News : MG6 – the Clarkson review

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Jeremy Clarkson has never been afraid to court controversy in his beautifully-written car pieces, so we can only imagine how much MG Motor UK were hoping he’d wax lyrical about the MG6 he’d recently driven.

Sadly, that hasn’t proven to be the case. Instead – in his view, the ‘6 is a one-star car that he thinks is ‘rotten’. Do you think he’s right to destroy the car like this and does it really matter?


‘It’s a carrier bag with a Coco Chanel badge’

MG6 saloon is a smart looking proposition for the money.
MG6 saloon isn’t a Clarkson favourite.

[Read their review: The Sunday Times / Driving]

Read the AROnline review here

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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71 Comments

  1. Crikey, that’s a bit harsh. There are already rumours on another website that MG will not be importing any more 6s to build, and that once the current stock (new and Avised) has gone the model will be withdrawn from the UK market in the next three months.

    Very sad, I think it is a good car, if not up there with Meganes and i30s.

  2. Clarkson admitted he got it wrong with the 306 with its dull exterior & interior forcing him to overlook the driving dynamics of the car.

    I suspect he failed to use the benefit of this hindsight when writing this article, resulting in a one-off poor hot starter with dodgy plastic causing him to ignore the car’s many other qualities.

    That said, the car is priced more like a Golf than an Octavia and isn’t perceived to be on a par brand and quality wise – something that he alluded to in the write up.

  3. I’ve also just googled, “MG to withdraw the 6 from the UK market” and “MG to stop selling the 6 in the UK”, but nothing came up.

    I even tried the more drastic,”MG pull out of the UK”, and still nothing came up.

    This suggests that nothing has been written about a possible withdrawal of the 6 and therefore I greatly suspect that the rumours are unsubstantiated.

  4. My word, this smacks of the press vistimisation of BL/ARG through the ’70s and ’80s. Whilst it is obvious that the MG6 is a pointless car with no obvious niche, this really is rather harsh…

  5. Well, Clarkson thinks that anything that doesn’t do 0-60 in under 6 seconds and will corner well at 130mph is rubbish and not worth a look.

  6. Face it – Britain’s highest profile journalist is given a press car – and MG cock up, by just palming him off with whatever came to hand first, rather than a hand fettled beauty. Just stupid.

  7. @7, Andrew, I believe that this wasn’t supplied by MG. What they should have done was spent some time with him explaining what it’s all about and then lent him a car. Did they really think he wouldn’t get one? Bloody amateurs.

  8. Given that Clarkson ‘borrowed’ the car with Andy Wilman, the Executive Producer of Top Gear, I’ll leave you to guess the slant of TG’s report of the car. If MG have any sense, they will have already withdrawn this tat from sale by the time the report is broadcast.

  9. What was wrong with it that it kept stalling? What origin is the DTi-Tech engine? Is it a ‘from scratch’ effort? Many large manufacturers spend significant budgets on new engines, surely it would’ve made sense for them to leverage the SAIC-GM connections to utilise a JTD/VM Motori diesel.

    I feel bad for MG, but with a keen pricing and without every local dealer throwing in the towel, they could’ve found a niche. Even Hyundai managed to sell a few Sonatas and Chevrolet a few Epicas.

    Would make sense to withdraw the 6 as the D-segment is all but dead in the UK. A two-pronged approach, as per Dacia, with the B-segment and schoolrun tank segment covered by the 3 and some sort of rebadged SsangYong.

    Was that a respectful nod to the Rover 75 in there?

  10. I suspect TG has asked for a car before. MG, like MG Rover before them, would have been all uppity about it leaving them to source their own. Just as the CityRover piece royally slated the car (when in reality it wasn’t horrific, just very overpriced), the inclination of the journalists when treated with disdain by a manufacturer is to take them to the cleaners.

