Blog : MG – is this thing still on?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

mg_3_8

I must admit that, in my current role editing Classic Car Weekly and launching Modern Classics magazine (get your copy from WH Smith’s now – advert ends), I’ve rather taken my eye off the ball when it comes to the UK new car sales figures. I have followed the headline stories – and tracked the relentless, and welcome, growth of Jaguar Land Rover to become the UK’s most important car manufacturer, but the bimbling sales of MG Motor UK have rather slipped by unnoticed.

However, following a brief conversation with Mike Humble this evening, it seems that the overall situation for the Brum-based importer, ahem assembler, ahem R&D Centre for SAIC has improved negligibly since my last blog on the subject. Yes, MG Motor UK is up 46 per cent on November 2014, which should be cheered – but, when the baseline is 170 sales and the improvement is to 249 cars, it’s not exactly setting the world alight.

Since the MG6 appeared on the UK market in 2011, and the 3 followed on in 2013, the momentum is just not building quickly enough. It could be argued that the 6 is not a product the UK wants (I’d say it is – and, if it wore a Skoda badge, we’d be lapping it up in its thousands), so poor sales might be expected. However, the MG3 certainly is and, despite the lack of a diesel engine (thankfully), it should be pouring out of showrooms given its excellent pricing.

That’s disappointing. I wouldn’t ever say the UK buying public lacks taste, given that our best seller, the Ford Fiesta, is such an excellent all-rounder. But MG Motor UK’s underachievement looks like a complete joke these days. In November, it sold 249 cars and, for the year to date, it has limped up to a total of 2869. Given that MG Motor UK spoke of selling 2000 MG6s in the UK in its launch year, you get an idea of the scale of its failure.

Let’s add some more November totals from ‘rival’ manufacturers – Suzuki: 1932, SEAT: 2711, Dacia: 2438, DS Automobiles: 1549, Jeep: 768. Yes, MG sold more than Aston Martin, Bentley, Infiniti, Lotus, Maserati, SsangYong and Subaru, but so it should! We won’t even mention MG’s 249 in the same breath as Ford’s 21,597, Vauxhall’s 20,945, Volkswagen’s 12,958 or BMW’s 11,963.

Question is – how long can MG Motor UK sustain Longbridge in its current form with the volumes it does? I appreciate most cars are now imported, and the factory acts as a very capable PDI centre but, unless the GS effects a massive turnaround in fortunes for the company in 2016, one can only conclude it’s game over. And that would be a tragedy. Yes, I know it looks like I am kicking a dog that’s already down in this blog, but I do still care – and it hurts me to see the good name of MG, as well as the people it employs here, humiliated by the current sales situation.

Please, please MG Motor, get better. And soon…

mg6_2

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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84 Comments

  1. Well, if they had options, like more engines, auto box, optional extras that bring in loads of profits, and did a decent advert for the car rather than the clown one they currently use.

    They need a halo model, shove a decent turbo engine in, have a GTi or a combination of letters, like VXR, or XFR-S to make it stand out and you should have more sales, as it is, the car is not worthy of being compared to a Skoda, they took decades to get to this point, they need a clear out of management at MG Towers and get in some serious car guys to turn it round, but hey, they would rather spend millions on a show room in London, they should be getting the existing dealers something to sell, bring in the MG5, move the six slight up and the three slightly down and slide that in the middle, until they get the range rights, and spend money on the advertising, it won’t do any better….. They have done it with the MG3, so why not the 6

  2. Totally agree Keith, absolute travesty. It’s as if MG just don’t see the problem which makes it all the more maddening. In a cut throat market as competitive as the motor industry you need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed and yet their offerings are as bland as they can be, poor engines, mediocre materials, so-so pricing, no marketing. Genuinely at a loss to suggest what to do – it’s just wrong on all fronts. I remember that dark days of MG Rover, the collapsing sales of 2003 and the laughable facelifts of 2004 and the die-hards insisting the big sales month was just around the corner and it never ever was. Fast forward over ten years, YES 10 YEARS! and we see and hear the same lines “when the new 6 comes on line” “when the Euro XX engine is available” ” when the new Accrington Stanley dealership opens…” It’s tiresome beyond belief. Having bought two brand new JLR products in the last 12 months my allegiance and devotion has now long since moved on, and I’m actually quite sad for saying it.

  3. I was initially moderately optimistic, I even considered a second hand MG6 at one point. However I cannot see this building unless things change radically.

    The time has passed now, but the MG7 would of been a better car to come back with in 2007/8. The MG6 should of been cheaper, the marketing better, the BTCC thing trumpeted.

    Maybe they should have gone for it and assembled properly here and made more of that.

    Unless things change radically I thing it will wither away now.

    I didn’t realise that partial assembly had ceased at Longbridge either.

  4. The MG badge I think is a hindrance, as the customers who might like a MG3 – reasonably roomy, sensible smallish car, older conservative buyers? – probably think that MG3s are like the lairy boy racer ZRs and not for them…

    Conversely, people who want a sporty small car think the MG3 is too upright, too small-wheeled and not sporty enough.

    They might as well have stuck a Chinese badge on the front, and sold it as a cheap imported Chinese hatchback. After all Hyundai and Kia started from a similarly low base, not that long ago.

