It’s an MG... but not as we know it
NOW I had planned to go on and on about all the MGs I have owned and rebuilt over the years when this week’s test car arrived - but that all suddenly seemed somewhat irrelevant.
Because it’s nothing like the iconic but flawed and shoddily-made MGs of my youth or the MG-badged Rovers of the 1990s - the reborn MG company now makes mainstream motors that drive well, have great levels of equipment and all for bargain prices.
OK, so these cars are aimed at a totally different market than MGBs and Midgets but even so, getting behind the wheel of the MG6 proved a revelation.
Apart from the sea of black plastic that is the dashboard and some fiddly switchgear it’s a very good car, handling well with plenty of performance and space and, from the outside at least, it’s positively contemporary and stylish - looking like the latest mid-sized Vauxhall or Toyota.
A substantial facelift in 2015 gave the car more angular front and rear bumpers, LED daytime running lights and LED rear light clusters plus an upgraded interior... and it lost 75kg in weight in the process.
There were also revisions which saw the petrol version dropped, an electronicallycontrolled diff fitted, an improved six-speed manual gearbox (there’s no auto option) and the ride was softened plus the range was simplified, more kit added as standard and all models received a price cut.
On the inside things are a little bland but the soft leather heated electric front seats are very comfy and the level of equipment is up in the executive sector… a (slightly fiddly) 7-inch touch screen sat nav and DAB radio, reversing camera, control cruise, hill start assist, electronic parking brake, auto lights and wipers, tyre pressure monitoring, headlamp wash and parking sensors.
There is only the choice of a 1.9-litre 148bhp diesel engine, but it is surprisingly well soundproofed and gives a sprightly 0-60 time of 8.4 seconds while returning over 60mpg.
One thing the new MGs share with their 1980 and 90s predecessors is that they are put together (well at least assembled from kits made in China) in Longbridge, Birmingham.
UK cars differ from their Chinese counterparts with revised spring and damper settings, better anti-roll bars and steering and slightly longer gearing, meaning the MG 6 needs lower revs at motorway speeds which, combined with the well-insulated cabin, gives refined high-speed cruising.
Speaking of which it was my transport for a weekend 200-mile plus round trip to a spa hotel in North Yorkshire with her indoors who, unusually, made positive comments on the MG6’s external styling… praise indeed!
And the MG6 did eat up the motorway miles with ease proving more than up to the task.
MG Motors UK is celebrating a great start to 2016 with a 132 per cent increase in sales in January and new dealers springing up all the time… and I can clearly see why.
The entry-level S model still has lots of kit but is priced at just £13,995 - then there are the £16,195 TS and TL models (our test car) at £17,995. Unlike other manufacturers there is no long list of expensive extras - the cars come well specked and with the same engine so the difference between models is simply the equipment level, although the TL is the only one to be offered in ‘Passion Red’ with white, black and metallic grey available across the range.
The MG6 won the category ‘£17,500 and under’ in the Caravan Club Towcar of the Year Awards in 2015. It also won the 2014 Auto Express Driver Power Best Handling Award and MG was voted the fourth best manufacturer in the UK in the Auto Express Driver Power Awards in 2015.
Two cars currently come off the Longbridge assembly lines - the MG6 and the MG3 (see article right) – but MG’s Chinese parent company say they have several models planned for the immediate and longerterm future... so perhaps we will see MGBs and Midgets for the 21st century?
●● The MG6 has been revised for 2016