Words: Keith Adams Photographs: Simon Davies/Pegasus Photographics
MG Motor UK has finally launched the vitally important new MG6 model for the UK market – it’s a brand new car, a break from the past and, hopefully, a fresh start. AROnline has been following the development of this car pretty much since day one and, although we’ve not been afforded an inside view, there has been enough information coming out of China to know exactly how things have been progressing.
The MG6 looks good in a conventional way and seems to have been met with a warm reception – especially in China, where sales have been brisk. However, in a market where the kudos of UK association isn’t polluted by what came before (I still believe AROnline is blocked in the PRC), the car has all the ingredients to succeed.
The message in Europe – and, more specifically, the UK – has been much more confused. There has been a mix of Chinese news stories and the odd snippet from Longbridge but, on the whole, the launch lead-up for the MG6 has been almost farcical. I was at the Paris Motor Show and found it astonshing that there was no attempt whatsoever to begin MG’s re-launch – no stand, no cars, no advertising. Nothing. Lest we forget, France and Italy are both traditionally good markets for British cars – or they were – and yet MG didn’t pitch up at all.
More specifically, the lead-up to the launch has also been poor at best. It’s been good that selected jounalists were able to drive Chinese-spec MG6s in and around Longbridge (including ourselves), but also frustrating, because there’s nothing worse than testing a car, to be told… ignore that, we’re going to change it all.
Less good has been the slow PR build-up – the lack of Press Releases in what has been a historic year for MG; the lack of officially sanctioned news from China; the failure to engage the press beyond showing them around SMTC UK’s Technical Centre at Longbridge.
And now this… ‘launching’ the car at the MPH with Top Gear Live Show. To my mind, unveiling a car that already looks highly familiar at an event so closely associated with Top Gear’s terrible trio shows a complete misunderstanding of the situation MG Motor UK finds itself in. Is it likely the guys are going to say anything good about MG? No. Maybe MG were being bullish? Naive, if that’s the case.
It’s a shame because the reactions from people who actually buy these cars have been largely positive. All that will be undone, though, by one unfavourable soundbite from the King of Soundbites. Anyway, we shall see…
Something else troubles me: no, not the lack of a diesel model at launch (something that will kill the MG6 pretty much stone dead in Europe), but the fact that the MPH ‘unveil’ has been touted as a UK launch for the company – and yet no firm prices were spoken of, nor even a specifc launch date announced. No wonder the launch’s been met with a fat slice of apathy by the mainstream press.
A personal plea, then, to the guys at MG Motor UK: please try harder – this is a delicate time for your brand re-launch and, as far as I can see, you’re squandering the opportunity.
Watch the BBC News report HERE (13 minutes in, opens in a new window).