MG : MGLive! Show report

The annual big MG bash, MGLive! returned to Silverstone this weekend. With thousands of visitors expected over the weekend, AROnline sent Contributor Adam Sloman to get the low-down on what many see as the MG event of 2010.  

The first competition MG6 in the world

Organised by the MG Car Club, MGLive! is one of the biggest events of its kind and a must for any MG fan. With onsite camping, show and shine, an autojumble and a full race meeting programme over two days, MGLive! certainly offers great value for money. 

This year’s event had an exciting extra dimension, as the MG6 was shown to the public for the first time. This was the first opportunity for potential punters to get up close and personal with the new MG, with a trio of 6s to sample. A silver 6 was on display in Abingdon Plaza for people to sit in and paw over, while members of MG’s development team were on hand to tackle questions from visitors. I took the opportunity to speak to MG fans and ask them exactly what they made of the car, after seeing it in the metal for the first time. 

Paul Healey, Nuneaton: 

“I own an MGF. It’s quite pleasing to the eye, but it needs an edge. It’s very similar to everything else out there, it’s just an ordinary car.” 

Graham Ford, Trowbridge: 

“I’m on my third ZR, I’m a big MG fan. This is much better than I expected – you know what people say about Chinese quality, but this is good. The driving position is spot-on, the seats are so comfy, no need to adjust anything. I’m seriously thinking about getting one, but I want a diesel.” 

Pete De Jong, The Netherlands: 

“To start with I didn’t like it but it’s growing on me. It needs a bodykit, or the option for one, to make it more like the ZS, which I think was a great car and the best MG-Rover built.” 

Steve and Michelle Robinson, London: 

“We own a ZR. I don’t think it’s the right car for MG. The silver colour doesn’t help, from a distance it could be any car.”  

Michelle adds 

“Some of the finish is a bit plasticky. It’s more Rover than MG, it’s not my ZR. It’s not racey enough. Having said that, it’s brilliant to see MG back with a new car.” 

Hugh Turner, Newton Poppleford: 

“It’s not a bad car. I still think it’s a shame the Chinese had to get involved. I’m not sure I’d trade it in for my diesel SEAT – I think I’ll stick to my Midget.” 

The new, UK-spec boot spoiler

An orange 6 was also run around the famous circuit, giving those there for the racing a chance to see the all important model. Over at the Stowe sprint circuit, MG chassis guru Andy Kitson was giving a third 6 its international motorsport competition debut, competing against MGs both classic and modern. MG’s reputation has, in large part, been built on its motorsport success and this was a chance to demonstrate that the new car deserves the famous badge. Wearing number 86, the 6 in question featured the full UK chassis set-up, as reviewed so positively by weekly car magazine Autocar.  

Sadly, things didn’t go quite to plan and, after just one brief lap, the car was forced to retire with a minor mechanical issue. With the 6 recovered, I was able to grab a few minutes with Andy and ask him a few questions, about the car, why it had retired and how things were progressing towards launch. ‘It’s a minor problem’ he said, not confirming if the turbo had, as rumoured, failed. ‘That’s motorsport. It’s a development car and these things happen.’ 

Andy’s 6 sported a new rear boot lip spoiler, which he confirmed will be standard on all UK-spec cars. ‘We’re still carrying out minor development work on the car – things have moved on since Autocar drove this particular 6.’

I also took the opportunity to ask Andy how the 6 might compare to other new cars, such as Alfa’s forthcoming Giulietta, which is being hailed as the latest benchmark for handling in the C-segment: ‘Well, I can say that we used the 159 as part of our benchmarking process, along with the Mazda 6 and the Ford Focus. Obviously I’ve not had chance to drive the Giulietta, but if you compare the rear suspension set ups on both cars, you’ll see that they’re remarkably similar. However, we were there first!’ 

Classic Midget won many admiring glances

Away from the new cars, there was a wonderful mix of all things MG, from the earliest pre-war cars right through to the last-of-the line ZT V8s, with both moderns and classics fighting it out for honours in the Concours and Pride Of Ownership competitions. There were a few absentees though, with the 80’s triple M cars in particular poorly represented on the Sunday.

There was a full race programme across the weekend and, with 16 different races from the MGCC Metro Cup through to the MG Midget Challenge and Aero Racing Morgan Challenge, there was plenty of variety out on track. Terry Grant’s awe-inspiring Stunt Show wowed visitors in the X-Treme Arena, as did the X-Treme Motorcycle Stunt Trials Display Team. With so much to see and do it was clear just how hard the organisers, many of them volunteers, had worked, and without a doubt MGLive! 2010 was a great success. 

