News : MG – New diesel-powered future to dawn?

Keith Adams

The MG6 diesel was shown to the Duke of York.
The MG6 diesel was shown in November 2011 to HRH Duke of York.

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.


MG6 production underway at Longbridge
MG6 diesel is weeks from its launch now. Will it revitalise the company’s fortunes in the UK?
Keith Adams


  1. Too little too late and arriving just as the compact hatch market starts to move ovr to small capacity Petrol Turbos. They’ll probably manage to sell 25 next June.

  2. I realise that it might not be the clientele that SAIC MG is trying to chase perhaps, but it wouldn’t hurt if they supplied some of these cars to minicab companies- for one thing, taxi drivers tend to carry the sort of people MG would like to sell to on nights out, etc, and if they like what they are driving, are more than happy to share that with their customers- I’ve heard rave reviews of Octavias and Mondeos from minicab drivers.

    I hope they can get the steering feel sorted- that can make the difference between an average steer that ‘does the job’, and an engaging car that you want to spend more time in.

  3. @4 thegravestoneman,

    Yeah, they probably popped an old B Series diesel found in the corner of the factory for those shots…

  4. I wonder if other auto forum users look on here and i wonder what they think,you moan about diesels and autos not being available at launch,fair do’s,now its here its too little too late.stick to the archives or say something positive jeeees.

  5. I have to say, it’s a damn good looking car. It seems to really suit bright colours. Let’s hope that the derv gives it the success it deserves (and that the Marketing team pull their finger out…)

  6. They have a major fault. Price! MG’s are 30% too expensive at least. Yes an oil burner is a step in the right direction, so long as it is Euro5 or better, but come on, pricing it to compete with the big boys will mean it remains a niche product, selling about 2 a week. A basic diesel version ideal for minicabbing, sold at about £13,500 would have minicabbers beating a path to MG’s doors.

  7. Is this a Chinese made SAIC engine or sourced by SAIC from elsewhere? I hope it is capable of matching and beating its main competitors and so finally create some serious showroom footfall for MG. as a past 75 Tourer and ZT-T CDTi owner (and diesel owner for 25 years) this might just put an MG6 on my list when it becomes time to change the Toledo, especially if it proves a good tower!

  8. Hmm.. that’s disappointing – granted, the all out punch will give a slightly sportier feel higher up the rev range but what most customers will want is mid-range to pass A or M-way road traffic. I’d reserve judgement before driving one but there really should have been a 2 litre version of this engine. Still, if the figures for economy and C02 are good and reliability have been well and truly sorted then I see no reason why fleets shouldn’t include it. A potential panda car, it is not though 🙁

  9. A significant step forward and great news from my point of view!

    Had my third MG6 sighting a few days ago – this one looked like a purchase as opposed to a test drive or dealer’s car.

  10. Adrian

    It’s an SAIC developed engine. They had the chance to use a GM alliance or VAG sourced engine but they would not pay the premium as made the (fatal) descision to opt for their own power unit.

    Is it too late? Who knows. Will an unknown power unit equally hamper sales? Who knows.

    One thing is for certain…. Current sales and marketing is pathetic, as I have said before, until this is addressed with some vivid marketing and promotion…. There’s not a cat in hells chance I fear!

  11. According to the DVLA tax disc renewal site, the car is powered by a 1849cc ‘heavy oil’ engine, and as yet, its Co2 rating is unstated. That engine capacity is shared with a compact four-cylinder Shanghai engine offered in Asian market – so it will be interesting to see if the MG6′s powerplant is a refined development of this.

    This is what was said last November when the top photo was first published.

  12. @13 Mike Humble,

    Odd desision, but if they are not actualy planning to sell that many in Europe it may not cost them much.

    That said, Chinese engineering is coming along in leaps and bounds (who’d think we’d even be discussing Chinese cars on these shores even a decade ago?), and if you use sites like Gizmag (technology website) you’ll frequently see Chinese names mentioned in connection with breakthroughs in physics, new inventions, etc., so I don’t doubt that in 20 years time they will be technological world leaders. So I will suspend judgement on this diesel engine- as it could easily prove to be a corker.

