Blog : MG must learn from its mistakes

Former MG6 owner Ant McGowan gives it both barrels…

MG3 (4)

Regrettably, it would appear that MG Motor UK’s PR and Marketing team haven’t learned the basics. To rebuild confidence in the MG brand within these islands and the wider European market there needs to be serious investment in raising brand awareness through both traditional and more modern media channels. Some social media viral adverts would be great to see, along with a focused campaign in the print media.

MG badly needs some of the larger dealer groups on board such as Arnold Clark in Scotland and Northern England in order to get itself up to a reasonable sales volume. The ’3 may well be the car to help this (God knows the ’6 has been a bit of a disaster – and I can personally attest to that), but none of them will sign up unless they have confidence that MG is here for the long haul and that they have models to sell and in development that are attractive to buyers – both private and fleet.

Unfortunately, the botched handling of the ’6 (wrong car, wrong launch engine) has opened the door to crushing depreciation and some reliability horror stories (granted, this has by no means been every owner’s experience), so MG is very much on the back foot.

The media event last week had a number of respected magazines and Internet blogs stating that MG were comparing the ’3 to the MINI and DS3. Attempts have been made since then to adjust this to say that the ’3 will suit those who want the MINI’s customisation but only have Fiesta money. However, that association implies that the ‘3 is a cheap, pretend MINI. Indeed, the ITV News piece did nothing to help this with its constant references to MINI and the suggestion that MG would prefer to call the ’3 as such – admittedly, Guy Jones refuted this, but the comparison was embarrassing.

I really want the ’3 to do well and I want to see a resurgent MG as much as anyone. SAIC Motor has deep coffers so why is it that we have to wait years for models to be launched, witness derisory attempts at marketing and feel the whole sales (note sales, not design) operation is only here to keep a tenuous link to English heritage and the soul of the MG brand?

Keith Adams


  1. This is all about China, the British operation is there to persuade Chinese buyers that this isn’t another second rate local car , but a European model.

    Even if they took the EU market seriously, the challenge of developing a competitive car that can compete with others in the market is massive. Cars here are a step up in quality compared to the ones Chinese companies are use to making.

  2. I remember when the first new MG’s arrived with the limited run ‘new’ TF and 6. The old Rover dealer took these on and displayed them very well, on stands right on the edge of their site on a very busy roundabout. Since then the MG signage has been gradually placed further back and now is down to one sign and there are no models to look at. The space originally intended for is gone as they have expanded their brands to included Peugeot in its place.

  3. Hello Jonny – if you look around some of the forums you’ll see a number of ‘6 owners have experienced difficulties, although I do acknowledge that this is by no means the experience of all. In my own case it took 5 attempts to sort out my car’s steering issues with MG UK having to get involved to resolve it. I’m aware of other owners with persistent ICE / sat nav glitches, electrical gremlins, and some examples of horrendous service from the dealers.

  4. Suppose each dealer needs to sell 10 cars a month to cover their costs. That’s about 300 cars a month, over the whole of Britain. So far they have sold, errr…

  5. Another thing about MG…

    A year and a half ago I posted when I went to visit my local MG dealer, but they were closed 2 months after opening.

    I visited the road on Saturday and noticed that the showroom was still empty. It looks the same as it does on streetview –
    (Tried to get a photo but it was raining, the road was busy on a Saturday afternoon)

    Note that Subaru did not want to damage their brand, have taken down their logos.

    However it seems that MG are happy enough for their logo to plaster a derelict building. They might as well paint it burgundy while they’re at it, for all that it looks like to the general public.

  6. The 3 looks a great car and I think the X-Cross version would do well in the UK. My only reservation is the engine. MG’s refusal to disclose emissions until it decides its prices is a little worrying. Do hope I’m wrong. 🙂

  7. A relation has just bought a 1.2 Skoda Fabia with automatic for £12k. Superb quality, low emissions, good economy and zero road tax. Also with 3 years free servicing. The MG3 looks mighty similar but will it get the same zero road tax, similar performance/economy and superb build quality? I hope so because that is what MG are up against. Not to mention that VAG products have the reputation of 30 years quality behind them. MG need to have a very good warranty, lower price point and very good product. If not it will sink without a trace, but I am hopeful because the dealers will all throw in the towel if MG Motor UK or SAIC get it wrong again and then there will be no MG Motor UK as far as UK sales are concerned.

