First Drive

2015 MG6 1.9 DTi review

This MG6 facelift is needed if it is to be taken seriously against the mainstream competition. Is it now good enough to be recommended before a Ford Focus or Skoda Octavia?

Words ByJohn Howell

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Talk to people at MG Motor and they will openly admit that the first MG6 was a decent car, but not good enough to worry the mainstream manufacturers like Ford or Skoda.

Not content to be the bridesmaid, they went away, thought about it and have come up with a phase-two version, exactly 10 years after the original MG Rover company folded.

The headlines are good: it has a cleaner look with restyled bumpers, head- and taillights, plus a cleaner diesel engine. MG has also improved the technology, which includes a vastly better infotainment system. Perhaps most significant of all, however, it has dropped the price by up to Β£3k.

What’s the 2015 MG6 1.9 DTi like to drive?

The MG6 is now only available with a 1.9-litre diesel that produces 148bhp and 258lb ft of torque. That’s the same as the previous car, but thanks to a 75kg weight saving, the 0-60mph time is now half a second quicker at 8.4seconds, meaning the performance is broadly similar to the competition.

The engine is also more efficient, with CO2 emissions of 119g/km and an average fuel consumption of 61.4mpg, but that's still not as clean or frugal as a Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 150 or Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi 150.

Interestingly though, if you take the least expensive version of either of those cars and compare it with the most expensive MG6 TL, the 6 still comes out slightly cheaper for company car tax thanks to its low list price.

Work has gone in to making the engine more enjoyable and with some success. Keep it above 1500rpm and it will pick up and build speed whatever gear you happen to be in.

It’s a shame that MG couldn’t have improved the refinement to the same degree, which is arguably the 6’s weakest point. At around 2500rpm the steering wheel and pedals buzz away, telegraphing all the engine's resonance straight to your limbs.

That said, as long as you keep the engine below 4000rpm it doesn’t sound too harsh, but it does get decidedly gruff beyond that threshold.

Another criticism leveled at the previous car was its ride, but there’s been some improvement here. Whatever the speed or the road surface, the 6 generally feels supple and compliant; even aiming it at larger potholes doesn’t result in any unpleasant thumps reaching the cabin.

The 6's handling is adequate, too. There’s some initial body roll if you corner hard, but the car feels generally stable thereafter, with a tendency for the front to wash wide if you really overdo things.

The steering is accurate and has enough weight on the motorway to help keep your chosen line, but the weight reduces in town to make the 6 easier to manoeuvre.

Bear in mind, though, that if driving dynamics are a priority for you, then a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus are both still more fun to drive along a meandering country road.

What’s the 2015 MG6 1.9 DTi like on the inside?

The front seats are comfortable and provide good support, and combined with the reach and rake- adjustable steering wheel, most people should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel.

Although the front windscreen pillars are wide there’s still decent forward visibility; however, the view behind is hampered by the small and steeply raked rear window.

MG has improved the cabin quality in places but there are still too many iffy-feeling materials dotted around. That said, the centre console looks much neater now thanks to the fitment of an electronic parking brake.

The new infotainment system uses a high-definition 7in touchscreen. This incorporates sat-nav with postcode recognition, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, and an iPod connection. It has its foibles but it processes commands relatively quickly and becomes easy to use with practice.

Space-wise, the Skoda Octavia still has the biggest cabin in this class. However, the 6 isn’t short of space up front, and although rear headroom is tight if you're over six feet tall, there’s arguably more legroom available than in a Focus. The 472-litre boot is also much bigger than the Focus’s, but again, can’t match the voluminous Octavia.

As you might imagine, equipment levels are generous. Even the basic S version comes with LED running lights, hill-start assist, air-con, heated seats and six airbags.

Upgrade to TS and as well as the infotainment system, you add auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and a leather, multifunction steering wheel. Top-spec TL versions include electric leather seats, bi-xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, plus a rear parking camera.

Should I buy one?

The MG6 isn’t as good as a Ford Focus or Skoda Octavia in key areas such as refinement or quality, but it’s no longer so far behind that it registers as merely a budget proposition.

The value is certainly still there - and with better resale values predicted it should still be there when you come to trade it in down the line, too - but the 6 is also genuinely more competitive in areas such as ride and handling, practicality and performance.

Ultimately, we would still recommend you to buy an Octavia or Focus, because they are the more polished alternatives. That said, for the first time since its launch, we could understand an argument for buying an MG6 instead.

What Car? says...

MG 6 TS

Engine size 1.9-litre diesel

Price from Β£16,195

Power 148bhp

Torque 258lb ft

0-60mph 8.4 seconds

Top speed 120mph

Fuel economy 61.4mpg

CO2 119g/km