MG6 diesel review

21 Jun, 2014 7:00am Jordan Bishop

Updated MG6 diesel engine now emits 129g/km of CO2, but it's still behind the competition


The MG6's improvements to emissions are welcome but don’t quite go far enough. Private buyers might be seduced by the value price but for fleet buyers a more expensive car with lower CO2 emissions (like the Skoda Octavia) will actually cost them less. On the plus side, the engine is punchy and the handling is still a highlight.

Since arriving on UK shores in mid-2011, the MG6 has shouldered much of the burden during MG's initial attempts to revive its fortunes under Chinese ownership. After a slow start, these hopes (and sales) were given a boost towards the end of 2012 with the arrival of 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine.

This all-new DTi-TECH unit was developed in-house – unlike the 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine also on offer – and while its claimed 53.5mpg and 139g/km CO2 emissions were a vast improvement over the petrol model, these numbers were far from class leading.

MG's ongoing updates now see the 148bhp four-cylinder diesel engine relaunched with improved economy and reduced CO2 emissions, hitting 57.6mpg and 129g/km, respectively. While this is still relatively poor, it shows intent and places the MG6 in the lower group D tax band, so is it enough to close the gap on class rivals like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra?

New MG6 diesel 2014 rear

The good news is performance hasn't been compromised. 148bhp and 350Nm of torque once again sees 0-62mph take 8.9 seconds, with both the five-door GT hatchback and four-door Magnette saloon topping out at 120mph.

Plant your right foot and the DTi offers punchy in-gear acceleration although, while the six-gear manual is mostly smooth, precision is essential for shifts and you have to work the engine quite hard to maintain speed. This also highlights the rather cramped foot well, with the clutch in particular too close to the footrest.

Handling is less of a mixed bag, thanks to the speed-sensitive electro-hydrolic steering, which is responsive and offers decent levels of feedback. It doesn't result in compromised ride comfort either – a little on the firm side, the suspension deals with all but the worst surfaces, proving efforts to tune the front-wheel drive MG6 for British roads have been mostly successful.

Within the cabin itself there's the 6's usual generous amount of standard kit, particularly in the top-spec £20,195 TSE model we tested. For this, you get dual-zone clime control, Bluetooth, parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, hill hold tech, and a 6.5-inch infotainment display, including satnav and rear parking camera display. While this is good value for money, what lets the MG down here is the packaging: the centre console is cluttered and not entirely intuitive, plus some of the plastics feel cheap and nasty.​

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A 1.9 diesel is really very 1990s. I've been waiting for MG6 to get a modern engine, but I'm disappointed they've introduced a brand new old engine.

On the positive side, it does show progress, this incarnation of MG have come from absolutely zero to where they are, so actually quite a good effort, another 4 years of investment should see them catching up.

I like the MG6, but the engines are still not there and this car should be about £12-£15K.

That's a problem with relatively small car makers. They often don't have the R&D budget to develop engines to compete with companies like Skoda who get most of their hardware handed down by their rich (VW Group) owners.
However let's not already forget the results of the Autoexpress survey wherein this car was lauded highly by the owners for driver appeal. And also perhaps the MPG difference won't be so high in real-life driving.

It does drive very nicely, it's quite an involving, communicative car. I think this new engine does have more to come with development, so watch this space.

MG Is, as you know, part of SAIC, one of the biggest car companies in the world, so the lack of R & D is no excuse, the car is not as good as it should be, and the continued price cuts, shows that sales are still far from decent, I suspect that they register less than 20 MG6's per month (staff cars), the rest are MG3's.

There is however a new 6, well, not that new, it has improved interiors, better gearboxes and new engines, the same exterior, when they come here is anyone's guess.

AE are well behind the times, the new reduced CO2 engines have been about for months, and the rumour has it that the 1.8 petrol is being dropped, I suspect it will be replaced by the new 1.5 Turbo and 2.0L, it is about time it had a bigger sporty engine, they can then sell the BTCC edition with more than half a dozen stickers to make the difference.

