Car of the Month : March 2015 – Adrian Clark’s MG6 S

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Marmite, personified by a car. That will be the MG6 then…

Adrian's MG6 outside Longbridge
Adrian’s MG6 outside Longbridge

I’m well aware that the car has its detractors, but I’d wanted one since I went along to a VIP Test Drive day at the Prodrive track. I was amazed how the car handled, so much so I felt sorry for the next people who were due to drive the example I was extracting tyre smoke from. I was happy that the new car I’d been waiting for as a replacement for my ZS had lost none of that car’s dynamic ability. The day concluded and I drove away in my ZS MK2 with a smile on my face.

When prices were announced I thought it would be a while before I could afford one. I was determined that I would own one, one day. Then the car went on sale. I really thought that it would be a success. What’s not to like about it? There were a couple of adverts, and then they stopped. It seemed nobody knew the car existed and those who did dismissed it as either ‘Chinese tat’ or ‘Rover tat’.

I kept my eye on used prices as soon as second-hand ones were available. I really wanted the one that Longbridge called the ‘Union Edition’ (red and blue stripes among other stickers, but they were asking £11,995 for it back in 2012 and it was still too much.

Adrian had a brief relationship with a lurid Fiesta before going to test-drive an MG3, but it wasn't the 3 that he drove away with...
Adrian had a brief relationship with a lurid Fiesta before going to test-drive an MG3, but it wasn’t the 3 that he drove away with…

Meanwhile, in late 2012 my ZS died after suffering with ‘that’ problem for the 2nd time. I had spent on it every month with various problems and decided enough was enough. I made one of the most foolish decisions of my life and part exchanged it for a 2009 Fiesta in snot green, which I took finance out on. I just wanted rid of the ZS and foolishly the Ford salesman took it in and gave me £400 for it. Anyway, I had a new(ish) car that wouldn’t go wrong. I was happy.

As time went on, I began to hate the Fiesta and hate the fact I had finance on it. It was slow, uncomfortable, the indicator stalks felt like they were going to snap when used… it was just a horrid, horrid car. When  the MG3 was launched I headed on up to the Sales Centre at Longbridge and had a look round it. I was impressed. I arranged to go back when they got their demonstrator and take that for a test drive.

I told the other half that I would like to trade the Fiesta for an MG3 if it was doable (I had no idea how finance worked), she wasn’t concerned providing it didn’t cost any more than the Fiesta per month and thata push chair would fit in the boot. She was heavily pregnant at the time, but we had yet to buy a pushchair. I also began wondering if I’d be able to change to a high-mileage Jaguar XF instead, but I thought there would be no way she’d agree to that.

Adrian's 6 when he first saw it, complete with demo decals...
Adrian’s 6 when he first saw it, complete with demo decals…

The day of the test drive came. I liked it – better than the Fiesta for definite. After the drive, I parked it up next to my Fiesta to compare size. Though we didn’t have a pushchair, we were able to establish that the MG3 boot was wider, but narrower. Might be tricky… Anyway, we went into the showroom to discuss if a deal could be done. It couldn’t. It was out of my reach.

As we were about to leave, I asked the salesman how much MG6s were these days. He walked me over to an ex-demo GT in S spec (wanted a TSE really) in ‘Granite’ (wanted white really) and that’s when he dropped the bomb.. “This one is £6,995”. After my jaw had positioned itself back where it should be, he went and grabbed the keys and I took it for a drive.

This was a 2 year-old car which had been £16,995 when it was new. On the test drive all the fond memories came flooding back. I was in love. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll be in reach. Driving the MG6 back-to-back with the MG3 there was no comparison really, it HAD to be an MG6 for me. To my delight, a deal could be done. It was £1 a month cheaper to own an MG6 than my Fiesta. Okay, it meant another year of having finance, but at least I would be paying for a car I loved rather than one that made me feel sick.

One of Adrian's colleagues liked the car so much that he ordered his own
One of Adrian’s colleagues liked the car so much that he ordered his own

So now I owned my dream car. I took it to work and immediately I had a colleague ask about it. “Is that an MG? I thought they were dead?” Now this is a chap who used to work at Longbridge in the 1980s, who owned a ZR and a Porsche Boxster and he was unaware MG were back. After our chat, the next day he went up to the Sales Centre and placed a deposit on a used Orange TSE without even test driving one. Luckily for me, he loves it!

