Track Test : Potential buyers evaluate the MG6 1.8T TSE Fastback

Words: Clive Goldthorp Photographs: Simon Davies/Pegasus Photographics

MG6 on track
MG6 on track

AROnline’s Editor, Keith Adams, has already given readers his First Drive impressions of the new MG6 1.8T TSE and, like our colleagues at Autocar, Auto Express and CAR Magazine, he concluded that ‘it’s rather good, with one or two rough edges.’

However, Keith was keen to give readers some more customer-focused feedback on the MG6 and this week’s VIP Track Tests at Prodrive’s Kenilworth facility provided the ideal opportunity for that. The MG Events Team, ably led on the day by David Robinson, put together a well-balanced, half-day package which combined a variety of on-track activities with a series of presentations from Guy Jones, MG Motor UK Limited’s Sales and Marketing Director, Ian Pogson, Chief Engineer – Aftersales Engineering and David Robinson himself.

The on-track element of the programme included an ABS demonstration, a slalom, laps of the handling circuit used by Prodrive to hone the works Subaru Impreza WRC cars back in the day and, more recently, the MINI Countryman WRC challengers, two laps of the speed circuit and, finally, a session on the skidpan to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Traction Control System. All in all, the potential customers and Dealer representatives present were given an opportunity to stretch the MG6 in a manner which would not have been possible on the public roads.

The on-track work was supervised by Association of Racing Drivers Schools-licensed Instructors who each had three passengers per car. AROnline readers Steve Lipscombe from West Sussex and Jon Mower from Cambridge had the misfortune to be saddled with me but were still happy enough to give me their feedback in the MG6 once we had finished the on-track sessions.

Jon, a Jaguar X-TYPE and XF owner, said that he was ‘gobsmacked, completely gobsmacked’ by the MG6 which he described as the ‘first truly European car from China’ and as ‘an amazing first attempt.’ Jon added that ‘everything feels and sounds right’ before observing that the MG6 was not, in relative terms, much pricier than the MG ZS had been six years ago and that ‘was an achievement.’

MG ZT owner Steve thought the MG6 ‘was a good car’ and more or less what he had expected coming from the ZT. He would never have guessed that 80% of the car had been built in China and added that, while some commentators had suggested that the 1.8 TCI Tech engine was not powerful enough, that was not an issue for him.

AROnline Photographer, Simon Davies, was also in attendance in his professional capacity and as a potential MG6 buyer. Simon thought that the MG6 handled really well and remarked on the complete absence of any creaks or groans (other than from the passengers!) while the car was being hammered around the handling course – he was very impressed but, as his family fleet includes a Citroen C8, an MG F Trophy 160 and an MG TF 85th Anniversary, he was not really able to draw a direct comparison with the MG6’s current C/D segment competitors. That said, though, given that a fully-loaded Citroen C8 cost around £28,000 eight years ago, Simon reckoned that £18,995 otr for the top spec MG6 1.8T TSE Fastback represented ‘tremendous value for money.’

MG TF 85th Anniversary and Peugeot 308 Sport owner Mark Cropper from Kingstanding in Birmingham described the MG6’s handling as ‘absolutely fantastic’ and added that the car’s ‘agility and nimbleness belied its size’ – the MG6 would definitely be on the list when the time came to replace the Peugeot.

My take on the MG6? Well, of all the C and D segment models we have had in the family fleet during the last twelve years or so, the ride and handling of the MG6 reminded me most of my much-missed 99/V Honda Accord Type R. I can well imagine myself hurling an MG6 down my favourite, local B-road with as much pleasure as the Honda – a shame, then, that the road concerned has just been subjected to a 50mph limit!

Anyway, based on my experience of an Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4TB 170 Lusso last August, the MG6 seems to offer a more convincing package for the keen driver spending his or her own hard-earned cash – the MG6 engages the driver with more clarity and purity and seems, at least from my perspective, to be better value for money.

However, there remains one factor which might stop me from buying an MG6 – Auto Express’ Nick Gibbs has this week reported that ‘the MG6’s 1.8-litre turbo… will make way for a new 2.0-litre turbo, with a 1.9-litre diesel due in autumn next year’ adding that ‘a six-speed box will replace the MG6’s five-ratio manual.’ What impact will that new engine and transmission have on the residual values of MY11/12 MG6s equipped with the current engine and gearbox?