    We all do it, we are badly treated and so we vent that indigination to everyone who will listen. In essence, I am not surprised in the least about this. I think it’s a damn shame that MG could not offer a well-tested, nicely finished 6 and offer him all the courtesy they possibly could. I know Clarkson is not one for balanced articles, but there’s a slim chance he will have painted a slightly better picture. Who knows? However, the question is what next for the MG6? Clearly this model has no future here and this article certainly won’t help…

  11. On another note, one of the biggest failures of MG is not to build any meaningful marketing or dealer network – they would have sold more MG6s if they had, maybe not a lot, but certainly more – as Will M says, even Chevrolet managed to sell some Epicas and Hyundai some Sonatas. On this topic I have no sympathy with MG/SAIC as they were the ones, with Nanjing’s help, that completely abandoned a well-established a reasonably sized network back in 2005 when it could still have been saved in some shape of form. They didn’t and have instead spent the last 8 years mucking about and producing not a lot either here or in China. Consider that we are 8 years on from April 2005 and look at the shape of MG as a brand, range and image! Look at the transformation of Hyundai/KIA in that same 8 year period. Nuff said…

  12. James, good points well made. I loved my ZT and would have bought a true replacement like a shot – my money now goes to Jaguar and will not return to MG in the forseeable future. The SAIC operation branded MG in the UK would be better run by students studying industry – at least they would learn from their mistakes as they go along. I despair…

  13. I really liked when Uncle Jezza went lyrical with the slice of Jerusalem among the dark Germanic nonsense, jeje.

    That said, maybe the man exagerated very much ( I’m a Latin American who descends from Latin Europeans and the man often goes too far even for our standards!) but he makes some fair points : the car doesn’t have a clear position in the market ( it’s C or D-segment finally? ); it’s clearly overpriced for being a Chinese car; finally it’s got very little British on it, yet MG and its importers play the Britishness card in such a way that some people actually believe the cars are really British-made, which they are not!

  14. Clarkson said it was a good car enough car when on Top Gear China programme. I would be happy to be given one any day – as ever the story is an extension of the show and JC’s platitudes.

    I certainly don’t dislike the guy – he is a massively entertaining and capable journalist.

  15. Another Clarkson hatchet job that will damage the MG6 even further. Unfortunately, first impressions count and his experiences with the car will echo around the land. If the 6 does get withdrawn from UK sale prematurely, it will be another big dent in the reputation of once proud “MG”.

    Let’s hope the MG3 and 5 are better… much better

  16. @2 rumours that MG will not be importing any more 6s to build, and that once the current stock (new and Avised) has gone the model will be withdrawn from the UK market,

    At current sales figures, and the number of cars in the build process that will take at least 2 years, probably longer.

  17. Love JC or loath him, he does have the knack of saying what needs to be said. He was provided with a rubbish example so why shouldn’t he say so? If this example is typical of all MG6s, then he’s done the buying public a favour by exposing the truth; and if it’s not typical, then MG need to respond and convince us their cars are worth our hard earned money. Bet they don’t though!

  18. In summary there are a couple of lessons for MG –

    1. The car is overpriced – unless you have a good brand image, it is probably best to start with a cheap car and build up a good reputation. Kia, Skoda etc. are good examples.

    2. If Jeremy Clarkson asks to review one of your cars, provide him with one of your press cars. Then make sure it is detailed, polished and fully tested before he gets his hands on it – if you refuse he will only hire one from Avis and start with negative thoughts.

  19. I’m afraid that’s what you get if you test a car that doesn’t run properly and has an insufficiently developed interior for Western European standards. Just as well he didn’t mention the petrol version, eg K series and fuel consumption. The 6 has strong points, eg space and dynamics, and eventually it will be a secondhand/bangernomics bargain. Just as well that his Top Gear colleague Richard Porter still has a soft spot for MGR.

    I also see that SAIC are starting to build Roewe 75s in Egypt – although the steering wheel is on the wrong side it still makes me wonder why they couldn’t have done the same thing at Longbridge. Would the 6’s diesel engine slot in it for the UK market because 75/ZT diesels are still very well thought of despite their age?

