First drive review: MG6 Diesel
What is it?
To disregard this as just a new engine in an old car would be wildly inaccurate. This is the car the UK should have received when MG launched the MG6 range last year. At long last the Chinese-owned British marque can entice more customers to the brand and win over fleet buyers – the latter being something MG really needs to work hard at.
What's under the bonnet?
Well this is no old Rover or BMW engine – it's a brand new unit with most of the development work carried out at MG's Birmingham plant at Longbridge. Badged 1.9-litre DTi-Tech, it's a 1,849cc common rail unit with a variable rate turbocharger. Total power is 148bhp with 350Nm of torque at a lowly 1,800rpm, mated to a six-speed gearbox. However, the engine returns 53.5mpg and 139g/km of CO2 – hardly class-leading but MG promises this will improve over the MG6's lifetime. The engine will be built at Longbridge... after the parts have been shipped in from China.
What's the kit like?
This is the MG6's trump card. The diesel is available in both the MG6's bodystyles – five-door GT and four-door Magnette. Prices start at £16,995 for the S GT model and for that you'll be getting air-con, a USB socket, 17-inch alloys, hill assist and electric and heated door mirrors. SE GT models kick in at £18,195 and get sat-nav and rear parking sensors, while for £20,195 range-topping TSE models get full-leather, climate control, a rear parking camera, electric and heated front seats and an auto-dimming rear mirror. The four-door Magnette model only comes in one spec (equivalent to top-spec TSE trim on the GT five-door) and costs £21,195.
Well you may think the MG6 straddles the Ford Focus and Mondeo sectors – and you'd be right. MG Motor UK names the Skoda Octavia as its chief rival in terms of packaging but also says the Vauxhall Insignia and the Honda Accord in the fleet sector are comparable.
Is it any good?
Forget some motoring publication's doom and gloom for this car – the MG6 is good. We were fearful of it being rough around the edges, but it's a surprisingly complete offering. The 6 has independent suspension and it's a real joy to drive – an experience backed up by accurate steering. The six-speed gearbox is rather sweet too and the brakes have great feel. The diesel brings in a raft of revisions – updated chassis, new power steering, new gearbox and revised braking system (now with brake disc cleaning) - and they're all welcome. Only real niggles are certain plastics in the cabin are far too low-rent, a really badly designed handbrake, rear visibility in the GT is not good enough and despite 350Nm of torque, our test car occasionally felt sluggish.
The AOL Cars verdict
MG hasn't sold many MG6s since its 2011 launch thanks to a range of just one thirsty petrol engine; if only the Chinese had realised the importance of launching with a petrol and a diesel and things may have been different. The MG6 diesel is a fine car and you can't help but feel a little bit of affection for it. We'd choose it over a lowly-spec Skoda Octavia any day – but until more people choose to buy an MG6, depreciation is going to be strong. Order books open in December, with the first deliveries commencing in March. We hope the car does well.
Model: MG6 GT TSE 1.9 DTi
Engine: 1.9-litre, diesel
Power: 148bhp, 350Nm
Max speed: 125mph
MPG (comb'd): 53.5