Blog : MG6 – gone, and probably forgotten

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

MG6

Well, that’s it – as Mike Humble confirmed in his recent First Drive story on the MG GS, MG Motor UK has pulled the plug on the 6, with the final unsold cars in the dealer network not being replaced when they’re gone. Given this was the first all-new car to wear the MG badge, post-2005 apocalypse, it should have been a hugely momentous car for Britain but, in the end, poor sales, a lacklustre image and the stench of failure will probably result in this car’s demise here going unlamented. Mind you, in time, it’ll probably end up being another of those gilt-edged classic cars us Brits are so good at screwing together.

I should say at this point that I like the MG6. I always did. It probably helps that I know some of the key players in its development and marketing, and it’s a car whose conception, birth, life and death, I’ve followed more closely than any other. I like the way it looked, the way it drove (largely) and its traditional ‘dad car’  packaging. However, given that I love a loser and, as we all know, the ‘dad car’ is a dying breed in the UK, it was probably doomed – even before it went on sale.

When I first drove the MG6 back in March 2011, it was at the lowest-budget launch I’ve ever encountered. Forget the idea of the exotic far-flung location, stunning hotel and wonderful roads, this was warm tea, stale sandwiches and a cheery wave goodbye from the chaps in the Longbridge Roundhouse as we drove into the rain-soaked Midlands. Despite that, though, I really warmed to the 6. It had fine steering, was well-damped and came at a not-scandalously high price if you avoided the top model.

I concluded: ‘The MG6 is the product of an ambitious company, which has realistic expectations from its UK soft-launch – it’s much better than we had expected it to be. It’s going to appeal to keen drivers who appreciate a tactile, well-damped car, which is far less extreme than the old MG Zed car range. It’s for the family man in a hurry and, preferably, with a company fuel card. It’s a pity that the saloons and turbodiesels aren’t available from launch – both of which will massively extend the appeal of the MG6 – but, as it stands, we’ll give it a thumbs-up. MG is back – and there’s so much more to come.’

Little did I realise that, although MG Motor UK’s Chinese parent company, SAIC Motor, might been ambitious, there was little time, money or talent put into its UK marketing. Aside from a dismal TV ad and some magazine inserts, here was a new car on the UK market, wearing a UK badge – designed and engineered here, too – that absolutely no one in the wider world knew about. More importantly, it soon became apparent that only a small number who were aware of the MG6 actually gave two hoots.

As far as AROnline‘s readership was concerned, this car divided opinion like no other. A significant proportion liked its continuity with the pre-apocalypse range, but hated its Chinese connection. Others thought it was good news for Longbridge, but disliked the fact it was a car that had few – if any – mass market USPs. And it was universally hated for one thing – the seeming inability of its maker to market and sell the damned thing.

The diesel came along in 2013, and really was a case of too little late. Which, again, was a shame, because it was a nice little power unit – a Chinese clone of BMW’s brilliant M47 engine – and, like the petrol K-Series (sorry, TCI-Tech) powered models, was light and nimble to drive. However, the market remained ignorant of its abilities, with monthly sales figures in the UK struggling to limp into the dozens – this was an utter humiliation for the once-proud MG marque.

The MG3 was better – a proper launch, and annual sales figures into four figures, which meant that MG Motor UK was finding its feet falteringly. But even though the 3 had more obvious showroom appeal than the 6, it’s the bigger car that I remained more warm towards. Now, I’ll never own one new – which might be a good thing really, as losing big in the depreciation game is something I’ve never aspired to. Perhaps it’s time to consider buying one – it looks like around £3500 is the entry point on Auto Trader.

So, as the MG6 makes way for the MG GS, we can only hope that its importer has learned from the former’s undoubted and profound failure. Had it been a success, we may well be toasting a return to volume production at Longbridge but, as it is, the factory remains silent and all MGs now appear to be imported. The MG6 might not have set the world on fire in the UK, and may one day be studied by marketing students as a case study on how not to do things, but I like it – and I’m sad to see it go.

I just wish they’d listened to me and sorted out its lousy, stinking, sodding ignition key!

