MG is back in business - Dover Express


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    MG is back in business - Dover Express

    Post by Windy on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:05 am

    Well that's good news! - Another entertaining review:

    (Does the diesel really have a 2500rpm rev limiter?)

    MG is back in business

    ONE of the true icons of the British car industry is back in business and it's all down to the Chinese, who have revived the famous MG badge with an almost Mondeo-sized five-door hatchback and four-door saloon.

    The MG 6, as the new models are called, represent the first model to emerge from the ashes of the old MG Rover company, which went bust in 2005 with the remnants being picked up by SAIC of China.

    The Chinese outfit's name may not mean a great deal to motorists here but it is in fact the eighth-largest car maker in the world.

    As for this new MG, most of it is made in China, then shipped over here, where it's assembled in a small corner of the old original Austin site at Longbridge in Birmingham.

    Car buyers here at present will perhaps also find it difficult in some areas of the country to find an MG dealership because the Chinese bosses have sensibly decided on a softly-softly approach to the revived marque here but they clearly mean business long term.

    As car launches go, understandably, the introduction of the first MG 6 back in May 2011 was about as low-key as it gets – and sales targets were and remain modest, too.

    For home fans of the MG, the good news was that the now-revived UK design centre at Longbridge has played a major role in developing both these cars to ensure there is some "Britishness" in its make-up – and it shows.

    The original model launched was quite decent on the fundamentals with a pleasant enough ride and handling for such a medium sized car, powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

    Aimed primarily at tax- conscious business users, it did initially let itself down by having poor CO for its class – 158g/km – and only a five-speed gearbox. In addition, some of the interior trim received criticism because it was not up to the levels of, say, an equivalent Ford or Vauxhall.

    But all that changed at the back end of last year when a new 1.9-litre turbo diesel engine was added to this small model range and it has certainly given the car a much-needed boost, in every sense of the word, making it a vastly improved offering in this sector.

    The all-aluminium twin-cam 16-valve oil-burner is the result of a joint venture between Kunming-Yunnei and SAIC Motor, but it has been extensively reworked by the Longbridge-based engineering team to make it more suited to our roads.

    The new power unit offers strong and refined performance, which is perhaps hardly surprising, given that it turns out 148 horsepower and 350 Newton metres of torque – and it is paired with a new, much better-feeling six-speed gearbox.

    There is fuel-saving stop-start technology as well (really efficient, too in heavy stop-start traffic) while the electro-hydraulic power steering also saves a little bit of energy over an old-styled hydraulic system.

    In a nutshell, this new diesel make the car's ride and handling much stronger and better suited to a car the size of the MG 6, even though there is now a slightly heavier diesel engine under the bonnet.

    Inside, the quality of the furnishings and fittings have also been changed for the better since the first petrol models arrived, although the dashboard layout remains basically the same, which is good because it's quite driver-friendly and is easy to read at a glance.

    Cabin quality, too, is a lot better than it was on the early models and the MG6 remains a big car by the standards of the class, offering bags of interior space and load capacity, ample leg room particularly in the rear where two large adults can sit in comfort.

    There's just one minor disappointment, though, in that the rear seats don't fold down completely flat.

    There are three trim levels available with diesel power, starting with the S version (£16,999) where there's certainly a generous amount of standard equipment that includes air-conditioning, 17-inch alloys, an eight-speaker stereo, four electric windows and a USB socket.

    In SE trim (£18,195) it adds satellite navigation, reversing sensors and cruise control, while range-topping TSE version (£20,195) brings leather upholstery, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, front parking sensors, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

    The new 148bhp 1.9-litre diesel engine is certainly a big step forward for the MG 6 with plenty of torque (258lb ft) from around 1200rpm, so you can maintain decent progress without really pushing the revs beyond the 2500rpm limit while the new six-speed gearbox helps thanks to its precise shift action.

    Out on the motorway is where the MG 6 diesel excels and is reasonably refined, too, because at 70mph the engine spins quietly at just 1900rpm and it's quite agile for such a big car with both body control and road grip seriously impressive.

    Another good point is that the steering is an electro-hydraulic set-up, as against the solely electric systems that you find in most cars today.

    It means the driver does get a decent amount of feel coming back through the steering wheel.

    Verdict: It's early days for the revived MG marque and the Chinese still need to strengthen their dealer network, parts back-up and the like although understandably, in the current climate, they are wary of overextending themselves.

    Nonetheless this diesel is a welcome addition and another vital step for the Chinese company's plans as they look to return to sell cars on the European mainland.

    That will happen once two new models that are in the pipeline, the smaller MG 3 and MG 5, turn up on our doorstep.

    This 1.9-litre diesel offers decent enough performance and fuel economy (45.2mpg on my test compared to the official claim of 53.8mpg ) plus low running costs and, with a generous amount of space and standard equipment, it warrants serious consideration for car buyers, even though it faces stiff competition in this sector.

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