  20. I’m no fan of Clarkson and stopped watching TG after the disastrous Indian Christmas episode. However…

    1. He slams and applauds cars right across the price and ability range. His Sunday Times articles show more insight than on TG.

    2. This is proof once again that MG have messed up the marketing of the car, simply by not ensuring the car was in a road-worthy condition.

    3. How many people, even on this wonderful site, would honestly buy one? If we’re not convinced, who else will be?

  21. As a ZT owner I want to love the MG6 but I just can’t. There are only 2 reasons I have considered an MG6 and that is: 1. It’s partly made in England and 2. it has an MG badge.

    Having said that Clarkson’s article is as true to form as ever.

  22. Nobody was buying them anyway, all he’s doing is stamping on the twitching corpse.

    If you are launching a new brand (and effectively this is a new brand), VFM is key, the car has to be so cheap that people overlook the fact the car isn’t as good as the products from the established manufacturers. You can then work your way up the price scale. £21k for that Magnette? In a market where the Laguna and Primera has been withdrawn – who is going to buy an MG for that price, especially with the horrible residuals?

    The only way the MG6 could take off is if it was significantly cheaper and heavily promoted from launch.

  23. Truth hurts, eh. I sat in one at Pride of Longbridge year before last and was really disappointed; cheap and nasty with paint more like nail varnish. I thought to myself; not bad for something that costs 8000-9000 pounds.

    Then I saw the price!

    I’m surprised also by its lacklustre performance in Euro NCAP. I know it was tested many years ago, but the Rover 75 did well. I’d have thought a vehicle using some similar parts – perimeter front subframe – allied to a new bodyshell would be better!

    Must try harder!

    This is incredibly disappointing for a dyed in the wool 75 enthusiast…

  24. Despite Clarkson’s over the top style (he was quoted as being delighted when MGR went bust) there is some substance to his criticisms. The main issue is price and promotion. If the car was about £12k in diesel form with most of the toys, then it would sell. It is basically £4k too expensive in all its guises. If it could be sold from £11k for the petrol with SE specification and a 5 year warrenty IT WOULD SELL.

    However, that was then and this is now. The image is now trashed. People buy into success and not failure. MG are suffering from empty pub syndrome. No one will go into an empty pub and no one will buy a car which no one else is buying! MG in the UK have one more chance to get it right with MG3. It needs to be priced very competitively (from £8k max)and promoted like hell – if not, they will have no dealers by Christmas. The remaining dealers are clinging on for the MG3 and will pull out if this flops like MG6. That’s a shame because the MG6 is basically a good car although I thought the diesel is not as good as certain other brands for refinement. The interior is low rent even in TSE form and should have been addressed at launch.

    MGR and ARG always did great interiors even on Maestro and Montego, never mind Rover 800. When you think how ARG transformed the Rover SD1 interior for the Mk2 version, why can’t the MG6 have the same makeover and the trim and seats made in the UK to European standards of quality and some better colours such as BRG, Nightfire red and Westminster blue from the Rover 800 days?? At least the car would start to look upmarket.

    Clarkson is right about one thing – if MG built a MG6 to have the ambiance of the Rover 75 or 800 and priced it very cheaply with a good warrenty then a lot of former MGR owners would look again. There really is only the badge that denotes the MG herritage. Take the good bits from Rover,s past and get the pricing of a Chinese workforce and the result would be different.

  25. I don’t much care for J Clarkson or his tawdry TV programme and used to be highly irritated by the cheap and easy Rover-bashing that he used to indulge in, but I have to admit that, on this occasion, he has got it spot on.

    The MG6 – it’s not an MG. Never was, never will be.

  26. @Sid

    The EuroNCAP from a few years ago and the EuroNCAP of today are actually different – a 5 star car from a couple of years ago might only make 3 stars today

  27. Shows Clarkson is a numpty. A 6 Magnette diesel has stop start feature – all he had to do was depress the clutch! No headroom? I’m 6’2 and there is plenty of room above. The handbrake is very easy to use and who cares about a cup holder? Anyway the one in the dash is for passenger, the one in the cubby box is for the driver and that has a fridge in it. Just read what Quentin Willson says about the MG6 – a real motoring journalist, not an egostistical public school boy who couldn’t get a real job.

