What is it?
You have to be pretty old to remember an MG Magnette. Any MG Magnette, in fact, because there have been several pre-war cars (some of them legendary), while post-war there were the fine 1953-58 ZA and ZB saloons, and after that the inferior Austin Cambridge-based, badge-engineered Farina-styled model. The last of those was built in 1968, but it’s the Z Magnettes that MG would like you to think of with this latest version.
Credible or not, what the two do have in common, besides a decent chassis, is that they’re four-door sports saloons, although the ZA would have been a little upmarket of today’s Magnette and an equivalent to today’s sporty BMW 3-series.
And yet it’s 3-series buyers that MG Motor would like to see considering this booted version of the MG 6 GT hatchback. But before you start sniggering, the plan is to snare buyers of used 3-series searching websites in the MG’s price range – which starts at £15,995 – when a cheeky banner ad hoves into view. That’s £400 more than you’ll pay for the hatch, for no good reason beyond MG’s BMW dreams, it would seem.
What's it like?
What you get for your money is quite a big car, both inside and out, that’s identical to the hatch bar its rearranged rear. So that means slightly vague throttle response from the turbocharged 1.8-litre motor until it starts to rev, with decently lively thrust emerging after that. However, at 5800rpm the gearlever in our car started to zizz, and the shift itself felt like you were snapping saplings.
Better, then, to think about the truly excellent suspension. The ride is supple and quiet, the car is keenly agile in curves, and if the feelsome straight-ahead promise of its steering isn’t quite matched by the quality of its mid-bend weighting, this is nevertheless an accomplished chassis.
Should I buy one?
Keen pricing and fairly generous equipment – though you wouldn’t call it plush – are further attractions, but running costs will be high because there’s no diesel. Which makes this four-door as uneven as its five-door sibling. But unlike many value-brand buys, the Magnette has a few strong attractions to counter those flaws.