MG6: Birmingham’s best kept secret?

What is it that we like most about driving? MotorMartin suspects that the answer will be different each time the question is asked. It will no doubt change depending on your driving style, the time of year, the journey in front of you or even the car sitting on your drive. According to http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/601776/Seven-types-driver-identified-psychologists there are seven types of driver on the roads today, which can be identified by the following character traits:

• The Teacher. This driver feels the need to ensure others know what they have done wrong – and expects to be recognised for their efforts.

• The Know-it-all. They think that they’re surrounded by incompetent fools, so shout condescendingly at other drivers while safely cocooned in their own car.

• The Competitor. They need to get ahead of other road users and become annoyed when someone gets in their way. They often accelerate when someone tries to overtake them or close a gap to prevent anyone from getting in front of them.

• The Punisher. These motorists want to punish other drivers for any perceived transgressions – and sometimes even get out of their car or approach other drivers to remonstrate with them.

• The Philosopher. They accept the actions of other drivers easily and try to rationally explain them away. They also manage to control their feelings in the car.

• The Avoider. They consider the misbehaviour of other drivers impersonally and merely dismiss them as a hazard.

• The Escapee. They listen to music or talk on the phone to insulate themselves, distracting themselves so that they don’t have to relate to other road users. This strategy also helps avoid getting frustrated in the first place.

And yet, MotorMartin feels that there should be an additional category of driver.

• The Ground-breaker. They recognise and accept that innovation and pushing the boundaries leads to better experiences and that change is a natural evolution within life. They don’t stand still.

With such a choice of driver and what it says about you, it was relatively simple to pick the type that MotorMartin is but what about you, can you see yourself in any of the seven? Rather more interestingly, does your choice of car or journey affect the type of driver you are or can it be as simple as the Brand itself?

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I suppose that what MotorMartin is asking, in a roundabout way, is can the driver of a modern MG6 relate to the driver of the beautiful MG Midget shown above and is the type of driver of both MGs the same despite their cars of choice being separated by so many years and vastly different design briefs? Let’s try and find out.

MG has historically been a company that was known for pushing boundaries and for creating sporty, yet affordable cars. Cars that had a broad appeal across a wide spectrum of customers. Indeed, measured by any yardstick, MG was a success, with incredible exports to America and the rest of the world bringing in huge profits. Unfortunately, MG’s problem has usually been around its ownership and penny pinching decisions that all but ruined the products themselves. And yet MG, in its various incarnations struggled on until Tuesday 9th May 2000, when MG passed from yet another owner to the MG Rover group following it’s separation from the BMW Group. More headaches for the iconic octagonal Morris Garages badge followed as the Brand lurched from one crisis to another until there was no more goodwill, or more importantly, credit left.

This eventually led to the MG Rover Group entering administration on 8th April 2005 and the brand being purchased by NAC, China’s oldest carmaker and then, even more significantly, on 26th December 2007 NAC merged with SAIC, China’s largest car maker. In http://motormartin.com/2016/03/07/mg6-phoenix-from-the-ashes/ MotorMartin looked at the birth of the MG6 in 2011 and it’s major revamp last year which bring us, rather swiftly, to the here and now.

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A lot has already been written about the interior of the 2015 MG6 in various print and digital medium and all appear to be saying the same thing, that the cabin of this revamped model is better than it was but certainly not up to the quality of the more established opposition. So MotorMartin was prepared for the worst. For days building up to the MG’s arrival at the Towers I was wondering about just how bad it would be and so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I unlocked the door and stepped inside. And you know what? It felt fantastic. Here in the world of ‘real life’ motoring where not everyone will have access to the finest from Mercedes, BMW and Audi to spend their time in, in a world where you’re actually spending your own hard earned on a car that offers staggering value for money and standard equipment in whichever of the three different trim levels available, you can’t help but be amazed.

Look at the above photo of the £17,995 TL model that MotorMartin has been driving and tick off the following. 7″ HD Touchscreen with Sat Nav, Bluetooth, Telephone, Music Streaming, DAB and more, leather steering wheel with multifunction controls, Cruise Control, Dual Zone Climate Control, Electronic Parking Brake and even a Rear Parking Camera with Guidelines. I could go on and mention the Electrically Adjustable Full Leather Heated Seats or the Automatic Wipers and Lights but you get the general idea.

Once adjusted, the seating and steering wheel positioning is excellent. This is a very easy car to get comfortable in, a car that you feel can cover distance with ease. In MotorMartin’s eyes the central console has hints of BMW about it whilst the dials themselves are extremely clear and simple to use. I particularly liked the use of the small block graphics that rise or fall to represent the fuel and temperature on either side of the speedo and rev counter. Evidence that thought has most definitely been spent during the design process.