  28. Just a general point, but a few people have mentioned that the car that Clarkson tested was not a press car. It actually was. If you see the Daily Mirror report covering Clarkson’s ‘breakdown’ the car is registered VX62 HLV and it is the same press car loaned to various magazines.

  29. @34, Paul,

    The Quentin Willson blurb looks to me very much like it was commissioned by MG Motors – such ‘reviews’ should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

    Clarkson is a bit of a buffoon – he’s Boris Johnson minus the charisma and desire to achieve something positive (albeit possibly self-serving).

    @35, Sandie,

    I suspect MG Motors would have done all they could to prevent Jezza getting his hands on one of their cars directly, given his reputation for doing highly biased ‘hatchet jobs’ on relatively inoffensive cars. Nothing I’ve read from others who’ve driven the 6/Magnette have lead to the conclusion that it is the contemporary equivalent of the FSO Caro (facelifted Polonez with an XUD). My unqualified view (not having seen one up close) remains that the car is under-developed and sub-par for the price – and its failure in the market place is down to woeful marketing and pricing. And in regard to that, there is a suggestion that there are ‘cultural and communication issues’ between the Chinese parent and its British subsidiary – although such suggestions are frequently dismissed as being somehow ‘racist’.

  30. @37, Francis Brett,

    Was that comment directed at me re my comment on Sandie’s post above? If so, it was stated as conjecture – beginning with the words ‘I suspect’…

  31. “Nothing I’ve read from others who’ve driven the 6GT/Magnette has lead to the conclusion that it is the contemporary equivalent of the FSO Caro (facelifted Polonez with an XUD). ”

    Put an XUD in an MG6 and I’d be first in line!

    Sick of modern diesels with their injectors, DMFs, DPFs, EGRs….

  32. Two things may result here. Either MG sales will go further down the tubes (as if they aren’t bad enough already), or the review might arouse enough interest that people will go out and see whether the car is as bad as Clarkson says. SAIC might do well to take a look at their build quality, but once again they are relatively new to the game. Time will tell if they reach the standards of the Japanese and Koreans. This might not be related, but despite Kia’s improved quality of late, the cars still depreciate rapidly and how well will they hold up five years from now?

  33. Paul @ 34
    “Shows Clarkson is a numpty – a 6 Magnette diesel has stop start feature, all he had to do was depress the clutch!”

    Finally, the fact of the matter! I saw the ‘breakdown’ article in the Daily Mail(?) and straight away suspected Top Gear stupidity as opposed to factual reporting. Surely someone at MG UK is going to make Clarkson aware of this stop/start feature before he gives the 6 a bad press. (or has he already published?).

    I didn’t expect Clarkson to be remotely sensible or complimentary anyway!

    The general decline of the D-segment is an interesting comment. Can hardly be helping MG6 sales but, again, some promotion would benefit sales!! As cars have grown so much in size the Cortina/Sierra/Mondeo man now stops at Focus. I mean, Ford themselves no longer bother with Granada/Scorpio.

  34. Let me state first that I’m not a huge fan of Mr Clarkson. He can be quite rude, and is most of the time. But he has a few points:

    – When a car stalls twice whilst on test that’s not err … really good. Ouch

    – Then read about the NCAP-scores, also quite bad “The airbag didn’t inflate sufficiently well to stop the dummy driver’s head hitting the steering wheel, and while the feet and neck were well looked after, protection for the thighs and genitals was only “marginal”.” Ouch again (and in more than one sense!)

    So, if MG wants to succeed in the UK and elsewhere they better get their act together. Soon.

  35. @29 Simon… improved interiors and bring back old MGR colour schemes as well as cutting the prices? Sounds a good idea, but I think that’s too late now. As you say, the only overt sign of its heritage is the MG badge… otherwise it could be any other car on our roads.

