Mike Humble’s latest blog on MG6 ownership caught my attention and out of curiosity, after reading his article, I noted two other stories currently running which relate to the MG TF 135 and Anthony McGowan’s MG6. I was somewhat surprised by some of the readers’ comments with respect to the quality of the MG6 but, sadly, I also noticed far too many comments in which an element of prejudice has clearly prevailed.
The old saying goes ‘if you have nothing good to say, then don’t say anything’, but I have a lot of positive things to say about MG so I decided it was time I put forward my experiences with both my local Dealer and with MG Motor UK themselves.
Any AROnline readers who read my MG6: Time to dispel a few myths… story in July, 2011 might recall that, back in 2008, I had defected to the Mazda and bought a 2006 MX5 and a new 2008 Mazda5. The MX5 was traded in on a new MG TF LE500 within four months thanks to the MX5 being the most uncomfortable car I have ever had the misfortune to own. The MX5 was also not as reliable as is often made out, costing £400 for a replacement driver’s seat airbag module amongst other matters in that short time.
Anyway, 30 months on from April 2010, I have got to know my local MG Dealer, Graham Walker Limited, rather well for various reasons. I was reluctant initially to buy the TF LE500 having heard of some quality issues and, like many, equated Chinese manufacturing with poor quality. Indeed, that was the reason I opted for the MX5 at the time but, in the end and given the TF was on offer at £12,000 as a pre-reg special, what did I have to lose?
Suffice to say, that true to form, my LE500 suffered all the faults I had heard about, namely faulty reverse parking sensors and peeling paint. In addition six months in (9,000 miles) and I got a puncture on the rear tyre and so ended up fitting four new Toyos and selling off the remaining three Goodyear GSD2 tyres. I was annoyed, obviously, but it transpired that a recent European Directive had put paid to the manufacture of the GSD2 owing to certain compounds used in the rubber.
Unfortunately, I had to guess at the Toyos as MG Motor UK had not finished their tyre tests but, from the various forums, experience pointed towards the Toyos. I wasn’t too happy with them for the first few miles driving home until I checked the pressures and found these were out. Once sorted, the grip and handling were back to the levels they had been on the Goodyear tyres. However, the sensitivity to the tyre make and pressure is not really a Chinese issue and, in fairness, MG Motor UK did establish a test programme in order to recommend alternatives once it became apparent that the GSD2 supplies were stopping.
About the same time, on a trip to Ireland the driver’s door lock actuator failed, but locking was still possible so on my return I took it into my Dealer and it was sorted overnight. The paint issues had been acknowledged at this stage and the Dealer was waiting for me to let them have the car when it was convenient for me. The car was re-sprayed to a high standard, and although I have had to touch in small marks occasionally (thanks to the white primer making even small chips stand-out) it has been fine since. The Dealer also fitted a new front badge to replace the faded one and the replacement has not faded in the same way since. The reverse parking sensors were also sorted at the same time as the paint work.
By May 2011, I was looking at trading the Mazda5 in as it was costing too much to run. High fuel consumption in round town use, poor front tyre life (8-10k miles) and high servicing and insurance costs were off-putting. My positive experiences of our local Dealer and MG themselves meant I wasn’t unhappy to spend money on an MG6.
That’s why, against my better judgement of buying a new launch model, especially one as untested as the MG6 was then, I decided to give it a go. Again, apart from liking the styling of the car in the metal much more than in the photographs I had seen, my decision to buy was based on having first-hand experience of the enthusiasm that the MG people have, the fact that the design work was carried out by what were effectively ARG, Rover and MG Rover engineers and the positive experience of dealing with my local Dealer.