  8. @8, That free servicing is an oil and filter change and a quick once over, nothing more and thats from a GSM friend at a St Helens Skoda dealer.

    What is this blog about? a whole heap of nothingness covered before,speculation and nothing else.
    No disrespect to the author,but apart from steering niggles and a leak where are all the other owners gripes? these so called reliability issues that have beset this car?

  9. @ 9

    Hello Francis

    Keith took my response to another thread and made it into a blog entry – I didn’t ask him to do that. However, I’m glad he did as I think I fairly reflect the views of a number of frustrated MG enthusiasts, and this is reflected in the dismal sales figures for the ‘6 – particularly when MG UK have been targeting the respective Owners Clubs with their limited advertising budget.

    A cursory look at some of the MG6 owner entries on the established forums and you’ll see concerns being expressed about aspects of the car and the aftersales performance. I do emphasise in the blog that this is by no means the experience of all owners.

    I don’t accept that there’s any speculation in the blog – only genuine concern over MG’s attempts to date at resurrecting the brand and a plea for it to lift its game.

  10. @10 Thanks for clearing that up.I dont know about you,but im fatigued with the MG negativity,If SAIC are only using Longbridge for a Made in britain tagline which lets be charitable is not worthy of belief,fair enough.

    If these owners are having problems as serious as HGF or the gearbox blowing their brains out i would be concerned,if the dealer is no use its a seperate issue.
    Niggles are niggles not horror stories.

  11. “Niggles are niggles not horror stories.”

    Quite. After perusing said forums where owners are to be found, most issues appear not to have resulted in their car being off the road for any length of time if at all. Nothing as serious as bearing failure like the early ZT190 suffered! Still think you must have bought an abused ex-demo and that’s why you are so bitchy about it all.

    Were you at the launch of the MG3? What I have heard from those that were there is that MG never stated it was a MINI competitor. Any references made in comparison to the MINI and DS3 were apparently made in respect of the option to individualise car and most of the press items I have seen seem to back this up.

  12. @ 11 & 12

    Listen guys, it’s just an opinion but one I assure you that’s shared by many MG enthusiasts who are deeply disappointed by MG UK’s efforts to date.

    If my ‘6 was an “abused ex-demo” then that doesn’t say much for the franchised dealership who sold it to me, and I’ve already discussed their poor aftersales performance in previous blogs. It’s certainly not my intention to sound bitchy – I’ve provided very constructive feedback to Keith Harris at MG and he knows exactly how enthusiastic I am about the brand.

    As for the MG3, here’s some quotes for you with the links:

    Autocar – “MG is pitching the car at the likes of the Mini and Vauxhall Adam…”

    The Mirror – “There are likely to be Mini-esque personalisation ­options too.” (

    Car Magazine – “MG is following the trend of the Mini, Vauxhall Adam and Fiat 500 by offering an array of personalisation options for the MG3.”
    ( – “MG believes the car is capable of attracting customers who would otherwise buy a Mini or Vauxhall Adam.”
    ( – “MG UK sales and marketing chief Guy Jones declared the car wants to compete with the MINI, Citroen DS3 and Vauxhall Adam so it will be available with a wide variety of interior/exterior customization options.”

    Now, the last one relates to the recent Shanghai Motor Show where the Euro MG3 was first revealed, but hopefully all the above examples demonstrate that MG have indeed been at least implying that the ‘3 is a rival for the MINI. And I have to say the ITV News piece was cringeworthy at the end.

    Like Francis I’m also fatigued with the negativity. But it’s there for a reason. I’m grateful that MG is still alive, and I know it has the potential to be great again, but viewing MG UK’s efforts to date through rose tinted specs won’t help.