MG6

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

42 Comments

  1. Have only had actual hands on experience of two MG6s. Both privately owned, not demo cars. The first with a 1.8t engine like those in my MG ZTs and a Diesel version. Both were a pleasant experience. Indeed, I now have an MG6 Engine in one of my MG ZTs while I rebuild its original engine. My car mad son, his Rover and MG mad friends an I have been impressed with what we have found with the MG6 engine. At first glance it appears much like those originals in the ZTs. Closer examination shows it is in fact a superior beast. Speaking to someone up at Longbridge, he confirms that indeed a number of the manufacturing process and modification changes have indeed made this original K-Series concept even better. Apparently the Chinese used a high pressure casting process unlike the low pressure version used by the original Rover Group design. That results in a far stronger casting.

    Had those in control of the once asset rich Rover Group allowed their competent engineers to scale up the little K-Series and use improved manufacturing processes instead of stretching and stretching it from 1.1 original design to 1.6 and 1.8, Longbridge would still be producing fine cars. Foreign ownership of so many UK assets will eventually be considered the wrong thing to have allowed. Simply a matter of time.

    TaTa for now.

  2. At the press launch for the GS (yes, I was there too and enjoyed compared notes with the very affable Mike and others) even Matthew Cheyne cheekily asked the audience “okay, who liked the MG6 key? Don’t worry – the GS has got a proper key!”

    Funnily enough, it is Nick Gibbs (who writes very well as a freelancer for Autocar and Automotive News) who innocently asked Iain Fleming (no, not that one) about the diesel engine’s future, and was told that no work was being done to update the only extant MG diesel unit, which also happens to be the only choice in the MG6 on sales in the UK. It obviously didn’t need Nick to have to dig out his rocket science certificate to work out that what he had uncovered was official confirmation in effect of the end of the MG6. Nobody from MG Motor has “announced” the end of the MG6, but it was discovered by Nick Gibbs, who deserves the credit.

  3. A shame as if the car was marketed better with a bigger dealer network, it could have done well as a taxi as it would have been ideal for this market with its big boot and diesel option after 2013. Also more sales would have meant more profit, which would have meant more development, more jobs at Longbridge and a better car. I’d really liked to have seen the 6 take off, but mention of warm tea and stale sandwiches sums up the car’s promotion by SAIC, totally parsomonious to the point 99 per cent of people probably never knew MG was reborn.

  4. Give it 6 or 7 years and people will be posting misty eyed reminiscences on here about what a misunderstood gem the MG6 was, so much better than these modern MGs of the 2020s.

    I rode in one once when the former employer of my Scottish penfriend’s aunt gave me a lift to the post office. I remember thinking that everything I’d read about that car’s fine driving characteristics on AROnline was probably correct. That car has covered nearly 50000 miles now and has never missed a beat thanks to careful maintenance by my penfriend and his trusty socket set. Just goes to show you don’t need the fancy tools electronic diagnostics the main stealers have,just carry out the simple precaution of checking oil level, water and tyre pressures before every journey. OK, the car has had to have a replacement gearbox and two new turbos but that could happen on any car. I met someone once who used to work at a BW garage and he said they have someone there whose whole job is just to deal with warranty claims, so it just goes to show doesnt it. And it’s never, repeat NEVER needed a head gasket so those people who say that they go on these clearly don’t know what they are talking about.

    • You are so right, Andy. It wasn’t that long ago that fans were slating the Metro, Maestro and Montego as not being “real” MGs, how these modern, warmed-over Austins could not count. Now the next generation of these very fans considers them classics.

    • Two turbos and a gearbox replaced in 50,000 and you think that is acceptable ? LOL sounds like a piece of junk from Renault to me.

  5. There’s nothing wrong with the MG6, but sadly (or perhaps happily) that’s not enough anymore, especially in a dying sector of the market.

    It all seemed very half hearted really

  6. The MG6 is still listed on MG’s website and even mentioned in the recently published brochure for the GS.

    Is there any proof the MG6 is dropped other than an Autocar article?

