I have to say, a lot of people have been waiting for this review because they know I don’t really like MGs very much. It’s rather like rubber necking on a motorway, people like to read cars getting a pounding in reviews but often get bored when the review is actually quite positive. Well, I won’t give anything away just yet in case you decide not to read any more… but I think a review should be read whatever the reviewer’s opinion, unless they are clearly wrong… of course.
So the upshot of what seems a confusing past is that MG are now owned by a big Chinese company, any further detail is a bit pointless for most potential buyers so we can skip it. What this means is that MG has basically risen from a rusting death and has been partially put back on the world stage by a company that seems to be happy to ignore past mistakes. What they have not ignored, however, is the critical factor that whatever anyone thinks about MG they have always tried to make sports cars and this seems to seep rather than shine through; but, through it comes, all the same.
Let’s start with the bad stuff. In all honesty the MG 6 is not a bad looking car at all, but nor is it very exciting. When MG delivered my test car it was on a trailer, this is odd as test cars normally arrive by the dull (but expected) method of being driven. This unusual delivery meant I was able to stand and stare at the car from an odd angle as it was being unloaded; and the term that sprang to mind was “an amorphous blob of mediocrity”. Sorry MG, I promised myself I would not say it but it just slipped out. My first impressions were just that it failed to startle, impress, or even anger me; It just kind of sat there. However, it is important that I state now, this feeling did not last, and actually over the week-long test I found myself becoming rather attached to the “6” for a number of reasons, though I still think looks were not high on the list.
In terms of toys and spec you really can’t complain with what you get here. For the money… which is around the £17k mark, you get a really good selection of gadgets and even leather seats. To get this kind of trim level in even something as normal as a Ford you would need to go through the pant filling process of spec’ing up what seemed like a bargain, ultimately leaving you with a price tag you feel might have bought you something German rather than Dagenham’s finest. For the money the MG gives you a fancy, if somewhat confusing, infotainment system with DAB and Sat Nav, leather seats, leather steering wheel, kick plates (though oddly small ones), electric seats and a few USB ports, cubby holes and the like. In terms of value there is nothing to knock here, but in the same breath I should say that sitting in the “6” is not a luxurious experience but it certainly isn’t a bad one either. It may be a little bland for my tastes but there will be a whole host of people out there looking for some nice trimmings on a reasonably priced car who would be very pleased to jump on in.
For me, how a car drives pretty much outweighs all other factors. I am one of those people who is happy to have his spine shattered every day just so I can go round a corner with less body roll. I would probably sit on a wooden crate if I knew I could drop a 911 at the lights and wipe a few smug smiles from overpaid businessmen… so do bare this in mind when considering my thoughts on how this car drives. In terms of power, the 1.9 turbo diesel was a bit of mixed bag. There is doubt about it the 150 odd bhp lump pulls well and I really do mean that, it offers a solid and torquey pull that means you are not angry every time you try and accelerate. Sadly, the noise is not a nice one but then again there are few very diesel engines I would choose to listen to anyway so this is not really a fair criticism. Where this car really comes alive is actually in the handling, that chassis is very, very well put together.
The whole driving experience actually feels a bit silly because you are in a cheap car, and it looks like a boring saloon but it’s really not. You can chuck it around like so many cars being swung by the never ending supply of annoying young estate agents in the UK with a propensity for using overly descriptive terminology to describe a crap house. It turns in well but that’s only the start, once it has turned in you kind of expect the understeer to start but it doesn’t, it just hangs on in there while you steadily push it harder and harder. Of course it lets go in the end but it’s only on normal wheels; if anything they are too small, I was left wondering what this car could do with a 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine and a set of low profile tyres… a lot was my final thought on the matter.
The Elephant In The Room
So it looks kind of OK, it has lots of toys, it’s very reasonably priced and it handles like a far more expensive car – but what about reliability and residual value? Both of these points simply can’t be ignored. The fact that MG used to make a wide range of cars under Rover that essentially broke down more than the female cast of Eastenders and that also had a rather charming habit of rusting away to nothing simply cannot be ignored. But it is crucial to remember that the only thing that remains of those days is the name and I am sure there is something about a name and some roses smelling sweet that I should mention here but I won’t. The bottom line is, this might as well be called a “Rose 6” for all the similarities with the bad old days. I truly think the new owners have actually managed to take the only good bit about MG, and in doing so have made quite a good little car here – and I have a feeling reliability won’t be an issue.
In terms of residual value, who can say. The initial launch of the MG 6 didn’t lead to that many sales but this new version does seem to be doing better. It is still ultimately a niche brand so buyers will be few and far between in the used car market. However, for £17,000+ what have you got to lose? Buy one, run it for a few years and see what you get for it. By that time the brand will have gained some ground and you will have been swanning around in a car that isn’t the same one parked in 4 driveways down your road, that handles like a dream and has more toys than the Ford those pesky Jones’s own for the money.
So, I didn’t hate it even though I assumed I would. I didn’t even like it when it arrived, nor for a day or two into the test, but by the time it went back I felt that “an amorphous blob of mediocrity” had won me over. It had kept its chin up and worked hard to show me what it could do and for that I commend it, and you should too.