£14,200 - £20,425 Price range
37 - 61 MPG
Reviews of the MG 3 are not generally positive, with some outlets barely even registering an aggregate score. This is a little harsh because both the MG6 GT hatch and Magnette saloon are reasonable cars to drive, pretty well specified and fairly roomy, offering more space than cars in this bit of the market usually do.
Though the MG brand has been through the mill in the last decade, it’s gained a new lease of life under Chinese ownership. However the cars, particularly the engines and interior build quality, aren’t yet up to the standards now expected in the class.
While there’s nothing particularly wrong with the overall design of the MG 6’s interior, its construction, feel, layout and comfort are all off the pace. There’s some idiosyncratic touches here and there, but attracting the most frowns are some hard, easily-scratched plastics and some decidedly iffy fit and finish.
On the plus side, space in the cabin is good. There’s also plenty of boot space – 472 litres, far more than most of the mainstream C-segment offerings. However the seats, while spacious, lack the support you expect from a supposedly sporty car.
Here the MG hits back. Aside from a slightly firm ride, most reviews are quite positive about the way the car drives. Opinions are mixed on the steering – some feel it a little too heavy and eager to self-centre – but it’s an old school hydraulic system that has good feel and lets you know what the front tyres are doing more than many others in the class.
The chassis is composed, stable and rides the bumps well, even on larger wheel options. It all befits a car whose chassis was developed on UK roads and it handles them well, though the diesel car is a little less refined.
It’s certainly a more enjoyable drive than many hatchbacks, but don’t go expecting a hot-hatch skill set, either in handling or ride. Road and wind noise are less well isolated than in competitor vehicles too.
There’s a pair of engines available in either of the MG 6’s body shapes, one diesel and one petrol. The petrol unit is a 1.8-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder, very loosely based on the K-Series engine that used to be found in the old MGs and Rovers. It produces 158hp here, which allows for a quoted 0-60mph time of 8.4 seconds and a limited 120mph top speed, so performance is decent.
The 148hp “1.9” (it’s really a 1.8, but don’t tell anyone) diesel is only half a second behind the petrol on the 60mph sprint, but outclasses it by miles on the combined fuel economy to the tune of 57.6mpg to 37.7mpg.
Neither engine scores well for refinement, with the petrol being a bit uncouth if it’s worked hard (and it’ll need to be) and the diesel cacophonous to the point of being compared to industrial machinery at anything other than cruising speed. Both engines are exclusively attached to manual gearboxes – you’ll have to look elsewhere if you want an automatic.
The only engine available in the MG 6 is a four-cylinder, 1.8-litre turbocharged unit. It’s known as the N-Series, and it’s a development of the old Rover K-Series, which featured in pretty much every Rover and MG model since the early 1990s. Emissions now meet modern standards, though sadly fuel economy doesn’t - 35.6mpg is nothing special, in a class now seeing 40mpg plus as the average. That makes road tax expensive too, at £210 a year.
Things don’t improve when you drive it, either. Whether as a result of the older engine design or not, many testers complain that the engine is unrefined, relatively noisy and not particularly nice to make use of next to quiet, smooth modern engines. Performance is decent thanks to the 158bhp output, but still lags behind that of some more economical rivals. If the MG 6 has one major failing, it’s the unimpressive engine. A diesel can’t come soon enough.
Sharing the 1.8, turbocharged engine with the hatchback means sharing the engine’s foibles. While performance is respectable - less than 9 seconds to 60mph and a 120mph top speed, limited to reduce insurance costs - this is an engine that testers aren’t really keen on working hard. It’s not as smooth as the class best, nor as refined, and truth be told performance isn’t quite up to the standards of others either.
Perhaps its biggest failing is that of fuel economy. At around 36mpg, it lags behind that of many petrol turbo rivals, and because CO2 emissions are also higher than those rivals, you’ll pay £210 a year on road tax, enough to offset that good insurance grouping. The experts aren’t keen on the gearshift either, describing a notchiness that makes it unpleasant to use.
Like its little sibling the MG 3, it’s a little bit surprising that the MG 6 doesn’t score better in the Euro NCAP tests. A four star score is about industry average and the 6 doesn’t do anything particularly badly, but the results are peppered with too many ‘good enough’ ratings and not enough ‘good’ ones.It rates over 70% in the three most important categories, but doesn’t return a single category over 75% either.
There’s four airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, stability control, brake force distribution, brake assist and Isofix mountings, so the ingredients are there for a better rating than it shows.
The MG6 starts at £15,455, which might seem a bit expensive for a Focus competitor but there are no small-engined options here. To get even close to the same performance levels from mainstream competitors, you’re going to need to fork out over twenty grand.
The entry level “S” model is only passably equipped, but step up to the £17k “SE” and you’ll have all the modern conveniences. Like-for-like then the MG6 is not an expensive car to buy.
MG giveth with one hand, and taketh away with the other. The above-average fuel consumption means running costs will be higher. So although it’s inexpensive to buy, it could be more expensive to run than rivals.
While rarity value should prevent depreciation from being as bad as it could be, it’s not a car that will hold its value, even on the BTCC motorsport tie-in special edition.
Our patriotic side was really hoping that MG would develop a blinder this time around, but judging by reviews that just isn’t the case. While the creditable drive is enough for some reviewers, many found the car’s other shortcomings to be overwhelming.
Impressive chassis aside, the rest of the car is less competent than most rivals and it probably won’t even feature on most buyers’ radars. It’s a difficult vehicle to recommend.