MG6 : Caught testing… with a twist

Keith Adams

MG6 front-end styling combines well with saloon rear

MG6 front-end styling combines well with saloon rear

Thanks to the efforts of eagle-eyed AROnline reader Nigel Ribbons, we now know that the MG6 is being tested in the UK in saloon form, as well as in the more familiar five-door guise.

The car, which was spotted in the Lake District, had obviously been given a thorough dynamic workout on some of the UK’s most challenging roads and was, apart from its badging, completely undisguised. Given that MG Motor’s dynamic benchmark for the new car is the Ford Focus, it’s good to see that the job is clearly being taken seriously.

Nigel takes up the story: ‘I had just come off the motorway and was overtaking a line of traffic when I spotted it, so I pulled over, waited and then followed it for a few miles. I managed to get out and take a couple of shots when it stopped at some traffic lights.

‘I jumped out to take a photo as the car was stationary and the driver, who was wearing a four-point harness, wound down the window. I asked him if it was the first MG6 in the UK from China. He replied with a grin “Been built in Birmingham this one, mate.”  The lights changed and he was gone.’

The MG6 is set to go into production at MG Birmingham later this year, although it’s still unclear how much of its parts content will be sourced from China and how much of an assembly – as opposed to production – role the Longbridge factory will play.

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.

46 Comments on "MG6 : Caught testing… with a twist"

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  1. Andrew M says:

    What sort of name is MG6? Is it MG MG6 or is it just MG6 or MG 6? It should be MG ZV or something like that.

  2. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    I think it’s in tradition – remember the MGB, MGC, MGF etc?

  3. Richard says:

    Sorry, but the word bland comes to mind.

  4. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    A fit successor to the MG Maestro EFI?

    Well, to achieve that benchmark, the top model in the range will need to be faster than its rivals, odd looking, have a decent ride/handling compromise and to be top of a range containing cheaper, more boring vehicles with the same styling but a different brand name.

    The MG6 looks like it might meet the first three of those criteria, but failure to meet the fourth will ensure that MG changes from sporty to boring. What a waste, however competent the car is!

  5. Hilton says:

    If it was built in Birmingham and registered on UK plates you would expect it to be RHD. This one looks left hand drive? If you type its reg number into the DVLA website, it should display the car’s identity…

  6. Stanislav says:

    What can I say… Here in Bulgaria we are just like you and we lost all that was Bulgarian, even the bricks are made by foreign companies. So – be proud of what you have – Chinese, Taiwan, Thailand, India. It’s made in UK, by UK citizens – designed and built by your neigbours, friends, etc.

    I don’t know why here in Bulgaria or in Italy or in Greece, MG and Rover have more fans than in Britain. What do you actually expect?

  7. WarrenL says:

    The vehicle details for VX10 HBJ are:

    Date of Liability 01 04 2011
    Date of First Registration 20 04 2010
    Year of Manufacture 2010
    Cylinder Capacity (cc) 1796CC
    CO2 Emissions 0g/Km
    Fuel Type Petrol
    Export Marker Not Applicable
    Vehicle Status Licence Not Due
    Vehicle Colour GREY
    Vehicle Type Approval
    Vehicle Excise Duty Rate for vehicle
    6 Months Rate £112.75
    12 Months Rate £205.00

  8. Kenty says:

    What they need first of all is a car that is going to appeal to a wide variety of people – get the sales started and interest in the product and only then can they work on the fancy models at the extremities of the range.

    I think we need to give them time – they seem to be trying to do it the right way.

  9. Ramsey MGR says:

    Well said, Stanislav! Unfortunately there are a lot of negative thinking cynical whingers in the UK.

    For goodness sake, give the car a chance!

  10. Dennis says:

    Hilton :If it was built in Birmingham and registered on UK plates you would expect it to be RHD.

    Ahh, so that’s why Rover never exported many cars other than to Japan, apparently they only ever made RHD cars in Birmingham!

