Despite its complicated heritage and budget aspects, the MG6 DTI-Tech still has plenty of the MG marque. Charlie Flindt relives memories as he drives this fun newcomer
The MG6 DTI-Tech may bear the weight of MG’s complicated history but it doesn’t seem to have suffered. Charlie Flindt encourages looking past the budget nature of the MG6 DTI-Tech to see it for what MG does best: fun, affordable motoring.
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When it comes to a car’s heritage, it doesn’t get much more complicated than that of the new MG6 DTI-Tech. It goes something like this: after MG stopped building the iconic “B” in 1980, the famous octagonal badge was glued on to a selection of hatches, saloon and even estate cars, with varying degrees of conviction and success. And then, when MG Rover self-destructed in 2005, Nanjing Automobile stepped in to buy the MG name and the Longbridge plant. Nanjing was then acquired by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), which started shipping the MG3 and the MG6, over here from the Far East in nearly-finished kit form.
The MG6 has done quite well, helped by its success in the unfailingly thrilling British Touring Car Championships (Formula 1 chiefs, take note). Last year there was a bit of a revamp: gone are the petrol models and the booted version, and the range consists solely of a diesel version in five-door hatchback format.
First impressions are good, the exterior is nicely styled. No doubt input from old hands at Longbridge has avoided the tackiness of so many Eastern newcomers. The same applies to the appearance of the interior. Some of the plastics feel a little cheap and cheerful but the layout is pleasingly conventional even if the numbers on the dials are rather small. Interior room is good, especially in the front, though rear-seat passengers may find the low-sloping roof a bit close to the top of their heads. The boot is large, too, but the high sill makes access awkward.
AFFORDABLE, FUN MOTORING
But this is all an irrelevance, not to mention boring. This, after all, is an MG. That badge on the bonnet is supposed to mean affordable fun motoring. It’s supposed to bring back memories of the “B”, with its leaf-spring rear suspension and wheezy engine that first saw service around the time of the Relief of Mafeking. Or the MG Maestro, with its comedy talking dashboard and engines that were known to fall out of the engine bay. Ah, the good old days…
Well, the MG6 DTI-Tech is indeed a lively and entertaining drive. The diesel pulls away well from low revs, and it’s fun to push on a bit. Some bigger car-makers would do well to copy the MG’s ergonomics: steering, pedals and gearshift are all well positioned and a delight to use, although an annoying buzz can occasionally be felt through the pedals and steering. Passengers with a broader hearing range than mine mentioned a compilation of whines which, although perfectly at home in a touring car competitor, began to grate over long distances.
These noises and buzzes give away the “budget” nature of the MG6. I mean, seriously budget. The thing to do is to go and dig out the price list, do a double-take, and then come back and have another drive. It’s then less of surprise that MG Motors is on a roll. The MG6 DTI-Tech may not be MG motoring as we over-fifties remember it but prise away the rose-tinted glasses and it’s not such a bad thing after all. And the engine should stay put.
Engine: 1,849cc diesel
Max speed: 120mph
Performance 0 to 62: 8.4 second
Combined fuel economy: 61.4mpg
Insurance group: 17E
Would suit: a nostalgic on a budget