  7. I never knew that the MG Diesel engine was a clone of, or should that be reverse engineered BMW M47R engine.

    If the 6 had been launched in facelift form, with all the advantages that car had over the original version, & marketed properly with a dealer network able to pick up on the interest that such a campaign would have generated, we would be clambering for a 6 based on the Roewe 560 now rather than watching it sink barely without trace.

  8. Good car, bad car, it doesn’t matter if you don’t haveva local dealership network, where buyers could actually at least hi and look at one! Every town has a strip of dealers, they’re all there, or if not they’ll ve in the next town,except MG. None for miles. Nobody travels 30 or 40 miles just to get a minor warranty niggle sorted out.

    • Don’t know about your neck of the woods, but they’ve greatly expanded in NI, mostly old Rover dealers such as SS Logan of Whiteabbey and Martins of Killyleagh, both of whom have promoted MG better than MG themselves have.

      As a result, the MG3 is no longer a rare sight. (Though sadly the mismanaged 6 is, any I’ve seen have had dealer stickers of the half hearted attempts by Saltmarine to sell them)

  9. Had my 2012 TSE over 3 years now brought it with just 6k miles on it , now at 32k miles no real issues, has been a bloody good solid car. still to this day don’t see why they get a hard time . Had a 05 ZT 160 turbo before it. Now looking to change but no MG 3 to small, not a SUV fan .

  10. Not even minicab fodder. More like competition with an early model Vectra for desirability. It looked like a previous generation Kia, felt like a previous generation Kia and drive like a previous generation Kia* [Or Hyundai for that matter].

    It had no dealers within 40 miles of me, the petrol engine was thirstier than a much larger Mondeo and the diesel was well behind similar offerings from all the major players.

    @Andy, if any of my cars had needed two turbos and a gearbox in 50k miles I wuld have been extremely displeased. The worst car I’ve owned in the last 20 years was a Mk4 Golf, but at least the main parts of the car managed to hang together for the 50k miles I owned it!

    In 10 years I bet there will be single figures in existence and then on SORN as there will be no spares. Some misguided MG enthusiast will keep one in a garage in the vain belief that it will be a classic one day.

  11. I still like the look of the 6, despite the poor level of marketing it got and the dis-interest from the general public. I guess the last models to be sold will be offered at knockdown prices like when the CityRover was deleted from model range. A good buy in that respect but depreciation will be horrendous as it always was.

    I still like it as a “Dad” car though. End of another era – hopefully the GS will be more successful

    • Top spec un-reg ones are going for £12,500 and the mid spec ones are available from £11,000. They will only get cheaper as time runs out to register them (they can’t be registered past 1st September).

  12. @ Ebeneezer, might be tempting for someone running a fleet of taxis, particularly the diesel model, although I’d sooner spend a couple of grand more on Skodas, or which seems to be becoming more popular as a taxi, the stripped out Dacia Logan estate for £ 6995. If ever a car was destined to be a taxi, it was this, a basic estate car with a huge boot, ultra low price, a proven Renault engine and not much electrical to go wrong.

    • Certainly in spain the Dacia Logan estates seem to be popular taxis, along with the much overlooked Seat Toledo.

  13. I had the opportunity to drive one & was mightily impressed by the handling & ride. Also, the petrol engine seemed very smooth & responsive. A very underrated & overlooked car, that actually received praise from the motoring press.
    Sadly, it was always destined to fail, because of MG Motors confused sales strategy here in the UK & their reluctance to invest more.

  14. Some good PCP deals going at the moment, as stocks of MG6 are cleared. A shame that no automatic gearbox option is offered, makes city driving so much easier.

  15. why did pricewaterhousecoopers sell mg to these turkeys saic they havnnt a clue bring some cars out that people want like a 2seater sorts cars and some sporty hatchbacks.i wish jaguar land rover woukd bring rover cars back they would show them how to bild a car that people would buy.

