Car group tests

MG6 vs rivals

First new MG in 16 years has hit UK roads – and it faces a tough challenge in its first test, as it meets rivals from Alfa and Ford

MG6 header
The wait for MG fans is over. It’s six years since the doors of the Longbridge factory in the West Midlands slammed shut after MG Rover’s collapse, but the rejuvenated company is hitting the comeback trail. 
It’s now in the hands of Chinese giant Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), and after 
producing the familiar TF roadster in low volumes, it’s aiming for the big time with its new family model.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the MG6
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The MG6 is a sporty looking and spacious hatch, but it has its work cut out. For the time being, there’s only one engine option: a 1.8-litre petrol turbo with 158bhp. And buyers of sporty five-doors are already spoiled for choice.
Our first rival is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The 1.4 TB MultiAir packs a mightier punch than the MG, and promises lower tailpipe emissions. 
There is another alternative for family drivers who want fun behind the wheel. The Ford Focus doesn’t have the Alfa’s desirable badge or the MG’s sportiness, but it provides one of the most finely honed chassis around.
In EcoBoost trim, its 1.6-litre turbo engine also promises lively pace. It sits between its rivals on price, and looks set to give both a run for their money…

Verdict

After six years away, it’s great to see the famous MG badge back in Britain full time. Better still, the MG6 is an impressive first effort. In terms of ride, handling and practicality, the new car compares with the best in class, while it can’t be beaten for value: no rival comes close for standard kit at this price.The bad news for MG fans is that this isn’t enough to stop the model from taking the wooden spoon. Cabin quality is well below par, and any financial advantage gained by the bargain price is wiped out by the much higher running costs. Its gruff engine and unrefined drivetrain prove an Achilles heel, as both are horribly outdated. Second place goes to the Alfa. It looks great and has the best engine, plus it’s spacious and well equipped. But there’s no getting around the high price and uninspiring dynamics. That leaves the way clear for the Focus. It still falls short on practicality, but the EcoBoost is great to drive, refined, boldly styled and decent value. 
Mainstream makers shouldn’t dismiss MG, though. Its Chinese backers are certain to ensure that future cars are bang on the pace. 

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