    And finally, not to put too fine a point on it, how many of you have actually shelled out some cash for a ‘6 or intend to buy a ‘3? If more of you turned your good wishes & sentiment into actual sales perhaps MG wouldn’t be in such poor shape. Just a thought 😉

  13. @13,I dont buy new,done that blah blah, but i will tell you something for nothing if a nice black MG6 come my way in a year or so i would buy it in an heartbeat,or a nice Cat C/D sooner.

  14. So buying a used MG6, how did this help MG’s new car registration figures? You are to be respected for putting your money into a 6, but with less risk than the new car buyers. Your concern for MG is understandable and is clearly reflected in the community by the comments seen on numerous sites. Along with your various blogs you have also voted with your SEAT and this seems at odds with your willingness to want the brand to succeed. Just my opinion, of course.

    Your experience of one MG dealer is unfortunate, others have, as I have read elsewhere had much better experiences at other dealers.

    As to the press material it makes no mention of the cars target competition and does not mention the MINI at all. A transcript of the speeches made at the launch will surely clarify what was actually said and hopefully AROnline will have a full report as I believe Clive Goldthorp was there.

    Regarding your links:
    Autocar “MG is pitching the car at the likes of the Mini and Vauxhall Adam, but with prices set to start at less than £10,000, it could be marketed as offering the style of those rivals with the space of a car from the class above.” I read that to mean that they are pitching the car at the likes of the MINI and Adam by offering styling choices at a lower price, and not a direct statement of saying it is as good as or directly competing with but that’s just my interpretation.

    “There are likely to be Mini-esque personalisation ­options too.”
    “MG is following the trend of the Mini, Vauxhall Adam and Fiat 500 by offering an array of personalisation options for the MG3.”
    Where does it state that the MG3 will compete with the MINI or Adam?

    I look forward to some clarification of what was actually stated at the launch as opposed to what is being interpreted by those that weren’t there.

  15. Just not zure what this blog is saying. MG is no wurse than any other brend for relyability, shurely the biggest issue is the lack of marceting and the range of engines.
    Personally I think the MG 3 looks good, and I believe as long as the advertise well they have a decent chan e oc getting monthly sales into double figues for this car.
    Fingers crussed.

  16. MG IS a lot worse than “any other brand” for reliability. If they’d pitched the range as a Dacia level of pricing, it would have half a chance, but to attempt to sell an unknown quantity, with appalling dealer coverage, for premium brand money is never going to work

  17. The prices haven’t actually been announced yet.

    But premium in this market sector is Audi A1, possibly Citroen DS3 and MINI… and no one has spoken of premium pricing. So it’s a bit early to be making assumptions. All we do know is that prices ‘will start at less than £10,000.’

    According to this page, the Audi A1 starts at more than £13K

    …and the MINI First is £11,870 (I know, I bought one)

    I suspect that’s quite a way from where MG is going to position the 3. But, as I said before, it’s all speculation until we have full price and specification details.

  18. My own notes from the MG3 Media Launch Event are pretty clear and are reflected in the sub-edit made to the second paragraph of last week’s News: MG3 revealed with personalisation options article.

    However, in view of the comments above, I have now taken the appropriate steps to clarify exactly what was said about how and where MG Motor UK intends to position the MG3 within the B-segment.

    I had intended to have my own, follow-up story ready for publication this week but will now wait until MG Motor UK has provided me with certain additional information. Hopefully, that will then clarify the matter once and for all…

  19. When we were quoting Minis, to get a good half-decent specced car takes a One with a Pepper pack and a couple of options, easily up to 16-17k!!

    The other 4 seater trendy city car that hasn’t been mentioned – the Fiat 500 – starts at less than 10k for a 1.2 pop.

    Though it’s quite sparsely specced too, not even alloy wheels or a colour other than white are standard at this price. (Up to 10600 for both)…

  20. Not that yours isn’t half decent Keith, just that ticking the options list to get it to match/beat the Hyundai does bump the base price up 🙂

  21. I think whatever MG do or say there seems to be a flurry of attempts to tear apart every word and find some other meaning. For me, news reports aside, the announcement was clear. Here is a car, Fiesta-sized, that can be personalised and had from less than £10k.

