MG's relaunch roars into life with diesel
O NE small step for the motor trade and one giant leap for MG was the thought that crossed my mind as I drove the demonstrator model away from Pinkstone MG's Trent Vale showroom recently.
The addition of the new diesel is a major development for this growing brand and for two reasons. The first, and most important, is that MG can now compete in the user-chooser fleet market. The second is it reaffirms that MG has some seriously good engineers at Longbridge because this car is lovely to drive, better than the petrol model actually.
If dealers can get bums on seats, so to speak, and get people to test drive it they stand an excellent chance of selling because although not quite up to scratch in some areas this car is brilliant dynamically.
Let me deal with the facts and figures first. Under the bonnet sits a 1.9 litre turbo diesel – which MG absolutely insists is entirely of its own design and development – delivering 150 PS. I have it on good authority that the engine can very easily develop more power and it is possible a hotter version could appear later. It certainly doesn't feel overly stressed.
It has stop-start technology that improves overall consumption by five per cent and also smart charging, a system which saves energy by only supplying power to certain electrical components when it is actually needed.
MG quotes mpg figures of 46 around town, 59 on a mix of motorway and main roads and an average of 54. The all-important CO2 emissions are 139g/km which will mean decent Benefit in Kind tax liabilities.
Those are the figures but what they cannot reveal is how the MG drives and it's a peach. I have long been a fan of the petrol MG6's chassis and steering but the DTi-TECH is better still. It is a little heavier for one thing and the revised spring/damper rates are spot on so the MG6 feels really planted on the road.
Complementing the chassis is the powertrain because the engine and six-speed gearbox work in perfect harmony. The ratios fit the torque perfectly so the car always feels responsive to the accelerator whatever the speed. It is very smooth and has plenty of power from low revs (peak torque is at 1,800 rpm) which makes overtaking effortless and it also pulls well in sixth on motorways when you want to speed up without having to change down.
As I said, it really is a lovely car to drive and although my test was quite short I instantly felt that this is a very well sorted and fully developed car. I rate it.
That said I do still think that MG has work to do on the car. I know styling is a subjective matter but the lines of the car have never sat easy with me and the interior, while full of kit, is a little bland in its architecture and there are little details, like the cheap plastic of the key, which just don't give a good first impression which is a shame.
There is a lot of kit included which again helps its appeal in the user-chooser market.
Prices start at £16,820 for the entry level S and go up through the SE and to the £20,020 TSE I drove; a question for MG; why not knock off £25 and bring it in under the £20,000 mark?
Even the S gets a hill-hold system that helps when starting off up an incline, air con, MP3 and body coloured mirrors and a rear spoiler.
The TSE gets everything. Leather, full colour screen sat nav, reversing camera.
If there was anything it did not have but should have I could not think of it.
MG has had a slow-burn approach to the UK market but I think 2013 will see it put its foot down a bit. The diesel is great and there are some exciting new models in the pipeline. I have seen some of the concepts at Longbridge and they look great. If they drive as well as this does but have better styling and interiors the future looks bright indeed.
Our thanks to Pinkstone MG (01782 711661) for the loan of its demonstrator car.