I had the pleasure of catching up with good friend Simon Weakley this evening, and taking a spin in his 2015 MG6. Readers might not instantly know the name, but Simon’s work over the years has been tremendous – his Harold Musgrove interview, for instance, has been a game-changing update for the site.
Back to his MG6 fastback. It’s a 1.9DTi in S trim, bought with 25,000 miles on the clock and has, for the past two years, been pounding the streets of his town, serving the community as a taxi as part of Simon’s fleet. With 119,000 miles on the clock, it’s time for Simon to move it on, having ordered a Dacia to replace it.
It’s not the first MG6 taxi that Simon’s run. Previously, he ran a 1.8 TCi-Tech as a 200,000-mile minicab and, despite a few niggles along the way, he found the experience largely positive, concluding: ‘In some ways the MG6 continues the tradition of BL and ARG cars in that it is a very good design, a great driver’s car and commendable in so many ways, but let down by a number of faults that should not have occurred.’
Costly to run, and a poor dealer experience
Second time around, Simon’s experience has been less impressive, as the dealer support from Maple Garage Limited in Hull has been rather less than stellar. Simon says, ‘The two biggest bills were a clutch and dual-mass flywheel at 80,000 miles, that cost £1200, and another including EPROM ASA-ECM and ERG cooler assembly and MG6 camshaft sensor for £1471.’
In addition, a run of starting issues took ages to sort, and this was eventually traced to an under-specced battery that the Maple Garage had fitted. Simon also says that running costs aren’t exactly low: ‘In almost 120,000 miles, it’s cost me £3850 in servicing and repairs, compared with less than £1000 for a Dacia…’
In a letter to Maple’s MD, Simon spells out his frustrations. ‘Of major concern has been the total lack of interest from MG Motor UK. The car experienced problems while still in warranty, and this has continued after the 60,000-mile cut-off. MG’s lack of replies to my concerns, never mind acting upon them, has made up my mind never to spend my hard-earned cash with that company again.’
Curiosity leads us to take a look…
When I heard Simon was selling his second MG6, I was keen to get a go (and perhaps do a deal), to see how these cars stand up to a hard life, and whether they make good used cars. As he says, with the faults fixed, and the correct battery fitted, it’s running nicely, and performing as it should have all along.
Jumping in, the first impressions aren’t bad. Being an S model, it’s bereft of much of the kit I was expecting to see on a car in this market sector, such as cruise control, parking sensors and an infotainment system with sat-nav. The door shuts aren’t brilliant and, although they don’t clang when you close them, they do feel lightweight and less-than decent quality.
It’s also quite a monochromatic experience inside – if you like the warm, inviting interiors of Rovers, you’ll not be pleased with what’s presented here. Neither is it sporting enough to carry off the MG thing convincingly.
So, how has it stood up after 120,000-miles?
Not too badly, really. Gloomy interior and cheap-feeling doors aside, it’s good. The seats are well shaped, the driving position is excellent, and the minor controls aren’t too badly laid out. If you want a road test of the MG6 DTi when it was new, it’s worth revisiting, so I don’t have to retread old ground – but, in a nutshell, three years and 120,000 miles on, it handles well, has decent, punchy performance and is a practical proposition.
After receiving its first MoT I’d say that the main areas of aging are that its engine is noisier than I remember, and the gearchange feels 10% looser than I’d hoped. Not bad by any means, but hardly factory fresh. It sits well on the road, all of the electrics still work, and the air-con blows icy cool, as you’d expect. Given that this has been a hard-driven taxi with primarily an urban patch to cover, it’s not bad.
On the road, it’s where it needs to be, and it handles as tidily as any MG6 should, while the ride is as smooth and well-damped as you’d expect. Steering is still sharp, and the brakes pull up square as you’d expect, and don’t attract comment. Does it feel like there’s years of service to come? Yes. Has it aged well? Pretty much… And would I say it feels as dependable at this mileage as, say, a Skoda or Dacia? Almost – it’s not far off.
Could I recommend a second-hand MG6?
Well, if you’re not risk averse, yes – but only if your MG dealer or specialist is a good one, and also with the proviso that you can get parts for that diesel engine, which didn’t see service in any other MG in the UK. Simon backs this up, being bitterly disappointed by the service from Maple Garage: ‘Poor service and vehicle off road for too long being the main reason which costs a taxi private hire firm £1000 a week in lost earnings,’ he says.
Decent support from the dealer, and some manufacturer backup would have transformed this experience completely. It would probably help if you had access to Mike Humble’s spanners, too, as you’ll get nothing in the way of goodwill from MG Motor UK. With these provisos considered, what you get in return is a huge amount of nearly-new car for not a lot of money that happens to stop, go and steer well, and return decent fuel consumption.
I always felt that the MG6 was a half-decent car given a bum steer by its parent company in the UK. It was badly marketed, ineffectually PR’d, overpriced and under-supported by a sparse dealer network. Revisiting the MG6, these feelings are backed up. Three years on, and unencumbered by the pressures of new-car price and competition, I came away liking it a lot, despite its basic spec. Had another company been selling it, things would have been different.
Simon’s looking for about £3000 for his MG6, which given its modest age and full service history, seems like good value to me for a three-year old car, if you’re not averse to a bit of risk, or you have access to your own Mike Humble. If you’re interested, you should email Simon Weakley and say I sent you…
Or we could crowdfund it, and run it as the next AROnline project car!