6

Credit where it’s due, MG Motor has been making some inroads. The launch of the MG 3 demonstrated that the company could produce a passable Ford Fiesta alternative, one that was particularly notable for its affordability and energetic handling.

In fact, orders for the MG 3 helped propel the company’s sales figures to a total of 2326 cars last year, putting it ahead of the soon to depart Chrysler and within 500 cars of Subaru. Not heady heights by any stretch, but certainly far ahead of the likes of SsangYong.

To help further this expansion the company has turned its attention back to the other model in its line-up, the MG 6, which was launched in 2011. Remarkably, and this bears promise for future efforts, MG Motor is heeding the feedback it has received from customers and press alike.

Consequently the MG 6 has been granted a lengthy list of revisions, ranging from cosmetic tweaks to mechanical updates. Externally it benefits from more distinctive styling, while inside it gets a new 7.0in touchscreen media system and a redesigned centre console.

The trim levels have been tweaked, now consisting of S, TS and flagship TL, and the price of admission has been hacked with an axe.

As a result, the new entry-level S will cost you just £13,995, which represents £3000 price reduction. MG has also ditched the inefficient turbocharged petrol engine from the range, so the only option now is a turbocharged 1.9-litre diesel.

This too has been fettled, resulting in improvements to both acceleration and efficiency. The 0-60mph sprint has dropped from 8.9sec to 8.4sec, while economy has improved from 57.6mpg to 61.4mpg. Small gains, but it all adds up.

The revised MG 6 is perfectly tolerable, particularly when you consider its price – and it's a definite improvement on the previous iteration. MG's efforts to upgrade the interior have been a partial success; the redesigned centre console is neater than before and the new media system does work adequately well. 

It's not quite on a par with that which you'd find in other mainstream European rivals, but it's functional and offers a wide array of features.

There's still work to be done, though. The steering wheel would benefit from an overhaul, particularly with regards to its less than tactile thumb controls, and the instrument cluster and touchscreen still appear to float in a vast blank space of cheap black plastic. It is comfortable, though, thanks in part to well-bolstered and nicely padded seats.

It's still a practical car, too; there's seating for five adults and a capacious boot, while a 62-litre fuel tank grants the more efficient MG 6 a potential range in excess of 830 miles.

The 1.9-litre diesel engine serves up adequate motive power, and is perhaps a little more persuasive in gear than it was before, but it's still far less refined and linear in its responses than similarly powerful engines you'd find offered elsewhere.

Under load, or at higher speeds, there's a harsh metallic note to it which is reminiscent of diesels from 10 years ago, and its vibrations permeate through the controls. In this respect MG still has far to go. Our test car did return an indicated 48mpg during a mixed route, however, which was impressive.

It's pleasing to find that the MG is still quite gratifying to drive, particularly on flowing country roads, with a competent chassis that strikes a decent halfway house between ride comfort and cornering capability.

The steering doesn't seem as fluid as it did previously, however, with an excess of assistance materialising as you move away from the centre position, but the rest of the controls are well weighted and precise.

You do get plenty of equipment for your money, too. This mid-spec TS version features heated seats, an auto-dipping rear-view mirror, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, air-con, the touchscreen infotainment system, a DAB radio and rear parking sensors.

This battery of kit goes some way to compensating for the MG's annoyances elsewhere, like the necessity to put it into neutral in order to start it – which can lead to a frantic scramble if you stall at a busy junction.

If you’re on a budget it’s going to be hard to better the MG’s blend of equipment, performance and efficiency. It may not be the most enthralling car to drive, or the best finished, but it does represent good value for money.

To put it in perspective, a similarly specified Skoda Octavia will set you back around £21k. That's almost £5000 more than the MG, so you're really going to need to want the finer interior finishes and hikes in refinement to justify such a hefty step up.

On the way out of Longbridge, however, I’m stopped by one of the company’s security guards. We engage in a casual conflab about the car, to which he concludes: "But in a year or two it'll be a great buy, won't it?"

He has a point. Even at main dealers you can find 2014 MG 6s, with fewer than 5000 miles on them, for £11k – and those cars would have previously cost over £18k. Depreciation takes its inexorable toll wherever you look, but it bears even more consideration when you're talking about such significant sums.

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