Words: Adam Sloman Photographs: Simon Davies/Pegasus Photographics
After seemingly endless delays, it appears MG is finally back, with firm intentions to stay.
Hosted by Sales and Marketing Director Guy Jones, the day combined an outline of MG Motor UK’s strategy for the marque’s return to the UK market with a whistle-stop tour of the newly streamlined Longbridge – now rechristened MG Birmingham.
Once ushered through to the Visitor Centre, we were shown an example of the ‘brand wall’ which will feature in all MG dealerships. This wall encompassed MG’s of the past (such as the B), present (the new 6) and future (in this instance, the ZERO Concept). It’s a nice touch that shows the brand’s new stewards are keen to embrace the heritage of the marque.
The new logo on its red background (chosen to evoke passion and sportiness) breaks with the previous identity so closely linked with the MG Rover era. It’s a more simplified logo, reminiscent of the chrome badges used to iconic effect on the likes of the MGA and MGB.
Attention soon turned to a covered car, awaiting its first UK showing, the MG6 saloon. Unveiled by MG Global Design Director, Tony Williams-Kenny, the 6 Saloon is a neat evolution of the Roewe 550.
Like the ZS Saloon before it, the 6 Saloon is arguably better balanced than its Fastback brother. After the unveiling, Williams-Kenny explained the thinking behind the car. “The MG6 saloon is unique – in terms of its size within the market, it has no true opposition, which we feel makes it unique. With warm, flowing forms it offers a strong British feel, something very important to any MG.”
The Saloon’s launch is planned for June, a date that has been brought forward after positive customer clinics. That’s reaction which has proved something of a surprise to Guy Jones and his Sales and Marketing team. The booted 6 is expected to be priced at a slight premium over the Fastback, given that the majority of the Saloon’s potential customers expect higher levels of equipment, with the sales team expecting the top-of-the range model to account for most Saloon sales. Power will come from the same 1.8 litre, turbo-charged petrol as found in the Fastback.
With the new metal unveiled, we were ushered across to the factory floor to take a look at where the UK’s MG6s will be assembled. This offered a unique opportunity since it’s a rare thing to see an empty factory. However, MG were keen to point out this won’t be the case for long, with the start of the production programme just weeks away.
The cars will arrive in an 80% built form from the factory in Lingan, China. Packed into a specially developed crate, the 6 is shipped two to a crate, taking around six weeks to make it from China to the UK. Once in Birmingham, they are unpacked in what was described as a ‘semi-automatic’ process before entering the factory using the former Rover 75/MG ZT line.
The exhaust, engine, gearbox and front suspension are all fitted here in the UK, with the electrical testing also happening at MG Birmingham, while the 6’s wheels and tyres are locally-sourced.
Craig Osman, Manufacturing Manager at MG, explained “We currently have 40 people here dedicated to production, around 95% of whom are former MG Rover employees.” He then went onto describe the mood amongst his staff as excited and really positive, before adding “It’s a great car, we want it to be a success and really hope it leads to a new sports car.”
With the MG6 launch scheduled for mid-March it seems that MG really is back, the sense of optimism at the former Longbridge plant was tangible, the targets are realistic and the cars seem right.
The proof, though, is in the driving and, if MG can deliver on this crucial factor, then the MG6 deserves to succeed. However, convincing the often sceptical British public may prove the sternest test for the new MG yet.