MG6 GT TL 150 PS 1.9DTi
Back in 1988, I briefly worked for a Rover dealership in Guildford, selling Rovers & MG’s. Rover due to a series of unfortunate events, has sadly disappeared from the UK car market, However, MG now owned by the Chinese, has risen Phoenix like from the flames & the first model that they launched here in the UK, the MG6 was delivered to Company Car back in 2014.
Fast forward 18 months to late 2015 & the MG6 has been tweaked & improved for the UK market. It’s still assembled at MG’s factory at Longbridge from kits built in China. Like the Mk1 version, the design & development of the Mk2 though, did take place in the UK, where it is still based on the regular Chinese car the Roewe 556. The updated model has been improved inside, with a new 6-speed gearbox that’s smoother to use being the highlight. Elsewhere, to appeal more to the European customer, improvements to both the chassis & to the engine itself have helped lower the CO2 emissions of the MG6.
Available as a saloon the Magnette or hatchback, there is now just one engine available, a 1.9 litre TD. This unit was specifically created for the European market & with diesel emissions now as low as 119g/km & 61.4 mpg as a claimed combined figure, MG really does mean business. I spoke to MG’s corporate sales manager Adam Bowen who told me that MG were looking to push the model to user choosers, aiming it at a gap in the market recently vacated by the likes of Saab.
In the flesh, the MG6 is surprisingly attractive to look at with more than a similarity to the Volkswagen Jetta. There’s a big MG logo at the front, above a narrow grille with a second grille underneath the front bumper. It also looks good from the back, with a high rear tailgate giving way to a steep rear windscreen & from the side, where the narrow depth of the windows is reminiscent of Audis. The car is finished with front fog lights, , LED rear light clusters, electrically heated & adjusted door mirrors & 18″ alloys.
In the cabin, MG have managed to keep it simple, with everything finished in black plastic, the highlight being the grey & chrome centre console. The quality is better than I expected & not that far behind those found in Korean & Japanese brands, but it still lags behind the European manufacturers.
My test car was very well appointed with electrically adjusted leather sports seats, ambient lighting, leather steering wheel with multifunction controls & MG design kick plates. The seats were incredibly supportive & very comfortable, although the leather was freezing until the heated seat switch was put on in November. Thankfully, they heat up very quickly. The interior layout is straightforward. Gone thankfully is the strange plastic hand brake cover from the Mk 1, although the Chinese favourite ashtray remains. There’s now an automatic handbrake & the quality & finish of all the materials used on the dash & centre console are markedly improved over the first MG6 .If you need storage, the door pockets are long but very narrow, there’s a single cup holder in the centre & there’s also a useful sized glove box.
One thing that MG has realised, certainly in the UK market anyway, is our obsession with technology & equipment, so the MG6 is loaded with goodies. An auto dipping rear view mirror, auto headlights with dusk sensors, auto rain sensing wipers, an aux-in, Bluetooth, which connected to my iPhone quickly, Cruise control, Dual-zone climate control, four electric windows, front & rear parking sensors, a rear parking camera , 7 ” SD based SatNav, Stop/Start, CD/AM/FM/DAB/MPS tuner, follow me home lighting, tyre pressure monitoring & hill hold control to name a few.
The new seven-inch touchscreen integrated into the dashboard but the screen still looks too small for the space it sits in and the interior’s quality is still patchy in places. The electric handbrake that replaces the rather strange one in the previous model helps to declutter the cabin but the steering-wheel mounted controls are a bit fiddly, often aren’t where you’d expect them to be & are annoying to use.
The two main rear passengers get plenty of legroom, whilst headroom is okay & not spoiled by the sloping roof. The boot is a real bonus. It may have a high lip but it offers 498 litres with the rear seats in use & 924 litres if they’re folded down, a lot more than any of its immediate competition.
Starting the MG6 involves using a keyless fob which is inserted into the dashboard whilst simultaneously pushing down the clutch. You need to be precise. The Diesel engines a little gruff at idle, but once you drive away it feels quite nice. It’s got a bit of power as well, particularly on the motorway, where acceleration coupled with a notchy gear change make for enjoyable driving. Around town, the stop-start on the MG is overly sensitive & I found myself stalling it on more than one occasion, so I turned this function off.
The combination of the comfortable seats & suspension means that the MG6 rides pretty well. What was a real surprise was how well it handles. There’s a sharpness to the steering & cornering which harks back to the MG Montego Turbo, which believe me drove like a beast ! Someone at MG should be taking a bow because you do not expect a 20K car aimed at families to be quite so much fun on the road.
If you’ve read other reviews of the MG6 which have not been especially complementary, you may be surprised to know that I thought it was alright. Yes the interior still feels dated, hardly surprising when these now change almost annually & the emissions are a little high for some. But it’s incredibly well priced for such a high spec car at just £20,195, plus it’s practical, comfortable & handles really well. I think that the Chinese & MG should be quite pleased with themselves because this is their first attempt at tackling the European market & their cars will only get better. The smaller MG3 is probably better than the MG6 & closer to what European customers want to buy. Even Top Gear, who visited China in 2012 could see that with their growth as an economy it won’t be long before they’re cars are competitive too.
Getting better 3/5.