MG6

Ad­vice on buy­ing the best.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

Long­bridge 2011, and the wraps came off the car that was claimed to mark MG’S glo­ri­ous re­turn to the UK mar­ket and car pro­duc­tion to the Birm­ing­ham fac­tory, al­beit in kit rather than fully-built form. The new­comer, it was said, would make MG a main­stream name once again, and would prove that Chi­nese car man­u­fac­tur­ers were up there with the best that Europe and Ja­pan had to of­fer. But was the MG6 launch a case of smoke and mir­rors or was there some sub­stance in owner SAIC’S claims?

De­spite a tempt­ing price tag and ex­cep­tional lev­els of stan­dard equip­ment, the MG6 never set the show­rooms alight. It was based on the Chi­nese-mar­ke­tonly Roewe 550, which was de­vel­oped on a mod­i­fied Rover 75 plat­form and is ru­moured to have been the car that was ear­marked to re­place the Rover 45 had things turned out dif­fer­ently back in 2005.

There was just one body style avail­able at launch – a five-door hatch­back known as the MG6 GT – with three lev­els of trim: S, SE and TSE. All came with the same 1.8-litre tubocharged en­gine and five-speed man­ual gear­box, with the TSE iden­ti­fi­able by its larger 18-inch al­loys, com­pared to the 17-inch­ers fit­ted to lesser mod­els. The en­gine, called the TCI-TECH, was an 158bhp unit that was ba­si­cally an up­dated ver­sion of Rover’s tur­bocharged K-se­ries, while un­der the skin the car got a con­ven­tional Macpher­son strut front-end and a fairly ad­vanced multi-link rear.

Per­for­mance was pretty rea­son­able: 0-60mph in 8.4 sec­onds and a top speed of 120mph, elec­tron­i­cally-lim­ited to keep in­sur­ance costs down. It had a com­bined fuel econ­omy fig­ure of 35.4mpg and a CO2 fig­ure of 184g/km, the lat­ter be­ing pretty poor com­pared to con­tem­po­rary ri­vals.

Four-door model

Two months af­ter the GT ap­peared, MG re­leased a four-door ver­sion, which it called the Mag­nette, re­call­ing a pres­ti­gious name from the brand’s past. Only avail­able in higher-spec trim lev­els, the Mag­nette was a slow seller, ac­count­ing for just 120 sales in to­tal.

In 2012, MG tried to bol­ster sales by adding a diesel model to the lineup, its homegrown 1.9-litre Dti-tech unit pro­duc­ing 148bhp and 350Nm of torque, with far more ac­cept­able CO2 emis­sions of 139g/km. The diesel also ac­quired a six-speed man­ual gear­box and elec­tro­hy­draulic power steer­ing. At the same time, MG re­worked the petrol en­gine to re­duce CO2 emis­sions to 174g/km, along with an im­proved fuel econ­omy fig­ure of 37.7mpg. In 2014, the diesel en­gine was up­dated, re­duc­ing its CO2 emis­sions to 129g/km.

The MG6 was given a facelift for 2015, re­ceiv­ing a range of ex­te­rior and in­te­rior changes in­clud­ing a 75kg re­duc­tion in weight. It was un­veiled at the Chengdu Mo­tor Show in Au­gust 2014 and went on sale in the UK in April 2015. The main changes were an im­prove­ment in ef­fi­ciency for the diesel, and the with­drawal of the petrol ver­sions en­tirely. The facelifted model can be iden­ti­fied by its new lights and bumpers, front and rear, and a sub­stan­tially up­dated in­te­rior, in­clud­ing a re­designed con­sole and elec­tronic park­ing brake. In­deed, the press were largely pos­i­tive about the im­prove­ments, sug­gest­ing that MG had lis­tened to Euro­pean con­sumers and taken ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion to im­prove the cabin.

The press were also pos­i­tive about the MG6’S pric­ing and road man­ners, with the han­dling, in par­tic­u­lar, com­ing in for pos­i­tive feed­back. As most of the de­vel­op­ment was done in the UK by exmg Rover engi­neers, this was a big boost for the brand, even if the 6 was strug­gling to sell, a fact not helped by MG hav­ing such a tiny dealer net­work.

De­spite a high-pro­file Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship cam­paign, with BTCC leg­end Ja­son Plato at the wheel of the Tesco-backed race car, there’s an ar­gu­ment to say that MG6’S lim­ited sales were a re­sult of low brand aware­ness rather than any ma­jor flaws with the car. It wasn’t enough, though, as by 2016 MG had taken the de­ci­sion to drop the 6 from the UK mar­ket.

The MG6 had its faults, not least the qual­ity of its in­te­rior plas­tics, but it also had quite a lot of merit. MG’S sub­se­quent at­tempts to grow its dealer net­work and of­fer a broader range of mod­els, in­clud­ing the moder­ately suc­cess­ful MG3 su­per­mini, have shown that there is some con­sumer ap­petite for in­ex­pen­sive, well-equipped cars wear­ing the fa­mous oc­tagon badge.

Whether th­ese and a fresh range of SUVS will be enough to give MG a sus­tain­able po­si­tion in the UK car mar­ket re­mains to be seen, but a good choice of in­de­pen­dent deal­ers in strate­gi­cally placed lo­ca­tions seems to be pay­ing div­i­dends. It also means that own­ing a 6 isn’t a parts-sourc­ing night­mare, al­though there are cer­tain com­po­nents that have a long lead time from the Chi­nese fac­tory that pro­duces them.

Does the MG6 rep­re­sent good value as a sec­ond­hand car and, if so, what should you look for when buy­ing one?