  13. This is a longbridge designed and engineered engine?then hopefully it will be competitive,longbridge has a long history or brilliant engineers,the derv engine MG rover was developing before the collapse was a better engine than the BMW one in terms of power and refinement all with just 2V heads!of course time moves on,they could have had GM/Fiat(FPT)engines which i think are class competitive as are Certain VW oil burners,if they are too dear then make your own!Far east dervs are aons better than anyone would dare give them credit for a few years ago and meet or exceed emmisions reg with ease,i dont see it as a fatal decision at all.Lets face it it BMW was ripping off MG rover for its oil burners,the chinese wont fall for that-not a second time.

  14. Pleased to hear Diesel almost here, just need marketing to arrive and they may have a chance. That said the article is hardly a ringing endorsement, and I would have to agree with some of the earlier comments regarding new efficient petrol engines, and the limitations of an unknown chinese heavy oil engine. Fingers crossed!

  15. I guess its possible its simply a development of the Rover L series diesel engine. I dont know for sure if this engine was cast at Power Train, or at Perkins, but I am reasonably sure it was at Power train, so presumably Nanjing MG – SAIC got the castings for it. alex

  16. i ALSO cant help wondering how well the MG6 would sell if it had the old series 1 freelander AWD system fitted. especially in Shooting Brake form alex

  17. does anyone know anyone who has bought and MG6, are they happy with it, one year on? how reliable are they? alex

  18. @19 i can guarantee it would be a disaster,the MK1 freelander AWD system was terribly unreliable,technical bulletins was issueed one week after the freelander went on sale because puch made IRD’s simply broke up,i think GKN started making them not long after,then the £1000 a pop viscous coupling on the prop would sieze and would start to rip the rear subframe mount from the chassis,characterised by a cloud crack on take up of drive.Its not popular on cars anyway with weight and fuel economy,unless a audi or insignia vxr.

  19. It’s not an L-Series derivative, the capacity is wrong.

    Are we going to get a car that we CAN be positive about rather than HAVING to be positive about (to keep a certain
    lovers of the brand happy)?

    And what’s with the EPAS, I thought 6’s were ‘uniquely’ HPAS?

  20. Can EPAS be tuned electronically, or it is a case of physically re-engineering the steering rack, geometry, etc?

  21. @26 depends on manufactorer,ford for example have comfort and sport settings on the focus and mondeo.Some cars have a motor and module on the steering column Fiat,MGF and corsas etc.some have a pump either on top of the rack or remote i.e inner wing etc,some BMW’s have the pump integral with the rack but all for the reasons to lower CO2 emissions by taking load off the engine,another “bright”idea is electronically controlled thermostats for coolant lets hope they are failsafe!

  22. @27, I didn’t mean ‘user adjustible’ by means of a button, but manufacturer tunable- after all, if you have two settings, eg ‘City’ and ‘Sport’ both would be set by the manufacturer.

    What I was wondering was if the default setting, or user-switchable settings, could be tailored by the engineers at will without resorting to swapping components- if so, it should be relatively easy to tune the steering to European, and especially British, tastes.

  23. @28 im sure it could for feel and weight it would all be in the sotware adaptations i suppose.

  24. @26,28
    EPAS is Electric Power Asissted Stearing so is a normal servo just powered not with hydraulic but with electricity. on most cars (like on MGF) it works till a certain speed (to help steering on slow speeds) but is only a help for driving, so with a compiuter program you can only add or reduce some help you get (have a harder or lighter steering) for a sharper or softer steering (eg to reduce or increase the total turnsov the steering wheel) rack and pinion must be changed

  25. @31 pure EPAS on most vehicles does not lend itself to natural feel or weight(if you have driven a chevette you will know what i mean)although it is improving,astra G onwards,a lot of VWs and a couple of foerd have the electro-hydraulic system and the rack are as normal maybe ratio changes at the pinion and spool valve/torsion bar adjustments.

  26. EPAS is notoriously troublesome. Knock sensors fail, and even the pumps themselves are known to go haywire, and repairing is not cheap. They had a chance at getting proven VAG diesel technology, but said no, and made their own engine that is huge compared to the rivals? Seriously, why? Weight is a killer in cars now, and it will hurt economy, especially as the Chinese don’t quite get the Euro emissions regulations. An out of the box common rail 1.6 VAG unit that meets Euro 5, or their own of nearly 1.9 litres that knowing SAIC’s past form will struggle to hit Euro 3?

