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.