Full Road Test: MG6 GT Diesel

So much has been said about the MG6 in recent times, some true, some false and some downright unfair. Mike Humble steals the keys to a five door GT Diesel TSE for a week – a proper real world acid test…

The MG6 GT Turbo Diesel TSE
The MG6 GT Turbo Diesel TSE

I first drove an MG6 back in 2011, it was a 1.8 petrol and the drive consisted of a gallop around the field of Cofton Hacket park in Birmingham during the Pride of Longbridge event. My memory recalls it rode well over grass and ruts and seemed reasonably refined too. Fast forward another year and I performed two first services on dealers customers cars and found them to be well engineered and seemingly equally screwed together behind the metal.

The 1.8 turbo is an okay kind of car, it performs well enough and unlike many other recipients of the K series engine which the petrol 6 motor is heavily based on – is reasonably refined. At best, I would regard the petrol version as very average in most areas except handling and ride but in a difficult and ever crowded marketplace – average simply does not cut the mustard. The diesel version was always on the cards however – does this give the MG6 an added edge or is it cold steel and importantly… what is it like to live with?

MG Motor UK very kindly agreed to loan Autobritannia a TSE version of the MG6 GT diesel. Laura Biss – MG`s PR Manager arranged a grey metallic model to be dropped off and upon arrival the first impressions were an impressive paint quality and close precise shut lines on the panel-work. No sooner had the delivery driver headed off towards London the car was scrutinised very closely and I found myself impressed with the way it had worn its 12.000 miles so far on the MG Motor press fleet – it looked almost like new.

A quick flick through the glovebox handbook to acclimatise myself with the car, the key was inserted into the slot and I went for a good drive around the Sussex / Surrey borders. Right away the torque and off the boil refinement impressed me and with every mile I felt that little bit more at one with the car. Dropping a diesel engine into a car requires a lot more than just getting it to fit, it requires great skill and attention to detail. The quality installation of the driveline is nothing short of superb, the lack of mechanical racket on idle or during everyday functions really has to be experienced.

Designed and developed with British know how - The diesel engine is a peach in virtually every way!
Designed and developed with British know how – The diesel engine is a peach in virtually every way!

Even storming up the motorway in top gear rewards you with sublime refinement with little more than average noise from the door seals. The recent heavy winds did nothing to knock the MG6 off course – arrow straight on the main roads and limpet hugging on the bends. The braking system comprises of vented discs all round with ESP and a hill hold function that makes getaways on inclines worry free. Steering comes from a traditional hydraulic assistance system giving a light yet positive feel in most conditions.

The drivers cockpit is reasonably well thought out with damped column stalks that feel well made and an effective dual zone air conditioning system, though I did think its controls were maybe just a couple of inches too low down in the centre console. Both front seats come with heated and electrically adjustable functions on the range topping TSE version. The leather trim may not quite look like Connolly and lacks that special hide fragrance hide but I found the drivers seat comfortable and well supportive over the long journeys, not once having to touch the lumbar knob.

MG6 diesel features a close ratio 6 speed gearbox that has a nice light and short change action, only the loose and cheap feeling gear knob marring the overall feeling. All the pedals are well spaced and the clutch especially is just right in the amount of pressure required for changing up or down. There is a substantial footrest for the left foot but its too wide for comfort and you find your foot catching the rest as the clutch pedal is pressed. Once acclimatised to this, you soon forget about it – but its certainly noticeable.

There’s plenty of bells and whistles to keep the pilot entertained in the form of Sat Nav – all round electrics – front fog lamps – Bluetooth connectivity for your smartphone – twin illuminated vanity mirrors – reversing camera and rake / reach adjustable steering wheel. The only gripes I noticed included; you cannot stream music without a lead into the head unit and the window button console in the door armrest seems to be positioned slightly too far rearward – you find yourself glancing down at night to check you are hitting the right switch.

