAIC/NAC because it is still built (assembled) at Longbridge. Maybe we need to keep looking forward, not back?

  41. Antony Waltho says:

    I think everyone should take a deep breath and remember to be thankful that there is still something left, albeit owned by overseas interests, of our glory days of Austin and Morris, Riley and Wolseley, Rover and Triumph and the many, many companies which built up Britain in the 20th Century.

    The fact is it IS an MG and the future of this marque looks promising. The average car buyer is what MG are needing and it will be these new owners who will give a verdict on MG, not us, the diehards of the old days.

    I just wish BMW would recognise that there is a market for a price-competitive, sub-executive marque, as in 5-Series size but premier-price Ford cost. This is exactly what Triumph targeted in the 1960s and 1970s. The same buyers still exist today driving low spec 3-Series or uprated Mondeos, but they could be driving today’s version of a Dolomite Sprint or 2500PI Saloon or Estate…

    I think the new MG is designed for its market and let us hope they succeed.

  42. Merlin Milner says:

    You need to go to Specsavers if you think that the MG6 looks like an Austin Ambassador or are you trying to be amusing?

  43. @Antony Waltho
    You say: “I just wish BMW would recognise that there is a market for a price-competitive, sub-executive marque, as in 5-Series size but premier-price Ford cost.”

    That’s a valid point – had the BMW Group pitched Rover as a Tier 3 Premium/Luxury brand (BMW being a Tier 2 Prestige/Sports player) and been totally committed to that strategy, Rover might have developed into a Volkswagen competitor and a contemporary three or four model range might be in the showrooms today…

  44. DaveH says:

    @Dr Bobby Love
    The new Octavia looks set to be downsized, if the images floating round the internet are to go by, as Skoda think the current Octavia is too close in size to the Superb!

  45. Richard says:

    Well, if MG Motor is a reincarnation of MG Rover then the game’s up before it’s even begun. The slightest whiff of the incompetence and stupidity of the MG Rover years will deter buyers and ensure the marque’s demise for all time.

    However, I am not so dismissive of this company and its plans. Yes, there are issues about quality (handbrake, key fob etc.) which I hope will be addressed as things go on, but I don’t think the 6 feels hopelessly outclassed against the competition. I hope that MG will pursue a policy of continuous improvement and that many of the issues raised here and elsewhere will be dealt with in due course.

    Looking at what’s coming down the line from MG, I can’t help but think that the 6 is destined to be a relatively shortlived model and that its main job is to re-establish MG here. All things being equal, there’ll be an MG3, MG5 and MG7 in a few years time, each sitting in its proper market sector.

    Likes and dislikes are a very subjective matter. I like Skoda quality but don’t like the looks of the current Octavia, so the 6 beats it hands down for me on that score. I have driven several Golfs over the years and, whilst they were solid, I always came away thinking of them as rather dull. The same goes for the Polo.

    Equally, I never liked the Rover 75. I drove a few of them and had one for a while. However, although it was well made, that never quite compensated for its looks or the fact that it made me feel as though I should be wearing driving gloves and voting for Harold MacMillan. Frankly, after exchanging my 600 for a 75, I felt I was stepping back fifty years into a Wolseley.

    Oh, and speaking of the 1950s, I was driving into Milton Keynes today and came up behind a Magnette Varitone. It looked to be in pristine condition and quite took my eye until I noticed a red MG6 in front of it. I guess it was a publicity exercise but both cars looked great.

  46. John says:

    I can’t help but feel that, if it wasn’t for the fact that the MG6 is lightly finished in Longbridge and wears a badge which still commands a lot of respect, this car’s launch would have passed by unnoticed. It’s all a little humiliating really.

  47. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    You’re right, the badge makes all the difference from a marketing perspective. However, the car was also engineered at Longbridge, with input from some ex-MGR people, so there is real ‘old’ Rover Group DNA in there.

  48. Dennis says:

    @Richard Kilpatrick
    I meant it is Citroen-like in the sense that it’s a wacky design – think back before they were forced to use their parent’s switch gear.

    Let’s take the Visa – that had a wacky column-mounted rotary multifunction switch which looked cool, but felt as though it would break the first time you used it.

  49. Dr Bobby Love says:

    DaveH :
    @Dr Bobby Love
    The new Octavia looks set to be downsized, if the images floating round the internet are to go by, as Skoda think the current Octavia is too close in size to the Superb!

    I’m assuming your referring to the Vision D Concept. Skoda have announced that they will be bringing new models on stream over the next few years, one of which will be a Golf-sized competitor. They’ve also said the next Octavia will share the Vision D’s styling cues but I’ve not read anywhere that the Golf-sized model they’ve announced will replace the Octavia…

    They’re also supposed to be bringing out a new sports model (an up to date Rapid?) as well as their own version of VW’s Up platform for city cars – it’s all go for Skoda. I get the feeling MG have aimed for a target that’s about to get away. Perhaps MG can fill the space Skoda seem set to leave as they expand?

  50. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    Dennis :
    @Richard Kilpatrick

    I meant it is Citroen-like in the sense that it’s a wacky design – think back before they were forced to use their parent’s switch gear.

    Let’s take the Visa – that had a wacky column-mounted rotary multifunction switch which looked cool, but felt as though it would break the first time you used it.