    Come on! They have always built LHD cars at Longbridge too! In a pre-production run and prototypes, they make some LHD and some RHD – it would be daft to only build RHDs then get to production ramp up and find the LHD dashs don’t fit or you can’t operate the clutch because the exhaust tunnel is in the way or something.

    They also do endurance runs, across Europe down into Spain etc to see how they cope with heat, cold, altitude etc. Much easier using a LHD one for that.

    Yes, it looks a bit bland, but it doesn’t even have wheel trims so, of course, it will look plain. I think that’s the point of a tester! The Astra is pretty bland but GM sell thousands of them!

  11. Peterover says:

    I 100% agree Dennis.

    I’ve seen the Roewe 550 in the metal in Preston last year. I cannot overestimate how much better that car looked in the metal compared to the pics, even with the cheese grater grill.

    I expect the MG6 will equally be better looking than it already is.

    An obvious joke here is the Brummie wheels – steel on the front, alloys on the rear!

    Those wheels would look better if given a wide track to bring them in line with the wing.

  12. Chris Chapman says:

    This grey car has been seen out before and was spotted by a CAR Magazine reader earlier this month.

    Note that the white version is also badged MG but has significant differences, eg lights, rear side doors, rear hatch. Which is closer to the production version?

  13. Dennis says:

    Now you say that, the front wheel is probably the spare. The alloy at the back looks wider.

  14. Simon Woodward says:

    Flashforward and this looks like a 2015 Taxi Rank!

  15. Adam Bond says:

    Isn’t there a requirement for cars produced in the EU to have a certain amount of EU i.e. local content… how is this going to work if parts are shipped in from China?

  16. Hilton Davis says:

    OK Dennis… I understand that LHDs were made and may be still be made at Longbridge for export. I just thought the car mentioned here would more likely to be a right hand driver. Not a bad looking car, but it’s about time they were offered to the UK market before buyers lose interest.

  17. Dennis says:

    Adam Bond : Isn’t there a requirement for cars produced in the EU to have a certain amount of EU i.e. local content… how is this going to work if parts are shipped in from China?

    I think they stopped most of that. I mean look at Honda, Toyota and Nissan in the UK. They more or less put together flat packs. Most places are just glad to get the work of assembling them, rather than bring in completed cars.

    It used to be the case that, for every car imported they had to built x number in the UK, which is why, for example, we have a Honda factory in Swindon. I suppose that, if we were suddenly flooded with Chinese cars though, they might re-introduce it, but then Bejing could do the same to EU car companies.

    However, Longbridge is even now still a massive site – they only need one of the CABs to assemble two or three models in – then that leaves the other one for perhaps press tooling or what ever they want to put in it.

    The Flightshed is another big building they could convert to other uses. The tunnels under the CABs used to house an aero engine factory and there’s no reason why they couldn’t do that again.

    If this car sells in big numbers, then who knows what SAIC might do at Longbridge.

  18. Ian Elliott says:

    Could it be that MG are doing the sensible thing and testing the car out on a spacesaver wheel to make sure that it doesn’t do anything insanitary? A normal wheel would, of course, sit further out.

  19. MackMac says:

    I’m sure that I saw that car coming the other way when I was driving in Darwen on the way to Blackburn in Lancashire. I thought to myself, that’s an MG6 isn’t it? I saw the car in my rear view mirror with a Roewe 550 rear end afterwards.

    Looks like that the cars being built in Longbridge could be a reality and they actually look sweet in the metal – especially given that people have commented on them as being “bland” based on the photographs.

  20. Paul says:

    I have seen this very car driving around Manchester. No doubt the drab grey colour, filthy condition and hub cap-less wheels do it no favours, but it really is the most bland non-descript car imaginable. It looks as though it belongs to the same era as the Escort Mk4!

  21. The alloy on the rear is a ZT-T 260 alloy. I should know – I have a set of four on mine.

    I doubt they would send an old alloy to China. I suspect the driver was telling the truth and this car is made in Longbridge. Good to see it out testing. I hope they launch a turbo diesel. I will buy one.

