In 2006 MG Rover went into administration and MG was bought by China's oldest car maker, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). Since then rumours of a return to the South African market started to spread and were confirmed when MG was re-introduced to South Africa at the 2011 Johannesburg International Motor Show. The first model to arrive was the MG6, which is available in two specification levels with the choice between a saloon and a fastback. Despite the ownership, and the fact that it is three-quarters built in China before being shipped over and finished off in the UK, the MG6's familiar octagonal badge on its snout into which those two famous letters have been squeezed proves MG is back on the map.
The MG6 is not a sports car in the true sense of the history of MG. There are elements in the exterior which remind us of the 87-year old marque that once stood for all that was nippy, open-topped and carefree about British sports cars. But rather the MG6 is a four-door sedan (MG6 Saloon) or five-door hardtop hatch (MG6 fastback) that moves in as a challenger in the same market as Corollas, Jettas, Ford Focus and similar brands. It has a sporty snout and aggressive looking grille and all models come with 17 inch alloy wheels. Both the sedan and the hatch have a very large boot.
On the inside the MG6 has oodles of leg room and comfortable seats. There are a few standard features that will surprise those looking to buy a car in the R200-230 000 price category. Specifications on the Luxury model include a one-touch function for the driver’s electric window, rear parking aid, air conditioner, cruise control and a colour display for the radio and navigation system. There is a modernised analogue clock as well as a trip computer which informs the driver about fuel consumption, distance-to-empty-tank and outside temperature. The flagship of the range, to be known as the De Luxe features a rear-view camera, leather upholstery, automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers and Bluetooth connectivity.
A 1.8 litre turbocharged petrol engine is standard across the range producing 118kW at 5500 rpm with 215 Nm of torque between 1750 rpm and 4500 rpm. It is a front wheel drive and has a 5-speed manual gearbox. Fuel consumption is around 7.9 litres/100 km and CO2 emissions are 194g/km.
The MG6 range recently won a five-star rating from Thatcham for resilience against theft of the vehicle and a four-star rating in the 'theft from' category. The MG6 is fitted with an excellent alarm and immobiliser system, complete with perimeter detection. Meanwhile, body security has been fortified with first-press double locking, and vehicle identification enhanced with anti-theft serial markings.
The MG6 delivers a satisfying package and is a viable and convincing newcomer to the South African market. The range encompasses a Comfort, De-Lux and Luxury choice in both fastback and saloon models with pricing for the Luxury saloon starting at a competitive R225 000. The MG6 also comes with a warranty and a service plan that are both valid for 3 years or 80 000km. If you're looking at buying a vehicle in this sector consider the MG6 as a well-priced alternative compared to other more well-known branded cars within its class. With MG dealers popping up all over South Africa and with a SUV and smaller MG3 car to follow this model, it seems that MG is finally here to stay. (All prices are subject to change and the reader is advised to consult a dealer for final pricing)