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Does the new MG deliver enough to compete in the British market?

Our Verdict

MG 6 2011-2014

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

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25 January 2010

What is it?

The car with which the MG brand is to be reintroduced to the British market: this is the new MG6.

Designed and developed in the UK at SAIC’s technical centre at Longbridge, the MG6 is a medium-sized family hatchback that’s roughly the same size as a Skoda Octavia. Based on the Chinese-built Roewe 550, this car can actually trace its roots all the way back to the Rover 75. However, for the MG version, the car’s engine, chassis, body and interior have all been overhauled.

Current MG brand owners SAIC has plans to build these cars at MG Rover’s old Longbridge plant for sale across the UK. Our test car, however, was one of several built at SAIC’s Nanjing factory, for the official Chinese press launch of the car.

What’s it like?

The MG6 is remarkably daring- and original-looking, considering that it’s intended primarily for the notoriously conservative Chinese market. Wide tracks, flared arches, large external styling features and some surprisingly sophisticated surfaces give it a bold, sporty and contemporary appearance, even relative to European rivals.

The car’s cabin is all new and bears no resemblance to that of the Rover 75 or MG ZT. The materials used aren’t as rich or tactile as you’ll find in some European family saloons, but the built quality is good: switches and levers move with firmness and solidity.

Shanghai Automotive will offer two versions of the MG6, both front-driven via a 5-speed automatic gearbox, and both powered by its ‘N-series’ update of Rover’s old 1.8-litre ‘K-series’ engine.

The entry-level car develops 133bhp and 135lb ft or torque. The range-topping turbo, which we drove, gets 158bhp and 158lb ft, and SAIC claims that it’ll hit 60mph in 8.5sec before going on to a top speed of 130mph.

Out on the road, the MG6 feels firmly suspended, but performs well. That engine suffers a little from turbo lag below 2500rpm, but spins freely way up to its 6750rpm redline. The car has good stability and composure, resisting body roll well through corners, and riding mid-bend bumps at speed without being diverted by them.

Ride comfort and refinement could both be improved. On our test drive, rattles were evident from within our test car’s dashboard, a problem exacerbated by the MG6’s firm ride.

Also disappointing was the car’s five-speed torque converter gearbox. At times it was frustratingly unresponsive and slow to kick down. A good six-speed manual ‘box will be a necessity if SAIC want to market this car as a sporting saloon here in the UK.

Should I buy one?

Given that we’ve only tried a Chinese-built model on Chinese roads, it’s too early to say with any certainty. Longbridge-built cars are likely to be better finished, better equipped and could have their own chassis set-up tailored to suit UK tastes. The MG6 will certainly need to be improved in all three areas in order to make much of an impression over here.

However, provided SAIC can make those gains, and offer this car to UK buyers with a price tag that’s attractive, it won’t struggle to sell the MG6 in Britain. The MG6 is a car that’s already good enough to compete with those built in joint ventures between Chinese and European makers, and could quite easily be made competitive by European class standards.

With the MG badge on its nose, it has the potential to make big improvements to the reputation of the Chinese car industry in Europe.

Zhangwen Wu

Join the debate


29 January 2010

Wouldn't touch it with yours.


29 January 2010

I expect the Chinese to play catch-up even quicker than Korea. At this stage, however, I would like to see some reassuring NCAP results before letting anyone I cared about drive a Chinese car, even one built in Britain.

29 January 2010

[quote DKW]I would like to see some reassuring NCAP results before letting anyone I cared about drive a Chinese car, especially one built in Britain[/quote] Changed it for you ;)

29 January 2010

Chinese cars like this, are in my book, even worse than Korean cars. I would never buy one.

Also is it just me or does that interior look like a cheap knock-off of some of Renault and BMWs latest designs?

Oh and that engine/ gearbox lineup has to be the very worse of any mainstream car currently on the market, what a joke! They haven't got a clue.

29 January 2010

I quite like it. It's not very radical, it's not going to be top of the class, but it looks reasuringly average. And that's a promising start. Hyundai and Kia didn't start out as well as this.

29 January 2010

Looks good. An inch bigger alloys would add to the appealing looks. With a slick 6 speed manual it could be a winner.

29 January 2010

[quote TStag]I quite like it. It's not very radical, it's not going to be top of the class, but it looks reasuringly average. And that's a promising start. Hyundai and Kia didn't start out as well as this.[/quote]

Leave this forum and never return.

29 January 2010

Why are the words "near luxury brand" in my head as I read the report?

29 January 2010

It's a Chinese specification vehicle.

It's been built for the Chinese market.

It was road tested in China.

UK-built vehicles will have different specifications, build quality and powertrains.

Some posters obviously haven't got the attention span to fully read the article and just wanted to provoke with a knee-jerk reaction against the MG brand.

I think it will do well with the right build quality and the right engines.

29 January 2010

[quote Dill The Dog]

I think it will do well with the right build quality and the right engines.[/quote]

And the right price, and the right suspension, and the right dealer network...


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