Review : A week with the MG6 Magnette


Okay, so we kicked up a storm about the MG6 – both in terms of marketing, and nationality. So, I’m going to neatly sidestep this issue in this blog and concentrate on the product itself.

I’ve been hacking around in the MG6 for a week now, and my early impressions regarding its improvements over the earlier models I drove certainly continue to stand up. I have to say that in terms of styling and overall road stance and presence, the saloon body works much better than the fastback MG6 GT, and judging from the reactions of others, I’m not the only one who thinks that way about the three-box.

But in the real world, where practicality rules the roost – certainly at this price level – the added usefulness of a hatchback will probably win out for most buyers.

I have mentioned it before, but the latest MG6 certainly feels improved over the early cars. Starting with the interior, the slightly brittle plastics that you’d have found had you gone looking for them seem to have been toughened up. Items such as door cards, initially feel a little hard, but there’s an underlying solidity. The same with the lidded storage box in the centre console and glovebox lid. All perfecttly acceptable.

The steering wheel and gear knob felt nasty on the early cars – with the shifter having an odd ‘sticky’ quality to its plastics that was a real turn off. That’s now gone. The slightly vague feeling selector wheels on the steering wheel haven’t been changed, though – so making single-step movements through the trip computer or cruise control is still more difficult than I’d like.  But overall, any nagging doubts about the 6 being substandard in terms of build have pretty much been banished – it’s no Audi, of course, but then, it’s not trying to be.

On the road, the 6 isn’t too bad at all. But we all know that wasn’t a problem, anyway. The steering is well-weighted and accurate, the brakes are strong and feel good at the pedal, and the driving position is spot on if you don’t like sitting low in a car. The bulky A-post/door mirror combinati0n is an issue – but Rover 75 drivers will know all about that – as is the general all-round visibility, if you discount the mirrors and parking camera.

Chassis-wise, I like its slightly sporting set-up, too. In corners, it feels grippy and stable, and what I’m particularly impressed by is the near-elimination of body roll. In many ways, it feels like an MG ZT riding on 18in alloys – so faithful, accurate and unlikely to scare the press-in driver. The ride’s a little on the firm side, though – and the damping doesn’t quite compensate enough to let the MG6 get away with this sporting set-up scott-free. For buyers looking for a replacement for their MG ZT, the 6 passes muster – but for those use to the waftiness of a Rover 75, I’d say this car misses the mark for them…

As for that TCi-Tech engine, I think it works reasonably well. Those used to tricked-up TDIs will miss the slug of low-down boost and torque you get with these cars, but in exchange, there’s a nice even spread of power delivered in linear way. It’s LPT technology delivered in a reasonable way, and when allied with the car’s longish intermediate gearing, means that wafting along at a reasonable rate isn’t going to feel like a strain. There was an unpleasant induction noise that accompanied the early cars – that has now gone, and overall refinement (thanks to good insulation) is very good. The only niggle is the over-light throttle (which sometimes leaves the driver sounding ham-footed) and the slightly snatchy engine mapping – both problems you’ll drive around with experience.

Niggles and annoyances after a week with the MG6? The sat/nav display dims too much with the lights on, the stereo sounds on the wrong side of tinny, those used to TDIs (like me) will find the throttle too sensitive, and I’d like classier looking instruments. But that really is about it.

Would I buy one? Chances are I’d certainly consider one. It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times during the past week and the thought does keep coming back to me: ‘I could certainly see myself in this car.’

Any buts? Obviously, I’d take an entry level car with cloth and lacking the toys – at a more realistic £15,995. But that hangs on the finance and lease deals, which – inexplicably – are still not being quoted for by MG. I’d be hanging on for a £199pcm deal with guaranteed residuals, as opposed to the only finance deal I’ve found quoted so far by SMC MG Rover (yes, the name is not a spelling mistake), which took added up to nearly £260pcm on a five-year hire purchase agreement. Oh, and I’ll have a diesel, but that’s not going to happen for a few months. And that is not good at all…

MG, it’s over to you.

Keith Adams

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