First Drive: MG 6
The MG 6 was the first new car to come from MG after the company was taken over by Chinese giant SAIC in 2011. While it offered strong value for money, it couldn't beat established rivals for comfort, handling or quality, and traded predominantly on its low pricing.
With traditionally low-price models, such as the Skoda Octavia, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra steadily moving upmarket, the updated MG 6 retains its steadfast focus on value – with list prices now slashed by around £3,000 – but it also ups the ante in the feelgood stakes, with all versions featuring a long list of standard equipment.
MG claims that its new model not only significantly undercuts established rivals, but includes much more standard kit than all of them, giving buyers the most bang for their buck possible.
What is it?
MG has pared down the 6 range so that it consists of one diesel engine and one body style – a five-door hatchback; the petrol engine and the Magnette saloon have been dropped from price lists. This large five-seater hatchback measures up at a similar length to the Skoda Octavia and features no haggle pricing, which in the words of MG means that all buyers pay the same low price.
Three trim levels are available – S, TS and TL. All of these include plenty of equipment, with MG keen to attract buyers with the promise of more kit – and more interior space – for their money than they would get with rivals from Ford, Vauxhall and Skoda.
The rear seats offer adequate space for those up to 5 foot 10, with slightly limited headroom for taller passengers. The middle seat is also usable, with all three chairs offering good back support. The boot is also usefully large with standard split/folding rear seat backs. However, loading large or heavy items into the boot can be a little tricky, thanks to the large drop from the opening to the boot floor.
What's under the bonnet?
Just one engine is available – a 148bhp 1.9-litre turbodiesel. This motor powers the 6 to 60mph in a brisk 8.4 seconds, while being capable of returning 61.4mpg, according to official figures.
In our test we managed to return around 50mpg with a mix of fast A and B road driving. Emissions stand at 119g/km putting the 6 into the £30 annual car tax band.
What's the spec like?
All MG 6s include air conditioning, electric front and rear windows, 16-inch alloy wheels and heated seats. Mid-spec TS versions gain part leather seats, automatic headlights and wipers, Bluetooth, cruise control and a seven-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav and a digital radio. Meanwhile, range-topping TL models include luxuries such as a reversing camera, xenon headlights and electric leather seats.
The dashboard is not the most attractive though it is easy enough to use. Discerning buyers are likely to prefer the more clearly laid out dash of the Skoda Octavia or the sharper style of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra's interiors.
Key competitors for the 6 include the similarly-sized but pricier Skoda Octavia and cheaper versions of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, which offer similar levels of practicality in a more stylish package. Other spacious and strong value medium cars include the closely related Skoda Rapid and Seat Toledo.
What's it like to drive?
The 6 is neither as comfortable to drive nor as sharp handling as models such as the Ford Focus. While the car is perfectly capable around corners, the steering doesn't inspire the same level of confidence as the Ford, while the ride is a little firm over bumps and doesn't manage to isolate occupants from the road surface as well as it could.
The diesel engine is mostly refined with reasonable muted noise levels, though, again models such as the Focus and Octavia let less vibration from the engine through to the cabin. When cruising, however, the engine is barely audible, with little wind or road noise getting into the cabin.
AOL Cars verdict
As with its predecessor, the MG 6's appeal is all down to value. It's not the most comfortable, best handling, fastest or most economical model, but buyers get a huge amount of car – and equipment – for the money.
Those on a tight budget who have to have a new car and want plenty of space and kit in their next vehicle should be very happy with the 6. Those who are more concerned with style, quality and roadholding, however, may be more taken by a more Spartan entry-level Ford Focus or Skoda Octavia.
Overall, though, the 6 covers enough bases well enough to be worth a test drive for many medium car buyers.
Model: MG 6 TL
Engine: 1.9-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Power: 148bhp, 350Nm
Max Speed: 127mph
0-60mph: 8.4 seconds
Emissions: 119g/km CO2