The MG6 will go on sale in the UK next year, and Autocar's chief road tester Matt Prior has had an exclusive drive of the Longbridge-developed car.
Contrary to what many people think, the MG6 - or Roewe 550 as it’s called in China - is a clean sheet design, and not based on a shortened Rover 75 platform.
The Roewe variant went on sale in China last year, and has already sold 100,000 units. The MG6 will be on sale in the UK from the start of 2011, with final assembly taking place at Longbridge.
The good news is that not only was the 6 largely engineered in the UK, but it will also be sold here on a Europe-exclusive chassis set-up, honed and tweaked on the roads we tested it on. As a benchmark, we took a Ford Focus Zetec S along on the same route.
The roads are in and around mid-Wales, and are some of the most challenging and demanding in the world. If a car works here, it'll work pretty much anywhere.
Climbing aboard, there's a shock. The 6's cabin may be a belter by Chinese standards, but it's not on a par with better European cars. There are soft-touch plastics and a dark ambience, but it's a bit austere and the design looks flat in places. It's a pre-production model, but it could use finessing by a few notches.
Moving off, I reckon the gearchange on the five-speed manual and NVH levels could (and I believe will) be improved too.
The only engine at launch is a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol, though diesels and other petrols will follow. It's a reworked K-series and - although it meets Euro5 emissions levels - accelerating away from a couple of roundabouts as we head west, it gets a little strained higher up the rev band.