    PRN controls are not “wacky”, they make a lot of sense and function differently to stalks. Likewise Citroën’s “wacky” handbrakes were either entirely normal (umbrella handbrake on a car designed pre-war, foot operated parking brake on the XM) or entirely contemporary with the W124 E-class and American cars (GSA’s parking handle).

    Mazda and Renault are two companies with what I’d call a “wacky” handbrake – I think Vauxhall have something daft on the Zafira too. On HP Citroëns the parking brake was also a true emergency brake, acting on the front wheels – so the XM’s foot operated one and GS’ robust handle made a lot of sense. I had to use the XM one once!

    I know what you’re getting at, but I think it’s really wrong to confuse Citroën’s functionally different designs with entirely conventional solutions which just look daft for the sake of it. 😉

  51. Nick, Vienna says:

    The MG6 looks far too Chinese for my taste and, reading Keith’s review, it obviously feels so (gearknob, keys, handbrake etc.) I doubt that it will stand a chance against Europe’s well-established C-segment lineup.

  52. Dan says:

    Well, as the owner of an Austin Ambassador for the past 3 years, that’s not what springs to mind looking at the MG6. A Lexus IS on the other hand? Anyone? Superficially at least, perhaps a flattering comparison given the market Lexus aims at.

  53. DaveH says:

    @Dr Bobby Love
    One of our former students at the college’s dad works for Ford at Dunton and he heard the rumour via a friend, who works for a respectable design house, whilst attending this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

  54. Hilton Davis says:

    I notice that MG are describing the 6 as an MG6 GT rather than just MG6 or MG6 Fastback in the current advertising campaign…

  55. DaveH says:

    @Richard Kilpatrick
    What about the Ford Kuga’s handbrake – now that’s weird!

  56. DaveH says:

    @Hilton Davis
    That was announced on here a few weeks ago.

  57. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    DaveH :
    @Richard Kilpatrick
    What about the Ford Kuga’s handbrake – now that’s weird!

    Actually, apart from the one which keeps partially blocking our drive, I’ve managed to remain blissfully unaware of the details of the Ford Kuga. I think it is a figment of the imagination of school-run mums and doesn’t really exist.

  58. MattH says:

    Have they fitted taller gearing? 70mph@2500rpm – that sounds like “diesel level” tallness and might go some way to explain the blunted performance.

    I seem to remember that my ZT 160 1.8T revved closer to 4000rpm at 70mph. It’s been a few years, though – my memory could be playing tricks, but I am pretty sure that it was more that 2500rpm…

  59. Starbug2 says:

    I’ve seen the MG6 and even been in one -it has a very big boot it and the handbrake is odd but time will tell whether that is a problem. I wouldn’t mind having a drive in one…

    Anyway, as for the looks, well at least you know what it is and it is growing on me. The inside is very modern but the big question is what is it like to drive?

    Would I buy one IF I had the money (which I don’t)? Well, it has lots of MG Rover DNA and it is the start of more to come from Longbridge – I would consider it but think I would prefer a diesel…

  60. DaveH says:

    @Richard Kilpatrick
    Yep, I know what you mean – the Kuga’s blinkin’ awlful car. A friend has one and the ride is horrible. Here’s a link to a Wikipedia image which shows that the MG6’s handbrake is a near copy of the Kuga’s.

  61. Dennis says:

    @Richard Kilpatrick
    No, I agree, the Citroens had sound ideas. I have the use of two in addition to my Rover Mini (a Xantia and a C5).

    The handbrake operating on the front wheels is indeed a good idea (so long as you remember this when jacking it up). Foot operated parking brakes are a great idea on automatics, but terrible on manuals – try doing a steep hill start with one while attempting to operate the clutch!

    Some MPVs don’t even have a lever anymore – Merivas and Scenics have automatic ones. You stop, put the park brake on, you drive off and that releases it. You just have a button to override it when you want to. However, I can’t see how it could act as a secondary brake system.

    Let’s therefore say ‘different’ rather than ‘wacky’.

  62. Steve says:

    My 1990 Skoda Favorit was by far the worst car I ever owned. Just about everything broke – at four years old it had had a headgasket, TWO brake servos, a brake caliper, a small amount of welding to pass its MOT and many, many more issues, such as relays packing up left, right and centre.

    However, every Rover product I’ve owned (at least five over the years) has been perfectly reliable and very well made…

  63. Simon says:

    I am bemused that certain motoring magazines have been highlighting the predicted residual values of the MG6. Indeed, one has suggested that the MG6’s residual value may be as low as 25 per cent after 3 years – that would make a base model worth just £4000. Anyway, they are basically saying buy a Focus or Golf because they will retain 30 per cent plus if I am reading them correctly.

    However, the same argument could be made for any new car purchase. A BMW 3 Series, for example, costing £30,000 will only be worth £12,000 after 3 years – a huge £18,000 loss – twice as much in real hard cash as the MG6. Ironically, in the same issue, the magazine suggests buying a 6 year old Porsche Boxster for £12,000 pound against a new price of £40,000 – again a huge loss of £28,000 in 6 years – but, when they road test a Boxster, they don’t say don’t buy this car because you will lose £28,000!!

    I reckon that’s total hypocracy and that the magazines concerned are again just picking on MG when all new cars lose huge sums of money.

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