From £14,911
Accept a few compromises and you'll have an involving budget performer

Our Verdict

MG 6 2011-2014
Can MG’s first all-new car under Chinese ownership hit its mark?

Can the MG Motor MG6, the company's first all-new car under Chinese ownership, hit its mark?

  • First Drive

    MG6 DTi-Tech TSE UK first drive review

    The MG6 is now a greener proposition than ever before, but its bland cabin aesthetics are still letting the side down
  • First Drive

    MG6 Magnette TSE

    As uneven as the hatch, so an excellent chassis, big cabin, crude drivetrain and patchy finish

What is it?

The first all-new MG to come to the UK market for sixteen years – and today, now that MG Motor UK Ltd has announced prices, is its first day of official sales. This is the MG 6, driven in the UK in final production specification for the first time.

Although it’s part-assembled by SAIC in China, this new MG has been designed and engineered in the UK by the 300-strong staff of SAIC’s Longbridge technical centre. It’s body-in-white under-structure, panels and interior are sourced and screwed together in China, but the car’s chassis, engine and transmission are fitted at Longbridge, Birmingham.

Chinese-owned MG Motor UK Ltd is hoping that British connection, together with the warmth of feeling that it believes still exists for the MG brand in the UK, will attract people who might otherwise buy an entry-level five-door family hatchback like a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra to try the MG 6.

Aside from that, they say, the new hatchback should sell as a value proposition. Priced from £15,495 for an entry-level ‘S’-spec car, rising to £18,995 for the equipment-laden ‘TSE’-spec car we drove, the MG 6 is between £1500 and £3000 cheaper than a like-for-like Ford Focus or Skoda Octavia. Being over 4.6-metres long, it also offers a little more cabin- and luggage space than a conventional C-segment option.

What’s it like?

There are two burning questions to answer here: does it look and feel like a low-rent, Chinese-built car on the inside, and secondly, does it drive like one?

Settle in behind the big, leather-trimmed steering wheel of the MG 6 and, at first, you certainly don’t feel short-changed. The overall appearance of the fascia is modern and reasonably appealing. The leather’s soft and well-stitched, the instruments a bit over-stylised, but readable. And you get loads of equipment as standard: electric windows, air con, alloy wheels and USB connectivity on entry-level cars, and sat nav, heated electric leather seats, cruise control, reversing camera, Bluetooth and 18in wheels on range-topping TSEs.

You sit high in the MG 6 by the latest standards, and the particularly tall may find their forehead in close proximity to the header rail. With only a limited amount of reach adjustment on the steering column, you may also find your knees a little close to the dashboard if you’re long-legged. This 6ft 3in tester had no lasting difficulty getting comfortable though.

Take a closer inspection of the cabin and you’ll begin to see areas where it doesn’t quite hit European standards of material quality. Although the dash roll-top is tactle and slush-moulded, the plastics of the lower fascia and door cards are hard, a little shiny and easily scratched. Although the car’s major switchgear – indicator arms, air conditioning and headlight controls – are substantial enough, buttons for the stereo and cruise control are more flimsy, their fit-and-finish more variable.

Nitty-gritty considered, this isn’t a cabin that’d ever get signed off on a Skoda. It’s not awful; just a bit thin and disposable-looking in places. That said, the car’s certainly spacious in most respects: there’s more headroom in the back than in the front, weirdly, and decent knee- and foot-room too, as well as bootspace to burn.

And what about the driving experience? All MG 6s will, at first, come with the same 1.8-litre, 158bhp turbocharged petrol engine, five-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. Suspension is via MacPherson struts up front and ‘Z-axle’ multi-links at the rear.

Those ingredients make the MG 6 a spirited and willing performer – albeit one with a few rough edges. A close-ratio six-speed ‘box would make it feel quicker, but even with just five forward ratios, engine power is enough to make the MG forge forward with plenty of authority and zip, and its delivery is flexible too.

Better still is the MG 6’s chassis, which is quiet and supple, yet still controls body movements tightly. It’s clear that a great of MG Motor UK Ltd’s effort has gone into creating a convincing compromise between composure and sporting feel here, and it hasn’t wasted that effort. Hydraulic steering assistance allows for plenty of steering feel too.

Should I buy one?

If you want a handsome-looking, zesty family hatchback for a great price – and you don’t mind running a relatively thirsty, high-CO2 petrol option instead of the default-for-fleet diesel – you should certainly try one. It’s not often that cars from the budget sector deliver so much athleticism and driver involvement.

You’ll have to accept a few compromises, mind. The MG 6’s engine is relatively raucous at high rpm, its cabin quality is below par in places; it does feel like a cheap car here and there.

But not so cheap, we suspect, as to discourage you if you’re a bargain-hunter and you like the idea of owning what’s a perfectly competent and surprisingly stirring car for less.

If MG can keep making cars like this in China, and can improve its act in a few key areas, we say bring ‘em on.

MG 6 1.8T TSE

Price: £18,995; Top speed: 120mph (limited); 0-60mph: 8.4sec; Economy: 35.6mpg; Co2: 184g/km; Kerb weight: 1495kg; Engine type, cc: 4 cyls in line, 1796cc, turbocharged petrol; Power: 158bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 159lb ft at 1750-4500rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
69

14 March 2011

Good review, looking forward to the full review, shame about the interior, but MG are a 'new' car company so I don't expect perfection.

14 March 2011

And by looks alone it should stay in China then factor in the cost and quality you would be made to buy one rather than a Mondeo, Golf or Focus.It's a good job it is not called an MGB ( Mighty Gaunt Bas....)

14 March 2011

At a fiver under £19k, I'd expect a bit more quality no matter who's making it. I wish them luck, though.

14 March 2011

[quote Ski Kid]be made to buy one[/quote]

Did you mean mad? I tend to agree, although with a diesel it would make a lot more sense.

14 March 2011

They are only aiming to sell 2000 of them in the UK. I think this car is good enough to at the very least achieve those numbers. It is what it is, a promising start by a 'new' company.

14 March 2011

Why is it limited to 120mph? Do I smell the whiff of a cheap-tyre choice?....

Quite like the look of it, but it should be nearer £15K to make me even look twice.

14 March 2011

[quote michael knight]

Why is it limited to 120mph? Do I smell the whiff of a cheap-tyre choice?....

Quite like the look of it, but it should be nearer £15K to make me even look twice.

[/quote]

It is for insurance reasons and possibly emissions reasons, tyres are Dunlop which are decent tyres.

14 March 2011

I've had a good look at an MG6 and the interior is at least as good, if not better, than my Focus. I think it's a handsome looking car and great value.

14 March 2011

Autocar goes on about the great price, but 19 grand for a 1.8 litre hatch isn't that cheap, especially for one with patchy quality, fairly dull looks inside and out and unestablished credentials.

14 March 2011

[quote Overdrive]Autocar goes on about the great price, but 19 grand for a 1.8 litre hatch isn't that cheap, especially for one with patchy quality, fairly dull looks inside and out and unestablished credentials.[/quote] Exactly, if this was a Chinese car marketed as such it would be slated. Instead it's wearing an MG badge and nostalgia clouds judgement.

 

 

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