As with any car there are things that go wrong. I’d heard some horror stories, but my issues were fairly trivial. There was a wind noise at speeds over 60. It bothered my partner more than me. The clutch was squeaky and they hadn’t done a great job of getting rid of the stickers that had adorned my car as demo. The latter things were sorted on its first trip back. The wind noise, which was down to door seals, took three attempts to put right with the last one involving it going back to the factory to have them replaced.

Adrian has covered over 12,000 miles in his MG6, including the Cowley Convoy
Adrian has covered over 12,000 miles in his MG6, including the Cowley Convoy

Since then it’s been fine. I’ve covered 12,000 miles in just over a year of ownership. It’s been on the Cowley Convoy to Pride of Longbridge, it sailed through its MoT and I still enjoy driving it. I often have people ask me about it at petrol stations or in car parks. Part of me wishes I could have afforded a TSE but my S has more than enough creature comforts – more than any car I’ve had before. Plus, with the TSE loan cars I had when mine was having its seals looked at, I found the climate control confusing and the stereo more fiddly.

The only thing that concerns me now is the company behind it. There have been a lot of negative stories about shoddy customer care, parts issues, not to mention the fact that they have dropped in price even more and owners who want to sell are finding out that they simply can’t get rid of them privately. I hope the situation improves. The cars would sell if they were advertised properly and the MG6 had a bargain sticker price that was stuck to.

Adrian just hopes that MG Motor UK can deliver marketing and customer service to match the car's true potential
Adrian just hopes that MG Motor UK can deliver marketing and customer service to match the car’s true potential

The finance runs out in 2018. I hope MG are still here by then and that sales continue to increase. If so, I may well be looking at replacing it with a GS (or whatever it’s called this week), though I still have an itch for a Jaguar and, by 2018, the current XJ should be in reach…

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

40 Comments

  1. Thanks Craig for letting me write this!
    Readers will notice that I didn’t once mention ‘Dash Plastics’, something which most motoring publications seem to have a fixation with, and something which they all criticise the MG6 for. Well my MG6 feels better put together than the Fiesta did (The Fiesta was a proper boggo spec one though, if that makes a difference?) and it feels like a more quality product. I don’t go round touching dashboards, so I can’t comment on how soft they feel! What I will say is that some of the buttons/switches could be better, but this isn’t reason enough to dismiss the MG6 as a purchase.
    Although MG liked to compare prices of the MG6 with its rivals in both the C and D segments, and it always came out cheaper spec for spec, I really think that MG should have gone for a headline grabbing low price for the base spec model like mine. You get a lot of car for the money, but people are unwilling to spend £17k on a car from a brand that A)people think are dead and B)Those who know that they exist class them as a Chinese car with a famous badge stuck on the nose.
    Hopefully the facelifted MG6 will make it here (Some say it isn’t, some say it is, some say it’s being assembled now – but no official word from MG) and MG will learn from their mistakes. They could sell these cars if they lowered the price a bit, but more importantly ADVERTISED! They won the BTCC Manufacturers title last year, but they failed to tell anyone.

    • Excuse my bad writing! I mean shallower (is that the right word? The space between the rear Seats and the bootlid

  2. Still haven’t seen one of these and I live less than a mile from the local dealer. Did see a 3 today though, my first. The dealer sells them in the garage shop, next to the bread and fags – yes really – which gives a terrible impression. It’s all about visibility, marketing and a decent dealer network, all of which appear to be sadly lacking. Interesting that you sent it back to the factory for new door seals. Where, China? Anyway, good luck, it’ll be worth about 10 bob in a year, best not tell the Mrs that.

    • By factory, I mean the place that could be used to build cars but instead fits bits of trim and stickers!

    • “good luck, it’ll be worth about 10 bob in a year, best not tell the Mrs that”

      Why do people make unhelpful comments like this? All cars depreciate.

      • Very true,, but some cars depreciate significantly faster than others, to the point where it’s difficult to give them away, let alone sell them. Trust me I know, I’m an Alfa driver. Brand perception is everything and I’m afraid MG has no image what so ever. Didn’t mean to be unhelpful, just realistic. The reality it that if you buy one, it will be virtually worthless far quicker than any other car brand than I can recall, expect perhaps for an 80s Dacia, or an Amstrad stereo ( which I know isn’t a car)

  3. The MG6 really is a desirable car. It’s current rarity makes it even more so.

    The fact it is no longer a popular style of car hardly helps sales though. (The rise of the SUV, MPV, whateverV also meant that the Rover 45 died an even earlier death back in the day). The limited dealer network again limits sales. BUT come on!! Surely they could still sell more. Advertise the thing!

