The MG6 benefits from UK engineering expertise, so is tuned to suit British roads
The MG6 marked the dawn of a new era for the British brand when it was introduced. The five-door hatch is assembled at MG’s historic factory at Longbridge, W Mids, from kits built in China, although the design and development was done in the UK.
In the greatest tradition the MG6 is based on a regular car (the Chinese market Roewe 550) but is turned into a racy MG version with tweaks to the design and chassis. Previously available in 1.8-litre petrol and 1.9-litre diesel guises and as a five-door hatch and a four-door saloon named Magnette, a substantial facelift in 2015 saw the saloon and thirsty 1.8-litre petrol get dropped. Also, as part of the mid-life overhaul, the range was simplified, more kit added as standard and all models received a price cut ranging from £2,500 to £3,000.
The MG6 is much bigger than its direct rivals, and the list of standard kit, even on the entry-level models, is impressive. However, build quality is still some way behind European rivals like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. That said the MG6 is a far more attractive proposition than it was when it was launched. But depreciation is still an issue so, with that in mind, we'd go for the entry-level S model which still has lots of kit but is priced at just £13,995.
Our choice: MG6 S
Engines, performance and drive
As well as having design input from the UK, the MG6 benefits from our engineering expertise, and has been tuned to better suit British roads. UK cars differ from their Chinese counterparts, with revised spring and damper settings, new anti-roll bars and faster steering, and these tweaks mean the MG6 is entertaining on the road.
Turn-in is sharp, there’s good feedback through the steering wheel, and although the car has a tendency towards understeer, it’s not too severe.
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The MG’s decent handling doesn’t come at the expense of ride comfort, and the car does a good job of isolating passengers from thumps and bumps in the road. Plus, the six-speed box’s slightly longer gearing means the MG carries lower revs at motorway speeds, combining with the well-insulated cabin for a refined high-speed cruise.
The mid-life refresh in 2015 brought in an electronically-controlled diff to reduce wheel spin, a more precise six-speed manual gearbox (there's no auto option) and the ride was softened.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The MG6’s price is very reasonable considering you get plenty of equipment, including 16-inch alloys, heated seats and an electronic parking brake.
Up until 2015, the MG6 lagged well behind its nearest rivals being both costly to tax and fill up. Facelifted cars addressed this problem with the MG6 now returning 61.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 119g/km. With these figures, road tax was slashed from £110 a year to £30.
Interior, design and technology
Whatever you think of MG’s return to the UK, at least the brand hasn’t tried to hark back to past glories and gone down the retro route with the MG6’s styling. The five-door hatch is based on the Chinese-market Roewe 550 saloon from parent company SAIC, so it shares its basic body shape with that car.
However, MG’s UK design team has given the car its own nose, with a big MG octagon badge up front, a narrow grille and angular headlights. There’s another grille under the front bumper, while subtle curves are formed along the sides. At the back, the high-set tail has a steeply raked rear windscreen and the bumper features a large, black, diffuser-style finish. A facelift in 2015 gave more angular front and rear bumpers, LED daytime running lights and LED light clusters giving a smarter appearance.
Inside, there’s plenty of dark plastic, although the grey finish and silver trim pieces for the centre console give it a lift, and the leather seats are comfortable and the leather doesn't feel too cheap. The layout looks neat if a little cluttered, but the controls for the centre console screen are set between the air vents, which is an odd arrangement.
Sadly, the plastics are hard and the rotary controls on the steering wheel are flimsy – even the 2015 refresh didn't cure these problems. However, the makoever did bring in an electronic hand brake – which replaced the awkward manual handbrake – and a far more imntuitive seven-inch touchscreen infortainment system called MG Touch.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Thanks to its large dimensions, the MG6 has a big boot with 498 litres on offer with the seats in place, and that increases to 924 litres when they’re folded.
However, the MG is hampered by a high boot lip, and that stylish shape means the boot opening is narrow. The boot itself isn’t finished to a great standard, with Velcro holding the carpet in place, no 12V socket, a touch-sensitive boot release and flimsy bag hooks under the hinged parcel shelf.
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Passengers in the back seats have a decent amount of space, and wide rear doors make access easy. There are air vents and an ashtray in the back – again no 12V socket – while the sloping roofline means the back windows are small, which also limits the driver's rear visibility. Elsewhere inside there’s a decent glovebox and door bins.
Reliability and Safety
It’s difficult to judge how reliable the MG6 has been as so few have been sold. However, as the MG brand has such a strong following, we’re certain that if any issues have arisen, then they are sure to be known about.
By the end of the year, MG plans to have an 80-strong dealer network giving good national coverage and aftersales support for owners.
The MG6 has six airbags but sadly Euro NCAP only gave the car a four-star rating.