  36. @4 This is the link from an expert MG website that states it will be withdrawn within 3 months:

    http://www.phpbber.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?mforum=macdroitwich&t=21596&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25&mforum=macdroitwich

    My guess is that the car will not be withdrawn from the market in a dramatic fashion, rather that they will cease importing any further PKD cars into Longbridge and will concentrate on shifting the stock that they hold, and once it is gone that will be the end of the MG6. All of the marketing is gearing up behind the enormously competitive MG3 with it’s class leading 1.5 engine. This is where MG see the future, this and the new SUV.

    Just hope nobody lets JC drive a MG3 prior to its launch, otherwise it will be dead in the water.

  37. Nissan vacated the D sector by dropping the poor selling Primera and running the Qashqai down the production line instead so SUV without the guilt works. And, as the Juke is also a success, MG better have the MG3 Xross prepared for launch in UK straight after the standard car.

  38. Despite what Clarkson said the car has been around for a few years now and the lack of them on the road says it all.

    I had a few ZRs all good and a Rover 25 which was also reliable and more than reasonable but I would not buy one of these new MGs – there’s far better cars for half the money.

  39. I’ve seen a few MG6s on the road recently, they look good in the right colour. Clarkson’s review is fair, given the price and competition, which is the main problem. The situation would be entirely different if it was available for £11k to £12k (with a low-emission engine). Furthermore, why are they trying to flog the MG6? Given the choice, I am sure many would opt to have the MG7 instead.

  40. Interesting that he compares it with the Kia. We don’t have the Cee’d in NZ, we have the Cerato. I don’t know if they are the same or not, but the prices are much the same (MG6 vs Cerato). I haven’t driven either car, but if I was to buy the car on styling, I think I would buy the Cerato – it’s a better looking car. Also reading between the lines his comments suggest that the car SHOULD be hand made and be unreliable, so is that why he doesn’t like it? Alex

  41. The Cee’d is head and shoulders better than the Cerato, although the Koup is a tempting prospect.

  42. @ 38, No not at all squire! You know me, I would have mentioned.

    It was simply me musing at the comments in general and I include myself! You know what I mean with the MG6 – all the this that and the other, I’ve got arguing fatigue over the MG6!

  43. Autocar have driven the MG6 diesel and rated it pretty highly. Clarkson drives it and reckons its a laughable s**t heap, deathtrap, clown car etc., etc. I think out of the two I’d be more inclined to listen to Autocar. However, if MG gave Clarkson an example with a dodgy fuel map or whatever they deserve the full-on slating – what a balls-up.

  44. Let’s be honest here – if you had 21,000, what mental process would lead you to the conclusion that the best way to get rid of it would be to get an MG6. Sadly, almost any other alternative whether new or used, Korean, French, Japanese or German is going to be substantially better in one or maybe all areas. Get it off the market, go away and think about it and come back with something worthwhile.

  45. Out of the 55 comments here, how many have come from people who have actually driven an MG6? I suspect that not many have and therefore anyone saying that Clarkson’s review was prejudiced… Well, to be honest, that’s the pot calling the kettle black, since they do not know how good/bad the car is. (Even thought he is prejudiced).

  46. I have and at the price point ($30K here in NZ) I thought it was a good motor. A few things irritated me, but I’ve never tried a car yet that was perfect in all things. Apart from my Rover P6B. That’s perfect.

  47. I’m really not sure why everyone is pointing the finger at JC. Read other reviews of the MG6 – Carbuyer, Whatcar, Auto Express, Car….it’s a 2 star car (at best) across the board!! People will be spending their own money on a new car so why shouldn’t they be informed of how good (or otherwise) their potential new is?

    Sorry but JC’s review is broadly similar to most others, if MG (SAIC) want better reviews then they need a better product.

  48. To all the Clarkson knockers the best way to get your own back / prove him wrong is to buy one but we all know that’s not going to happen. Why? well it’s sales figures say it all just remember Saab failed and they made truly stunning cars next to MG (SAIC).

