MG6 GT Dealer Launch : Feedback from the showroom floor

Clive Goldthorp

Local MG Owners' Club members inspect the MG6 GT TSE at Graham Walker Limited's Chester premises

Local MG Owners' Club members inspect the MG6 GT TSE at Graham Walker Limited's Chester premises

MG Motor UK Limited and the MG Dealer Network have now had time to reflect upon the British public’s initial response to the Dealer Launch of the MG6 GT on 14 May 2011.

Doug Wallace, the company’s Public Relations Manager, spoke to Enda Mullen of the Birmingham Post last week and said that: ‘Feedback has been strong and hugely positive and several Dealers have already reported sales. A lot of Dealers have reported high interest in booking test drives in the MG6 too. We have been absolutely delighted by the response do far and it has been extremely well received.’

Mr. Wallace’s statement that the MG6 ‘has been extremely well received’ does seem to be supported by the research which AROnline has undertaken both on and since the Dealer Launch. Our News Editor visited Chester-based MG Dealer Graham Walker Limited’s premises on the day in order to interview a number of the potential customers who attended – these included several MG Owners’ Club members from the local Deva, Deeside and Wirral branch – and has since spoken to a number of Dealer Principals from MG Dealerships around the country.

The Potential Customers’ View

Phil Smith, an MGB GT owner from Little Sutton on the Wirral (and a former worker at Vauxhall Motors Limited’s Ellesmere Port plant), was impressed by the quality of the MG6 GT’s fit and finish and thought that the car was a ‘value for money’ proposition – his only criticism was that the parking sensors were too prominent. Mr. Smith’s wife, Elaine, commented that the 6 GT was clearly designed to appeal to a wider market than previous MGs while the finish was a match for her current Volkswagen Golf’s and better than that on her previous Alfa Romeo 147.

John Johnson, an MG TF owner from Helsby, Cheshire, said that, while the MG6 was too large for his needs, he was especially impressed by the quality of the car’s interior and thought the criticisms of that made by certain motoring magazines were unwarranted. Another MGB GT owner, Chris Galley from Chester, liked the 6 GT’s driving position and reckoned that the rear passenger compartment seemed to be particularly roomy – he would be really keen to have a turbodiesel-engined MG6 as and when that model became available.

Colin Banks, a Rover 45 owner from Chester, preferred the design of the 18in alloy wheels on the 6 GT TSE to the 17in ones on the SE but felt that the interior on both models was too dark and needed lifting with some grey or silver trim. However, overall, he thought that the 6 GT was a smart looking car with a strong visual front end design which appeared to be well screwed together for the price in comparison to the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra or Volkswagen Golf. The 6 GT ‘ticked most of the boxes’ and would be on his list when the time came to replace the Rover 45.

Interestingly, Colin’s brother, Nigel, a former MG ZT190 and now Ford Focus owner, did not think that the 6 GT’s interior was too dark. However, he observed that the Radio/Sat. Nav’s facia was too large for his tastes and that would probably deter him from buying the car. That said, he was impressed with the overall fit and finish of the MG6 when compared to that of his 10/10 registered Focus.

The Dealer Principals’ View

AROnline contacted Dealer Principal, Graham Walker, towards the end of last week and asked for his reaction to the Dealer Launch event. Mr. Walker reported that there had been a steady flow of showroom traffic throught the day and said that, up to that point, he had sold two cars so was ‘very pleased’. John Newey, the ever-enthusiastic Dealer Principal of Summit Garage (Dudley) Limited, echoed those sentiments and said that he was ‘well pleased’ – 60 potential customers had visited the showroom on the Saturday, he and his colleagues had arranged ten test drives over the weekend and had so far sold two cars.