  5. These (still) low overall sales figures explain why I haven’t seen an MG3 on the roads. I still think the ‘6’ is a good looking car too. Like Tony, I didn’t realise that final assembly at Longbridge had ceased. So much for MG car manufacturing returning there.

  6. I see two key problems for which is holding back the MG3 in the market.

    1st is the still weak marketing of MG, for example they decided to use Birmingham airport as a key contact point with potential customers, I saw many problems with this. Starting with that Birmingham airport is like most British airports a hateful place, full of unhelpful staff to add to the misery of wasting two or more hours of your life. I am sure they had no problem selling this idea to the Chinese management, where in China air travel is still for many a glamorous experience and reflected in the smartly turned out and attractive young aircrew their airlines employee, but that’s a million miles away from the customer experience of a charter flight from Birmingham to Alicante.

    Unfortunately they added the “Birmingham Airport” customer experience into the brand with their choice of representatives, as the MG3 that sat in the departure lounge on the rare occasions it had sales staff with it, was represented not by the stylish and good looking young people who tend to your needs in the premium seats of an Air China cabin, but the sort of unhealthy looking and style free thirty something’s that you would find at the end of a railway platform collecting the numbers of Diesel Multiple units. I could not imagine anybody wanting to meet let alone to aspire to be these individuals and as a result would be inclined to give them a wide birth along with any product they were trying to sell.

    However if you did approach them, nobody had really thought about the sort of customers you would meet at an international airport, for example foreign customers, because when I asked the particularly unattractive short chubby balding young man they had employed to issue brochures to potential customers the question, “Do you know when you will launching the MG3 in Sweden” his response was “I don’t know anything other than what’s here” in his authentic Birmingham twang, which was nothing but the small UK brochure and price list. Whilst I am sure that European sales are not on the agenda given the issues in the UK, it would also suggest that you should avoid investing in promoting your product in the location where you are most likely to meet potential foreign customers, an airport.

    2nd is that whilst the MG3 delivered to the market was a smart little car, it just lacked the sportiness in the driving experience to be an “MG”. Fiat understand this, switching between the Panda and 500 you see how what are essentially the same mechanicals can be tweaked to give a sporty feeling, little more firmness to the suspension, induction roar and tuneful exhaust note and the experience is a whole lot more fun when nipping around town. However when I drove the MG3, you felt it was a decent enough car for my mother, but I would opt for a “warmer” version, but unfortunately there is not one. This does not need to be a 200 hp plus version, but just a freer breathing inlet and exhaust (the standard set up is very quiet) and a chip to exploit it and a little less assistance to the steering.

    Sadly it looks like the MG3 has turned into another missed opportunity, which whilst it fits well into the Longbridges post war history of “It will do” attitude to products and marketing, it might well as a result be one of the last Longbridge products.

  7. Quote: “Unfortunately they added the “Birmingham Airport” customer experience into the brand with their choice of representatives, as the MG3 that sat in the departure lounge on the rare occasions it had sales staff with it, was represented not by the stylish and good looking young people who tend to your needs in the premium seats of an Air China cabin, but the sort of unhealthy looking and style free thirty something’s that you would find at the end of a railway platform collecting the numbers of Diesel Multiple units. I could not imagine anybody wanting to meet let alone to aspire to be these individuals and as a result would be inclined to give them a wide birth along with any product they were trying to sell.”

    Some interesting points here which partially reflect my own experience last week when visiting Birmingham and in particular the MG Motor UK Ltd stand in the Bullring shopping centre.

    The young lady (in her early – mid twenties) with the two cars was very enthusiastic about the two cars, although I had to educate her on the actual size of engine fitted in the MG3, while she also had only one copy of the sales brochure. I have since learnt that this was not a current copy for the 2016 MY cars as the brochure listed “Stuck on Blue” for the MG3 which along with Cherry Bomb, has now been discontinued.

    While I was impressed with the fit and finish of the MG6, the whole experience did not get me all enthusiastic again for MG. The lack of flexibility with options to create the ideal car, a rationalised colour range (I have this thing about vibrant or very dark shades of blue) did not ‘sell’ me the appeal of the MG3.

    Sadly many of the points already mentioned by other commentators could easily be addressed by MG Motor UK Ltd. Want something with more assertive styling like an MG ZR? There are quite a few external design and engineering consultants, not to mention specialist component manufacturers, based in and around the West Midlands who could aid this. Want different seat covers or alloy wheels? Again, there are quite a few Midlands based companies who already provide support to other manufacturers in this country.

    Want something more dynamic and involving through suspension geometry changes and or engine development work, etc? Again, there are…

    The same also applies to creative and innovative advertising agencies.

    The opportunities for cost-effective support to deliver the sort of models and specifications demanded by UK buyers are definitely out there.

    In the meantime, as for market survey research and sales staff in non-showroom locations, MG Motor UK Ltd should be looking at the personnel they employ at Smart. Badly dressed and unhealthy looking they most definitely aren’t.

  8. All this piffle about lack of options, automatic gearboxes etc is utter nonsense. Everyone moaned about a lack of a diesel, they introduced one and still no one wants to know.

    The KEY REASONS for the abysmal figures boils down to just two very important factors….

    1 – The painful lack of visibility in the marketplace thanks to a ludicrously tiny marketing budget. And what tangible advertising they have done is as memorable as the last time you blinked your eyes.