The first pleasant surprise was how cheap the insurance was at half of what we’d been paying for the Mazda5, yet the car was quicker off the mark by over 2 seconds to 60mph. Additionally, apart from the cheaper petrol, the urban economy was on a par with the diesel we’d just traded. Admittedly, on the open road, the 40-42mpg at motorway cruising speeds falls short of a diesel but then we seldom do long runs as my business travel is normally in the TF which surprisingly only manages to deliver a similar 40mpg despite the lower weight and smaller frontal area. I should point out I have a heavy right foot so some have reported slightly better mpg and, in the last six months the combined cycle and emissions figures, have been favourably reviewed.
I’d love to say it has all been plain sailing since buying the MG6 and, by and large, when it comes to the Dealer and MG, it has. However, we were the first to put the MG Aftercare programme to the test thanks to an errant Nissan Micra driver coming out of a side road and hitting the MG6’s front off-side, resulting in damage down the side of the car and one bent steering arm and broken alloy wheel – ours being the UK-sourced Team Dynamics 18in rim fitted to the TSE.
The damage inflicted left the car with a toe-out in the order of 30° by my estimate and the driver’s door could not be opened. After inspection on the jig, it was found that there was no misalignment and the A and B posts were still true. The car was fixed and there was no delay with the supply of parts which included a new wing, two off-side doors, a new sill cover, a new mirror, a new fog light and a new front tyre and rim. The bodyshop were somewhat surprised when MG insisted on the exact specification of paint to be used to ensure a correct match.
The Technician, who did the repair, kept talking about the good Japanese build quality of the MG6 and would not believe that the company was Chinese-owned. Interestingly, in comparison to a Hyundai door shell in the shop at the time, the MG6 door shell weighed almost twice as much and had a much thicker anti-intrusion beam in place. MG Aftercare understood my concerns about the steering and insisted that a new steering rack was fitted and not just a replacement steering arm.
Just prior to the accident we experienced an alarm relating to the coolant level but on inspection the expansion bottle seemed to have plenty of coolant. I mentioned this to the Dealer and was contacted by Ian Pogson at MG Motor UK who said that it was an issue with the float sticking under the neck of the bottle and a replacement float was sent to my Dealer for fitting, a simple job that takes a few minutes to sort out. On another occasion I had checked the tyre pressures and noted was one was a bit lower. The next day the low tyre pressure alarm came on.
It seems I had been delinquent in not reading the manual and checking the correct pressure setting and had given it a few psi too many in my haste. The TPMS works off the ABS wheel reluctor ring and the over-inflated tyre was causing it to detect and flag up the issue. There is a procedure in the handbook for clearing the error but, not being one to read manuals, I stopped in at my Dealer and a few minutes later the alarm was cleared by the Technician.
At Christmas last year, the early buyers received a gift from MG as a thank you – one of the MG6 1/16th scale models that one can buy via eBay from the MG Sales Centre in Birmingham (and, please note, not from MG themselves in response to a comment made elsewhere regarding MG Motor UK selling the models on eBay. My Mazda Dealer also sold models and I see no problem with that).
In May this year, with around 13,000 miles on the car, I noted that there was a shaking of the steering on applying the brakes lightly at 70mph. I queried this with my Dealer and he put the car up on the ramps and checked it over but could not see anything amiss. However, within the day he got back to me saying that the factory needed to know if my car had Chinese-specification brake pads.
I knew that the suspension was fitted with Sachs dampers from Germany and UK-sourced, high tensile bolts are used throughout on all MG6 for RoW markets, but it would transpire that the UK MG6s also get British specification brake pads, or rather the cars produced after the initial launch batch do. Once again, at the first service, the pads were replaced under warranty and the problem seems to have gone away.
However, at the first service I asked the Dealer to investigate the excessive wear on the outer edge of the near-side tyre. The Dealer confirmed my suspicion that the alignment was out, with his equipment indicating a toe-in rather than toe-out. I contacted the Insurers to ask for a report on when the car had been set-up following the repairs and an assessor came to look at the car. The insurance company naturally suggested we were at fault and had hit a pot-hole but, strangely, the bodyshop could not find the 4 wheel alignment report for my car proving it had been set up correctly. Anyway, in the meantime, MG Aftercare stepped in and suggested that next time I was passing Longbridge I should stop in and they would reset the alignment on the factory equipment.