It’s a pity the MG6’s competition debut was cut short. However, the presence of the three pre-production cars was a positive showing from MG Motor UK and one that underlines the company’s commitment not only to new cars and new customers, but to the community that has supported MG for the last 85 years. 

MG BGT is still a capable competitor.

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28 Comments on "MG : MGLive! Show report"

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  1. Dave R says:

    Needs some sort of a bodykit for me. Could easily be a Rover (or Roewe?). Needs a ZS style rear spoiler, big side skirts and a more agressive front look as well. Good to see them back though. Good for the UK car industry and it will be great to see cars churning out of Longbridge again.

  2. Joe Strong says:

    It’s the start of a long road back. The car looks OK to me and I will try one out when they are available.

    I suggest that SAIC Motor get chummy with Peugeot and fit the MG6 with the PSA/Ford 1.6 HDi 110 as near to the launch as possible.

    I’m from Halesowen and would jump at the chance to drive a Birmingham-built car every day – I’ve always felt a bit ashamed at buying foreign cars.

  3. Dennis says:

    Joe Strong :

    It’s the start of a long road back. The car looks OK to me and I will try one out when they are available.

    I suggest that SAIC Motor get chummy with Peugeot and fit the MG6 with the PSA/Ford 1.6 HDi 110 as near to the launch as possible.

    I’m from Halesowen and would jump at the chance to drive a Birmingham-built car every day – I’ve always felt a bit ashamed at buying foreign cars.

    Yeah, but there’s the stigma of having a Dagenham (Essex) built engine! (joke)

  4. Dennis says:

    Dave R :Needs some sort of a bodykit for me. Could easily be a Rover (or Roewe?). Needs a ZS style rear spoiler, big side skirts and a more agressive front look as well. Good to see them back though. Good for the UK car industry and it will be great to see cars churning out of Longbridge again.

    Manufacturers love selling options – they make more money on them than they do on the cars – so I expect that there will, at least, be a choice of spoilers!

  5. DaveH says:

    Get chummy with PSA and get a 1.6 HDi, Joe? Do you know that Peugeot actually “buy” engines from Dagenham because they are made of better quality than those from their own factories! The 1.6 would be a bit underpowered for a car of the MG6’s size, not enough torque. Maybe the 2.0 would be better.

  6. Mike Barrett says:

    The MG6 is a nice car but, for me, I need a diesel and an automatic as well as a far better interior with wood and leather.

    I would buy one if there is a version with this spec but, if there isn’t, then I would go for a Vauxhall Insignia Elite Estate with beige leather/wood next time – my current car is a Rover 75 Estate Diesel Automatic with leather (and contrasting piping).

  7. Mike Barrett says:

    Perhaps you wonder why we buy Diesels with Automatic – this comment needs to be passed on top the factory – it has nothing to do with fuel economy, it has everything to do with Torque with a capital ‘T’.

    This combination creates a feeling like an American V8 without the excessive fuel comsumption. My Rover does 34 mpg – if you take a sensible fuel cost of £3.00 a gallon, that’s equivalent to 17 mpg which is just about affordable (if you halve the nominal cost of fuel you halve the mpg).

    You therefore have a car which just drifts along in the same way that you get when you visit the USA and hire one of their big-engined cars.

  8. DaveH says:

    Well, MSN cars think the MG6’s got big potential:
    http://cars.uk.msn.com/reviews/articles.aspx?cp-documentid=153704094

  9. DaveH says:

    @Mike Barrett
    I don’t have an auto but my Volvo S60 D5 2.4 has so much torque I hardly change gear and I get 40 to the gallon around town.

  10. Ian says:

    Here comes MG! (not monosodium glutomate) … looks a bit like a Prius, but I’m sure it will have more grunt.

  11. Jonno says:

    OMG!

    I just love this car – it looks amazing in black!

    I am sure this will be a massive success when it goes on sale, much better than foreign crap any day.

    Good old Longbridge!!

  12. Doug says:

    The PSA 1.6 HDi 110 engine has nowhere near enough grunt. Driving a 6 with that lump under the bonnet would be like driving an old Rover 2400SD.

    I reckon that, if MG Motor want to buy in a diesel engine, then they’d do better to buy in either the 2.2 PSA/LR unit thats currently doing sterling service in the Freelander 2 or a Ford Duratorq unit with a decent power output.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think the 6 is a good-looking car and, as long as MG don’t get ideas above their station and price the car right, then they should do well with it.

    They need to realise that their prices for the re-launched TF range were way too high £16,000?! It was at least £2500 too dear.