    2 – The brand image in this country is quite poor and nowhere near as strong as many people profess it to be. In other countries MG smacks of Cool Britannia and halcyon times of care free topless motoring. In England it tends to be viewed as fussy, tired, confusing and non aspirational with the buying masses.

    What we need to remember is that the UK on a global scale buy a tiny number of new cars. Of course we produce vehicles…. Most of them excellent in terms of brand and quality and we export the Lions share of what we build. MG are right in capitalising the Britishness worldwide – it’s a sound business model but the way they portray themselves here in the UK is borderline shameful.

    The ONLY way to shift cars is simple. Make the public aware and don’t abuse the kindness and passion of the car clubs, brand enthusiasts and dealers by seemingly allowing them to do 99% of the advertising.

    As a former dealer principal, who binned the franchise a short while ago, said to me over a meal a short while ago…

    “Unless something is pulled out of the bag and quick, MG will just become a joke with no punchline”

    • “In other countries MG smacks of Cool Britannia and halcyon times of care free topless motoring.”

      Is this really the case because the MG brand has not gained much traction in the domestic market in China and I was not aware they were making any effort let alone progress in Europe or the US yet.

      • They are shifting cars in China and they hired some chap called Benebatch Cumberdict to flog the GS on telly. They even re-created a scene from the John Wayne movie, Brannigan.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0kVWF1fMI4

        They’re shifting around 5,000–7,000 MGs a month there now and 2015 is up on 2014 thanks to the GS. I realize these numbers don’t have Volkswagen worried, but people do know the brand there.

    • I disagree with some of your points, MGR sold a lot of cars to the older generation that also had auto gearboxes, also the majority of cars that are used on motability are auto’s, so they are losing out there, if they had an auto option, i would have had an MG6, as it is, i will hope that the auto will be available on the SUV – people do care about these things, and to say otherwise is totally wrong.

  9. I think the MG badge, unfortunately was tarnished when Towers and Co plundered the company finances before it went bust.in 2005. Plus the fact that in 2015 Chinese made cars are looked upon as lada s were 30 odd years ago, cheaply made and of low quality, which I know is very unfair because I quite like the 6 and 3.
    The other main factors are desirability and sportiness, which MG s always had through the years. Sorry but I and many more MG enthusiasts just don t get excited with the current range, especially with a very mediocre engine in the 3.
    MG needs to launch a 1.8 in the 3 and get the adrenaline pumping again.

  10. Agree with the above that MG has a confused image in the UK. When MG Motor launched with the MG6 I think they should have nurtured the sporty youth-orientated image that they created with the Z cars in the early 2000s. With more aggresive styling and a sporty halo model, the 6 could have picked up where the Imprezas and Evos left off as affordable performance cars for people who don’t care about having a premium badge.
    Although the MG3 and MG6 are competent cars these days they lack some of the character and excitement that made the Z cars so popular in their day.

    • The Chinese aren’t interested in lairy sporty models like the ZR though. The core Asian markets want sensible, slightly dull cars.

      They obtained the MG badge, when in reality Austin or Morris would have been more suitable for the products they are selling

      • Ahh very good point. Must confess that I was only thinking from a UK perspective, and as many have said MG Motor seem to have very little interest in pushing the brand anywhere outside China. Such a shame to see the MG brand we all know and love treated this way, especially as the MG3 is a pretty decent car just crying out for a more exciting powerplant

        • Probelm is the chineese market sees the bigger the car regarless of any other qualities it may have the higher status you are, which is why we now have so many god awful useless tasteless SUVs. However with the downturn in that area ofd the world this may kill the SUV off, somthing that can’t some too soon

  11. we need a new MGF with a 200bhp plus engine and we need a hot hatch, we know the links with gm and vauxhall why can we not take things like the corsa vxr and astra vxr platforms and running gear and redesign them in to something mgISH. why has the metro/100 not returned? small compact good little motors.

  12. This is a very worrying and depressing report which in most companies would have someone at head office crawling all over the UK end of the business. I have spent much of the past few months slowly getting my ‘OH’ to consider the MG3 as her next car for purchase next summer, and with some success. This is now making me reconsider if that is a wise move. How many people on this forum know the ‘3’ now has stop-start and reduced CO2 emmissions? How many know the ‘6’ won its class in the caravan clubs towcar of the year awards a few weeks ago? Maybe not earth shattering news items but they would be utilised by other manufacturers in targeted advertising. MG haven’t even advertised in any Caravan magazines and yet Ssang Yong push their products very hard. Given MG have an SUV in the pipeline they should already be establishing the name in the minds of potential customers.

  13. Year to date (January – November) sales for 2015 are 2,869 – the 2,198 quoted is actually the number sold Jan – Nov 2014.

  14. I’ve long been an SAIC MG sympathiser and I’m on my second MG6. I’ve just returned from Cuba where MG3s and 5s are on every street corner, and MG6s aren’t uncommon either.

    Good news? Maybe. But I can’t help feeling a little uncomfortable that Cuba appears to be a failing communist state being helped out by its last remaining friend.

    Add that to the Geelys which are even more plentiful and the idea of MG being a representative of Cool Britannia starts to look a bit jaded.

    I’m not nearly as sure as I once was….

