Our Cars : Mark’s MG6 takes a bow / Updated

Mark Mastrototaro has decided to take the plunge and put a new MG6 on his driveway.

He’s no blind MG6 fanboy, though, and goes in with his eyes open, promising to be completely realistic in his relationship with his new car. However, so far, despite one delivery hiccough, he’s quite enamoured by his new car.

What’s the best way of paying for an MG6?

MG6 takes its place in suburbia... and it stands out from the crowd, reckons our man, Mark Mastrototaro
MG6 takes its place in suburbia… and it stands out from the crowd, reckons our man, Mark Mastrototaro

Getting someone else to pay of course!

Private and company leasing is become much more common-place these days, the economics of such deals making perfect sense to some, not so to others – it totally depends on a person’s circumstances. When I was given the option of taking a car on company lease and given my budget, I was frankly amazed at the deals out there.

The long and short of it is, some manufacturers are throwing money behind deals themselves to get stock moving and, as a result, there are some cracking deals to be had. A shortlist was made of some very capable motors: the Mercedes-Benz C220 CDi Exec SE, Seat Exeo TDi Tech SE, Skoda Superb CR170, Vauxhall Insignia VX Line CDTi, VW Tiguan Sport TDi, were the ones which came rising to the surface after much deliberation.

However, as an owner of over 30 examples of ‘Firm’ machinery, I couldn’t help myself but to just enquire about MG. The leasing company I was going through could only manage a very uncompetitive deal on a TSE. Undeterred, I decided to contact MG myself, emailing a local (well as local as MG Motor UK dealers are presently) dealer, West Riding MG of Bradford. What harm could it do? After a couple of days, one of the sales guys came back to me and gave me some marginally better figures, yet they still weren’t good enough for my budget.

The dealer put me onto one of the chaps based at the MG Sales Centre in what was the Roundhouse at Longbridge. I ended up letting MG Birmingham’s Richard Bourton know the kind of numbers he needed to come back to get my custom. It was was an honest and frank conversation…

I wasn’t confident in the slightest, knowing that lease-deals tend to be without much negotiation. However, I was amazed when they they came through with a deal in under 24 hours!

It was decision time. I’d put my dilemma out to some of my online friends, who were there to offer sound advice and moral support, and I’d given myself a decision deadline. With the clock ticking, I made a call to dealer friend and AROnline and Car Mechanics magazine Contributor, Steven Ward, to have one last conversation and get the nitty gritty on the MG6. By the end of the call – at 11.00am on (poignantly?) Friday the 13th July, I had decided to throw someone else’s money at a brand new MG6 on a 24 month deal.

At this stage I should probably say that, yes, I know there were more capable cars on my shortlist; and yes, were I buying the car myself with my own money then perhaps my decision would have been different (an economical judgement only though). Sometimes, though, just sometimes, you have to trust your heart. When I bought British Leyland, Austin Rover, Rover Group and MG Rover cars in the past, there had always been more capable alternatives. It’s a matter of choice and a matter of taste – the MG Motor UK cars are no different.

Much excitement ensued in the period of time between order and delivery date but the process wasn’t a smooth one – every time we had some paperwork sent in, something else needed completing and my patience was starting to wear thin. Sensing my unrest at a crucial point, MG took the unusual step of giving me a 12-plate MG6 GT SE to use until mine was ready for collection! Excellent.

Having ordered mine in Burnt Orange, I was pleased that the loaner was a different colour and a Regal Red example was mine for the short term. I don’t know why, but I suppose I’d lowered my expectations a little, perhaps because of the tired old clichés being rattled out by people who had not only never sat in or touched one, but never even seen one in the metal – it’s almost laughable.