  13. Joe Strong says:

    Thanks for all the comments about the 1.6 HDi. The point I’m making is that to sell the MG6 they need as few barriers as possible and the lack of a diesel engine WILL be a barrier.

    I mentioned that particular engine as I drove a 407SW for 60k miles with one and never found it badly under torqued and living in austere times having a frugal option will be a selling point.

    The 2.2 HDi? No chance, noisy, shakey and thirsty too, even if it has got lots of torque and power (yes, I’ve got one in a 407SW GT).

  14. Dennis says:

    I don’t find my Dad’s C5 with the 2.2 HDi unrefined at all – it goes like stink and the fuel economy is still around 50mpg when driven hard. That’s not exactly what I’d call thirsty – it gives nearer 60 on a relaxed long motorway run. It has a slightly clattery top end when you REALLY boot it, but a Honda VTEC does that when you floor it too and no one says they’re unrefined. An 170bhp diesel would really make the MG6 shift.

    It’s true PSA do build a lot of their diesel units at Dagenham, mainly just because of the economies of scale though. They supply them to LR, Ford, BMW (MINI) and all the PSA factories so it makes sense to build them somehwere in the middle.

    I always found the old Ford diesels were like my mate’s Fordson tractor… most of the modern Dagenham diesels are derived from PSA designs.

    Funny though you see comments in the press about Pug/Citroens with the 2.2 (DW12) being bad, but you don’t hear the same thing about the Mondeo with the same lump from the same production line.

    I suspect the Journos in question are writing their comments having never actually driven one – it’s not unusual for articles to be written based on guestimates. I reckon they just base their comments on having driven something with the old 2.1 diesel used in the XM etc, which was all those things!

  15. Mike C says:

    The Dagenham plant is a purely Ford operation – they have a joint venture with Peugeot, so some engines are made in France, others at Dagenham, and indeed the design is divided between the 2 companies too. The very good V6 and V8 engines are naturally led by the British side.

    However, as for the MG6, it’s not very MGish to me, but rather a pleasant, if slightly dull, hatchback. It looks like the ‘Austin’ version.

  16. Dennis says:

    Indeed, Dagenham is a Ford plant and, although the engines are a ‘joint development’, most of the 4 cyl engines they make as part of the joint venture are derived from PSA designs rather than the Ford ones. 4 Cyl HDi engines make up the bulk of their production volumes.

    PSA also have petrol engines made at BMW Hams Hall, which are shared with BMW MINIs although there is a capability in both the Ford and BMW ventures to bring in engines from French plants when demand dictates it. That, for example, makes it more difficult for a strike at one plant to cripple production. You could therefore buy a Mondeo with a French-built engine and a Peugeot with a British-built engine.

    Interestingly, the Jaguar X-TYPE with the 2.2 diesel didn’t use the PSA DW12 at all – it used the Ford-derived 2.2 from the Transit/Defender which in my opinion is a MUCH harsher engine. I wonder if someone drove and X-TYPE without realising that it’s completely unrelated to the PSA unit…

  17. Dennis says:

    Mike C :
    However, as for the MG6, it’s not very MGish to me, but rather a pleasant, if slightly dull, hatchback. It looks like the ‘Austin’ version.

    I guess, though, the thing is that Audi, for example, sell some very dull looking cars, but sell lots of them! Personally, I think the Mondeo is pretty dull looking too, but Ford sell them by the ship load.

  18. Hilton says:

    The new MG6 looks a bit like a Proton GEN2 in profile and the rear lights look like those of a Lexus IS or Mazda6. Having said that, it’s a step in the right direction and I look forward to them being available in the UK. MG Motor will need to ensure the engines deliver as much power as the competitors.

  19. Richard Fleming says:

    I’ve driven my mate’s 2002 Mondeo with the 2.0 diesel engine in and, to be honest, it’s no more powerful than my little 200 which, by the way, is a 1.4 16v with 105 bhp as standard – not bad for a Rover!

  20. Mike Barrett says:

    Further to my two previous entries, I am a member of the Transport Group that advises one of the political parties currently in Government.

    Every one does assume that we have a God-given right to manufacture cars in the West Midlands and are dissappointed when that does not happen. The problem we are faced with is our location and railway transport links to Central Europe which is the main car market – without these links nothing is going to happen we are just in the wrong place.

    Part of the policy that should be progessed is a large loading gauge UIC freight carrying railway from the Midlands and Liverpool to the Channel Tunnel. I don’t think people realise how energy saving railways are – you can carry 10 tonnes of goods for the save energy cost of one tonne by road.

