Gareth Butterfield tries to find out whether the new diesel-powered MG6 could be enough to win back fans of the old British brand
WHEN I first drove the MG6 I came away from it in a bit of a quandary. I wanted it to be good, I wanted it to sell well and, if I’m being honest, I almost wanted to buy one.
I love the MG brand and I’d really hoped the Chinese influence that’s led to its renaissance hadn’t ruined it. But while I wasn’t disappointed with the new hatchback, I didn’t dash out to my nearest showroom and start pricing it up.
I had a few hang-ups. The engine was chief among these. There was only a petrol unit available and it was pretty much the same 1.8 lump my wife had years ago in an MGF. It was pretty lively, but thirsty and lacked any character. And there was a brand new diesel on its way which looked set to make it all-but obsolete.
And that’s basically what has happened. This MG6 is the new version. The changes aren’t vast, but they’re significant. The petrol engine is no longer an option, there’s more standard equipment available and the prices have been cut by a few thousand pounds.
It’s not as if MG Motor UK has ironed out all the problems, but it’s now a much more appealing prospect. Sit inside and you’ll instantly fall in love with the big, comfy seats and sporty steering wheel.
You’ll also notice some cheap plastics and the odd cut-corner but, on the whole, it’s a nice place to be.
In top-spec TL guise, you’ll get a full leather interior, dual zone climate control and a rear parking camera along with a basic-but-decent sat nav and a few other modern trimmings.
It drives well too. The turn-in feels sharp, despite its electronic steering dampening feedback a little and although it like to understeer a bit too much, there’s fun to be had if you don’t push too hard.
A new six-speed gearbox has made for a big improvement in putting down the power from the sprightly and surprisingly economical 1.9-litre diesel engine and ride comfort is excellent, given the reasonably sporty handling.
Visibility is, unfortunately, rather poor and there are cars in the class which feel better packaged and equipped but the biggest problem I have with the MG6 is with its key. For starters, it feels cheap. It’s little more than a rattly piece of plastic. To start the MG6, you must slot the rattly piece of plastic into a dash-mounted slot and push. It sounds simple, but it’s not. It’s a bit hit and miss and I’m not entirely sure why.
The biggest problem, however, is how easy the car is to stall. At first, I thought I was doing something wrong but I’ve heard from other people who have had the same trouble. And when you stall it, you have to go through a pre-determined rigmarole of putting it into neutral and then engaging the clutch.
To be fair, I’ve heard this becomes less of an issue after 20,000 miles or so. Perhaps the clutch beds in or something, but it drove me mad.
Having said that, I liked just about everything else. I liked the comfort, the punchy engine, the fuel economy and I even got to like the basic infotainment system.
So there’s a lot to like about the MG6, even more so now that it’s been treated to a few revisions. It’s still not exactly a common sight, but its shaky start might have put buyers off.
It also has a lot of competition but it’s keenly priced, well-specced and much better than you’d think to live with.
I’ve always wanted the reborn MG brand to succeed and with the Chinese investment and a few more model launches on the way it might be ready to fully bounce back.
So think of the MG6 as the start of a story. It’s just taken a little longer than I hoped to turn the first page.