  15. One aspect missing from any analysis is MG Motors’ own perspective of its UK performance.

    Perhaps they are genuinely not bothered about UK sales. Perhaps they just want to be able to say they have a historic link to the UK which still exists today.

    The opening of a showroom in London would bear this out – just consider the likely target audience:- up-and-coming Chinese nationals with aspirations, visiting London and taking in the culture, who see the smart showroom and make the link in their heads. They then go home and look at MG products in a new light – ie closer to genuine prestige British brands rather than a run-of-the mill Chinese brand.

  16. With regret i have to agree with most of the above comments and Keith’s article.
    I like the MG3 & MG6 and the new SUV (when ever it comes out) I would love to see MG succeed, having owned a MG ZTT, MGF and I am completely bored with the bland germanic clones and want something a bit different from a Vauxhall / Ford, can’t afford a Jag / LandRover. My only other option was saab (I had 3), now I need to replace a pre-facliftt ’54 plate MGZR (bog standard base 5dr model with 45k on the clock) but I need an auto an MG3 would be a great replacement if it had an auto. My only option is an Honda Jazz (yawn).

    Bring on the MG SUV (must be 4×4 & auto) and autos for the ‘3 & ‘6 and I can guarantee MG will have another 2 sales!

    ….before it is too late

  17. I can’t believe that nobody has mentioned the obvious.. In the case of MG6 This is a large saloon. And buyers of these now buy BMW, Audi Merc etc.
    What’s left buy the Mondeo or Insignia, or VW Passat
    Nissan, Renault and Honda (accord) have left this segment.

    There is no room and no place for that car period.
    Skoda pulled it off with the Octavia by selling a larger car at the segment below price.
    And they did this before the soft Roader phase, that we are in now.

    I would argue that even Skoda couldn’t pull it off If they tried it now..Not from a low base…Not from the ground up.And Not with a saloon/Hatchback model.
    Unless you are selling an SUV/CUV or “soft roader” than don’t even bother showing up to the party.
    So, to sell any cars You need a Nissan Quashai Rival. And then ride the next wave.
    As for the MG3 The only reason to buy it would be if it was Fiesta sized with a Ford Ka price tag. And even then..You’d need dealers up and down the land.
    And why take it over a Kia Rio or whatever the Hyundai is? With their 7 year warranty etc????
    The odds are against them.
    And the motor industry is a tough egg to crack.
    Forget MG I wonder what apple wil do.
    If the Brits want to remain relevant They should go after apple to start a car business in England. They have a) the Money and b) the Cachet.
    If the Brit Government gave a hoot they would offer them incentives to base their car “experiment ” in Britian..But they do’t.
    All the above assumes that internet rumour regarding aan apple car is correct. i have no proof either way.
    Apple is the future perhaps??
    MG is the past and best left there.
    BTW..I use absolutely no Apple products in my life. I have zero experience of them.
    But they do have a factory in Cork, Ireland.
    If the Irish were clever enough to attract apple ..Why can’t the Brits.
    Maybe the Brits need a new Act of Union with Dublin as the capital.
    Because you need something..that’s for sure.

  18. Suggesting MG produce a ‘halo’ model or a sports car is laughable.
    Blaming a ‘tiny’ marketing budget is utter nonsense – more money will make no difference.
    The simple fact is the people within MG are useless.
    Useless at coming up with a product with ANY redeeming features.
    Useless at creating a channel for the products.
    Useless at promoting the products to their target markets.

  19. Some great points amongst the comments.

    The 6:
    Agree with Oz that the 6 was sadly the wrong product at the wrong time.
    Skoda got in just before the SUV craze, the Octavia was seen by those “in the know” as a VW group product, with a proven and respected engine range (including the old SDi/TDi engines), which appealed especially to fleets.

    Skoda were able to build upon this, the Octavia and Superb are now sub-premium products (and priced accordingly!), almost an equivalent to the old Saab saloon range. Even then, they recognised that crossover is the cashcow and created the Roomster and Yeti.

    Interestingly, the Rapid is almost a modern equivalent to the old cheap Octavia in terms of price and size, and hasn’t exactly sold the sales figures alight.

    Dacia shows the modern template, where the 90s Skoda range was the Felicia and Octavia, the Dacia range was launched with the Sandero small car and Duster SUV.

    Sadly, as I’ve lamented many times, the D segment is dying on it’s feet, unless the marque is premium. Nissan, Renault, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru have all recognised this in recent years.

    Marketing:
    Apart from an MG advert on some obscure satellite channel, and radio adverts by the Newtownabbey SS Logan ex-Rover now MG dealer (the main ‘glass’ part of which is now a kitchen showroom), advertising hasn’t been too ubiquitous.

    MG is marketed as a sporting brand, the 3s and 6s I’ve seen have been driven by middle aged to elderly gentlemen. Surely offering a ‘non-sporting’ Morris option would cater for those who want a comfortable successor to old Rover products, with MG as halo/sporting range?

    To me MG is like Proton, a niche model of decent quality bought by those “in the know” that doesn’t get a lot of public recognition.

    3:
    The 3, while quite funky, and following the customisation trend, does look a bit like a mix between the old Fabia and Swift, both of which have since been replaced by more chiseled styled models.