  16. The MG6 could have done so much better if it wasn’t restricted at first to a thirsty 1.8 turbo model, which killed its potential as a taxi or reasonably priced fleet car. It should have been marketed with a 1.8 injection and 1.9 turbodiesel options from the start and MG should have promoted the car aggressively for fleet sales and had more dealers. Dad cars on non premium badges might be mostly dead for private buyers, but the continued success of the Ford Mondeo, Skoda Octavia and Vauxhall Insignia in the fleet and taxi markets shows there’s a market for the five door family car that isn’t on a premium badge.

  17. So just how many 2 seater sports cars are sold these days? Apart from the MX5 very few. If the market as there then manufacturers would make the product, it isn’t so they don’t.

  18. I parked my MG3 in Praze on Beeble in remote Cornwall to buy a couple of pasties this week. I’m sure Mike Humble would have loved one, really filling and every bite a delight. Anyway there was a another 3 parked up there which was unusual and low and behold a new swish looking MG6 drives past complete with the running lights. Very good it looked too in black. I think it is a mistake to drop it, particularly as it is still second only to the Tesla in the Autoexpress handling awards.

  19. I guess I am a bit late to this blog having just returned from holiday. The problem I had with the MG6 was it was simply the wrong car. The most successful Rovers of the 90’s were the R8 hatch and saloon whose combined sales match the Escort /Orion for a brief period. British car buyers are hatch back obsessed at the budget /popular end of the market so MGs new car should have been the MG5 hatch with the 6 available to move up to if you wanted a prestige saloon. This would have matched the 200/400/600 range of the 90’s and possibly drawn back the Rover owners from that halcyon few years.
    I know the MG6 has been a disaster for the UK but do you have any info, Keith, on how well it has sold around the world?

  20. They were late to market with a diesel, no auto and no estate otherwise it might be an MG6 (estate) sitting on my drive now instead of a Passat estate, diesel auto. The GS is what people want but again no diesel (and despite the obituaries disel ain’t dead yet) and the Autocar review this week isnt inspiring. Poor ride, mixed interior quality, iffy economy etc.

  21. I think I’ve discovered an MG6 “hot spot”! New Brighton on The Wirral, Merseyside. I’ve spotted 3, yes three, in a fortnight. Definitely 3 different cars, not 3 sightings of the same car. Nearest dealer, on the way out, around 25 miles away.

    I thought the gold coloured Magnette, I spotted, looked positively magnificent !!

  22. Living as I do in a holiday area, Cornwall, they do appear down here at this time of year. A superb late model white one parked near me this week. The recent revisions really improve the looks and it is quite a large car. There was a positive review in the Caravan Club magazine this August and no mention of it dying out. I would think there is still room for it in the MG range as it is virtually the only car left in the traditional Sierra/Cavalier sector of the market.

  23. The CC magazine is hardly an example of objective journalism or consumer lead reporting. They never write anything negative – might affect their advertising income….

  24. To add to my previous post, the GS adverts refer to the MG ‘family’….. what family? Does 2 models constitute a family or are they pretending the 6 is still current?

  25. As far as I can see, the main biggest failing. Over absolutely everything else.. Marketing! Even now, marketing is letting the brand itself down. As people who are generally interested, we know of these cars and brand and how long it has been back.
    But have you mentioned it to anybody who is not in the know? They haven’t got a clue that the brand Mg still exists in whatever guise.
    The brand should be plastered everywhere. Not an odd advert once in a blue moon as in the Gs. Not once have I seen an advert for the 3 or 6 since their releases. That in its true essence is the biggest failing. Relying as far as I can see on the trade press and word of mouth. Big failure.

  26. Just said goodbye to my gold TSE Magnette after four and a half years and 80000 miles. It was completely reliable and needed nothing beyond brake pads. I bought it because there was nothing else to replace my 75 with. OK, I’m a Dad, and it probably had my name on it. If SAIC had been serious about it I would gladly have bought another, but they weren’t, so I am now the proud owner of an XE. Is that the spiritual heir of the 75? (which is still the car I have most enjoyed owning- the MG6 was entirely satisfactory as a means of transport, but lacked anything to make you fall in love with it)

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