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.
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…
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