  22. DaveH says:

    The MG6 will probably be put together at Longbridge. The body in white, engine and transmission will probably come from China while the small parts will probably be sourced from UK manufacturers to meet the EU content rules.

    Contrary to what Dennis said, Honda Civics produced at Swindon are made from UK and Euopean manufacturered parts and the car is one of Britain’s biggest exports -they even export UK made cars to Japan.

    I believe that the Jazz, which they have just started to build there, is a part flat pack operation but this will be changed once the model has become established.

  23. Richard says:

    Ah! Lots of dreamers visualising a success story and becoming expert critics just because, to most people’s eyes bland is bland, be it a VW Bora,Toyota Corolla or an MG6.

    Sorry this car is too ordinary, shows no heritage or pedigree and represents the total collapse of true UK auto design in the non-luxury market. I know that’s very negative but I believe that’s the way most people will percieve this car.

    Seriously, I really do wish it could be possible to see a re-vitalised MG Rover but this is not it.

  24. DaveH says:

    Most people who buy cars in the UK do so for one of two reasons: badge snobbery or VFM. The MG does not have the badge to match the Germans, so it will need to be priced competitively in the market.

    However, if it is, it drives well and is reasonably built the Journalists will say it’s good (they have already given it a good initial review and that was a test rig) then it won’t matter how bland it is. Toyota sell the Auris in large numbers as do Hyundai with the i30 and the last two Golfs have not exactly been exciting – if people bought cars on looks alone Alfa would outsell most brands!

  25. CMPD says:

    Strange how the car bearing Regn. VX10 HBJ appears grey in the AROnline pictures but silver in the Manchester car park pictures from CAR Magazine….

    Yeah, the MG6 looks bland but, hey, it’s an MG and it’s being built, which is absolutely better than nothing, given that we all thought the closure of MG Rover in 2005 was the end of the road.

    I suppose the point people are making is that, with an MG, one expects bold design.

  26. Bajandave says:

    Is it a more high-performance version of the standard Roewe car? This test car looks rather beat up; is this photo giving the average buyer an idea of what the car will look like in 5 years time?

  27. Jon says:

    When on earth did MG make anything other than bland cars? MG made either badge-engineered saloons or vaguely compromised but enjoyable sports cars but they never made a single great car in terms of styling.

    Stop moaning. It’s got an MG badge on the front, which makes it, historically speaking anyway, as much of an MG as anything since the B. It also looks better than anything produced by MG Rover.

  28. Peterover says:

    I saw this car (the MG6 Saloon pictured) between Morecambe and Lancaster today… a very odd place to spot it, although there is a long-serving former MGR dealer in Morecambe.

    Tbh, it’s a good looking car, but is a bit bland – certainly when compared to the silver Roewe 550 I saw in Preston a while ago. Maybe it’s a colour sensitive car… It’s still a fundamentally good looking car but it’s just not significantly different from any other car in that class.

    Still waiting to see the 5 door MG6 and how different that looks with its sloping roof and different rear styling…

  29. Matthew says:

    Dennis :

    Hilton : If it was built in Birmingham and registered on UK plates you would expect it to be RHD.

    Ahh, so that’s why Rover never exported many cars other than to Japan, apparently they only ever made RHD cars in Birmingham!

    Not sure Japan is a good example, they have RHD too!

  30. Ross A says:

    I think you’ve all got it wrong – all you doom merchants… GAH!!!

    Look, the point of the release of this car is to broaden the appeal to a wider market first.

    At the moment MG Motor’s main concern is getting the quality issues right first before going loopy with everything else. It’s a practice the Japanese adopted and grew out of – the Koreans are doing exactly the same thing. Eventually their stuff will start to become more interesting as they focus in on what everybody wants.

    Once MG (i.e.SAIC) have managed to get a footing and a feel for the market and what different groups of consumers require of the car, then they can start to focus on and cater for the different sectors.

    Besides, hardly any of you have seen the car in the metal… you were ready to slag off the XJ but very few of you have actually seen the thing. I have and that machine is simple gorgeous in the metal.

