ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: MG6 MAGNETTE
Apart from the octagonal badge on the bonnet, the new MG models have little in common with their chrome-clad predecessors. DAVID HOOPER is pleasantly surprised by his first experience of the new MG range.
MENTION the initials MG and my mind automatically conjures up images of the wire-wheeled sports cars from the 60s and 70s, their chrome glinting in the summer sunshine. A car I still lust after to this day.
Only this weekend I was drooling over some beautiful classics on display at a wings and wheels show I happened across, which included several lovely MGBs, the odd C – that was the one with the bonnet bulge and a six-cylinder engine – and the now even rarer MGA, the predecessor of the B, which is even curvier and more beautiful.
Admittedly, these are arguably the famous, and dare I say common ones, but MG also made saloon cars, some of which were used by the police forces of the time, and some of these were called Magnette – another name from the past which has been brought back to life by the modern incarnation of a British carmaker.
Those with a few less years on the clock than I will be more familiar with the MGF two-seater and the assortment of rebadged and reworked Rover 25 and 45 models, which actually looked quite good and still have a loyal following. Then there were big saloons derived from the last Rover 75 models, some of which packed quite a punch, but sadly were not big enough hitters to save MG Rover.
The company went down fighting, but was eventually bought by Shanghai Automobile and Industrial Corporation (SAIC), China’s largest automobile company which was founded in 1958.
So the MG name narrowly avoided joining the long list of British carmakers which are now no more. Today, there are two new models on the market with more on the way. In truth, apart from the octagonal badge on the bonnet they bear little resemblance to the MGs I grew up with, but the badge alone has guaranteed them a following among enthusiasts, but what are they really like?
Buyers have the choice of a five-door hatch, the MG6 GT, or the four-door saloon I’ve been testing, the MG6 Magnette, with prices for the former starting at £15,455.
To look at, there is little to dislike. I think it’s quite a smart looking car. The panel fit and finish is ok and the paint quality good enough. Slam the door and it sounds as substantial as most of its rivals, but a Ford Focus or a Golf would have the edge here.
Inside, you find a spacious, comfortable five-seater, with a decent sized boot, once you negotiate the fairly high lip.
Inside, the interior isn’t quite as modern as some, but with a few notable exceptions, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the plastics having read one or two less than complimentary opinions elsewhere. I think the overall appearance is quite acceptable for the £21,195 asking price, although the controls on the steering wheel did let the side down a bit, feeling very flimsy, but this something which could be easily remedied.
The car I’ve been testing is well equipped and comes complete with sat-nav, a radio/CD player, Bluetooth and even cruise control, as well as a full complement of electric windows, mirrors, air conditioning and so on. It even has a start-stop system for city traffic!
This 1850cc diesel version has recently joined the 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine in the range and I have to admit to again being pleasantly surprised. With only 150PS it’s not the fastest engine, and it’s not the quietest in its class, but it does what it says on the tin and I averaged around 47-48mpg during my few days at the wheel over a mix of driving conditions.
On the road, the MG6 Magnette didn’t have to try too hard to impress. The chassis is surprisingly good, the ride quality a match for most of its rivals, especially the Hyundais and Kias of this world, and slightly sharper steering responses would improve things even more. The car turns in nicely, feels well-balanced through the corners and changes direction with predictable poise. Even when I pushed it quite hard, there were no nasty surprises, and the braking performance is more than up to the job.
All-in-all, apart from poor radio reception, which could have been a problem with my particular test car, there was very little to dislike about the new MG6 Magnette. There are certainly better built cars in this class, but with these equipment levels, they cost a lot more.
The new MG range is still a relatively rare sight on British roads, so if you haven’t seen one for yourself yet, go and have a look.
Like me, I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: MG6 Magnette.
MG6 MAGNETTE RANGE: From 1.8 Turbo TSE 4dr (£19,955) to Diesel TSE 4dr (£21,195).
ENGINE: 1849cc, 150PS four-cylinder diesel engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 120mph. 0-62mph in 8.9 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 46.1mpg.
Fuel tank: 62 litres.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 139g/km.
INSURANCE: Group 15.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.