    MINI was mentioned, by the reporters, not initially MG – in fact, the TV report in Birmingham went to great lengths to KEEP referencing the MINI, for some inexplicable reason. They even put Guy Jones on the spot and said “you’d rather call this MINI wouldn’t you?” What a ridiculous question and I thought he brushed that off quite well. Where they did get it wrong was not being able to fully announce prices or full specification options – why go out of your way to launch a car and not have the most relevant facts available?

    I think a starting price of between £9-£9.5k is likely. Maybe they are testing the market to see how much interest they get so far before they commit to prices – you can’t blame them, but I think it’s the wrong approach.

  22. @ Will M – and the Fiat 500 and MINI are simply not big enough for some people, so it’s nice to have a choice of a bigger car that you can personalise – they may be stickers, but I think it’s a nice touch that others such as Corsa and Fiesta have not really grasped. I’m liking the 3 more and more. For me the white with the MG “Mod” logo and dual colour alloys is the one. Quite like the “emoticons” one, too.

  23. @James

    Good point.
    If the MG3 is ‘Punto’ sized it is a bit of a bargain, even ourselves we find the likes the 500 / Mini / Adam we were eyeing up would be a bit limiting in terms of lifestyle options should our situation change in the next few years….

    However – would we get an MG3? To be honest I’m not sure.
    It looks like a nice car, and is keeping up with the trendy small-car personalisation options, seems fairly well equipped, when other ‘competitors’ have a cheap base model but speccing up takes the price close to Mondeo money…

    However – The local dealer closing within a 2 month window (and the fact that MG haven’t bothered taking their signs down from the derelict showroom) with the only other multifranchise dealer this side of the sea giving up on the MG franchise means we would have nowhere to look/buy/service, and I think it might still be a bit of an unknown reliability prospect (MG6 has had a mixed bag from owners reviews) are what might put me off. My SO is not a car fan, I’m not sure if the car would register on her radar anymore than an i20 or Fabia might. Especially if MG continue with their low key marketing and advertising.

    I do wish the launch well. Maybe in a few years if they launch that MGB-styled SUV they could be competing succesfully with MINI and the likes.

  24. Ant… it really is time to draw a line in the sand and move on I`m affraid.

    But Arnold Clark as dealers? oh dear oh dear oh dear NO NO NO

    A wobbly car in the public perception allied to a dealer group with one of the poorest reputations in the business is simply NOT the way to go.

    Half decent sized family groups with a good rep for care and service is the only way to go – but all a waste without some fire from the importers belly.

    What say you kids???

  25. @ 27 & 28

    I’ve had both good and bad buying experiences from old Arnold over the years, but like it or not, in Scotland and the North of England they’re dominant. MG Rover did reasonable trade in Scotland prior to 2005 with a loyal customer base.

    The ‘half decent sized family groups’ that still exist aren’t stupid – they see MG struggling to make an impact with the ‘6, a number of franchises who took the gamble to take them on subsequently closed, and no meaningful (or apparent) national sales and marketing back up from the mothership. Why would these more exposed smaller businesses be prepared to take such a risk?

    And as for drawing a line in the sand Mike, I’ve thought a lot about that too. I’m known as ‘preetoo’ over on the forums, and you’ll see that over the years since MG acquired new owners I have been staunchly positive and hopeful for the resurgence we’re all craving. I remained enthusiastic when the ‘lift and shift’ took place, when the diggers and demolition gangs went in and levelled the majority of the factory, when Nanjing launched the mildly reheated TF (and nothing else) and when SAIC eventually took over the reins. That continued enthusiasm spurred me on to try and contribute in some small way to MG’s revival by purchasing a ex-demo ‘6 from a franchised dealer. A car that in all honesty was too big for my needs, but I wanted to get involved and support MG.

