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Chevrolet Cruze vs MG6: Bargain hunt

Chevrolet Cruze takes on clean, diesel MG6 in this track battle

It’s been a rocky start for the rejuvenated, Chinese-owned MG brand. The MG6 hatchback arrived in the UK in 2011, and although sales have slowly gathered pace on these shores, the single petrol engine choice has pegged the car back.

Chevrolet Cruze review 

MG6 review 

To redress the balance, the company introduced a 1.9-litre diesel to the range in 2013, and constant development has seen this engine improve its economy and CO2 emissions figures. Add in a bargain price tag and a generous amount of standard equipment, and this roomy hatchback has a lot going for it. So we’re giving the MG6 a run for its money by testing it against the Chevrolet Cruze.

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Even though the Chevrolet brand is to be axed in the UK at the end of next year, the five-door Cruze – which shares a platform with the Vauxhall Astra – still offers a tempting mix of bargain pricing, generous space and a decent list of kit. So can the revised MG6 diesel make an impact? Or does the Cruze still have the right blend of talents to take victory?

Head-to-head

Build quality Both cars are well built and rattle-free, but it’s the perception of quality that lets the MG down. The buttons and rotary controls have a flimsier feel than the Cruze’s switches.

Even more disappointing is the MG’s key. It’s designed like an Audi key, so it fits into a slot in the dash and doubles as a starter button, but it’s extremely lightweight. The Chevy uses GM’s standard jack-knife key, and feels far heavier and more substantial in your hand.

Company car costs

Neither model is very clean, and the MG’s 20 per cent company car tax banding is similar to some 2.0-litre diesel automatics. A lower list price puts the Cruze – which sits in the 18 per cent bracket – even further ahead.

Standard equipment

While these cars offer similar practicality, the MG6 has more kit, including sat-nav, a USB connection, tyre pressure monitors and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera.

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One thing these cars have in common is their limited options. The sole upgrade on the MG is metallic paint (£495), while the Cruze offers metallic paint (£445) and an electric sunroof (£550). For more kit, you need to move up the range to TSE and LTZ trim respectively – and again the MG has the edge on price and spec.

1st place - Chevrolet Cruze

The Chevrolet Cruze arrived in the UK in 2009. It was initially offered as a saloon, with this hatch introduced in 2011. The 1.7 VCDi diesel launched in 2012, and is offered across the three-model range. We tested the £18,115 mid-spec LT.

Overall, the Cruze just about wins this test. It has a reasonable amount of standard kit for the money, plus similar performance to the MG6, but uses higher-quality materials and delivers better emissions and economy figures. However, in a class where excellence is the norm, the Cruze doesn’t really stand out.

2nd place - MG MG6

The MG6 was introduced three years ago, and marked the dawn of a new era for the British brand. 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. The 1.9 DTi-Tech diesel was created in-house, and a recent update saw its emissions reduced and economy improved. Here we try the mid-spec SE model.

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It was close, but the MG6 doesn’t quite hit the mark. Highlights include a big boot, roomy interior and sharp handling. Material quality could still be better, though, and cleaner engines are needed, too. Progress is being made in that area, and MG could fill the void left by Chevy when it leaves the UK in 2015.

   Chevrolet CruzeMG6 GT 1.9 
   1.7 VCDi LT DTi-Tech SE 
On the road price/total as tested£18,115/£18,560£18,195/£18,195
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£5,826/32.2%£5,549/30.5%
Depreciation £12,289 £12,646 
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£650/£1,300£721/£1,442
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,725/£2,875£1,894/£3,156
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost21/£627/C/£3014/£607/D/£105
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£349 (3yrs/30k)£191/£250/£191
       
Length/wheelbase 4,514/2,685mm4,651/2,705mm
Height/width 1,477/1,797mm1,472/1,827mm
Engine  4cyl in-line/1,686cc4cyl in-line/1,849cc
Peak power/revs 128/4,000 bhp/rpm148/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 300/2,000 Nm/rpm350/1,800 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel60 litres/repair kit62 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)413/883 litres498/924 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,429/513/1,200kg1,615/525/1,450kg
Turning circle 10.9 metres 11.5 metres 
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr AA3yrs (60,000)/3yrs MG
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 miles (1yr)/11315,000 miles (1yr)/46
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.20th/30th N/A 
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars96/84/34/5 73/71/42/4 
       
0-60/30-70mph 9.9/10.1 secs9.9/9.9 secs 
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 4.0/5.9 secs 4.1/5.8 secs 
50-70mph in 5th/6th 8.4/12.3 secs7.6/12.5 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 124mph/2,000rpm120mph/1,800rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph54.6/40.5/10.2m55.9/41.3/10.3m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph74/49/63/72dB70/47/65/69dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range43.7/9.6/577 miles39.8/8.8/543 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined51.3/72.4/62.7mpg46.1/59.0/57.6mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined11.3/15.9/13.8mpl10.1/13.0/12.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket173/117g/km/18%190/129g/km/20%
       
Airbags/Isofix/rear parking sensorsSix/yes/yes Six/yes/yes 
Auto box/tyre monitor/stab/cruise ctrlNo/no/yes/yesNo/yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsNo/no/no No/no/no 
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£445/no/no £495/no/no 
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothNo/no/no/noYes/yes/no/no
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