Mind you, if first impressions are anything to go by, I felt better already. The doors are heavy and incredibly solid feeling, the plastics inside feel expensive (for the most part), but I’m disappointed by a few jarring let-downs:

  1. That Key. Please, please MG sort something out with it. It feels cheap and nasty and I’ll be amazed if they don’t break quickly. Truly amazed.
  2. The ‘carbon faux-bre’ around the gear gaiter and handbrake area. It looks cheaper than it should.
  3. SAIC etching on the windows isn’t very nice to see. I don’t expect TATA will be doing the same on JLR products, so why this SAIC?
  4. Interior light is FAR too bright at night. Dazzling almost.
  5. Two small red mood  lights which illuminate your hands, are fine… only they shine straight into the mirror. Luckily they’re not bright!
  6. The gearknob. It feels cheap and nasty.
  7. The depth of the seat bolsters. These could be increased for more comfort, they seem slightly too shallow compared to my other cars (a Peugeot 407, Austin Maestro and Volvo S40)

I decided to reserve judgement until I’d covered a few miles in a variety of driving styles and situations, but my initial impressions are good. The engine sounds familiar, yet quieter – its origins’ too obvious to ignore and that was just by the sound of it! Revvy and willing like a well-sorted K-Series should be, but the gearbox is very impressive. Very positive, albeit only five-speeds, but with well-spaced ratios and a very sporty feel. Steven Ward actually gave me the low-down on this gearbox and it’s encouraging to hear that MG has given the care and attention a good gearbox needs during its development. The steering has that familiar MG Rover feel: well-weighted, which is so lacking in many over-assisted EPAS set-ups in rival cars these days.

I’ll not bore you with the details of every journey but, in the 1400 miles I put on the loan car, it performed utterly faultlessly. While not the quickest thing in the world, it still has more than enough performance. The average mpg over the time I had it was 37.1 – a figure I’m more than happy with. It’s also good in the corners and on the straights. It seems, completely by accident – if the model’s lack of UK advertising is anything to go by – MG Motor UK has made a very capable car. All MG needs to do is get people to try them!

However, come the 21st August, it was time to collect my MG6 proper. I made the trip over to West Riding MG in the loan car and, in very, very heavy rain, inspected my car for the next two years. I’ve decided on the Burnt Orange as I was impressed by the depth and finish of the first one I saw in the metal months ago. I didn’t regret my choice, as I looked at the new and old cars side by side. In the words of my friend Glenn Robertson, ‘the Hatch in that colour is the definitive ‘6’. He’s spot on. It looks superb.

When I got inside the car, it had 1 mile on the clock! Well, they’d gone and put me some fuel in! To my delight the gearknob has been changed now and this new item feels a million per cent better – no exaggeration. The steering wheel leather also feels better in my car. The Sat-Nav is easy to use, as are the stereo and trip computer.

Importantly, the two cars drive almost identically – a good indication of the quality in both design and build, another seemingly good job, well done. Time will tell now – we have two years of this car together and I don’t doubt  there’ll be ups and downs. We’ll also see in real terms how MG and its Dealer Network perform when it comes to sorting out any problems which may come up or how they deal with the fundamentals like servicing.

Have I made a good choice? Have I made a brave choice? Am I wasting someone else’s money? Does my medication need reviewing? These questions will all be answered in the fullness of time!

Update: 24 August

A quick dash shot and also, I’d noticed that this ‘6 seemed a little quieter. On inspection, I discovered that, where the loaner had no under-bonnet soundproofing, mine does! Excellent! I also took a few under-bonnet shots for the parts-bin spotters amongst you and prepare for shrieks of terror as you see the cam cover removed and no longer is the ‘ROVER’ stamping present, now a rather poor looking ‘SAIC MOTOR’ in it’s place. Nice to see the engine numbering system surviveS though!

Anyway, have a quick look and see what bits you recognise!

A moment on the engine cover itself – on looking at the pictures, I assumed it was a hard plastic cover but, once, I’d unbolted it etc, I discovered it was actually a very thick foam/plastic piece of really good quality.  I’d been told by Steven Ward that this was designed with pedestrian safety in mind, which definitely seems to ring true.