    London:
    On a recent visit to London, got a chance to see the window of the Picadilly showroom opposite Fortnam and Mason (where the fellow shoppers were giving telling looks as I trapsed about with several M&M store souvenir bags…), tellingly a TF in the window with the SUV behind. I was tired and getting pushed about by Christmas shoppers, so didn’t get a closer look. Certainly a flagship store for the tourists.

  20. It’s all a case of a bad start and the ghosts of ‘that’ll do’, ‘what do you expect?’ and ‘we’re giving them away at this price’. In truth, the MG6 IS a good car, with a slightly cramped interior and a badly designed dashboard that’s looked dated from the outset. The MG3 is also well engineered, but the lack of a low-tax engine and slightly confusing model range will have put people off. Moreover, the marketing has also been confused. Keep it simple should be the motto. 2 Specs (everything included or everything with leather), 4 colours and a handful of dealer-fit accesories for each model. Cash-deposit PCPs and on-line direct leasing deals would also boost sales. Offering £2k px deals is desperation. I do wonder if incompatible egos and people without empathy for the car/market have had too much leaverage with the strategies deployed.

  21. Trouble is the MG shortfall isn’t just happening in the UK – look at what’s happening in China, Australia and particularly Thailand which is supposed to be the centre for RHD vehicle production (putting a big question mark over Longbridge’s manufacturing future).

    SAIC seem to be treating MG like Proton/Chevrolet using castoff platforms. Still, at least they are in the UK since the Chinese onslaught, apart from Great Wall, seems to have gone very quiet.

    Perhaps MG should let a long established and experienced importer take over its UK marketing and distribution.

    • Lets be honest with ourselves here. MG cars (since MG Rover went) aren’t remotely connected with the classics we have come to love over the years are they? The Chinese bought an aging, existing design, a production line and a brand. The design has moved on (maybe even improved) but what people recognise as the MG octagon is primarily there for buyers in other countries to associate it with sporting cars of long ago – the heritage has been pillaged to put a badge on a bland ‘me too’ range of cars like putting the Burberry label in Chinese made coats and handbags.

      The only reason we talk about them on this forum is because they are the current custodians of a long lost brand and a distinctive emblem. If they were all badged SAIC GT’s or something similar, they wouldn’t even feature here.

      It certainly seems that the UK isn’t the only place struggling to sell them and this article is also very telling about where RHD vehicles will be made from now on:

      http://www.bangkokpost.com/auto/news/770920/chinese-thai-mg-maker-aims-to-shore-up-flagging-thai-sales

      Goodbye MG as we knew it and will the last person to leave Longbridge please turn the light out…

  22. It is all very frustrating and especially sad because I would hazard a guess that most people, other than the occasional hate-everything trolls, really do want MG to succeed, just as Keith has passionately expressed in his article. Even the SAIC Fanboys are getting thin on the ground, though, because there hasn’t been an awful lot to become excited about, as choice has shrunk and sportiness deteriorated. To someone who has been an MG watcher and customer for many years, this is terribly depressing. If you look at the MG6 by way of example, it has some redeeming features and is actually quite good to drive, largely down to the chassis work by Andy Kitson and his team at Birmingham. But the MG6 is basically a Roewe 550 and that is now a ten year old platform. The MG5, which on the basis of styling could have been a great boost to the range, is supposedly ‘not good enough’ for the UK and is supposedly due for replacement. The MG3 is a neat little car with probably the most appeal of the lot, but even that is hardly state of the art in terms of style and presentation, and the engine us still a bag of nails next to anything newer or more sophisticated. The GS could certainly help, but will it offer those engine, transmission and wide ranging trim choices that would-be SUV customers can get from their Skoda, Nissan or KIA dealer? We keep hearing that “it will all come good” and “SAIC is here to stay” and has “big plans”. Sadly we’ve been hearing that kind of jam tomorrow story for an entire decade and frankly it is wearing a bit thin. And don’t even get me started on the subject of MG sports cars…

    • The problem is that in terms of SAIC Chinese sales and profits MG is proving to be an irrelevance.

      Given the downturn in the Chinese market, I suspect the “doing our own thing” strategy with MG is difficult to justify.

  23. One word sums up the current lot at Longbridge; AFTERSALES.

    There is none. So the unfortunate customers who have took the plunge have been left sucking a lemon.

    MG-UK should have loved those who dared to buy their Chinese imports to death. And then some.

    But they didn’t -so the internet is alight with tales of woe. Except of course, for those who’s silence on shoddiness has been BOUGHT.

    And before anyone starts, I was ready to buy a 6.

    • While I agree with many of the comments here – this one is unfair. You may have had a poor experience but you can’t extrapolate that to everyone.

  24. I’ve just taken advantage of the £2000 discount off an MG6. That makes it very affordable and appealing. I’ve got a lot of car for my money, regardless of the naysayers and the reviews it’s a great looking and great driving car. I really like it.

    • Ayd, it seems to me that whilst those who have not tried or merely road tested slate the 3 & 6 but actual owners enthuse.

      I know I have commented below that I will always have a greater passion for my ZR but much of this is an older car thing, all part of the MGR collapse, PoL etc. Overall, I’m very pleased with my 3. Criticisms? Not many – tiny heating, ventilation switchgear on my Style model, urban ride not uncomfortable as such but you are often aware of the suspension ‘working’. End of list I think.

