The MG6 is a big, affordable hatchback, which competes against the bestselling Ford Focus and large but strong value models such as the very popular Skoda Octavia.
The 6 is the first new model from MG since the company was taken over by China’s largest vehicle manufacturer and was launched back in 2011. Despite the new Chinese ownership of MG, this car has been branded as a very British machine – with a claimed focus on sporty handling, along with low prices.
With prices starting at £15,455 and lots of standard equipment, the MG6 is a value-focused machine available with a turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol engine and a 1.9-litre diesel motor. Diesel models are available from £16,995 with the top of the range model still coming in at just under £20,000.
MG has recently updated the diesel model for added economy and lower emissions and the car is now capable of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g per km. Though an improvement on the previous model, some rivals are still substantially more economical. The Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 150 for instance returns 68.9mpg while still being faster than the MG.
The petrol MG is similarly outgunned for economy and acceleration by both the Ford and the Skoda; the equivalent Octavia returns a fuel economy figure a substantial 15.6mpg ahead of the Chinese car.
Where the 6 claws back some credibility is its reasonable list of standard equipment. All models include air conditioning, trip computer, front armrest, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, front sports seats and storage underneath the passenger seat. SE models gain sat nav, cruise control and handy reversing sensors, while TSE adds to this with Bluetooth, dual zone air conditioning, automatic wipers and headlights, a reversing camera and front parking sensors, along with electric heated front seats and leather upholstery.
Despite MG’s claims of sporty handling the 6 is not very enjoyable to drive, with vague steering and merely average body control around bends. However, the ride isn’t smooth enough to compensate for the unimpressive drive, failing to successfully isolate passengers from the road surface. The car seems to jump from bump to bump, making for a jittery feel on all but the smoothest of roads.
The diesel engine in the car we drove is loud compared to many rivals and seems to resonate at certain engine speeds. Long gears do mean that engine noise is barely audible at motorway speeds, however. At cruising speeds high levels of road noise do bump up the volume though there is little wind or tyre noise.
On the positive side, the gear change is slick and the clutch easy to modulate. The brakes do need a reasonable amount of force to stop the car quickly though. Similarly the steering is not very precise and gives little feedback through the wheel meaning that the driver doesn’t have too much confidence taking corners at high speeds.
The 6’s interior looks dated compared to similarly priced alternatives, with a large steering wheel, small dials and a number of different materials scattered around the dashboard. As a result the interior doesn’t feel as high quality as the Skoda Octavia and it’s more tricky to navigate, with radio and sat nav controls that take some getting used to.
With a mishmash of analogue dials, digital gauges, a sat nav screen and a number of buttons, the overall layout of controls isn’t the most logical. The dash mounted cup holder is also flawed, offering less grip than a typical cup holder mounted behind the gear stick, and getting in the way of the centre console buttons.
The front sports seats grip passengers surprisingly tightly around the hips for a family car, though we found the top half of the seat uncomfortably shaped for longer journeys, pushing front the driver’s shoulders forward into a slightly hunched position.
The TSE model we drove was packed with upmarket equipment that you wouldn’t normally find on a car of this price, such as electric, heated seats, sat nav and a reversing camera, though the interior does feel cheaply put together overall.
The MG6 offers a reasonable amount of space for four passengers along with a large boot. There is lots of legroom for passengers in the rear, though headroom may be cramped for taller passengers. The middle rear seat is also quite usable though the seat padding is hard and the transmission tunnel impinges on foot space.
Open the hatchback and you have 472 litres of space with the rear seats up and 1,268 litres with the seats folded. While this is a useful amount of room, the Octavia again beats the 6 with around 20 per cent more space, despite being less than 1cm longer.
Thanks to a high boot sill loading large or heavy items into the rear isn’t as easy as it could be, though the space is usefully wide. One annoyance though is that we found that unless you slam the hatchback shut it doesn’t close properly.
Visibility is also not great, with chunky front pillars which you have to look around when manoeuvring, large rear pillars and a high boot reducing rearward vision. Consequently all-around parking sensors and a reversing camera are very useful on the top-of-the-range model.
The MG6 is very hard to recommend, even taking into account its reasonable prices. Rivals such as the Skoda Octavia and Ford Focus may be more expensive to begin with, but both are available with large savings, making them both much better value than the MG, unless you can negotiate substantial discounts on the 6.
The MG6 is available from £15,455 for petrol models and £16,995 in diesel form £80,000.
Its main problem though is that it has no real USP; it’s not the most comfortable or refined car to travel in and neither is it fun to drive. Rivals outstrip both petrol and diesel models for economy and performance along with refinement too, though the 6’s diesel motor is punchy enough.
The 6 feels like a car built by a young car company, rather than practiced experts, which is where its rivals score points. Even basic things like the headlights seem to lag behind the class standard. Our model even had some reliability issues in its week with us, with one of the pipes under the bonnet coming off when driving, dangerously cutting power and requiring a visit from the AA.
All in all, we’d go for one of the more established rivals over the 6, whether we were after comfort, driving dynamics, value or simply the best practicality.
Don't want to buy new? You can browse for a used MG6 in our classifieds here.
MG6 GT TSE 150 1.9 DTi-TECH
List price: £19,995
Engine: 1.9-litre, four cylinder diesel
Top speed: 120mph
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Fuel economy: 48.7mpg (urban), 64.7mpg (extra-urban) 57.6mpg (combined)
Emissions: 129g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Four stars
August 15, 2014