I took the car in last month and the alignment was properly set-up. The best bit though was that MG Motor UK stumped up a new tyre for me as a goodwill gesture. Additionally, Ian Pogson spent another hour updating the ECU with a recently improved map to eliminate the stalling on setting off in first gear that many experience with the drive-by-wire throttle and also cleaned up the earth points that seem to have plagued a few cars causing sat-nav and cruise-control problems.
Whilst talking to Ian, I asked about the steering alignment and his comment was that the dash design can create an illusion of the wheel being off-centre. I have to say that I have not noted ours being out but I know that others have had theirs sorted. I recently had the alignment done on my MG 1300 and on some roads the wheel will be perfectly centred but on other roads it can be off-centre – I therefore think it is difficult to judge whether the wheel is properly aligned or not as it depends on the road camber to some extent.
I am a member of the MGCC and so have been able to hear from other owners and share their experiences. I know one owner has had an issue with his gearbox and that, as soon as the issue had been identified, a replacement transmission was on its way to the Dealer. According to the owner, this has eliminated a vibration he was experiencing. This would appear to be the only case of a gearbox problem of which I am aware to date.
Another owner was getting water in the boot, but this relates to one of the very first cars sold and it would seem to have been a seam sealer issue that was sorted by her Dealer and MG once identified. My Dealer tells me that he has had a few calls from Avis and that, apart from one MG 6 which had been in an accident for which they supplied the parts, the other issue was the key fob jamming in the slot owing to pulling rather than pushing it to release it. Incidentally, on the key-fob, I think most owners have had the broken loop either after dropping or having too many other keys on the loop. The top of the fob is easily replaced though for one with a new loop.
The main gripe for all owners is the window seals relaxing their grip on the frame in hot sunshine – apart from that, the other gripes are a lack of accessories, although a tow-bar and carpets have been available for some time, but not things like mud-flaps.
Re-reading my original blog from last year, I stand by the criticisms of the cheap feeling cup-holder and rear ashtray. The leather seats, whilst arguably defying the Trade Descriptions Act in terms of thickness of the leather, have stayed looking fresh and new aided by the odd wipe with leather cleaner and feed. The covers have remained taut and unrucked despite the miles piling on in urban use and seeing a higher than average ingress/egress when used on the community nurse runs, school runs and shopping trips.
The engine has certainly settled down to a smoother growl under heavy throttle, but definitely better than when it was new. The fivve-speed gearbox has been more than adequate on the motorway and pulls well even in fifth without having to shift down. A taller sixth gear may have aided economy but the numbers of long journeys where we would be able to use that are few and far between enough for it not to be an issue personally. Actually, the TF could do with a sixth gear more so than the ‘6…
I appreciate others have had issues with their MGs and it has put them off, but my experience has been the complete opposite. My Dealer and MG Motor UK have both been responsive and enthusiastic. It’s disappointing that others have had a bad experience, but I know many more people that have had nothing but positive experiences with their MGs. It was ever thus under MG Rover, with many negative stories of Dealers not caring.
Had I wanted to simply buy a car for all the logical reasons, I would have gone to my local Skoda or Volkswagen or even Hyundai or Kia Dealer. However, I don’t buy cars for logical reasons – I buy them for the experience and, to date, I cannot fault the ownership experience which MG provides. MG Motor UK is undoubtedly a small company – as I am sure many will be quick to point out – and therefore the ownership experience should be good.
Having been shown around the new facilities, including the state-of-the art Design Centre and Powertrain Test Centre, I am in no doubt that MG Motor UK are in this for the long term. I have worked in the Far East and one thing I have learnt is that the Chinese don’t do ‘crash and burn’ marketing and sales, nor do they do ‘smoke and mirrors’.