  25. Now that the assembly has ended at Longbridge, the only reason many MG diehards have for buying one has gone. The cars have suffered from an almost invisible advertising campaign, a sparse dealership network and a weird range of engines for their cars that have high CO2 emissions and aren’t particularly economical or refined. Also reports of shoddy build quality and poor customer care can’t have helped the cause. It’s sad, but I think MG will be gone before long.

    • Glenn,

      My 3 has now covered 4300 miles – no “shoddy build quality” to report.

      Economy may not be the best, but I haven’t ever filled up and thought ” It’s drinking it a bit, this”.

    • I (sadly) agree Glenn. I’ve seen very few MG6 and no MG3’s. When Nanjing/SAIC took over the brand, I always hoped to own another MG – I loved my ZS and hoped that after a few years, MG would regain a decent market share – unfortunately not…

  26. It’s certainly a situation you would not have expected 5 years on from the launch of the 6. Even with just 3 & 6 you would have expected more variants. Certainly some sporty versions, modern day Zeds, to emphasis the MG bit! You would also have expected more dealers, far greater if not huge sales, more advertising and more public awareness.

    Since buying my 3 back in June I’ve only had sighting of Clive Goldthorp’s and one other. I see the same early 6 the odd time.

    All very hard to understand. Or is it? Without knowing SAIC’s aims, objectives, current strategy it’s difficult to comment. Maybe, for example, things are proceeding much slower than planned but SAIC have no intention of pulling out of Longbridge. I understand that sales on the home market are slow – surely this has made them pay less attention to a European sales push. Or maybe they have longer term plans to pull out? Who knows? The coming of the GS is encouraging news though.

    I’m sure that Clive will agree when I say that the 3 is a very pleasing car with no major ownership issues. It’s such a shame, however, not to see MG pushed harder, growing faster. As pointed out above, without more sporty models, more emphasis on the MG heritage, the MG badge is in some ways confusing, unsuitable – Dacia or similar punters, buying as they might a washing machine, will see MG as “not for me, too sporty”. On the other hand the cars are just too “family car” for the MG enthusiast.

    All very frustrating!

    As a final comment – I don’t think I will ever have the same passion for my 3 as I do for my ZR – the MGem !!

    • David,

      Yes, we are both very pleased with our MG3, which has now done just under 4200 miles – as a value-for-money proposition, the 3 has no direct competitors.

      However, one significant concern is that our local dealer in Chester has decided to relinquish the MG franchise – despite having been on board since September, 2008. Sadly, the Dealer Principal seems to have grown tired of dealing with MG Motor UK…

      • Clive, do you not think MG UK will aim to ‘replace’ Graham Walker fairly sharpish? You do sound rather concerned – would you think of selling your 3 without a new dealer, circa 20 miles away?

        In many ways, I would love to take my 3 up the road to Peter Jones Engineering. Realistically though, I don’t think this is an option. Likewise, John Woods(?) in Mollington.

      • Not surprised to hear Graham Walker has finally thrown in the towel. A shame, though.

        North Wales, where I am, needs an MG dealer more than ever now!

        • To be fair, although I have no first-hand experience of GW, everything I’ve heard about them suggested that they were never overly bothered about the MG franchise. It was just something bolted onto the business, and if it got a few sales then that was a bonus.

          • I think that’s pretty fair comment. My overall impression over the years was a lack of interest, enthusiasm for MG. Like you say, just something bolted on.
            The salesman was complimentary about the styling of the 6 on its first couple of weeks in the showroom. Thereafter, on a handful of visits, I don’t think a salesman ever really approached me. I initially intended to buy my 3 from Graham Walker – I worked next door briefly between Sept ’14 and March ’15. However, their response was not overly enthusiastic and after a change of jobs I got my 3 from Longbridge in the end, on discount.

            I would like to think I can take my MG3 to a (new?) dealer for service, repairs who more shares my enthusiasm. If it’s a bit further than Chester it won’t really matter that much – I will lose the convenience of my current, within walking distance, garage anyway.

            A final point though – when I took my 3 to have its clutch clip checked, a suited member of staff did show particular interest in my car.

          • Thing is, there seems to be quite a few dealers within the network who apparently give the impression of not being very enthusiastic. But with MG Motor desperate for dealers, sub-standard outlets are allowed to continue. Probably counter-productive in the long run.

          • I agree with that. There is one in Derby which is an ex-sales outlet and still listed as a service only dealer, and is positively hostile if you ask about warranty work (Quote: “Bring it if you want but you’ll have to pay for any work we do”).

            Fortunately there is a service only dealer in Loughborough (Luffield) who couldn’t be more helpful.

            I’m not sure they did themselves any favours by disallowing shared showrooms. If you do that with a range of two cars, then I guess that you pretty much guarantee only smaller outlets will be interested.

          • Thinking about it though, I also felt a bit “rushed in & out” when I collected my 3 from Longbridge – didn’t even have time to drink the coffee I was made!

  27. Ive just passed my first month of MG6 ownership and am still extremely happy with the car. ARonline readers shall expect a full report from me soon on the story so far.

  28. Die hard MG fans do not make a brand successful and profitable. They need conquest sales, and rather a lot of them. Car enthusiasts are rarely the people who actually buy new cars, especially at this price point. Most car buyers are not remotely interested in cars as such, my ex was in car sales as are other family members so much of the discussion here about needing hardcore Z models or a return of a sports car is missing the point, such cars will not generate sufficient volumes of showroom car buying footfall.