Keith Adams


  1. I hope you enjoy this car very much,these cars look great in certain colours and a nice touch with the supercover decal!

  2. An unusual colour in these days of near universal silver, dark grey and dark blue but it looks good in the pic. How does the driving experience of the 6 compare with the 407 ?

  3. Did they give you a toy one in Burnt Orange too? The 1:16 models look very detailed!

    Hopefully it’ll be a painless ownership experience – coming through with the loan car is a very good sign.

  4. To directly compare the 6 and the 407 without too much detail is relatively easy. The 6 is much better to drive, feels more solid and well planted to the road; it’s also roomier as both a driver and passenger front and rear, the driving position is better in the 6, however the all round visibility is better in the 407. I enjoy the 407 but would always go for the keys to the 6.

  5. I still see a touch of MG Maestro in that design, although I do realise that’d be coincidental. As for owning the MG6, yup there’s still a heart decision here but not because I think it’s a bad car at all. Obviously being a bit of an unknown quantity you will be taking a certain leap in faith but there is a bit of a cachet to owning what is effectively a pretty rare car. Hopefully it performs well day in and day out.

    Take her for a long drive… Head off to Brugge for what’s left of the summer and enjoy….

    Let us know how you get on with the servicing arrangements.

  6. Gizza go Mister…
    When they get to £3k for a TSE (another year) then I may well get one myself.
    They aren’t a bad old bus, just a bit slow.

  7. You are right Mark… the burnt orange metallic does look nice and so does the red one. I’ve never had a car from new with only 1 mile on the clock either! Sounds like MG are taking heed of comments about some of the interior trim and fittings and reacting to them positively.

    Hope the car lives up to expectations and look forward to hearing progress reports. I still miss my MG ZS and stories like yours may tempt me back to MG ownership sometime.

  8. It all sounds very positive. It reminds me of the MG Maestro in red 🙂
    Just one question, how do you find the noise, vibration and harshness. I’ve read a few reviews of them and heard people whine and moan about NVH. Personally it wouldn’t trouble me but what do you think, Mark?

    And well done for walking the talk, by the way!

  9. I would have no comment to make at all on NVH, it’s better than the 407. The car is quiet thus far offering no vibration to speak of, perhaps as time and mileage goes on, like any car, this may happen. I will keep you all posted.

    As for the 1:16 scale one. I have received an email today from them letting me know it’s being posted out this afternoon for me and yes, it’s orange and YES it’s a good will gesture from them due to the various delays 🙂

  10. Very interested in the comparison with the 407, I got prices a couple of weeks ago to chop my 407 in, along with my Aveo for the silver MG6 SE they have at Motorpoint.In the end the price for the 407 was fair but that for the Aveo a joke, so I backed away.(I quite like the Aveo,cheap,comfy,harmless)
    I’ve driven the 6 and the space and driving position is better than the 407,you can NEVER quite get the seat right in a 407.
    The colour is lovely, please keep a record of your MPG and let us know.

  11. I’m confident that the Chinese are making fairly good cars nowadays and i’d buy one as well, but like you, with someone elses money.
    If it was my money i’d be worried about the depreciation.
    Time will tell.

  12. NVH isn’t bad at all. Its a bit grumbly when you rev it hard, but very acceptable. Also with the extra sound deadening on the new one it might be a bit better.
    Its not as refined as an Espace, but then, what is?

  13. Good luck- it was sensible for you to use ‘other people’s money’ on an unknown brand (well SAIC’s MG Motors ain’t the same as MG-Rover…), and burnt orange is one of my favourite colours on just about anything (well, apart from a burnt orange, obviously). Sounds like someone at MG Motors is actually serious about selling them, which is a good sign.

    I hope that SAIC are monitoring sites like this, as well as other motoring media, and are taking notes. Seems to me that they have already done a hell of a lot to produce a pretty credible car- astonishing really given the lack of market penetration of Chinese made vehicles. It took the Japanese quite a few years for their cars to ‘come good’-and they were able to capitalise on the early 70’s fuel crisis to break through, although they never lacked reliability.

