Track Test : Potential buyers evaluate the MG6 1.8T TSE Fastback
Words: Clive Goldthorp Photographs: Simon Davies/Pegasus Photographics
AROnline’s Editor, Keith Adams, has already given readers his First Drive impressions of the new MG6 1.8T TSE and, like our colleagues at Autocar, Auto Express and CAR Magazine, he concluded that ‘it’s rather good, with one or two rough edges.’
However, Keith was keen to give readers some more customer-focused feedback on the MG6 and this week’s VIP Track Tests at Prodrive’s Kenilworth facility provided the ideal opportunity for that. The MG Events Team, ably led on the day by David Robinson, put together a well-balanced, half-day package which combined a variety of on-track activities with a series of presentations from Guy Jones, MG Motor UK Limited’s Sales and Marketing Director, Ian Pogson, Chief Engineer – Aftersales Engineering and David Robinson himself.
The on-track element of the programme included an ABS demonstration, a slalom, laps of the handling circuit used by Prodrive to hone the works Subaru Impreza WRC cars back in the day and, more recently, the MINI Countryman WRC challengers, two laps of the speed circuit and, finally, a session on the skidpan to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Traction Control System. All in all, the potential customers and Dealer representatives present were given an opportunity to stretch the MG6 in a manner which would not have been possible on the public roads.
The on-track work was supervised by Association of Racing Drivers Schools-licensed Instructors who each had three passengers per car. AROnline readers Steve Lipscombe from West Sussex and Jon Mower from Cambridge had the misfortune to be saddled with me but were still happy enough to give me their feedback in the MG6 once we had finished the on-track sessions.
Jon, a Jaguar X-TYPE and XF owner, said that he was ‘gobsmacked, completely gobsmacked’ by the MG6 which he described as the ‘first truly European car from China’ and as ‘an amazing first attempt.’ Jon added that ‘everything feels and sounds right’ before observing that the MG6 was not, in relative terms, much pricier than the MG ZS had been six years ago and that ‘was an achievement.’
MG ZT owner Steve thought the MG6 ‘was a good car’ and more or less what he had expected coming from the ZT. He would never have guessed that 80% of the car had been built in China and added that, while some commentators had suggested that the 1.8 TCI Tech engine was not powerful enough, that was not an issue for him.
AROnline Photographer, Simon Davies, was also in attendance in his professional capacity and as a potential MG6 buyer. Simon thought that the MG6 handled really well and remarked on the complete absence of any creaks or groans (other than from the passengers!) while the car was being hammered around the handling course – he was very impressed but, as his family fleet includes a Citroen C8, an MG F Trophy 160 and an MG TF 85th Anniversary, he was not really able to draw a direct comparison with the MG6’s current C/D segment competitors. That said, though, given that a fully-loaded Citroen C8 cost around £28,000 eight years ago, Simon reckoned that £18,995 otr for the top spec MG6 1.8T TSE Fastback represented ‘tremendous value for money.’
MG TF 85th Anniversary and Peugeot 308 Sport owner Mark Cropper from Kingstanding in Birmingham described the MG6’s handling as ‘absolutely fantastic’ and added that the car’s ‘agility and nimbleness belied its size’ – the MG6 would definitely be on the list when the time came to replace the Peugeot.
My take on the MG6? Well, of all the C and D segment models we have had in the family fleet during the last twelve years or so, the ride and handling of the MG6 reminded me most of my much-missed 99/V Honda Accord Type R. I can well imagine myself hurling an MG6 down my favourite, local B-road with as much pleasure as the Honda – a shame, then, that the road concerned has just been subjected to a 50mph limit!
Anyway, based on my experience of an Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4TB 170 Lusso last August, the MG6 seems to offer a more convincing package for the keen driver spending his or her own hard-earned cash – the MG6 engages the driver with more clarity and purity and seems, at least from my perspective, to be better value for money.
However, there remains one factor which might stop me from buying an MG6 – Auto Express’ Nick Gibbs has this week reported that ‘the MG6’s 1.8-litre turbo… will make way for a new 2.0-litre turbo, with a 1.9-litre diesel due in autumn next year’ adding that ‘a six-speed box will replace the MG6’s five-ratio manual.’ What impact will that new engine and transmission have on the residual values of MY11/12 MG6s equipped with the current engine and gearbox?
A final point: former British Touring Car Champion and current Honda Racing Team BTCC driver, Matt Neal (44), was spotted being introduced to Guy Jones – we wonder how he rated the MG6 as a potential BTCC contender…