  27. Yorkie, I totaly agree with you, in cars like the MGF is usefull beacouse of the centrall engine (there is no sense to have hydraulic pipes from rear to the front)and is only an add (I think that it is in function only from 0 to 40-45 kmh)then is pure and crude direct feeling (but the steering is light enough) Epas is good for the so called girly button in the cars (hell girly i still remember my lada niva, oh guys and girls that was a real fitness)

    What concernes the VAG nobody realy understands them … remember DSG

    for the Modern Gentelmen engine and their use of the EPAS and derivate system i think that was added later once than the engine was done and they are dooing a little developing patchwork. I already wrote that MG car strategy is a mistery for me….

  28. It’s a contemporary looking design, inoffensive but not eye eye-catching pretty. But then again you can say that about a lot of cars these days. It will be interesting to see the reviews in the mainstream motoring press, let’s hope they give it a fair trial.

    EPAS can work very well, anyone who has driven a MINI R56 will confirm this…

  29. That little orange light on the dash says it all about EPAS, and loads of cars at 3 years old are now failing their MOT’s on it, especially VAG products. 2nd hand pumps are silly money, and full recon, pumps alone are nigh on £300-£400 for most cars, then you add on the labour to change them…

  30. @33 most of the EPAS problems are steering geometry related,picked up by the steering angle sensor,i.e tracking,old puntos are very prone mainly due to module failures,the VAG electro-hydraulic systems used to fail alot due to poor crash repairs (water ingress)or wiring chafe condition (Seat leon)and again,poor tracking,or poor battery(current draw high)you will find a knock sensor on an engine for fuelling and ignition not on EPAS.As for the VAG 1.6 CR TDI a lot of trouble with those engines at the minute due to siemens piezo injector failures,oh and the Euro 5/6 regs are part of a legal framework: E5- CO-0500gm/km NOX-0.180 gm/km and particulate matter (PM)0.005 gm/km.E6:CO 0.180 gm/km NOX 0.170 PM 0.005.E6 regs are not finalised as yet for 2014 but as illustated are some of the most stringent so far,so the days of diesel cars smoking like a tramp steamer and being sold here are long gone.

  31. My view is the 6 diesel will need to be below 120gm CO2, have an auto box option (or better still a DSG style ‘box), and priced to compete with (in other words steal sales from) Hyundai/Kia/Skoda/Seat) and it might just take off. Also being a good tow car will also give it a boost, look at how Sang Yong are succesfully pitching there new budget priced compact 4×4 at caravanners. Unfortuntalely based on MG/SAIC efforts to date i remain less than optimistic albeit hopeful. The new Skoda Rapide/Seat Toledo will also be potential competition for the ‘6. Given the car delivers on the above (and the engine takes a healthy remap!) I would look at a 6 when I look to change the Toledo in a couple of years.

  32. Just remember the rapid “starts”at £12-13k dial in satnav and climate pack and you are already paying MG6 money.I think the rapid is handsome but dont kid yourself it will be a sell out hit if you are in the market for a 1.2 triple you will buy a corsa or polo.Its a jetta by any other name.No aspirational buyer is going to want a wheel trimmed up hack with switch blanks all over the dash are they?sell they will but not they wont be cheap when you chose you options,CO2 aside th MG6 is fully loaded whichever model you buy.

  33. Exactly as I said, the Rapide/Toledo will be potential competition for the ‘6 and which car do you think most punters would prefer to buy? However the rapide it isn’t actually a jetta by any other name, the Jetta is most definately a Golf with a boot, the Rapide is a hybrid chassis utilising Polo underpinnings on a stretched platform. Hence my point about pitching the price of the ‘6 to ensure they get the showroom footfall.

  34. @40 i stand corrected on the underpinnings.@41 i dont agree,it will sell but not clean up.

  35. On a separate note, I see on Facebook that MG Car Club members can get 20% off a new MG6 with a downloadable voucher.

    Haven’t looked into it in any detail, but maybe a jump-start for the 6? If you can’t get the MGCC members interested in it, trying to get others will be slightly more tricky.

  36. Not convinced the ‘6 will appeal to MGCC members, X Power forum or this site maybe….. And remember 99% of car buyers are simply not enthusiasts in the way we are. My ex used to sell new cars (starting out with MG Rover) and can count on the fingers of one hand the number of punters who asked her to lift the bonnet in over 10 years, let alone enthused about handling or any other aspects of car driving, owning or buying that you and I consider important.

  37. Anyone read auto express pages 32,33 and 34? just in case anyone is interested,it may answer questions.

  38. Yep, the Diesel has the potential to double sales. Still barely enough to keep something like the Ford Focus line rolling for about half a day!

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