Body­work

The 6 was sold with a six-year an­tiper­fo­ra­tion war­ranty, which is quite poor by modern stan­dards, where many man­u­fac­tur­ers of­fer 10 or even 12 years of cover. How­ever, with the oldest cars now out of the body­work war­ranty pe­riod, there don’t ap­pear to be any alarm­ing rust is­sues to worry about and the paint qual­ity is gen­er­ally good.

It’s worth not­ing, too, that all Uk­spec 6s were as­sem­bled at Long­bridge in CKD kit form, which means that the un­der­seal and rust­proof­ing wax were ap­plied here and not in the Chi­nese fac­tory, so qual­ity con­trol should be well up to ex­pected Euro­pean stan­dards.

One ail­ment that does seem to be a com­mon fault is wa­ter ingress into the boot, caused by fail­ure of the rub­ber seal around the bootlid aper­ture. The boot seal will have been re­placed on many cars dur­ing rou­tine ser­vic­ing, but if there are any traces of damp­ness in the load bay then it makes sense to check whether or not a mod­i­fied seal has been fit­ted and, if not, see if an MG dealer will carry out the mod­i­fi­ca­tion as a good­will ges­ture.

Some own­ers have re­ported prob­lems with the driver’s side door lock mech­a­nisms fail­ing, which is of­ten re­lated to the ra­dio fre­quency from the key not be­ing read prop­erly by the body con­trol mod­ule. The prob­lem is usu­ally oc­ca­sional rather than fre­quent, and lies within the wiring loom, though the car can still al­ways be un­locked man­u­ally with the key.

Fi­nally, the ra­dio aerial mount is a known weak fit­ting and can break free, re­sult­ing in poor ra­dio re­cep­tion.

In­te­rior

There was a lot of crit­i­cism lev­elled at the qual­ity of the 6’s in­te­rior plas­tic when new, with hard and shiny sur­faces that failed to live up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of Euro­pean con­sumers. The com­plaints tend to be di­rected more at the look of the ma­te­rial than its qual­ity, as the cars hold up pretty well, with no re­ports of cracked or dam­aged trim.

One thing that does seem to be a cause of frus­tra­tion is a squeaky driver’s seat, which tends to get no­ticed when driv­ing over bumps and ruts in the road. There’s no known cure, al­though some MG6 driv­ers have re­ported lim­ited suc­cess by us­ing sil­i­cone-based spray prod­ucts on the seat mech­a­nism.

By far the most widely re­ported gripe with the 6, though, re­lates to the car’s in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. All but the en­trylevel cars have an in­te­grated head unit that fea­tures the ra­dio con­trols, CD player, sat-nav and Blue­tooth. It was one of the 6’s main sell­ing points when the car was new, but the units ap­pear to be un­re­li­able, with sat-navs ran­domly cut­ting out, the Blue­tooth func­tion­ing only spo­rad­i­cally and a com­mon ‘blank screen’ prob­lem that cures it­self when the car is shut down and restarted, but can be frus­trat­ing when it cuts out com­pletely mid-jour­ney.

Some of the prob­lems re­late to short cir­cuits in the wiring loom, and there was a re­call in 2013 to fix this, af­ter engi­neers dis­cov­ered that in­su­la­tion could wear off the wiring on the loom and short against the bodyshell, caus­ing some elec­tri­cal sys­tems to shut down. With any po­ten­tial pur­chase, check whether or not the re­call has been car­ried out – if not, an MG dealer will carry out the mod­i­fi­ca­tions free-of-charge.

In­te­rior fab­rics ap­pear to be pretty hard-wear­ing, with no re­ported prob­lems – we’re aware of one MG6 that has cov­ered more than 200,000 miles on mini­cab duty with no ma­jor wear and tear is­sues, so this bodes well for the fu­ture of less heav­ily-used ex­am­ples.

Run­ning gear

The un­der­pin­nings of the MG6 are based partly on those of the Rover 75, which al­though ad­vanced in years re­mains one of the smoothest rid­ing front-wheel drive chas­sis around. Many of the front-end com­po­nents ap­pear to be in­ter­change­able, but there’s noth­ing of­fi­cial to con­firm this. The 6 does tend to suf­fer from the same lower balljoint wear that’s com­mon on 75s, with the re­pair be­ing one of the first to nor­mally get car­ried out. Oth­er­wise, it’s a fine han­dling car, win­ning the Auto Ex­press Sil­ver Award in the ride and han­dling class of its Driver Power sur­vey in 2014, while the multi-link rear end is quite so­phis­ti­cated for its class.

Some own­ers have re­ported noisy gear­boxes be­yond 50,000 miles, though there are no known cases of trans­mis­sion fail­ure. Other mi­nor gripes in­clude a ‘creak­ing’ from the front sus­pen­sion dur­ing cor­ner­ing, which can of­ten be traced to loose­ness in the Macpher­son Strut top mounts, as well as pre­ma­ture wear to the rear sus­pen­sion bushes, which tend to need re­plac­ing at around the 75,000-90,000-mile mark.

None of th­ese re­pairs is par­tic­u­larly ma­jor, but a lot of com­po­nents are only avail­able on back or­der and need to be im­ported to the UK on de­mand, which can lead to de­lays of up to six weeks for less com­mon parts – not a prob­lem for faults that can wait, but a gen­uine is­sue if it takes a ve­hi­cle off the road.

There was a re­call in 2014 af­fect­ing some of the ear­li­est diesel cars, which re­lated to sus­pen­sion com­po­nents po­ten­tially chaf­ing against the brake lines, at its worst lead­ing to a fluid leak. Again, check with any MG dealer if the re­call work has been done and, if not, it’ll be in­spected with­out charge.

Out­side the MG plant Birm­ing­ham in 2011.

Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship edi­tion of­fered to the pub­lic from Jan­uary 2013 to De­cem­ber 2014.

MG6 TSE in­te­rior.

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