    The negativity you here (often from those who should really support) never ceases to amaze me. This hardly helps image, demand, residual value etc.

    Nice Car Of The Month, Adrian !!

    • Cheers Dave,

      The fact that my work colleague bought one on looks alone proves that they could sell more than they do. As you say, advertising is the key. Though as mentioned by Mike, visibility and a decent dealer network also need to be established.

  4. Yours is the VX11 reg car isn’t it. Do I understand You correctly that they referred to it as “ex Demo”?

    • This is where We Buy Any Car can be helpful. They are currently offering £4,615, which is not a bad offer at all. I’ll be interested to see where the eBay auction finishes.

      • For that money it would be quite a good buy – IMHO the Magnette looks much better than than the 6, and you could have a good few years motoring out of it with most of the depreciation done for you.

        As a point of reference I put the details for a 63 plate 3Form Sport into WBAC – even assuming only 10k on the clock they are offering £5,180. How much more than that you could get from a private buyer is anyones guess, but by that measure they aren’t depreciating that badly

      • The bidding has just finished at £5150, with plenty of bidders.

        That makes for 29.5% retained value over 3 years. According to Parker’s, pretty much in line with a petrol Citroen C5.

  5. Glad you like the car but…..

    … if that’s car of the month then we are in a bad state.

    As forgettable as a beige early model Rover 45 saloon, IMHO.

    • I think its more to do with how a car makes an owner feel. I ran an early Mk6 Transit for a couple of years. To everyone who saw it was just an old Transit van. But I loved it. It was stupidly reliable, fantastically economical and I could hose it out. It never let me down once despite putting about 60k on it in two years. It was one of the best vehicles I’ve owned. Certain cars get under your skin, they become your mate. Once that happens even the most forgettable cars can become the best cars in the world.

  6. We like to be inclusive, Tony. If someone loves their car, it’s eligible for COTM – who are we to judge?

  7. I’ve had my 1.8 turbo GT S (NZ-spec, so that means a sunroof, tyre pressure monitoring, and folding mirrors, among other things) for nearly a year. I’ve had some minor issues, but nothing worse than the little problems that have afflicted every new car I’ve had over the years. The 6 is a good-looking, reliable, thoroughly enjoyable car. The handling is simply wonderful!

    I also think some of the dash knobs could be of slightly better quality, but on the whole the interior is well up to the standard of the MG’s rivals. I’ve never understood the negativity directed at the interior quality.

    I’m very happy with the car, after nearly 10,000 miles, and I will almost certainly look at replacing it with another (or at least its replacement model) when the time comes.

  8. Not everyone wants crossover MPV SUV whatever, while the market for family cars has shrunk, there’s still a reasonable amount of demand for D segment cars and maybe MG could capitalise on this with the 6 as a cheaper, British built alternative to a Mondeo.

    Also with regard to Adrian’s Fiesta, drove a Zetec Ghia once. Refined and powerful enough, but suffered from terrible rear vision, seats that were too low, an overly complicated dashboard and fuel economy which was way off the manufacturers figures. I just found myself uneasy in a car with such poor rear vision and low seats and wanted something taller.

  9. I had an MG6 as a hire car for a couple of days about a year ago. I had owned many MGs years ago – several Midgets and MGB GTs (including a V8) – so I was looking forward to see how the Marque faired in one of its more recent manifestations. Actually, not a bad car with very good looks I thought. Quite a good motorway performer (500 miles) and easily accommodated 4 adults and luggage with its massive boot. Not noisy at all and quite economical. BUT …. the steering was diabolical! So heavy at slow speed and consequently a nightmare to park. Is this a problem with this model or was I just unlucky with this particular car? The hire company didn’t seem to know – or care to be honest! So my overall impression was positive (if only the steering could be sorted).

  10. Unusual car choice and truthfully they don’t look half bad, grey metallic suits it well. But finance on what must be the fastest depreciating new car in the UK? I suggest chopping it in now before the negative equity cripples you!

  11. “As with any car, there are things that go wrong”

    I disagree. My Honda Accord is almost at its 10th anniversary and its been utterly reliable for the whole 9 years I’ve owned it. It’s still on the original battery and exhaust pipe and at 90000 miles still has no rattles or squeaks.

    I appreciate your enthusiasm for these Chinese cars but let me ask you a question. If you were to remove the 3 MG badges from the car and replace them with SIAC badges, would you still be in love with it? It seems to me that the only reason any of these Chinese cars are being sold,(and I’ve still only seen one on the road) is for a few pence worth of octagonal plastic.

    Nige

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