    • I see your point – MG,car enthusiasts alone are hardly going to bring big volume sales. However, sporty versions would provide a halo effect, give more brand identity.

  29. I’ve just done a cut and paste below on the comments I wrote for Mike Humble’s previous MG3 blog in case you all missed them, as I think they are quite relevant as being from someone who has actual experience of living with an MG3.

    We are one month further down the line of MG3 ownership and the MG3 is still a hit in this house, I’ve been much more impressed by it than I thought I would be; I can’t get it off my wife who loves it!

    “The clutch gave up on my 2.5 ZT a few weeks ago and as it was also due a cambelt change it brought forward my plan to get an MG3 a couple of years, as it made sense to put the money into a newer smaller car with my son in mind for when he learns to drive. I’ve been an MG and Rover man for as long as I can remember owning an SD1, MG Maestros, Rover 400’s, a 75 and I still have a ZT-T (along with a P5 and a P6)so you could say I was an enthusiast wanting MG and Rover to live on and whilst supportive of the new company and keen on the new models, prepared to be disappointed.
    We’ve had the MG3 for about a month and I just wanted to echo Mike Humbles comments that I’ve been very impressed and that it’s a great little car to drive and fabulous value. It’s well built, does exactly what a fun small car should do and I would recommend one to anyone.
    I live in Lincolnshire and in the last few months see at least one MG3 (not the same one before you ask!)and sometimes the odd 6 every day on my drive to work. So the profile seems to be raising around here.
    By the way, all my sons friends think it’s cool and want one too….so there’s hope for the future!”

  30. I remember MG mooting that as well as the “6” being assembled on one line, another car (the 3) would be assembled on the second line. Did this actually happen, even for a short period?

  31. I have had my MG3 for almost a year now and it remains a pleasure to drive and the build quality is impeccable. There is nothing shoddy about it. It would be nice if there was a slightly ‘warmer’ version and really there should be, but at least they are now fitted with the stop- start device, which I think can be annoying, but no doubt improves emissions and economy in traffic.
    Sorry to read they no longer do my car’s colour, cherry bomb, it looks good and has had positive comments.
    My dealership experience has been very good, but then nothing has gone wrong. There is a growing number of MG3s here in Cornwall and clearly sales depend on whether you have a dealer in your locality or not. Mine was a former Chevrolet dealer who also sells SsangYong.
    I read an hour ago that MG has renewed its’ contract with Triple ? To race the MG6 in the British Touring Car championship for the next three years. It looks like that both MG and the 6 are going to be with us for quite a while yet.
    I’m sure things will be much more positive once the new suv is launched.

    • I was surprised they deleted Cherry Bomb too – was one of my favourite colours.

      Long shot, Bruce – but a couple of times this year, I’ve seen a Cornish Cherry Bomb 3 at a hotel in Weymouth – not yours by any chance? Looked great!

  32. Must admit that I am still totally underwhelmed by the Chinese MG. The exterior styling is bland and anodyne and the interior is drastic plastic. A full set of instruments and some imagination with the layout would help, but in reality, it’s no more exciting than a Hyundai i20.

    On the short test drive I had, I found that the engine needed to be worked hard to make it go, fairly obviously being designed for economy rather than sporty nature. I much preferred the Fiat 500 and even the Panda.

    In the event the person choosing the car went for the sensible option and bought a Yaris 1.3.

  33. @ Tony Evans, so true, even if I think the MG3 is quite a good looking car and goes reasonably well. However, a supermini with no engine smaller than a quite thirsty 1.5 has little to recommend it, especially as its rivals usually have a 1.2 with 50 mpg plus economy and zero or low road tax, or a diesel option. No wonder you chose a Toyota Yaris,a car with excellent fuel economy, a five year warranty, low emissions and excellent reliability, this is what supermini buyers want.

      • If you can afford the initial outlay, then you’ll find the Yaris costs less over the course of ownership due to the significantly lower depreciation and the longer warranty.

        • The overall cost of ownership was certainly a factor, as was the Toyota warranty (5 years), factor in the additional petrol cost over 12,000 miles and the additional VED for the MG and you will quickly realise that the Yaris is actually significantly cheaper to own over 5 years. When you also take into account the better resale value of the Yaris it is a no-brainer.

          However, the killer for us was the dealerships. We were not impressed with the nearest MG dealer which looked pretty amateurish, whereas the local Toyota dealer is 15 miles nearer and has a very good reputation for service. In reality, the Yaris works out over £1500 cheaper on running costs alone and is cheaper to insure and service.

          Bear in mind that when you buy a new car you also “buy” the dealer for the warranty term.

          I could not make any case for owning an MG3 over the Yaris other than the initial selling price.

          • The lack of dealers must be a huge factor. The average buyer simply won’t consider a 3 if they discover that their nearest dealer is 31 miles away.

            Then again, taking most new cars to the registered dealer is a relative pain compared to taking your older car to vary local mechanic, workshop. Chances are, say, you bought a new Renault and the nearest dealer is in the next town, 8 miles away.

            Thinking back to the seventies, eighties when my Dad drove Saab – there were plenty around in my town but the nearest dealer was 25 miles away.