A final point: former British Touring Car Champion and current Honda Racing Team BTCC driver, Matt Neal (44), was spotted being introduced to Guy Jones – we wonder how he rated the MG6 as a potential BTCC contender…

Clive Goldthorp


  1. Two friends – John Goodeve and Colin Willden – and I went to the MG VIP Track Test for the MG6 last Wednesday. Everything about the event was superb and my thanks go to MG Motor and Brandscape who ran the event.

    The car was really engaging, good-looking and well-built. I think that ride and handling were best in class and my friends were equally impressed – that includes Colin who normally praises only Japanese cars.

    I still feel that the interior needs to be trimmed in the UK and a better, higher quality fascia installed. I am used to my MG ZT and, before that, a Rover 75 and Rover 800 Sterling so could not live with that aspect of the car.

    However, MG are back and I am sure this is the start of their commitment to the UK and Europe.

  2. @Simon
    Photographer, Simon Davies, and I were at the MG6 Track Test last Wednesday afternoon. I am sorry that we clearly failed to put names to faces but we can hopefully put that right at AROnline’s 10th Birthday Party at Gaydon on the 16th July, 2011. 🙂

  3. Yet more positive news – this is fantastic stuff. I suspect that the 1.8 TCI Tech engine is a stop-gap until the 2.0 Turbo comes along. That’s similar to when the XK was launched – Jaguar had to use the AJV8-II engine until Gen III was ready – and it’s not so much doom and gloom.

    It’s good to get some real world feedback on this though. Despite the interior not being quite up to Golf MkIV standard (I still don’t think MkV was that brilliant), people seem to be generally quite comfortable with the car and MG have done their homework.

    The sort of buyer for this car isn’t really too heavily concerned with top speed in an age when speed cameras are (still) quite prevalent and when they know that it’ll cut their insurance premium by a significant amount – Group 13/14 compared to the Octavia equivalent of Group 30! This offsets the cost of the higher VED band – especially if you’re a younger driver.

    The handling is the most significant reason for buying this machine and it backs up the sporty heritage. It’s a driver’s car. These models are here to get the ball rolling until next year when they can really start to get everything together and start an expansion into Europe.

  4. I’m currently in Beijing on my first visit to China and, from the (thousands and thousands of) cars on the road here, it’s clear that this design will fit perfectly into the Chinese market.

    The fact is that the Chinese car market is enormous and growing so for MG to have a car in the market of this quality is great.

    By the way, I’ve seen four or five Roewes on the road during my time here as well as some odd-looking models including a Citroen C4 and a Peugeot 307 with a boot (the Chinese love saloons) and even a Peugeot 207 with a Citroen front end and Citroen badge on the boot. Confusing…

  5. @CD
    Booted saloons are a status thing – the Indians do the same as they consider a hatchback to be too commercial. There was going to be a Metro saloon at one time – I think there is picture on this site somewhere.

  6. Hey, even the MSN Cars website has said that the MG6’s a viable alternative for the Focus. MG Motor UK just needs to sort out the engine situation and those dodgy plastics in the interior and they will be onto a winner.

  7. The new Focus is now launched and the MG6 will soon be able to present its credentials as an alternative. The prospect of a 2-litre turbo with six gears and a diesel sounds promising. I agree about lower residual values, but that’s the case with any car. Good luck to the “6”.

  8. The first picture, at least, seems to have been taken on the low-mu ABS test section. I know this track from my earlier life working for Lucas – it was originally RAF Honiley and Lucas called the facility Fen End.

    Apparently, one day a passing pilot had an emergency in a light plane and landed on the low mu. Somebody radio’d the Track Controller, whose control tower overlooked the low-mu surface, to ask him what the plane was doing there. The Controller, who had been reading his newspaper, thought the track was empty and his reply of “What plane?” has gone down in legend!

  9. @Ross A
    I reckon that it’s a good thing the K/N-Series is still around as otherwise the spare parts to keep the other MGs and Rovers going might, perhaps, have been harder to obtain.

    Oh, and boy, haven’t the Chinese been good at keeping up the spares supply – well, anyway, that’s what I’ve heard. Don’t forget also that other cars blow gaskets too – even the Japanese ones.


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