So… we have a new MG6. Hardly the most exiting car but one that has certainly sparked its fair share of debate and caused a few sessions of brick batting. Its little sibling – the MG3 has done quite well for what is a “cottage industry” at Longbridge compared the sprawling motor metropolis it was prior to April 2005. But the MG6 has struggled to make the numbers count for MG and its the little “3” that’s propping up the company for the time being. Recently launched, the revised and facelifted MG6 is designed to curtail the criticisms regarding quality, image and public perception of the company itself.
Readers may know I sampled a diesel Magnette last year. It was far from perfect and I was told later that the car was an early Chinese produced example, It even ended up refusing to proceed on my driveway mid-way through the weeks testing and eventually got going again only after I cracked open the tool chest and rolled my sleeves up with a former MG engineer on the phone talking me through the surgery step by step with beads of sweat rolling down my forehead like a modern day scene from that TV show Danger UXB – okay… so I made that last line up. Anyway, lets see what this revised one is all about shall we?
Gone is the Magnette saloon which I thought looked rather smart suited and gone is the 1.8 turbo petrol – which was a thorough and decent re-work of the former K series engine. So we now have just one shape with one diesel engine in manual six speed form only. The car I have driven for a week is the top of the range TL and to be fair comes decently appointed for the asking price. Dual zone climate, cruise, leather and heated seats and a vastly improved touch screen infotainment unit all come as standard toys, so as far as knobs and buttons matter few should feel short changed – the TL is £17,995.
Styling wise, the 6 benefits from new bumpers and lamps both front and rear. DRL units occupy the space where the fog lamps used to live while the rear clusters are a new design that look much better in terms of both appearance and quality to the outgoing model. Oddly enough for a five door hatch there is no rear wash wipe and its not ideal in heavy rain – I found this out during a heavy downpour on the M23 at night. Other changes visually include smaller 16″ alloys with higher profile tyres which I feel robs the stance of the car and takes away the sporting accent this model claims to have.
Smaller wheels means lower rolling resistance = better Co2 and better economy so I suppose its all in the quest to be greener, MG have brought the emission figure down and claim better fuel economy. I posted 46mpg as an average which seems a bit average but not considering the bulk was a daily commute to Gatwick and some zesty back road driving – the latter being a place where the 6 really does excel just for the record. Sadly though, and in my own humble (ahem sniff) opinion, this re-style dilutes the sporty nature that the brand suggests.
On the inside, the hilariously poor handbrake lever of old has given way to an electronic item and also in the same zone the ashtray has been repositioned further forward. The plastic trim around the handbrake has a pleasant looking grain effect to it and both the ashtray and cup holder cover work with a defined push to open damped action giving the driver a subconscious added feeling of quality. The infotainment system is also drastically bettered upon and now works by a touch screen featuring a very easy to use Sat-Nav with decent screen graphics.
The radio controls remain the same which contains a little flap for a USB connection though I found the access difficult with my clumsy sausage fingers – thank God for Biro’s. Streaming your music through the audio is hassle free and easy to do once paired to a smartphone and I also found the speakers to be of agreeable quality to my ears. General build quality is a leap ahead of the old 6 and the rotary select button above the wireless seems to be more robust than before and less likely to snap or pull off with a hard wiggle but some other plastics on the facia are still way behind most rivals.
Instruments feature analogue dials with LEDs for fuel and coolant status. One thing I didn’t like was the tiny numbers and graphics on the central binnacle display area… they really are teeny weenie and the font looks like something akin to an `80s hand held game console. Another odd thing is the sloping gap of the instrument cluster to the main facia moulding, its not a build issue, its actually been moulded that way and looks a bit weird to the eye. There was no problem with comfort though as the leather chairs although seeming initially over-soft support well and feature lumbar, electric and heated functions.
Head and leg room is absolutely fine but if like me you sit high over the wheel the rim obscures the top sections of the tacho and speedo. Getting settled into the 6 presents no worries, the doors open and close with a reassuring clunk, the climate system works well (albeit a little noisily) and the actual driving position is very good. But the footrest seems too wide and I found my clutch foot catching the side of the rest in urban driving. You’ll find no issues with the gearbox either as the change quality impresses and the lever itself is a new type that looks better than it used to – the quality of the moulding could be improved upon however.
Firing up the engine brings a little more than average noise and I noticed a fair bit of NVH through the steering wheel and pedal at some low and high speed revs. But it pulls well and cruises with serenity at the legal maximum on a good road surface and benefits from having a really strong belt of torque from around 1300rpm. Overtaking on back lanes and single A roads is rapid but it gets very loud in the cabin as you throw the needle round the rev counter. The smaller wheels and larger profile tyres seem to have done no harm to the chassis or its manners – just as the old model was known for, its still able and nimble on its toes.
