MG6 driven

* Roomy and good to drive * Cabin quality needs to improve * On sale January, from £16,000 (est)...

MG6 driven

The MG6 is the first all-new MG in 15 years and has the task of re-establishing the brand globally.

Despite its Chinese parentage, the 6 has been designed and engineered in the UK, and European versions of the car will be built at MG Motor UKs plant in Birmingham.

Moving in the right direction

It's still a work in progress, but the pre-production car we drove suggested that MG is moving in the right direction. Ours was a left-hand drive Chinese market version, but every 6 will share the same sharp looks. MG calls the five-door car a 'fastback' the design doesn't break any boundaries, but its modern and easy on the eye.

The MG6 is smaller than a Ford Mondeo, but its longer than a Ford Focus or Skoda Octavia and should give buyers a lot of car for their money. Theres generous space for four and a decent boot, too. As with the exterior, the cabin design is generic, but inoffensive. The plastics are mostly hard and unappealing, but these issues might be improved by the time the car hits showrooms.

On the road

Our test drive suggested that the 6 doesnt need much work under the skin. First impressions are that it lives up to the brands sporty image, with crisp handling, sensitive steering and a neat gearshift. European versions will be even sharper, MG says, thanks to tweaks to the steering and suspension.

They'll also have a more powerful, turbocharged version of the 1.8-litre petrol engine. There also a 1.9-litre diesel engine (and a four-door saloon version) on the way later in 2011. Prices have yet to be confirmed, but we expect the 6 to undercut its mainstream rivals by a significant amount.

What Car? says

Some improvement needed, but the early signs are promising