Patrick Warner of Sterling Automotive Limited in Eastbourne said that his company had been actively promoting the MG6 in the area since hosting two special Preview Weekends last autumn and that all those existing clients who had expressed an interest in the car had been invited to view his Demonstrator on an individual basis before the official Dealer Launch. However, there had still been a steady stream of potential customers on the day and the 6 GT had received a very favourable response from both MG enthusiasts and the owners of competing models such as the Volkswagen Golf.

Allan Rossington, the Dealer Principal of Royles Group PLC’s MG Dealership in Prestbury, Cheshire, said that the company had issued around 960 invitations to the Dealer Launch Weekend – these had been sent to customers on both the dealership’s original MG Rover and current MG Motor UK databases. However, as the company also has a successful Jaguar franchise, about 800 of those invitations had been sent to the owners of 2004 to 2005 registerered Jaguar X-TYPEs. Mr. Rossington admitted to being somewhat disappointed with the resulting footfall through the showroom doors but attributed that to the FA Cup Final – Prestbury lies within Manchester’s commuter belt – and the fact that some potential customers has already had test drives in his Demonstrator. However, he added that, during the course of the weekend, most of the guests ‘had shown a genuine interest in the MG6’.

Tim Wilcox, Joint Dealer Principal of A.E. Wilcox and Son Limited in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, also made the point about the Dealer Launch Weekend coinciding with the FA Cup Final. He reckoned that, while launching the television advertising campaign on the day of the big match was a good idea, the Dealer Launch Weekend should, in hindsight, have been scheduled for the following weekend – a week long run of television adverts and newspaper advertising might then have generated more showroom traffic. That said, Mr. Wilcox was quite impressed with the quality of the television advert and added that the response to date had exceeded his expectations. Royles Group PLC’s Allan Rossington concurred with Tim Wilcox’s observation about the timing of the Dealer Launch Weekend so maybe MG Motor UK will take that on board for the future.

Graham Walker Limited's MG6 GT SE Demonstrator outside the company's Chester premises

Graham Walker Limited's MG6 GT SE Demonstrator outside the company's Chester premises

AROnline specifically asked each of the Dealer Principals to whom we spoke whether or not any of the potential customers who had visited their showrooms to view the MG6 GT either during or since the Dealer Launch had mentioned Autocar’s recent Road Test.

Interestingly, only two had – Sterling Automotive’s Patrick Warner said that reading the article had made the potential customer concerned somewhat sceptical about the MG6 while Allan Rossington said that the Autocar reader who visited Royles MG had found the article disappointing. However, both Messrs. Warner and Rossington reported that their respective customers had returned from test drives saying that they did not agree with the criticisms made by Autocar’s Road Testers – Mr. Rossington’s prospect had taken particular note of the magazine’s comments about the MG6’s powertrain but concluded that, in his opinion, they were unfounded.

MG Motor UK must surely be hoping that any other prospective buyers who take test drives in the MG6 during the coming months will exhibit a degree of objectivity similar to that clearly demonstrated by the two Autocar readers referred to above and reach their own, self-informed conclusions about the car’s merits…

Clive Goldthorp

Clive Goldthorp

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.
Clive Goldthorp
Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

25 Comments on "MG6 GT Dealer Launch : Feedback from the showroom floor"

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  1. Chris C says:

    An issue which still needs to addressed is that of Dealer CI signage. I stumbled across two MG6s parked outside an MG Dealer (which also has franchises for other marques) on Saturday and there was no MG signage up at all. Indeed, one of the dealerships mentioned in the article also has little evidence to show anyone driving by that they are MG Dealers.

    I have to admit to finding the cars themselves rather dark and plasticky but I guess that applies to loads of cars these days…

  2. Richard says:

    It’s difficult for dealers when the MG range is currently one car. I guess we’ll see bigger MG signage as more models arrive.

  3. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    Pound for pound, I reckon the 6 has got the minerals.

  4. Jack Yan Jack Yan says:

    Nothing like getting some real-world feedback. Thank you, Clive!