  14. Interior (lack of) appeal was one of the major early criticisms – anyone know what changes have been made since the cars first went on sale in the UK?

  15. Though I may not be able to bring myself to consider buying a Chinese car, it certainly is a lovely colour.

  16. I don’t know, what changes they made however the steering wheel and gearknob have already been changed to noticeable effect. The dash quality etc is excellent though. Much better than the 60 plate Seat Leon FR TDi 170 I had as a company car in 2010 and indeed the Peugeot 407 I also own.

  17. If I was in the market for this class, price of car I would seriously consider the 6. Not just out of brand loyalty. I very much like the MG6. I would relish the prospect of having something different. The unknown brand bit would not put me off. I would have confidence in SAIC’s corporate strength coupled with the input of MG UK engineering, experience.

    Hope your time with the 6 over the next two years is a good one, Mark.

  18. @16 Yep. But like I say, it’s coincidental – no one in their right mind would base a design directly on the Maestro… lol

  19. Interesting what you said about NVH, Mark.
    I didn’t know there was any “Rover” marks on the engine components. Why was that? Was their a surplus of parts left over the SAIC could use?

  20. Hmmmmm,not being funny like,but people need to get over the chinese thing here,you wont buy a chinese car but maybe a chinese made ipad,iphone or some other consumer electronic computer device? even most silicone chips and semi-conductors contain mined rare earth metals from china,so why not a very agreable £16k car?

  21. The cam cover never had ROVER on it, even the original EU1, 2 and 3 models, it was moulded into the plastic plug/coil cover, until MGR themselves changed it to a sticker on the EU3 model, because of the MG and Rover designation.

    Have to say, the casting quality around the SAIC Motor bit looks shit! They’d been better not to have bothered changing the die tbh! Interesting that they’ve gone over from Speed/Density airflow measurement to a MAF – nice blanking plate over the MAP sensor hole! [edit] I’ve spotted the MAP sensor in the inlet pipe to throttle body – no doubt used for boost pressure measurement.

    Rest of the car looks nice, the engine looks rather familiar – an upgunned K series it definitely is. I’ve no doubt it drives very nicely too!

  22. Looks great, hope it gives you good service. So pleased thay have changed the gear lever knob, I hated the one fitted to the demonstrator I tried (and enjoyed) last year

  23. @23 Frankie, my Maestro and many other Montegos had lots of BL and ARG markings on certain parts.. even right through to the early nineties.

    Thing is it’s often not worth replacing the mouldings or pressing simply because of a little badge, certainly in parts where they wouldn’t be noticed or seen.

  24. Good to see a fellow ‘6 owner! The new gear lever looks like the same kind fitted to the first batch of press cars last year. I think Fifth Gear TV found the ‘chrome’ effect on the knob itself flaked off so keep your eye on that as the miles increase.

  25. Nice to see some true life experiences comming through on these MG6’s. I like the burnt orange colour, same as my Discovery 2 ive just bought 🙂 its interesting to note the comments about lighting and surfaces, I imagine that if they were selling more of them that the aftermarket tuning sector would start producing some better trim and accessories. alex

  26. Hats off, congrats. Defo the best colour. Back to unknown quantity, is there some kind of JDpower survey in China, or as for most of the press and pretty much anything in this country, is everything controlled and manipulated by local authorities/politicians?

  27. @33 well there’s been no recalls yet as far as I can gather and that includes other parts of the world where the ‘6 sells, hardly any owners have reported problems with their cars yet.

    It’d be interesting to see what the current owners are thinking by the time it comes to their response to the JD Power survey and I’d also like to know what Avis’ assessment of the car is so far. Anyone able to gather this?

  28. Francis Brett @24

    I will “get over this Chinese thing” when I have no choice other than to buy a Chinese car if/when the European (and particularly the UK industry) no longer exists. On a site with the slogan “Made in Britain”, I’m surprised that there aren’t more people that feel this way.