But hey, after this year, MG are looking to NOT continue with BTCC, they have spent a lot and got lots of decent results, but have done bugger all about it, where are they TV ad's with the BTCC racer on screen, follwed by the road car, nowhere, they are definately doing a Rover when it comes to advertising, and that is too little too late.

The engine is ALL new, not old, and how they have managed to balls that up with such poor CO2 and fuel consumption is anyones guess.

ANY new engine should be able to compete with the best in class, but not this one, and why not ?

Problem is that with a heritage name like MG, it really needs to look terrific. This is dull as ditchwater.

In theory you ought to be right but the parallel with Skoda is slightly unfortunate. The 1.6l Skoda diesel unit is not a very refined beast.

Basically, MG are clueless. The company and their dealers are amateurs. I have seen 3 MG6s (one a dealer car and one a hire car) in as many years and one MG3 about 6 months ago.

They are not doing nearly enough to compete successfully with the likes of Dacia. Things will get much tougher when VW's new budget brand arrives in a couple of years so MG need to up their game and fast.

I know it's new. That's why I wrote "new old engine". It's a new engine with the spec and performance of an old engine. Hence the disappointment.

It seems to offer an alternative drive at a lowish price but its miles away stylewise and performancewise to what we expect from Nuffields top sportscars - the great MGs from Abingdon.

This model needs a stylish skin change, a prominent chrome MG grill and a modern common rail diesel power unit!

Just look at what Peter Schreyer - ex Audi - as designer and CEO is achieving with the KIA range now!

Surely SAIC in Shanghai can match or even beat this? Over to you Longbridge - start motivating SAIC!

Why do muttering wrotters diss the MG with such vehemence?, pretend SAIC is a German company and then give us an unbiased report ;-)

After all ppl who have bought MGs rave about them

There are better budget cars out there surely?... this or the equivalent Korean?

How many have they sold though? Can't be that many... I can't even recall seeing a dealer.

enough for it to be statistically relevant?

OK, update as I've now driven one. From my own experience there is much in this review I disagree with.

SAIC's MG team with Ricardo have done amazing things for what is effectively a startup. The engine, is a very effective responsive power unit, and I feel from what I could see on my journey that their quoted MPG are very much what you will actually get from normal driving. The styling too, when you see it in front of you is quite good. Interior not so hot, but easily fixable.

Impressed and encouraged. Just drop the price a bit.

Thing is most Korean cars aren't really 'budget' these days. Stuff like the i30 for example are similar to mainstream rivals.

Honestly, I would rather have a ten year old ZS180 than this. MG are targeting volume manufacturers in a class where, today, the difference between best and worst is tiny. They only need to drop the ball in one area and they fall right down.

This might be okay if they could tout a halo model to encourage the mainstream, but there appears to be no desire for a 300hp 4wd loss-leader to give the rest of the range credibility. They're taking part in the BTCC, yet no pseudo-homologated special. Regardless, it's not 1998 anymore and nobody watches BTCC anyway, so that's money well spent.

I kinda wish MG had just died. I'm content with Rover being a great thing from the past, but MG's corpse is being waggled around and it's all a little bit sad...

jUST LOOK AT THE jAPANESE CARS, THE Skodas, the hyundais and how long it took to be thought one of the best (in the cheap to middle market - still not prestigious in the UK, though Lexus is by far the biggest prestige brand in the US), won't take as long with MG

I've bought one. An MG6 1.8T petrol, and I love it. It has its faults, as all cars do, but as a package it's involving and very likeable.

As somebody who ended up drawing a very similar conclusion to you, and actually bought a 6 as a result, I wish more people would stop bagging the car without even trying it first.

Key specs

  • Price: £20,195
  • Engine: 1.9-litre 4yl turbodiesel
  • Power: 148bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 120mph
  • Economy/CO2: 57.6mpg/129g/km
  • On sale: Now