  5. Now, if MG is to survive, it’s up to you Englishmen to buy British cars!

  6. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    John Hollænder :
    Now, if MG is to survive, it’s up to you Englishmen to buy British cars!

    How right you are!

  7. Tony says:

    Graham Walker’s have a number of other competing models in and about the premises so the opposition is already there to compare directly!

  8. Richard Moss says:

    John Hollænder :
    Now, if MG is to survive, it’s up to you Englishmen to buy British cars!

    You mean Vauxhall Astras and Honda Civics, don’t you? 🙂

  9. David Abbott says:

    I believe that people would, perhaps, be more impressed, if they listened to the comments of Quentin Willson on MG’s YouTube video. Willson is far more objective than Autocar was in its Road Test and his remarks make one proud to be British.

  10. David 3500 says:

    @David Abbott
    I have watched this video which is, as it is described on YouTube, a company video, rather than a piece of objective reporting for, say, a motoring programme.

    You will note that Mr Willson said nothing negative about the car itself and made only a slightly dismissive comment about MG’s heritage. That’s actually a good thing as the flawed heritage of MG should not, of itself, be a reason not to go out and buy an MG6 GT.

    Ultimately, what we have here is similar to when the BMW Group finally had ownership of just the MINI brand after disposing of the rest of the Rover Group. The BMW Group had no current design or existing, standalone Dealer Network to sell it through, just their own design and engineering resources, an assembly factory in the United Kingdom and a will to make something commercially viable using an establised British brand. Oh, and their existing BMW Dealer Network, although many MINIs are increasingly being sold from separate dealerships.

    BMW faced similar hostility when the first MINI was announced in 2000, but proved that they could develop and nurture the MINI brand beyond its previous achievements. Hopefully, MG Motor UK Limited will have a similar chance to do the same with, one hopes, a credible range of new MGs which will appeal to the wider buying public, rather than just the goodwill of dyed-in-the-wool MG fanatics. However, it won’t happen over night.

    I, for one, just hope that any evaluative liaisons MG Motor UK Limited hosts with outside bodies doesn’t continue to place huge emphasis on the Octagon mafia, namely the two main UK-based MG Clubs and their members – remembering the good old days is not what is needed to take the MG brand forward, let alone attract new, younger buyers.

    For the record, I do drive two MG saloons but am not an enthusiast of the brand as my real passion lies with the Rover marque. I acquired these MG saloons more for their driving appeal than the badge on the grille. I am referring to the shoehorning a torquey, 2-litre engine in the stumpy engine bay of a Maestro and transforming it into an entertaining driver’s car and also to the inclusion in the then MG range of a tweaked turbo-diesel engine in the Supermini-sized MG ZR to show that diesel power can be good fun.

    Take note of these reasons, MG Motor UK Limited, and I might just consider a newer MG in the years to come.

  11. Mikey C says:

    Getting good feedback from former MGR owners is one thing, but there aren’t enough of them to make a viable business, so getting the wider car buying public excited is key. That’s were my concerns lie as this isn’t an MG. The previous MG saloons have been hardcore versions of a cooking family car, the MG6 is trying to be both…

    However, if the MG6 was sold as a value for money hatch, then it might make sense – weird sounding brands like Hyundai and Kia have become mainstream and Skoda is very successful now.

  12. Ross A says:

    Blatantly, Autocar:

    1) really hates MG and have got a dim view of the product clearly influenced by a perceived public opinion from the Merc/BMW set, OR

    2) really hates anything Chinese, despite the fact that the MG6 was actually engineered, designed and part-built here, OR

    3) were particularly sloppy with their journalism, couldn’t be bothered to test the car properly and just wrote any old rubbish to sell magazines and appease the BMW/Merc set.

    However, customers seem to like it, the press seem to have been talking about it and people who have bought them haven’t had any worries and actually seem to adore the car.

    Once this year is over, when we’ve seen the launch of the saloon, the specification will be tweaked correctly, ready for the diesel launch and then a full, Europe-wide offensive.