Storage space comes in the form of a decent sized glovebox, a trinket box on the drivers side with aux and USB ports, a centre arm rest with hidden storage that has space for a bottle or can that features an air vent that chills the box when the climate is turned on. There are good sized door pockets too and flat items such as chewing gum or loose change can be placed on the dashboard just below the instruments. Move round to the back of the car and you are treated to a truly useful boot area with a decent load height.

Plenty of room for passengers and their luggage - Comfy too!
Plenty of room for passengers and their luggage – Comfy too!

The practical nature of the MG6 comes to the fore here thanks to a massive boot that gets even more spacious once the seats are folded down – a 60/40 option on the backrest adds extra convenience too. Its boot carpet feels tough enough to cope with the garden centre trauma and there is some space around the spare wheel to hide your valuables in case of emergency  – yes! the MG6 even comes with a spare wheel and a jack instead of an aerosol of gunk. Spend a bit of time with the MG6 and you cannot fail to be impressed at just how easy it is to live with.

the refinement during normal driving is really quite excellent… thanks to the massive torque reserve, overtaking is almost breathtakingly effective.

No complaints about the passenger space or comfort were heard and everyone who travelled on board seemed impressed with its nice balance of refinement, equipment and general experience. The refinement during normal driving or high speed cruising is really quite excellent. Motorway munching at 70 mph shows around 1700 rpm on the dial and thanks to the massive torque reserve of the engine, overtaking is almost breathtakingly effective. Only if you really work the power unit hard does any thrash or vibration make itself known.

The British engineers who developed and refined the drive line installation solidly deserve a gold star for their efforts as I cannot think of many other cars that can match the driving experience of the MG6 diesel. The ride and handling is equally impressive, its compliancy over smooth roads is wonderful as is the road holding on the twisty bits. Never is there any drama or fuss and even freighted with three large passengers and a boot full of clutter, it weaved through the bends and sailed along the fast roads in a true smile inducing manner.

After nearly 1000 miles the car proved to be relaxed, capable and economical.
After nearly 1000 miles the car proved to be relaxed, capable and economical.

Speedy mid apex lumps and potholes rarely catch the MG out and the general ride comfort on anything but badly rutted roads again is truly excellent. There is some tyre noise especially on concrete or anti skid tarmac mainly on the count of the wide low profile tyres, but for most of the time the MG6 is refined and serene. I found the MG6 diesel a true drivers car that can change its character akin to Jackal and Hyde – smooth and relaxing when coasting along, aggressive and pleasingly effective when pushed – if a little noisy when pushed to the limits.

The performance is outstanding and yet I never managed to drop below 49mpg and a figure of 50+ mpg is easily achieved, the standard ‘stop start’ function also works very well.  The fuel computer was only optimistic to around 5% and MG have recently re-mapped the software to pull the C02 figure down to under 130 G/Km which results in the first year being free of road fund licence duty. Thanks to the seemingly well received launch of the little MG3, the dealer network is gradually building up its presence with a growing number of friendly and customer focussed family based dealers.

MG advertising of old claimed "Your Mother wouldn't like it" - Mine did!
MG advertising of old claimed – “Your Mother wouldn’t like it” – Mine did!

I cannot really see any real difficulty owning an MG6 diesel, sure its resale value is a little unknown in the present state and I feel that much more needs to be done with infrastructure and quietening the folk who knock and mock the brand under its present incumbents. But the true acid test of what’s it like to drive and live with leaves no doubt that the MG6 diesel is a very able car that does everything its asked and more. As a pure driving experience, not much else for the money comes close – its an extremely difficult car not to like.

as a pure driving experience, not much else for the money comes close – its an extremely difficult car not to like.

There are of course one or two things that need a little tweak or tuck. The well documented handbrake lever for example is not nice to use in practice nor does it look like a quality affair. Some of the switchgear feels robust and nicely finished, but some feel cheap and nasty. The ignition key feels very lightweight and simply needs a 15 gramme dummy weight popping inside to give that sensation of quality to the owner. The rear visibility is not the best but the effective reversing camera and front / rear parking sensor goes a long way to correct this.

