It has been some time now since you could walk into a dealership and buy something brand new with an octagon shaped badge on it. MG’s prestigious history came to a close in the UK, along with Rover, a number of years ago which was a rather sad day. The British brand had pedigree in sports cars and excitement in its saloons. The MG logo was a great export of the UK once upon a time with the Americans going crazy for MG Bs and Midgets. After being bought-out by Chinese car firm, SAIC, it has all been quiet up at Longbridge, until last year that is. MG resurfaced on the UK market with the MG 6, a Focus rival that promised value for money. Whilst it delivered on the value front, its engine was on the receiving end of much journalistic grumbling. However, today we are testing the new diesel variation of the MG 6 GT that could just be the key to MG getting a foothold on the market it once called home.
In its metallic grey and wearing a set of bold 18inch ally wheels, our MG 6 welcomed comments from onlookers such as “that’s smart” and even one “that’s a well fly set of wheels bro” from a young chap wearing a cap at a jaunty angle. Though its styling is more subtle than competitors, it’s overall aesthetic gives this MG a rather grownup appearance.
Under the bonnet sits a new 1.9 litre turbocharged diesel engine that claims to do 53MPG. After a week of testing in multiple scenarios our average was in the high 40’s and so with a lighter right foot we are led to believe that MG’s figure is entirely possible. The engine itself is the real star of the car providing a nice dollop of low end torque that is then supplemented by the turbo. Inside our top specification car you are greeted by plush leather seats that are fantastic on long journeys. The toys list is extensive and includes; reversing camera, Bluetooth, satellite navigation, heated seats, dual zone climate control and cruise control. Did I mention that you can have all of this for just over £20,000? The equivalent Honda Civic would set you back over £3,000 more. With the MG’s class leading boot and interior space, it really is vast inside, the question is does it have a downside? Well, unfortunately the interior plastics still don’t feel top notch and the handbrake is an ergonomic nightmare. The key has always been a source of criticism on this car as it feels far too light and doesn’t really represent the premium product the MG 6 GT sets out to be. That all said, the car is still very good value for money and the target market, AKA my Dad, could not find fault with it.
On the road the MG 6 is a very competent machine. In urban areas a restricted rear view is aided by the parking sensors and reversing camera, something worth investing in. The steering is relatively light at low speeds but provides good level of driver feedback once you are up to pace. Its ride is a little on the firm side, however, the reward for putting up with rutted roads is keen handling and a suspension setup that does a very good job of hiding the extra weight of the diesel engine. The cars agility is impressive as it swoops into bends and blast out of them with the enthusiasm of a small child. Whilst taking it on a photo shoot in a forest the twisting roads provided a tarmac playground for the 6 to play. This car does something very interesting in that despite its size, its ability to change direction at a moments notice makes it feel much smaller. Though it is good fun on a b-road, the MG 6 is most at home on the motorway. It’s diesel engine provides good fuel economy, though a little less than competitors, and when the turbo is on song you can often forget just how fast you are going. From within the cabin it is a comfortable and rather relaxing environment to be in for long periods. Engine, road and wind noise is minimal and with cruise control engaged it just eats up the miles.
When the MG 6 first arrived I have to admit I did have a few gripes with it, primarily around its use of interior materials, but after a week and many many miles I have grown quite fond of it. I enjoyed people talking to me about their old MG’s in the car park, I adored its engine and just before the car left for its journey back to Longbridge I found myself polishing its proudly placed octagon badge. This is a reassuring start for a company that aims to relive its former glory.