            A lack of variants, general lack of public awareness are the main reasons for tiny MG sales. Plus the 6, as a type of car, is fading fast

            One thing that amazes me – I never notice many MGs on the road round and about Longbridge when I’m down there.

        • I’ll find that? Or you did? Or that was your gut feeling?

          Certainly the outlay for an MG6 over 3 years on lease hire for the mileage I do made very sound sense -way cheaper than far less interesting alternatives, including those offered by Toyota.

    • Glenn, I think this is again a case of “Why is MG UK not selling harder, introducing more variants?” as opposed to a criticism of the 3 itself.

      I appreciate that the 3’s mpg is not the very best but owning one, as I do, I never think “too thirsty”.

      I know I speak as an enthusiast but I’m sure many other, less car enthusiast, buyers think the same way when buying a car – if they really want a particular model, type they will turn a blind eye if certain practical factors are not quite as good as rivals.

  34. I’ve not taken my 3 to Weymouth so there is at least one other about! Thankyou for the nice comment Gavtro.
    The more you look at the 3 the more you notice the careful design, the body strakes and rear shut lines, the interior design theme is good too and it is really roomy. I moved down from a Rover 75 estate!
    It never fails to provide pleasure but yes the engine could be a bit warmer!
    Road tax was paid for by MG in the first year when I bought mine.

  35. I think they should pull the plug on the whole sorry mess that has been Chinese MG.

    The F and Z cars of the early 2000s built up some serious credibility for the brand with both young and more mature drivers. That credibility has been thrown away over the last few years. Let’s face it, so called MG (as the BBC would describe it) have only produced two models both of which appeal to a very limited group of individuals. A wasted opportunity but far worse has occurred in Coventry, Birmingham and Cowley over the decades.

    Perhaps we should be concentrating on the parts of the UK motoring industry that actually matter ie Jaguar Land Rover, Leyland Trucks, Mini, Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

    MG – time to put it to sleep and move on.

  36. Since being available from The Car Shop supermarket, I have seen more MGs around South Yorkshire – one street I know has a 6 and a couple of Proton Gen2s, which suggests a certain crossover of appeal.

    MG is onto a winner either way, such would be the price they could presumably fetch for the rest of Longbridge.

    Much is made of their lack of advertising, but I seemed to see quite a few adverts earlier this year – per car actually sold, they probably spent more than many rivals. One of the selling points for the 3 was that the top model (without extras) was below £10000, which is no longer the case.

    • Indeed the current MG lineup reminds me a bit of the Proton lineup a couple of years ago of the Savvy and Gen2.
      Proton products were initially sold as Japanese mechanicals at a low price. Some vehicles such as the coupe, GTi and pickup gained a cult following.
      As they designed more products “in house”, their popularity decreased, even the Mitsubishi/Volvo S40 based Impian wasn’t all that successful.

      MG mechanicals may be thought to be partially Rover based (even if it is just the 6 using a 75 subframe, which in itself was a grand vehicle for any starting point), with a ‘fixed’ K series petrol and diesel of unknown quantity, which unfortunately may not inspire confidence with those who are seeking out a bargain.

      Skoda did well by offering VW platforms and engines. Even the last of the Lancer diesels using the TDi engine gained a small fanbase amongst taxi/minicabbers.

      Advertising – yes, for an exceptionally small brand, even getting those few adverts on the satelite/cable channels was good going.
      However car advertising has 2 purposes:
      – Tell the buying public of your product, which is where MG is at
      – Reassure those who bought your product (hence why you’ll sometimes see car adverts advertising nothing in particular but the brand, or a vehicle which has been out a while). Once your brand becomes big enough, you are amongst the Coca Colas and McDonalds of the advertising worlds, in that advertising becomes a prompt to keep your brand in the consciousness of the viewing public. Those two companies don’t need to advertise that they sell soft drinks and burgers, just to poke us to remind us that we might want a fizzy juice or a happy burger. And so we may also be prompted that blue oval sells hatchbacks, that the 4 rings sells techniks, and that the blue and white propeller is the ultimate driving machine.

  37. I doubt there is one single fix issue to improve sales other than significant investment across the company. Given the comments and experiences of owners I suspect it needs a combination of events to lift the profile and sales to a meaningful level. Such as – Better dealers and dealer/buying experience for punters; wider model range (maybe the SUV will help tip the balance); more economical/state of the art engines; VW quality (ie memorable) advertising; hiring some industry big hitters to turn around the UK/EU operation; allow sales from multi franchise sites/showrooms (I think MG could work well alongside the likes of Subaru, Mitsubishi, Mazda); a clear future model strategy. That should be enough to be going on with!

    • Agree with all of that. Especially the bits about the advertising and hiring some industry big-hitters. The company would benefit from a new MD, chief designer and marketing manager. Get some experienced ‘heavyweights’, who have a proven track record of giving the British public what they want, and they might be onto something.

  38. 10 years down the road MG (and all the other brands BL to MG Rover turned out) is all forgotten. In UK and the rest of the western World.
    Erik
    Ex BMC & BL dealer in Denmark.

    • Except for Jaguar, Mini, Range Rover and Land Rover. But it is shocking that so many BL brands – Austin, Wolesey, Morris, Rover are no longer with us.

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