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MG6 Review

 

MG6 is the first offering from the now Chinese owned car company. Forget the image of the last MG-Rover models, and indeed those terribly built Chinese cars (just visit YouTube and type in: Chinese car crash test). This all-new MG boasts a fresh new image, and a build quality to rival offerings from other large volume manufacturers.

MG should, quite simply, be boasting these excellent selling points from the rooftops but the reality, is they aren't. Remember that advertising campaign in the lead up to the re-launch? Where's it been since, and how many have you seen on the road? All that considered, at this stage there is just one engine choice available, the 1.8 litre turbo charged TCi-tech unit. MG have just announced that they are to enter the 2012 BTCC with a "dream team" of cars, drivers, constructors and sponsors. With the likes of Jason Plato behind the wheel this will hopefully be the start of a wider interest in the marque.

 

The MG6 was launched in the UK in May 2011 as the MG6 GT (Fastback) and on 16th July 2011 as the Magnette (Saloon). Both cars are a revised version of the Chinese Roewe 550, which was launched in April 2008 at the Beijing Motor Show. Despite much of the production taking place in China, the purists out there can rest assured that Longbridge still plays a part in MG's history, the majority of the design and engineering was undertaken by the 300 strong team of engineers based in Longbridge who re-worked the Chinese Specification MG6 for the UK market including fine tuning the suspension to suit our taste for a sportier drive. It is also worth noting that final assembly takes place at Longbridge, and those previous perceptions of poor build quality need to be consigned to the bin.

 

So what's it like? From the outside, it is certainly the most "modern" MG product in a number of years. Its fresh styling means it fits nicely with offerings from other manufacturers, but it's the subtle differences that set it apart from the competition. Take the back door on the Magnette, it looks similar to that found on the Lexus Is250 in fact in the car I borrowed I was asked if MG was now part of Lexus. The front end is very well styled, looking both aggressive and re-assuring. The only criticism I have is the rather obvious bonnet line. It would have looked much nicer had the bonnet had extended to the top of the famous MG Octagon.

Even this iconic badge has been given a makeover; in my opinion it does not say MG like the old badge did. That said it's hard to criticise much about the front-end styling.

 

From the side, you have a number of really attractive bodylines that draw you to the car's overall beauty. With the Lexus "kick" in the back door, you've got the look of a luxury motor. Turning to the rear, this is where you can divide opinion. The MG6 GT somehow looks like a blown up MGB GT, whereas the Magnette has stolen the "bum" from a number of executive saloons, including the Lexus Is250, the Citroen C5, and even a hint of the BMW 3 series. I prefer the look of the Magnette, and luckily for me the test car I drove was a Magnette.

Under the bonnet you get a 1.8 TCi-tech engine, which to look at might seem similar to the old K series engine the truth is, it isn't. When browsing the web I have come across numerous websites with the same question about whether the engine suffers the same fate as the old K series (i.e. Head gasket problems). As with any mechanical device,

it is important to stress that you look after it (service it in accordance with the manufacturers guidelines, complete the appropriate checks without fail, and quite simply look after it!!!). In all my years of K series ownership I have never once suffered with a blown head gasket, and MG are keen to point out that head gasket issues are a thing of the past. Surprisingly, the engine is mounted on a 5-speed gearbox, something that people find hard to believe. However, the secret is all in the gearing. I found the 6 to be lively, and it responded well to my driving style. Economy wise I have averaged around 31.7mpg, which for the size of the vehicle and city driving is impressive. I suspect had I have been completing a large number of motorway miles this figure would have been much higher.

 

Out on the road it becomes apparent what an excellent job the team at Longbridge have done with the suspension. Gone are the "lumbering days" of the Rover 75, and the harsh rides of the previous MG models. Instead, you are confronted with a car that handles exceptionally well, particularly on twisty roads between Manchester and Derbyshire, as well as "soaking up" the bumps around town.

 

There are three models in each of the body styles, the S, SE and top of the range TSE. I was lucky enough to get to drive the TSE specification; this option has pretty much everything but the Kitchen sink. You get (as standard!) Sat Nav, Reversing Camera, Reversing Sensors, Front Parking sensors, Leather seats, Heated and electrically operated, climate control, a fantastic message centre (similar to that found on top spec Rover 75's and MG ZT's), and a Bluetooth stereo system, which works flawlessly with my iPhone. You are also given a number of auxiliary inputs for MP3 players. My only grumble is that the stereo does not support Bluetooth music input from an iPhone; therefore you have connect the phone via the 3.5mm auxiliary input.

 

Sitting in the 6 immediately you realise you are in a quality car. The door shuts with a reassuring clunk, and the seats hold you very comfortably. Despite early road tests leading you to believe the switch gear, dashboard, and gear knobs are poor quality it is important to note that in most instances they were test-driving pre-production cars. This particular car does not give any indication of being cheap, in fact quite the opposite. All the switches work in a positive manner, and none feel cheap. The car I borrowed had covered just over 8000 miles, and there was no indication of any annoying rattles that detract from the overall driving experience.

 

The driving position is high, and most of the controls are at your fingertips. Sitting in the drivers seat the immediate annoyance is that you cannot see the indicator and wiper arms, the large steering wheel centre hides these. In MG's defence, you don't need to see them as once you know what they do you're up and running. The only other controls that are hidden are those directly behind the gear stick, low down in the centre console. Inevitably you are in 1st, 3rd, or 5th gear when you need to use one of them, I then have to lean forward to be able to see which one I want to press.

The two switches behind the gearstick are difficult to see when in 1st, 3rd, and even 5th gears. 1st and 3rd gears are shown here.

Being a taller driver I sometimes find the adjustment of seats to be a concern the 6 is far from this. There is a wide range of adjustments available, and even with the seat extended as far back as it will go there is still a small amount of room behind the driver. One feature lacking (surprisingly) is a memory function for the drivers seat this would probably become annoying if there was more than one user of the vehicle. Sitting in the back and looking forward you realise just how much space you are graced with, yet when you're in the driving seat you feel like you are driving a smaller car. It's an amazing feeling, and one, which I have never felt before.

 

It's great to see that MG have opted for a tint at the top of the windscreen, however, I have found myself getting blinded by the sun on a couple of occasions. The sun visors seem too small and not wide enough to shield "that spot" around the interior mirror to pull them down you have to make your way to the middle of the car to find the recess in the roof lining. This is a little odd, and caught me out numerous times. MG need to look at the possibility of incorporating a zone around the interior mirror that is "blacked out" or alternatively use a slightly darker tint and drift it a little further down the windscreen.

The MG6 scooped the What Car? 2012 security award, coupled with its low insurance rating (14), the 6 is proving its worth in the industry. With the car being competitively priced, and being fully loaded with equipment it is definitely one to look at. As the sales figures have not yet reached tremendous figures resale prices could be concern for some. Providing there are no major issues as time progresses I can see no reason why the resale value would plummet to bargain basement prices.

Will I buy one...? We're in negotiations...

 
 

By Michael Turner

 

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This page was last modified on Sunday, 01st January, 2017 @ 22:39:56 CET