    Every additional car we import from China (with or without superficial UK branding) brings that day just a little closer…..

    It’s still a nice colour though 😉

  29. @35 maybe soon MG’s could be made here,which would make no difference has our UK car industry is in foreign hands which to be fair is no bad thing so far,seem to be doing a better job than we could.

  30. @37 Maybe they could. But, as they have already shipped all of the manufacturing equipment to China and all of the new smaller SAIC’s will be 100% Chinese, rather than very close to 100% as with the SAIC/MG6, then this seems purely wishful thinking.

  31. Regarding the window etching, my 1st gen Lexus LS400 has Toyota plastered all over things despite them trying heavily to distance the brands!

  32. @ 40 This goes against everything that I’ve seen reported so far. Do you have a link to any evidence for this?

    Does this mean that they will be doing any manufacturing, or will they simply be marrying a completed engine to a completed body and then unpacking and fitting the exhaust and wheels as they do now?

  33. There are a large number of components which go out from British firms to be assembled by MG in China also, that should be taken into consideration during the ‘tirade of hate’ 🙂

  34. Nice car, think I’ll wiait until they’re down to £3500 second hand. That’ll be next year I imagine.

  35. Hmmm looks like china used there best plastic on this one!! went to look at one as its time to trade my Vag oil burner I have to say how crap and cheap they really are in the flesh thought my2007 vw lacked build quality probably to the fact it was also nailed together in china but sorry I will not be buying one still have a 2003 zr that knocks the spots off this even if the engine is getting fragile but nearly ten years of thrashing its not doing to bad.

  36. @46 Absolute nonsense, bordering on embarrassing yourself there. Like I said, haters will hate because it makes them feel better, I by no means have rose tinted glasses on, and I’ve had alot of modern tin (as I use company cars regularly and have done for quite a while) so can make comparisons easily. 🙂 Each to their own though. I also think to xenophobically make a sweeping statement is bizarre in the extreme when one considers the day and age we’re living in… it’s like Alf Garnett complaining about a Datsun! 🙂

  37. Russ, I am not sure what car you saw, but the MGs that I have seen have been very well built. The only problem is the lousy marketing. Mark has managed to snaffle himself a bargain with his 6, and I look forward to picking one up for a song in the next 18 months or so. If this is what SAIC is capablenoff, then the future of MG is safe, apart from the UK marketing.

  38. I’m still keen to learn about the “large number of components which go out from British firms to be assembled by MG in China”. Please would you enlighten me?

  39. @Tigger, I assumed from your detailed and enlightened feelings towards the car, you already would know? No?

  40. @50 i know there are a large number of components that go out from chinese firms that go in cars assembled in britain.

  41. @50 Not being aware of anything so much as a single washer that is supplied by UK industry to go into the MG6, I was intrigued to learn what you had found to arrive at your earlier statement that a “large number of components which go out from British firms to be assembled by MG in China”.

    I am ready and happy to stand corrected if you have any links to demonstrate that there is any UK component supply to the Chinese plant that builds these cars.

  42. I shall prepare a list for you, you can just remain there on the edge of your seat in the mean-time, chewing on your own rage 🙂

  43. ALSO – V5C came through this morning and it says the following;

    Make – MG
    Type – 550
    Model- 6 SE GT TURBO

    I was surprised to see ‘550’ feature at all.

  44. Thank you for the link.

    I would genuinely like to know more about what the “electrical items” are, as the bodyshell is built, painted and fitted out in China, while and the engine is also manufactured and completely assembled there.

    Unfortunately, with the exception of some highly specialist touring car tyres, Dunlop stopped making all other car and commercial vehicle tyres in the UK with the closure of their Washington plant in 2006.

  45. “UK workers have to build and fit the engines, as well as installing the front suspension and subframe, exhaust system and electrics.”

    From the same article, so it suggests the engines are in fact assembled here?

