It's easy to be skeptical about any car that comes out of China. Why not when they're relatively new to the concept of building cars, after all. Anything that came out of the country did have a certain reputation, and the reality is that stigma has still exists to this day. So can you convince someone, anyone, to take the plunge and get a Chinese-made car?
Fortunately, their attempts of late haven't been that bad. But that's the thing, it's just 'not bad'. For it to really convince people, it has to be a good car. So the question now is this: Will the all-new MG6 cut the mustard?
But before we get to that, it's time for a quick history lesson: After the British-run MG-Rover folded in 2005, Nanjing Automobile soon bought the Longbridge plant and the MG name. From there, the new MG has been expanding their range to include small hatchbacks, sedans, and crossovers. MG then landed here in 2015, although reception wasn't exactly one would call "warm". Now under new management, they are determined to banish memories of the 'small but terrible' days with a much more promising lineup.
History lesson over, let's take a closer look at the MG6. This is actually the second generation model and, if you Google images of the first one, you might be glad that they brought in this version instead. It actually looks rather handsome with its sharp nose, aggressive face, wide stance, and defined lines. Yes, some may call it derivative of other designs but MG did a good job getting good styling cues. It's definitely not a copy of something, that's for sure.
What's interesting about the MG6 is its body style. It's a liftback (sports-fastback in MG speak) which not only gives it a more distinctive look, it also makes it more practical too. It's sort of a (much more) affordable BMW 3 Series GT, except that the MG actually looks better. That said, I find the 'Trophy' badge a bit odd because it's only present on the left pillar on the car. Also, the fake exhaust cut-out trend has to stop and MG's not the only one guilty of that.
It looks good on the outside, but what does it feel like inside? You'll be genuinely surprised. The design looks modern with a wraparound dash, digital displays and a wide touchscreen. You're not surrounded by cheap, nasty plastics either because the touch points actually feel good to, well, touch. Fit and finish can be a bit better though, with some knobs and dials wiggling a little bit when pressed, but I'm glad to report that there are no rattles inside.
Room is pretty decent, although not exactly class leading. Still, there's more than enough legroom for all occupants although the liftback design does eat up a fair amount of headroom. On the flipside, I do like the fact that it has rear air-conditioning vents, as well as USB ports. The infotainment system is also easy to work with, although I'd still prefer physical buttons for volume control. However, I do have to point out a bit of a typographical error, particularly with the 'heasted window'. MG, do get that fixed pronto.
But for me, the highlight has to be the cargo area. There's no other way to say it; it is absolutely massive for a car in this segment. The floor is low, flat, and wide, which makes it great for putting in a lot of things, and I mean a lot. I managed to fit in boxes, vases, big bags of clothing, and a cooler, without having to fold down the rear seats. On that alone, I'd actually consider one. Plus, you don't have to lumber around in a big SUV just to haul stuff around.
Looking at the engine specs, I do have to say MG didn't cut any corners with in the powertrain department. It packs a 1.5-liter mill and it's boosted too like a Honda Civic RS. It doesn't quite have the same figures as the Honda, but 166 PS and 250 Nm of torque isn't a bad showing. It then shifts via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. All in all, the MG6 has a lot of showroom appeal, but will it actually be a good car on the road?
Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Throttle response isn't what I'd call spectacular. It definitely takes its time to pick up, which can be annoying if you need to overtake. Another thing that I didn't like as much in the MG6 is the engine note. It could be a bit quieter, or at the very least, sound better. Then there's the dual-clutch transmission. It's smooth although it can stumble and fumble in stop and go traffic, a common trait in this type of transmission in my experience.
Ride is a bit on the firm side, but it doesn't feel harsh. The low-profile tires and 18-inch alloys would occasionally sound off a thud to let you know you're on a less than ideal road. All in all though, it feels solid and well sorted out, though.
The rest of the car? It's not just 'not bad', it's actually good and that's not just because I didn't expect much from this China-made car. Yes, steering is light, which is typical for electronic power assist systems, but there's a decent amount of weight to be felt. Speaking of feel, the feedback is positive, which is good for those looking for a bit more involvement behind the wheel. It's not the sharpest car to drive in its class, but you can have a bit of fun with it, to my surprise.
Then there's performance. Laggy throttle response aside, the engine feels reasonably punchy once the computers decide to let the car actually accelerate. Power deliver is linear and a small twitch of the foot is all you'll need to bring it up to highway speeds. It doesn't pin you to your seat, but it can pick up the pace briskly and hustle if needed.
Economy on the other hand is decent, if not stellar. According to the trip computer, the MG6 returned 8.4 kilometers per liter at an average pace 18 km/h. On the highway, that figure went up to 14.2 kilometers per liter at 87 km/h with a fair bit overtaking.
All in all, I now have a great deal of respect for MG. They have delivered a car that has surpassed expectations, and then some. It's even better than some of the other 'migrated-to-China' cars and has impressed me with its good blend of style, practicality, and performance. It still needs a bit of polish though, particularly in the fit and finish department inside. Nonetheless, it's a solid vehicle.
Price? This top of the line Trophy version starts at Php 1,188,888. Now, it sounds like the MG6 is priced similar to its primary competition, which negates the old trump card of Chinese cars. But the thing is, if one were to compare the MG6 Trophy to other top-spec models, it still undercuts most of them by a hefty margin. Plus, it has mid-size sedan equipment levels to go along with it.
Besides, if you don't want a range-topper, the entry-level (but still loaded) variant comes in at Php 1,068,888, which still undercuts a lot of rivals when comparing equipment levels. It has the same engine too. That's one variant I'd like to check out to see if it offers even better value.
It will be difficult convincing badge snobs to give this car even the slightest chance. But for those with a more open mind, I say take it out for a test drive. You'll be pleased to know that it's neither small, nor terrible.