Shock verdict: "New MG6 is borderline best in class to drive"
9 April 2010

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.

See the MG6 test pictures

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.

What the MG6 does do, though, is drive well. And I mean really well. MG's head of chassis, Andy Kitson, admits the Focus has been the firm's benchmark for ride and handling. The MG6 has a rare blend of suppleness and poise.

The steering is still hydraulic rather than electric, and apparently it's slower than the Focus's, but it doesn't feel it. Kitson says there's still a little work to do on the valves to alter the feel at straight ahead but it's not bad now. And once there's a little lock wound on, it's excellent.

Then there's the ride. Hopping to and from a Focus reveals that the Ford's cabin suffers less vertical intrusion over bumps, but it's obvious this is the car MG has benchmarked. In its poise and agility I'd even say the MG6 is superior. It feels more neutral than the Focus, with a pivot point further forward; the Ford in comparison feels led more by its front.

The MG grips tenaciously before eventually letting slip from the front first, and it changes direction superbly. It is comfortable, tool greater vertical inputs into the cabin aside, there's no crash, even over bad bumps.

Fact is, the MG6 is already (and there's still tweaking to do) borderline best in class to drive.

Is that enough? Probably not on its own. But it's also spacious and expected to be priced competitively.

If all goes well there's scope for up to 150,000 vehicles per year to be assembled out of MG Birmingham, even in its current size.

Read the full test drive story in this week's Autocar magazine (7 April 2010).

Matt Prior

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Comments
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9 April 2010

You know, I'm quite impressed. It doesn't look too bad inside or out, sounds like it drives reasonably well and as long as the pricing isn't stupid it could be quite an attractive car. Shame the powertrain seems off the pace with regards to power, refinement and economy from the figures I've seen. Imagine if they had VW's 1.4TSI 122 and 1.8TSI 160 with 6 speed manuals to slot in. As an aside I recognise the roads you've photographed very well, having driven that pretty rural route a few times! Best fun I ever had on that road was a 280 transit with an 85bhp engine and a couple of hundred well secured kgs in the back - could drive it at almost 100% without any fear of death!

9 April 2010

I still do not know why this is car is called MG6. That's the same as Mazda6. The Make is an MG and the model is "6." Can they do that?

9 April 2010

Just looks cheap and nasty, they have looked round all the mainstream cars on sale and picked bits they liked and copied. No original innovation going on whatosever, just as expected from a Chinese car firm.

9 April 2010

I'm really thrilled it's such a good drive and I like the interior but Jesus Christ that is one plain looking car! It could be a next-generation Proton or non-descript Japanese model. Where's the style?!

9 April 2010

[quote J400uk]No original innovation going on whatosever, just as expected from a Chinese car firm. [/quote]

But it wasn't really designed by a chinese firm. It's origins lie in the design/engineering of the rover 45 replacement which was to be based on the 75 underpinnings and it was finished by ricardo. So it is anglo-sino-german.

9 April 2010

[quote Dark Isle]Jesus Christ that is one plain looking car! It could be a next-generation Proton or non-descript Japanese model. Where's the style?!
[/quote]

I agree.

It looks dated now and its not released yet!

9 April 2010

Folks! Give the poor car a chance! Personally, I think it is a handsome, understated and well-proportioned car. Please note, Autocar, the Chinese sister-vehicle is the Roewe 550, not the 75, and both of these vehicles are (to the best of AROnline's knowledge) built on a modified Rover 75 platform.

All the naysayers need to see an MG6 in the flesh instead of picking holes in it before it has even reached Western forecourts. And the proof is in the pudding. Take the Europeanised version for a drive and then deliver your verdicts. All kudos to SAIC for sticking with Longbridge - the road back is a long hard one and I think they're very brave even giving it a go.


9 April 2010

Great to see the MG name making a come back. Personally, it doesn't matter to me where it's manufactured, at least some of the final assembly/finishing will be done at Longbridge.

Designwise it looks no worse than most modern compact cars, tell me, the Polo,Corsa, Corolla's are such earth shattering revolutions?

This is a brand that has alot of image building to do, and highly individualistic,polarizing body design is not the way to start.

They need to improve perceived quality in the cabin though as that's the buyers view the car during ownership. It accounts for at least 60% of the decision making process when considering to buy or not.

Anyway, this was a preproduction, not fully developed model, hopefully they'll get it right by the time they start sales. It's looking good for MG.

9 April 2010

Just read the article on this in this weeks Autocar and since it was such a good read I thought I'd add my comments. I originally posted most of this on an old MG6 thread. Sorry for repeating!

The comments on the ride quality look really promising. It would be nice to see 'ride quality' coming back in to fashion as a selling point. Impressive to see that it handles well too.

The car looks so much better in black and with those larger wheels. The long spokes give the impression that the wheels are bigger than they actually are. This is good because the original wheels looked lost.

Interior generally looks nice but I would prefer to see piano black instead of the silver. Silver trim reminds me of a 5 year old telly. The leather looked a bit poor quality too.

Externally, I hope that the front and rear light clusters are changed for something a bit more classy. These look distinctly aftermarket to me. Not good. My least favourite aspect of the car.

I hope the engine and gearbox are up to par at launch and I really do hope they can make it work with the 5 speed gear box. 6 speeders are not selling points for me.

Looking forward to reading more on this when it's officially launched.

9 April 2010

[quote Jack Shitspeddle]

Some craparse Chinese shitbox with an MG sticker on it. Why bother? There ought to be an outright ban on reporting of cars like this. Like a Chinese trade sanction. This is a cynical bullshittery of a car that masquerades as an MG.

IT IS NOT AN MG, IT IS A DISGRACE.

Ignore all reports on this from now on please. It is not a Chinese Sunny, it is a Chinese Sheeite.

[/quote]

And you know S***, it was originally designed in the UK, it is based on UK componants, it has the uprated K-Series engine, again a UK designed engine, it has been honed and tweaked here in the UK.

You have no clue what your talking about, so unless you have something constructive to add, keep that foul mouth shut.

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