  49. Ok, so the MG6 ain’t the best and it’s hardly in a booming market sector. It may not be that cheap either (but you can certainly pick one up for less than £21K!). However, people are missing the point here. The reason its sales are so, so low is that no effort at all has been made to promote the car. The reason for this we don’t really know. However, with the 3 on its way SAIC obviously have not given up on the UK, just changed strategy perhaps.

    I saw another MG6 on the way home tonight and was impressed by its appearance. I though to myself a bit of promotion and sales could have been at least small as opposed to miniscule. The positive effects would ‘snowball’ as sightings on the road created an ‘oh, what’s that?’ reaction and a visit to the nearest showroom at the weekend – Surely how many car sales start.

  50. Ok, i’m no Clarkson fan, infact i think his an idiot and i honestly think he’s gone a bit OTT this time. I drove a petrol MG6 last year and it really wasn’t that bad. In fact it felt a bit familiar somehow, maybe down to the R75/ZT Pedal box and that K Series engine sound?? Who knows but i felt at home fairly quickly. The interior materials are no worse than the Korean stuff, in most cases better and even Toyota are using awful plastics now. From a personal point of view i actually want an MG6 but i wouldn’t pay £20k for a new one even if i had the money but as a Used Car the prices of a Petrol SE are now within my price bracket.

    The fact that Clarkson hates it makes me more determined to buy one!

  51. I drove a petrol MG6 about 2 years ok. It was ok, nothing more, but not the disaster the hysterical Clarkson is wittering on about.

    It is, however about 5k too expensive

    MG are dead in the water in UK

  52. The MG6 has a 4 star Euro Ncap rating, it was tested in 2011 so was using the new test procedure, so Clarkson in a typical manner picked on one failing to back up the view Chinese cars are unsafe.
    The insurers also disagree with Clarkson offering, low group ratings.
    I didn’t think the Diesel had EPAS? and he obviously didn’t know it had stop/start or the starting procedure when he stalled it, depress the clutch first, numpty!
    Hey ho as they say any publicity is good publicty and lets be honest a large spread in a national newspaper is something the MG6 has never had!

  53. Andrew – the Autoexpress review gave it 3 star and Steve Cropley gave it 3 and proclaimed on the cover of Autocar magazine that you should go and buy one!
    Interestingly the Car gave the petrol 4 stars but the diesel only 2.
    So the MG6 has been rated anything from a 1 star to a 4 star really consistant!

  54. “The fact that Clarkson hates it makes me more determined to buy one!”

    Maybe that was the plan all along 😉

  55. I’ve got it, re run of “Brewster’s millions” in the UK, man has to spend ? millions and end up with nothing, buys all the MG6s out there, job done. Oh on second thoughts makes for a very short film.

    I’d have an MG6 but only if given or very very cheap, alternatively if I was rich I would buy one or even more (Hector Riva Time) if only to make the dealer feel better, I am such a soft touch.

    Clarkson is wrong, I am afraid he is also right, at least in part.

  56. People who say that ‘this is not an MG’ are completely wrong.

    It is an MG, it says it on the car, the website, the publicity material etc etc and so on. It is an MG.

    Whether you like it or not, it is.

    You should probably say ‘ I dont like the new MG’ or something similar to that.

  57. I will be purchasing one soon, the clarkeson damnation finally made my mind up,as someone said if he hates it, it must be ok.I have tested one and now Jeremy has spoken ,it is on its way.

  58. I purchased a MG6 magnette just over 2 weeks ago,a pre 63 registered one, with 1 mile on the clock, from Motor point for £8999. It has covered 550 miles now, so far pleased with it, being old school, taking it easy, letting things wear in a bit.
    Buying it first with minimal research, then reading all the bad reports about it, starting to scare me a bit. Time will tell how it goes. So far, so good, drives and handles well, comparing it to my 57 plate Xtype diesel, I traded in, it feels an improvement.

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