Its not a perfect car by any shade of the imagination but all the requests you ask of it are performed with little fuss. The key factor is that MG6 was the first all new car to be launched by the re-born MG. Despite its short gestation period with design engineers being on either side of the planet, the end result is not far off spot on in terms of engineering and design. If this is a platform for future MG cars of this size, its not a bad one to start from. Another point to mention is that its a massive leap forward from the last of the old guard MG-Rover products so far as quality and general appearance matters.

The face lifted MG6 which is due soon should answer many of the issues I found but putting the fairly low number of worries aside, the MG6 is great to drive, great to live with and offers a good well equipped package with some tempting deals on offer from the manufacturer such as finance incentives and free model upgrades. I liked the MG6 Diesel TSE very much indeed – a half hour test drive does this car no justice, it grows on you mile after mile after mile never failing to put that all important smile on your face.

MG6 Diesel – practical, rewarding, immense fun to drive – its what MG motoring is all about!

OUR SCORE?: 8/10

The Highs: Handling & ride superb – Comfortable & practical – Astonishing mid range punch – Equipment levels – Good driving position – Credible accommodation & boot space – Soaks up the miles with impressive refinement – Superb heating & ventilation – A rather good driver experience – Body construction feels solid and well engineered.

The Lows: Awful handbrake actuation – Some dash area trim is at best only acceptable – Resale values uncertain – Tiny washer bottle – Interior packaging needs a little more thought in colour shades and textures – Satnav / radio display prone to reflections in the day and too bright at night – A bit rowdy and prone to vibration when pushed hard.

MAIN STATS:

MG6 GT TSE – DTi-TECH

Engine: 1.9L turbo diesel with Stop Start function – 150ps & 350Nm torque @ 4000 / 1500rpm

Transmission: 6 speed manual with ESP and front wheel drive

Brakes: Vented discs all round with ABS, EBD & Hill hold feature

Suspension: Independent all round with multi link rear and McPhearson strut front.

Safety & Security: Euro NCAP 4 star rating – Drive away locking -Thatcham approved alarm Immobiliser and enhanced VIN markings

Performance: 0 to 60mph – 8.9 seconds Top Speed: 120mph (limited)

CO2: 129g/Km

Economy on test: 54mpg

Price as tested: £20.195 OTR

For more information visit MG MOTOR UK

 

 


4 thoughts on “Full Road Test: MG6 GT Diesel

  1. Nice authoritative review.

    It’s a bit frustrating that MG hasn’t fixed some issues that everyone complains about, eg handbrake and key, before now since it can’t be difficult.

    FWIW I have seen that the 1.8 petrol is being replaced by a 1.5 turbo (not K series derived)?

    Any comparison with how a 75/ZT feels and drives?

  2. To be fair Chris… you are looking at a car that had a decade head start on the MG6.

    The ZT drove quite well to be fair, but the ride did tend to be on the firm side and it could get quite crashy unless you had a few bodies on board.

    The MG6 feels just as tight in body engineering as the R40 was legendary for. Regardless of flying solo or a compliment of passengers, the MG6 still handles and rides very well indeed – yes, there is some pronounced tyre roar now and then but thats the pay-off for those nice looking 18″ alloys and wide tyres.

  3. Excellent review. For me the £64,000 question, is , would you get one of these or a Mondeo / insignia with a hefty dealer discount? Sure I know you may have to leave out leather seats, but everything else would be there.

  4. I really, really want one of these. I mean really want one. A lot.

    But that lack of “special smell” from the leather you spoke of?
    It could be influence from China, I remember reading that Asian buyers don’t like the smell of leather.
    So much so, when the Lexus LS first came out it had to have the smell artificially inserted (can you insert a smell?). Could be urban legend, but I like to think it’s true.

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