    I’m afraid I don’t need any lectures about moving on – I remain a committed MG enthusiast, and plan to get a nicely fettled TF at some point over the next 6-12 months. However, being an enthusiast does not blind me to the current management shortcomings, and so I will continue to offer my opinion which folks can agree or disagree with as they choose.

    It occurred to me last night that SAIC may actually have a long-term strategy for Longbridge, and it isn’t assembling 3 and 6 from knock-down kits. It could be that SAIC figure the only way to use Longbridge profitably is for relatively small volume sports cars in the MG tradition. To do that, it needs to build MG chiefly in China for volume and retain the brand heritage with operations in England. If this is the strategy, then it makes sense (although we’ve heard it before with Alchemy). No one expects any private company to reveal all its commercial secrets, but MG has the largest enthusiast base in the world, so it would restore considerable faith in the growing numbers of doubters if something more concrete was announced soon on the sports car front.

  26. MG were quite clear: MINI personalisation for Skoda Fabia money – not a MINI rival. Its USP will be offering more choice than a Fiesta or Corsa, something you only normally get with those premium models, but for non-premium prices.


    Have a lot of time for the guys at MG Motor, particularly the very smart Andrew Lowerson and the ever-patient but always-focused Guy Jones. Also have an MG6 diesel test car sat outside, whose engine proves the richness of talent at work in Birmingham.

    (Clive: good to meet you there!)

  27. I don’t see why everyone is getting so excited about a few stickers. I haven’t seen any other personalisation items other than that.

  28. Every time a “new” car manufacturing entity has tried to establish itself in the market, the successful ones have always gone in with vehicles that have undercut their perceived rivals by a substantial amount.
    Skoda, Kia, Hyuandai etc have all followed this blueprint, and are now making stuff that has little or no price advantage over they’re competition, because they are now perceived as mainstream brands, and build cars that can now stack up against the competition on merit, rather than price.
    I fear that MG aren’t going to bother following this template

  29. Linked this on a forum post.

    I hate deceitful cabins.

    I was wondering if ‘honest’ meant 1980s Metro honest, or architectural like a Saab or a Xantia?

    I’m still not a fan of the BX-style breadbin for the satnav.

  30. The MG6 is currently languishing – actually well below languishing – at 175th in the Chinese new cars sales chart. If they cant even sell the damn things there, what chance have they in established and sophisticated European markets? Said it before, move on. The UK car industry is one of Bentleys, Jaguars and Range Rovers – not cheap and nasty Chinese knock offs.

  31. @36 Chinese knock offs? knock offs of what? God, i bet you have all the latest toys in your house,not dripping with gold are you?! What about Nissan,Toyota and Vauxhall?

  32. Once upon a time, many years ago, my son (then 18) bought a brand new car. The vehicle was based on an age old design but upgraded with a (then) current power plant and box.

    We knew little about the overseas manufacturer but did know that the only dealer for hundreds of miles was just left of Authur Daley. The car was advertised in specialist press mostly and very occasionally got national coverage. However, after approximately (relying on memory and perception here) four years the company effectively withdrew from the UK and our dealership became a stonemasons. This thing was so rare that when one saw another on the road one did not just wave – but you went to lunch with the fellow!

    Francis @38, Four million from SAIC in a year. Interesting parallel then. Mahindra is massive – having associations with everyone from Renault to Ford. They produce a huge proportion of new vehicle sales in India and China. They own finance houses and have fingers in lots of pies. They are mega successful!

    Someone in that organisation thought they could sell the re-engineered WW2 Jeep to the Brits. They made a mistake. Whilst I’m not for a minute comparing the MG product to a Mahindra there are some interesting parallels. Don’t take it too seriously but it is just a thought – have SAIC actually drooped a booboo themselves?

    Incidentally, the Mahindra did sterling work as his first off-roader only being beaten once (on the notorious Sarn Helen in Wales) by a Landy (mine).
    The brakes were rubbish but the Pug engine was unburstable.

  33. I just love to read these comments from people that seem to know how to run a company – if the UK arm of MG were doing it so wrong you would assume, quite rightly, that the bosses would do something about it, and believe me, if they thought that there was an issue, they would.