    By all accounts, though, these UK/EU spec cars are nothing short of astounding to drive, even if they don’t look at all racy – the benchmark being the Ford Focus.

  31. Mark Pitchford says:

    @Andrew M
    6 isn’t a bad number, is it? Car companies have always used numbers as well as names to identify products and I don’t have a big problem with 6 (although 666 might be more controversial). If that’s the biggest problem you have with it, then I assume you’re quite impressed.

  32. Hilton says:

    I’ve just been looking at a new Proton GEN2 in a shopping mall and have to say the MG6 in profile and frontally is very similar apart from rear light clusters etc.

    The Proton doesn’t look to be a bad car but I hope the MG6 is better when it gets assembled in UK. I think MG Motor will need to offer more powerful engines as the Ford Focus will soon be available with Ecoboost turbos.

  33. Will says:

    Registered as an “MG / Unknown”.

    From the front the MG6 looks like a Proton, from the rear it looks like a Citroen C5.

    Doesn’t conjure up images of MG ZTs, TFs, MGBs etc.

  34. Simon Woodward says:

    @Mark Pitchford
    Isn’t 6 a lucky number in Chinese culture?

  35. MIKE FROST says:

    Registered 20th April 2010 – engine size 1796cc

  36. Mark Pitchford says:

    How do you sound when you hope something doesn’t succeed?

  37. Mark Pitchford says:

    @Simon Woodward
    Maybe – if so, you’re right! All the more reason to be happy with it! As long as they don’t call it anything silly like Cedric or Probe, then I suspect that the name won’t be a significant factor in its level of success one way or another.

  38. DolomiteFan says:

    I saw the pre-production models at Silverstone this weekend. I was unsure first of all but, as the weekend went on, I actually grew to like the car rather a lot.

    If you compare the MG6 with other Korean or Japanese cars it has similar feel to the interior etc. Not overly special but seemingly very well screwed together.

    I think people get totally hung up on comparing everything to the VW Golf which is bland and, frankly, not that great a car.

    I wish the MG6 well though they’ll need a decent diesel too as I suspect that, on paper, the N-Series turbo will lag some way behind rivals on CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.

  39. Oliver says:

    Looking at the picture, is the MG6 causing a traffic jam? Does that say something about the performance of the Chinese ‘MG’?!

  40. Rick says:

    What an ugly car. It’s not Euro-trash, it’s Ninja-trash. It has no character at all. It absolutely sets no trend as far as style goes. At least MGs, or the ones made in England had a character and that was the image. The rest of it you either loved or hated. But an MG badged piece of junk made in China will never sell in America.

    Americans took to MGs not only on the performance of small packages but because they offered a styling that differed from boring as American cars appeared for the most part.

  41. Jemma says:

    It looks like a vauxhall astra & a peugeot 307 were left together in the sun for too long. I personally think this one is on a hiding to membership in the Clubfoot club.

    What strikes me as odd from the figures provided here is that a new 1.8 litre engine should cost the same to tax as my 2.2i Douvrin which is somewhat long in the tooth nowadays.. methinks something strange is happening there.

    It looks more and more as if MGR is going to end up as nothing more than a CKD (Cheap/Knocked-down)supplier cadging bits off different foreign manufacturers and bolting them together. A sad end.

  42. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    It’s not as if that wasn’t happening pre-2005 though!

  43. Ianto says:

    I don’t know how they do it, it’s another knock out MG! Brilliant, I’ll be first in the queue.

  44. Ashley M says:

    The MG6 just looks like a heavily-facelifted version of the last Nissan Primera – it’s style to me is late 20th Century and not 21st Century at all.

  45. Dave says:

    This same car was being driven on the A6 between Lancaster and Preston earlier today.

  46. Lanmey says:

    The number six is a lucky one in China and perhaps the MG6 can help to link European culture and Chinese culture in friendship. I am from Chaozhou in China and hope we MG6 owners can be friends together and develop a better understanding of China’s car culture.

    My email address is:

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