  13. Simon Woodward says:

    @Ross A
    Yep, on a par with Auto Express and the motoring section in the News of the World, experts in cut and paste journalism.

  14. Paul says:

    @David Abbott
    Quentin Willson’s video was sponsored by MG so he’s bound to say nice things about the MG6 – that’s hardly “objective”.

    However, as for the Autocar Road Test, I think people are being far too thin-skinned. Sure it was critical of some aspects of the car but it also praised the car’s dynamics and concluded that MG where not that far off the class best. That’s hardly a demolition job. You surely didn’t expect it to be 5 star class best did you?

    Incidentally, Car Magazine, which doesn’t normally hold back on the criticism gave a very balanced report on the car and conluded it was a very good effort.

  15. Mega, Liverpool says:

    Autocar does not HATE MG. The sad fact is that the MG6 has an engine that’s 5-10 years out of date with limited performance and lots of CO2… MG badly needs a turbodiesel for this car.

    However, I think we’re getting there – MG and GM are getting into bed with each other so MG will be using 3 pot GM Turbo tec engines. The MG5 will be the first REAL return for MG.

    Mega.

  16. Jon says:

    @Keith Adams
    How wrong…

    Surely, it’s up to everyone in all of the markets where the MG6 is sold to buy the car – not just us here in the UK.

  17. Richard says:

    The MG6 will help re-establish the brand here in the UK and the rest of Europe. The 6GT will, in due course, be joined by the saloon version with the MG3 coming soon (next year?) and the MG5 not long after that.

    This is just the beginning of a new journey for MG and the MG6 is the starting point, not the destination.

  18. Clive Goldthorp David Abbott says:

    Well, the MG6 AS NOW ARRIVED AND £3 MILLION WORTH OF ORDERS IN THE FIRST TWO WEEKS DOES NOT SOUND LIKE A BORING CAR TO ME. Good luck and best wishes to MG Motor UK.

  19. Richard says:

    That’s good news about the orders. I see that the saloon will be arriving in July and will, apparently, be called the MG6 Magnette.

  20. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Richard :
    That’s good news about the orders. I see that the saloon will be arriving in July and will, apparently, be called the MG6 Magnette.

    That’s quite nice – it seems like they’re gaining confidence in the Marketing Department. I assume that the ‘Magnette’ name will only be used in this country.

  21. @Richard
    Yes, Photographer Simon Davies and I undertook a round trip of over 600 miles to attend the MG6 Magnette’s Launch Event at Goodwood Motor Circuit yesterday – we have both had some catching up to do today but should, hopefully, have our story published by the weekend.

  22. @Jonathan Carling
    Yes, I believe that’s the intention. Incidentally, at this stage, no Magnette badging will appear on the car – none of the ZA or ZB Magnettes built between 1953 and 1958 wore Magnette badging either.

  23. Richard says:

    @Clive Goldthorp
    I look forward to your story. I hadn’t realised that the ZAs and ZBs didn’t wear Magnette badging.

  24. Brian Richardson says:

    I picked my MG6 TSE up from Apple MG on 14th August and, although it does not look like a traditional MG [no design links to previous cars], it drives as well as the MGF VVC and MG Express 160 and better than the ZT260 – all cars I have owned.

    The build quality is very good but the electric gizzmos are too much for my generation and nor do I like the push in starter key and clutch hold arrangements.

    The MG6 is, nevertheless, very good value for £20k – especially when the Magnette badge becomes an accessory!

    Brian Richardson,
    Maidstone

  25. David Dawson says:

    Interesting!! I visited Graham Walker Limited some weeks ago. They reported encouraging sales and I was impressed with the car. However, I STILL haven’t seen one on the road. I’m not lacking in attention – I’m like a moth to a flame when it comes to spotting 25’s, 45’s, 75’s etc etc

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