It’s been in development for two years, with cars racking up testing miles in the UK and Europe – and for many people the ‘6 Diesel represents the opportunity for MG to put behind it the petrol-only ‘phoney’ war of the past year and a half and start actually selling some cars. It’s a very British project, with just about all of the design, testing and development being centred in Longbridge – remember that ‘diesel is only used in trucks’ in China…
The new car, which is scheduled for launch in the next few weeks, is powered by a 1849cc turbo diesel hooked up to a long-striding six-speed gearbox, pushing out around 150bhp and 260lb ft. The all-aluminium engine is the result of a joint venture between Kunming-Yunnei and SAIC Motor and is known as the D19TCI – although lots of local tuning has been undertaken at Longbridge. However, we hear that the drivetrain for the new oil burner is up to 100kg heavier than the lightweight TCI-Tech engine and, as the MG6 already weighs-in at a hardly sylph-like 1485kg, all that power and torque is going to have its work cut out.
A source in Europe, who has driven the car extensively, backs up this impression, saying the early cars are a bit of mixed bag – combining a nicely-damped chassis and slick-shifting gearbox with slightly disappointing mid-range response and outright punch. In daily driving, it should return 50-55mpg, a far cry from the 32mpg we struggled to get from the petrol 1.8 turbo.
Like the petrol powered MG6, the diesel handles well thanks to its Andy Kitson-developed chassis, turning-in sharply and riding well on its thoughtfully-damped chassis. Our engineer voiced a note of caution, complaining bitterly about the car’s light and lifeless EPAS, accusing it of undoing much of the suspension set-up’s good work. However, dynamic development is an ongoing process and, given the work’s being done in the UK by engineers who really know what they’re doing, we’d be disappointed if this flaw wasn’t sorted before the car reaches its customers. As expected, the brakes – unchanged from the Rover 75/MG ZT, aside from a redesigned master cylinder – are powerful and lacking in feel.
In short, it’s a much-needed new engine option that MG Motor UK will be able to start selling hard. The MG6 occupies an interesting market niche and does have a number of positive points in its armoury so we’re looking forward to seeing if MG’s relaunch of the ‘6 will be good enough to raise public awareness of the car – and the brand.
After selling a pitiful 19 in June, this needs to happen.