    The other thing that Governments should do is to encourage the building of electric and range-extended cars, such as the the Chevy Volt/Vauxhall Ampera, as it is a concept that is starting from scratch. However, this is not a new concept as it is only the Diesel-electric system that has been used on the railways for years – all the concepts used are used by trains.

    I am not surprised that GM are the first to produce these vehicles as they have built the class 66 locomotive that is the standard European freight locomotive that hauls the great majority of railway freight traffic in the UK.

    If you make something different to offset the difficult location of the UK then you begin to talk some sense, but there is no future in trying to build something here in the UK that can be built far more cheaply in countries of the former Third World.

  21. Mike Barrett says:

    Useful web site addresses:-
    http://www.central-railway.co.uk the freight railway
    http://www.wikpedia.org/wiki/EMD_series66 Electro-Motive-Diesel JF42CWR class 66 the frieght locomotive.

    What has shocked everyone is the fact that Oxford is not being considered for the MINI-Metro/BMW I-Setta on the grounds of location and lack of transport links – this contract has gone to Leipzig.

    It’s a wake up call to do something about our Transport Planning in this country – which is, quite frankly, shocking, long drawn out and lacks direction.

  22. Dennis says:

    I think the bulk of the problem is nimbyism. There seems to be far too much weight given to trying to make nimbies happy – if you want to build a railway line past or through someone’s back garden they’re never going to be happy about it, but sometimes we ‘need’ these things.

    There should be some sort of act passed that allows for truly needed projects to be just built. No one, for example, wants a rubbish incinerator near their house or a nuclear power station, but the same people would expect their rubbish to be collected every time they put it out and their lights to stay on.

    Back in the good old days, I always used to see train loads of Rovers at Dollands Moor, waiting for their tunnel slot at night. How did they get down here from Midlands?

  23. Mike Barrett says:

    The trains from Birmingham to the Channel Tunnel that carried Rover cars to Italy were on special wagons that were built for Britain with a smaller cross section.

    What needs to be done is to get the full-sized international wagons to the centre of England. The route currently used is via either the North London line or via Redhill and Reading – one is like driving through Central London and the other going round the M25 – both routes are full to capacity.

  24. DaveH says:

    Ford have used Peugeot designs since the late 70s with the old 1.8 being a Peugeot unit manufactured under license from PSA – this was a rather gruff unit but had great reliabilty. Peugeot developed this engine further with a new head design throughout the 80s, but Ford did not see a need for an improved Diesel unit.

    The irony is that, in the 90s, Ford developed the 1.8 into a competent engine – the 1.8 TDCi unit which, in development mode, had 200 bhp with huge torque. The trouble was they could not build a gearbox strong enough to take the torque – they used a Escort Cosworth ‘box but that shread its cogs!

    The joint engine design is based both at Peugeot and Ford’s design centres – Ford’s being at their engine design centre of excellence at Dunton. The V6 (or Lion as it’s called at Ford) is a joint design with equal input, while the V8 was a Ford expansion on the same unit.

  25. Michael says:

    It is a great car but the MG ZS was far more in character with MG, it is more a Rover replacement. Should be brought in as Austin, Nanjing concept were more MG material. But good to see MG Return to its home.

  26. David Witham says:

    I was standing in the pit lane waiting for my next run when the MG6 flew past and then let out white smoke on the overrun as it braked for the next corner. Turbo oil seals was the popular diagnosis.

    MG Live was great as usual.

  27. Dolomitefan says:

    It’s worth pointing out that Andy’s Black car sported the Euro spec interior which had much nicer and thicker seats and nicer dials than the Chinese spec Silver car on display.

    I have to say I was a sceptic when I first saw the car but it has really grown on me. Of course MG saloons have always been based on someone else’s design but I think this looks pretty good. First impressions on fit and finish and perceived quality were pretty good with the car seeming to at least meet the best Japanese cars in the similar market. It’s not got an Audi type finish to it but then that’s not the point and it won’t be priced like one either. For a “First Go” car from a manufactuer just seriously thinking about Europe you have to admire it, certainily streets ahead of the rubbish that Kia and Hyundai bought over here when they were starting up and arguably better than what they produce now! People used to have issues with these S Korean cars and now they sell loads. The Chinese invasion is logical and inevitable. No they won’t steal truck loads of sales from Ford, GM and VW but they could well be seen as a good deal, particularly amongst private buyers.

    Only real concern is the size, neither Focus class or Mondeo class in size. The trend is towards smaller cars these days, I guess in time a new mid sized car will appear as it already has in China.

    Just need a decent diesel now and i’d seriously consider purchasing one of these 6’s. The turbo 1.8 is not going to be particularly competitive on emissions and fuel consumption I wouldn’t imagaine.

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