MG6 Turbo GT TSE Review

MG6 Turbo GT TSE Review

Everyone I told I was driving an MG assumed that I was writing for our sister title, NZ Classic Car and that I would be donning a flat cap and one of those jackets with elbow patches. They warned me that if it wasn’t leaking that meant it had run out. However, MG has been resurrected.

We have a mixture of fond and, well, less-than-fond memories with MGs, from the

incredible MG restorations that NZ Classic Car covers, through to the couple of ZRs we had as sales fleet cars…until they fell to pieces. So we approached this one with a critical eye, hoping that the mechanical vagaries of yesteryear had been banished.

Fortunately they are all in the past. Unlike some other iconic British marques which are in the hands of the Germans (Mini and Rolls-Royce, for example), MG was acquired by Chinese company Nanjing Automobile in 2005, which subsequently merged with SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation).

Purchasing the assets of MG Rover Group gave these companies some globally recognized brands and some design smarts. Despite SAIC being one of the oldest producers of vehicles in China, quality issues were not on a par with European offerings. Acquiring European manufacturers leapfrogged them into a modern vehicle production era with proper crash testing, decent usability and much improved styling.

Therefore we have the MG6 GT. It was launched in the UK in 2011 and it’s made its way to New Zealand a year later. The car is a mid-sized hatchback with ample boot space, a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine, and an exterior design that would look at home on the European stage.

This top-spec TSE comes with reversing camera and sensors, heated leather sports seats with MG’s octagon branding styling cues, dual zone climate control, automatic lights, rain sensing wipers and a chilled centre console amongst other things.

Standard features within the model range include six airbags, alarm/immobilizer, electric sunroof and heated folding exterior mirrors.

The engine produces 118kW and 215Nm – good for a 0-100kph time of 8.4 seconds. Acceleration is very linear due to a fair low pressure turbo (there’s certainly no kick in the pants like you get in some turbo cars). Handing is better than I expected. It is good on rough surfaces or motorway cruising and as long as you don’t really chuck it around it maintains excellent composure.

In the hatchback the boot space is almost 500l with the seats up and a very handy 1372l with the rear seats folded down. The large boot doesn’t compromise rear legroom.

SAIC has made an excellent effort on its first MG, but it’s not without its little foibles, quirks and minor problems. The most major of these minor problems is that when you have the air conditioning on full it sounds like you’re in Shackleton’s hut in a blizzard. The significant movement of air is accompanied by a whistling noise that can be a little draining.

There’s no decent storage for a water bottle, the radio interface is quirky and there didn’t seem to be a way of reducing the height of the passenger seat (tall passengers will find their hair rubbing on the roof lining).

Having said that, there are some features included which are lacking on cars $20,000 more, like the cruise control where you can precisely set the speed, and one touch opening for the rear windows.

SAIC will learn fast from the MG6. You only need to look at Kia and Hyundai’s progress over the last 5-10 years to see how far an automaker can come in a short space of time. For the projected price, the MG6 is a good buy for its size and level of specification. It’s a mid-sized car that comes with a small car price tag. It will find fans with those that want a new car that is a high-spec, comfortable hatchback, but would like to take advantage of an purchase price that’s a good $8-10,000 less than a comparable Japanese model.

There will be a diesel model and a dual-clutch automatic coming soon, but for the meantime the five-speed manual is the only one available. There is also a sedan edition available, called the Magnette which will make some people nostalgic for the original Magnette produced by MG from 1953-69.

Price: To be confirmed, but we would expect $30-35,000 for this top-of-the-line MG

Our test car had the optional 18-inch wheels fitted

Pros

  • Cheap for what you get – loads of interior kit and leather seats
  • Tidy styling and good colour range
  • Iconic badge

Cons

  • No major issues, but a few minor foibles
  • 5-speed manual isn’t the best gearbox in the world and will limit the market

 

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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