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Between the two dials and directly in the driver’s line of site is the central information panel giving you everything that you need at a twist of the dial on the left hand side of the steering wheel. Scrolling through allows you to check on the dual trip meters, instant MPG, average MPG, last trip details, speed and more on this smart looking small screen. Maybe it’s the type of driver I am that I find there is something extremely satisfying about watching the average MPG gently tick towards the high 50s. Indeed, on a 400 mile round trip to Essex, the average MPG was reading 58.5MPG upon MotorMartin’s return to Bradford later on that same evening. Impressive.

Perhaps just as surprising as the technology available is the size of the interior. With plenty of head and legroom available for both driver and passengers alike there is no problem of space for either indeed those with children will find that even with the front seats fully pushed back there is still plenty of room behind. Even more importantly, and something that you might not think about, is that the rear doors open wide allowing easy access for little ones and their assorted paraphernalia whilst the boot, at 498 litres, is large enough to swallow up almost anything. Very handy.

Starting the MG6 is dramatic. Once the, rather lightweight key is pushed into its home the speedo and rev counter dials sweep around whilst the warning lights complete their own check before extinguishing. Wow. I like it as it gives the start of every journey a sense of occasion and sets you up for the drive ahead. Now before the cynics tell MotorMartin about all the cars that already do this, I think it’s just great and an unexpected touch. Overall the cabin is well put together, all the buttons and switches are pleasant to touch and engage with a satisfying feeling of solidity. The stereo buttons are nicely set out whilst the touchscreen infotainment system is straightforward for those with a little tech savvy.

The cabin really is better than anyone has the right to expect in a car costing £17,995. For those selecting the middle of the range TS model you get the vast majority of kit from the TL for just £16,195 and whilst the cheapest MG6 dispenses with the touchscreen it can be on your drive for only £13,995. I’ll leave you to think about that when looking at the standard specification list of a Focus, Astra or Golf, the MG’s direct competition.

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But what you really want to know about is the driving, how it performs, how it handles, how it feels. Maybe even the elephant in the room, is it really a true MG?

With a 0-60 mph time of 8.4s and a quoted 150 bhp at 4000 rpm, the MG6 is certainly no slouch. A fact that is not immediately obvious when setting off. Pressing down on the light clutch pedal and shifting the relatively short throw gearstick into first is a simple affair and like so much else in the MG6, is completed with no fuss at all. Pulling away automatically disengages the electronic handbrake and allows you to smoothly pull away, with a relatively short first gear you find yourself moving swiftly up through the gears, keeping the engine ticking over as you arrive in sixth gear. This is an easy engine to like.

Heading out onto the slip road of the A1 South from the M62 can be a nerve-racking experience at the best of times, especially when trying to second guess what the Nissan Micra chugging merrily along at 50mph is going to do next. Will they speed up so you can get off the slip road, will they move into the outside lane, leaving you a space or will they ignore you completely, despite the angular, bright daytime running LEDs and indicator flashing? In the MG this is no longer a problem. Drop the car out of sixth and into fourth, pause for the briefest of moments as the turbo spools up and away you go. The forward thrust provided is a surprise at first especially as you need to make sure your gear changes allow the revs to remain amongst peak power and continue to let the turbo do what a turbo does best. A quick glance at the speedometer is necessary to make sure nothing is amiss and before you know it, that troublesome Nissan Micra is somebody else’s problem far behind.

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That engine defines the car when covering distance. There is no situation that cannot be successfully circumnavigated with the gentle application of torque and horsepower and all in supreme comfort. Overtaking is a delight, rather than a worry, with only brief gaps needed to safely pass slower moving traffic. Once settled into a cruise control led 70mph in sixth, it’s easy to pile on the mileage whilst listening to the excellent DAB radio and perhaps allowing yourself a little added luxury by engaging the heated seat (fitted as standard to all three levels of trim.) The cabin is quiet enough, isolated from both road and engine noise unless on the roughest of surface or stretching the engine into the upper reaches of its rev counter. The suspension does its job without complaint offering the MG6’s occupants a smooth and compliant ride quality that, whilst not in the league of a Jaguar, is certainly not too far behind.

On MotorMartin’s daily commute through Bradford, West Yorkshire, the MG performed faultlessly in delivering

In truth, this engine works well as both a comfortable cruiser and, when the mood takes you, a more than capable GT, able to tame the twistiest of blacktop on the way to your destination. Which, in a roundabout way takes us back to where we started and the fundamental questions that will make or break this car.

1. Is it a true MG?
2. Is it the car that defines the driver or is it the brand itself?
3. Would the driver of our original Midget recognise and relate to the driver of this excellent MG6?

1. You can feel the MG sporting DNA running throughout this car so most definitely.
2. The brand.
3. Yes, they would recognise the original Morris Garages ethos of sports and value.

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Checkout part 3 for MotorMartin’s final thoughts on the MG6.

Where will you go?

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