    The only issues with the ‘6 were its initial price and lack of engines and auto box – if it had these from launch, then the chances of pushing the brand would have been better. Now, with the launch of the ‘3, we will hopefully see some form of advertising. After all, Dacia advertised like no one’s business and look at their sales.

    Anyone who chooses to use the Autocar forums as an argument to prove a point should really look at themselves. The Autocar forums are so anti anything British, from MG to JLR, to Aston and beyond. I truly wish MG well, but, and there was always going to be a but, if they can’t see that the lack of advertising is hurting them deeply, they need to get people in that can and do something about it.

  34. @39 I miss the Pug XUDs, seemed more unkillable than HDis.

    If MG sold an XUD powered car, I’d be first in line. Sadly, emissions have killed that dream.

  35. @ 40

    Calm it JagBoy – everyone is entitled to an opinion and I think you’re over-generalising just a tad in your description of the Autocar forums.

    Also you’ve perhaps not been following the launch coverage of the MG3 where the sales & marketing guys have apparently confirmed that there will be no large scale advertising similar to the Dacia campaign you refer to. Yet another reason why I’m thoroughly disallusioned with MG UK’s current approach and want to see some changes.

  36. Surely the bottom line here is whether you want the car or not. What the heck does it matter how MG market it, if YOU want one, buy one. I can honestly say I haven’t found myself marvelling at how clean my clothes come out of my washer, but found myself frustrated at how Zanussi market themselves – I couldn’t care less. I also didn’t base my purchase on the number of Zanussi washing machines sold either, I don’t care how many other people have my washing machine and I also take no notice of “owner reviews” because experience has taught me that the most likely people ever to bother writing a review are the ones who’ve had some unfortunate experience – and that can happen with the very best product/company/marketing/sales volumes.

    I think it’s been so long since the 2005 demise to today’s baby steps back into the market that I think a lot of MG enthusiasts, on here and on other forums have completely lost all sense of reality.

  37. Folk buy shit with money they haven’t got to impress people they hate. Go buy an MG. Feeling like a tool buying a BMW will catch on.

  38. @ Will M – Comment 41:

    How about trying an L Series powered MG ZR turbo-diesel, particularly in 112Ps form? I have one and find it to be an absolute hoot to drive. Lots of low end torque, 50+mpg and hearty mid range punch. It’s turbo spool-up even throws you into the back of your seat under hard acceleration from standstill, to remind you of the 1980s when turbocharged petrol engines were anything but linear or progressive. Finally, the L-Series engine is pretty robust too.

  39. I have just heard that the new MG 3 will be on display at the MG Saloon Day, which takes place this Sunday 7th July at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.

    The event is open to all classic and modern MG saloons and sports cars, and classic and modern Rovers. More details about this announcement can be found on the Maestro and Montego Owners Club website forum.

  40. Perhaps MG are playing it low key, until the arrival of their new range of small engines. They are currently being developed with general motors. The larger engines will be available later in the year, followed by the smaller ones in early 2014. However the 1.4 turbo engine is due to go into production very shortly in China, along with the new auto box. Hears hoping for better times ahead. Good luck and best wishes.

  41. Some interesting comments here which are echoed elsewhere.

    Now the prices have been released we can see where the MG3 stands against similar small cars, albeit only as a price comparison.

    We now eagerly await the numerous motoring writer’s verdict of the MG3, which let’s face it will either make or break it.

    Dacia achieved sales of 1303 cars during July 2013 and MG Motor only managed to shift 27 MG6’s. It will be very interesting to see what impact the MG3 will have.

    I, like many contributors to this blog, have a feeling that MG Motor have once again got the launch of a new model very wrong, which ultimately could prove disastrous.

    Let’s face reality. MG Motor and the MG3 doesn’t deserve to succeed it must compete to succeed, it’s as simple as that.

    Based on MG Motor’s performance to date, I fear the MG3 doesn’t stand a chance as there is nothing to suggest that MG Motor are prepared to try a new approach.

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