  46. Tigger, that purpose built Dunlop Washington plant supplied Rover and Nissan. Sadly with the closure of Rover, the plant swiftly followed and left alot of people up here without jobs and without a thriving social club.

    As for the MG6, virtually all metal fixings, nut, bolts and the like are all UK sourced and sent to China for assembley. There are also electrical motors sent out there, certain engine componenets (pistons rings?)the wheels are british, as too are the fluids and now even the brake pads.

  47. I think the dampers are German built and sent out to China as they are Sachs item. Roeve 550 dampers are chinese made, along with its brake pads for example.

    Another thing to consider Tigger is the vast volume of chinese components fitted to British assembled cars. Take a tour of Nissan or Honda and prepare to be shocked at the boxes and crates of components that are of chinese origin, alternators, ECUs, airvents, filters, lots of stuff. Its to the point now that the ultimate Capitalist company, GM, are actively trying to get more suppliers manufacturing components in the UK for the next generate Vivaro and Astra lines.

  48. Having completed several tours of plants from Rover (and subsequently BMW MINI) at Cowley, Land Rover at Halewood, Jaguar at Castle Bromwich and Triumph Motorcycles at Hinckley (Plants 1 & 2) I understand that component parts come from far and wide especially with the steep decline in component manufacturing in the UK, although there are still surprisingly large local supply contracts as they are more easily able to guarantee just in time supply.

    As I am genuinely interested to know what UK content there is in a Longbridge finished MG6, I have just written to SAIC/MG at Longbridge for a definitive answer. Well, it doesn’t do any harm to ask, does it?

    I will report back on exactly what they say.

  49. You’ll perhaps even find that some parts, which I know for certain are designed and engineered here, are built in China too. But it’s interesting. Some firms, not just in the automotive sector are relocating their work back to Europe and indeed the UK and several factors are in play at the moment:

    1) Wages in China are on the rise due to inflation as China attempts to continue with it’s high growth strategy.

    2) Imports are getting more expensive – CORRECTION – The UK £ is becoming more worthless with ‘quantitative easing’, keeping exports competitive at the same time, although this is a bit of an illusion as wage pull starts to come into play here in the UK

    3) Quality control – We are getting better and better at this! – BMW has even said they are better off building powertrains here than in China simply because the quality isn’t consistent.

    4) Education in the auto-sector is one of the best in the world and encouragements have been made to draw more young people into the engineering profession.

    Not exactly leading to a barrage of companies wanting to relocate here but it is having an effect on decision making when it comes to manufacturing in the UK. A major thing that’s holding us back right now is the manufacturing skills gap.

  50. I have a reply from Keith Harris at MG Motor, as to the local content of the cars that are completed at Longbridge. His complete and unedited reply was:

    “I cannot give you an exact percentage but parts for MG6 are sourced from across the EU, including several UK suppliers – these parts are not simply used in UK MG vehicles but exported to China for R.O.W. production.

    As an estimate I would suggest that the EU content is somewhere in the region of 35-40% with the rest R.O.W sourced including South Africa and, of course, China.”

    Unfortunately, as there are absolutely no specifics on who the companies are, or what components they are referring to, I don’t feel much further forward. “Somewhere in the region of 35-40%” doesn’t inform me if this is by volume, weight or value and figures like this usually include provision for factory and labour overheads rather than component value alone.

  51. Hey Mark I like your style!! (takes me back to my Triumph days!) Given you cannot turn back the clock on who owns MG I am actually quite OK with a mass market car being built abroad so much kit is now ‘built in Japan or even I have seen ‘made in China from Japanese components!'(I could still pay a premium and buy a high end car more expensively built in the UK if I had the dosh!). It does make me feel heartened that we have employment in the UK for great designers and engineers who are hopefully influencing future products being sold around the globe.

  52. I would like to know how Mark is getting on with this car?!

    Anyone got any further info?

    Mark, are you reading this?

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