Fast driving is good fun thanks to the aforementioned chassis and good strong brakes as it tucks in and powers out of bends with a nice level of accuracy via the thick rimmed steering wheel. Mid bend bumps don’t really scare the 6 but potholes and ruts bring in a noticeable level of noise from the suspension, but the ride overall is impressive regardless of solo driving or with a full compliment of occupants. On paper the MG6 seems to tick most of the boxes for most peoples motoring needs but does it really stack up tall in the most aggressive of market sectors?
I have to brutally honest here and with a very heavy heart, I have to say no. The test car came with a lovely application of gloss white paint but peer under the bonnet towards the back of the inner wings and the quality is really quite… well… rubbish really. Gaffer tape is used where rubber grommets should be and loads of rough overspray made it look like a crash repair – it really was that messy. Also there was the same gaffer tape usage of the bottom edge of the front doors only here it was already peeling back… all this on a car with 1600 miles on it.
Exposed threads poking from the bulkhead spoil what is an impressive engine installation and the boot required a really hard slam to close properly – a problem my better half had until I twiddled the rubber pegs on the tailgate. High speed driving found the front wheels to be out of balance and the icing on the quality cake came in the form of the cruise control showing a fault – twice with the only way of clearing it being to pull over, switch off and re-start. All this on a car that’s barely a few weeks old with minuscule mileage on the clock too – nor was it being used and abused. It was also noted that its quite easy to stall – something one or two people noted with the Magnette diesel I sampled last year.
But this has been my gripe with MG for a long time – its the whole quality thing that lets it down. In some areas the car really brings a smile to your face and in others makes me grit my teeth with pent up rage. The leather on the seats smells nothing like leather, the lower dash plastic feels bone hard and scratchy, the whole under bonnet paint finish and the aforementioned black gaffer tape thing really makes the overall package feel so out of touch with what is really expected in the current market place regardless of the re-aligned pricing.
I think MG would have done better by keeping the pricing the same but spending much more sorting out the little things that matter, after all its those little things that add up when it comes to committing to buy – in the case of the 6 the detail is the devil. Its a bit a shame really because under the skin there is a great car with a great chassis screaming to get out. Sort out the NVH, give it a decent dash, tighten up the build quality here and there and then MG might just pick off some extra sales and boost their badly needed perception.
Sitting alongside the actually quite good MG3 the new MG6 still seems a decade behind and way below class standards. With a twinge of sadness I’m hard pushed to recommend it as a new car purchase at the moment based on my present and previous experiences. And yet in engineering terms it really wouldn’t blow the bank or require a Herculean effort to make the MG6 a sorted and viable option. So… if you are not desperate for a brand new car and prepared to look at something around a year old there really is better and safer bet choices out there for similar money at the moment.
Sorry… but that’s how I see it and I’m ever so slightly ashamed to admit it too!
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 5/10
THE HUMBLE OPINION
Having personally known some good folk at Longbridge, I find it utterly saddening that the new MG6 lacks that all important deep rooted secure and confidence ANY member of the public or fleet market needs to feel happy about when it comes to signing the order form.
The MG6 has been with us for four solid years now and the same little gripes and niggles raise their head to cast a shadow of doubt. But as I have said, the chassis is brilliant, the brakes (upgraded for diesels) are strong and arrow straight in operation, the comfort is pretty good and equipment levels are credible for the asking price.
There really is a great car lurking underneath the surface and I cannot fathom out why a company with the backing of one of the worlds largest automotive empires – SAIC fail to allow the UK based designers and engineers – who for the record are seriously talented folk go right through the MG6 like a bad pint and get it fully sorted. As a pure driving experience alone its 8/10ths of the way to being excellent… so why stop there?
Some owners love them, some owners have bailed out of them simply through dissatisfaction – its the whole inconsistency that’s ruining any long term success for what was, and still could be a brand of global fame and proud heritage. This new revised and face lifted model is just not good enough to compete in the toughest sector of the UK new car market.
Should you buy and if not why: Hard to recommend
Model Tested: MG6 TL
Produced by: Final assembly at Longbridge Birmingham
Price: £17,995 OTR
Engine: 1.9 litre 16v common rail turbo diesel
Power: 150Ps with 350Nm of torque
Performance: 0 – 60 in 8.4 seconds
Transmission: Transverse 6 speed manual (no auto option)
Brakes: All round discs with EDB ABS & Electronic park brake with hill hold function
Fuel Economy: 61.4mpg (45.6mpg on test)
VED: Band C
THE HIGHS: Truly good road manners – Strong performance – Excellent brakes – Well equipped – Sat-Nav and touchscreen infotainment system works well – Spacious practical and comfortable – Keen pricing – Exterior shut lines and paintwork of good finish – Cruises well at speed – Slick gearchange quality – Greener emissions over outgoing model.
THE LOWS: Under the surface quality and finish very poor – Engine rowdy and prone to some vibration at low or very high revs – Smaller wheels take the sporting theme away from the package – Instruments and incidental graphics too small and old fashioned – Obstructive footrest when using the clutch – Rapid depreciation in future values.
For more information on the MG6 CLICK HERE