It’s an MG... but not as we know it

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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

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