By on June 12, 2012

Lotus may not have been sold to the Chinese (yet) but someone else was. And they’ve been making cars for over a year. Supposedly, they’re not bad to drive either.

When Rover went bust, it was picked up by SAIC, along with the MG nameplate. The car above, the MG 6, is a mix of old Rover and new Chinese technology. Cars are built in England and China, and it’s certainly attractive.

We haven’t driven it, but the reviews seem fairly consistent; it’s great to drive, but quality is poor enough to keep it from being a serious rival to class leaders in Europe like the Golf and Focus. Still, when Evo magazine calls a Chinese MGone of the best in its class to drive“, that says something. Apparently, the chief chassis engineer is a Lotus Exige driver.

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35 Comments on “What Happens When The Chinese Buy An Iconic British Brand...”


  • avatar
    mike978

    Is it me or does it look a bit like the new Dodge Dart from the front?

  • avatar
    rockit

    Attractive? This car looks horrid.

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      I think it looks pretty good. Looks to me what Hyundai was trying to make when they ended up with the Elantra.

      • 0 avatar
        Lynchenstein

        Burn!

      • 0 avatar
        rockit

        If you think copied generic design “looks pretty good” that’s a shame. It looks like both of you are just ignorant to what good design actually is!

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        Love to know what lines you feel are “copied” and “generic” on this vehicle, and which vehicle you feel they were copied from.

        If you’re thinking the MD Elantra, then you are sadly mistaken. The MG6 was launched in April 2009, and is based on the Roewe 550, which was launched in 2008.

        The MD Elantra was launched in April 2010 and went on-sale after that.

        Polarizing, I could see. But “copied [and] generic,” no.

      • 0 avatar
        rockit

        @KalapanaBlack

        I wasn’t referring to the Elantra. (But its not exactly a thing of beauty either.) Pulled back slit opening headlamps, messy flame surfacing, over sized logo, large vent below bumper, fussy side flame surfacing….so every small car design cliche.

        The fact that I had to further explain this shows good design is lost on you.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    From small acorns….

    This is the best car the Chinese make. Sadly for them all of the engineering is done in the UK

    • 0 avatar
      Thinx

      Chinese Manufacturing combined with British Engineering. Add a little bit of Italian Ergonomics and you have the makings of a fine ethnic joke.

      That said, I don’t think the Chinese could build it any worse than the English did.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I can see it now: “Lucas Electric – The Prince of Darkness” has returned!

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    10 internets to anyone who can identify the car in the reflection.

  • avatar

    Chinese-built MG cars are being sold in Brazil for more than a year. Never saw one of them on the road, though.

  • avatar

    “Lotus may not have been sold to China”

    Oh wait you said “the Chinese” again

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    I have driven one, and it’s a great drive. The engine is a bit rough and struggles high up, but the grunt low down is good. Handling is terrific.

    I’ll write up a road test, if anyone wants. I can remember all of my impressions and even have a photo of one at the factory beside my car.

    And whoever up there made a flippant comment about British electrics in cars – actually look at most British cars of the last 20 years. Apart from Range Rovers of the ’90s, there aren’t exactly many major horror stories.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverHawk

      I had a brief drive in a 6 GT on some back-roads, and I agree on the handling. The interior was nothing to write home about, but at least I like the direction that SAIC is taking with the brand. There’s only so much you can do with a Roewe 550, but I have high hopes for the coming MG3, and MG5.

      • 0 avatar
        iainthornton

        I felt that although the interior was in no way fantastic, it wasn’t as bad as people have made out. It was perfectly acceptable – and good for the price.

        Also the gearbox was a bit notchy. The ride was good. And the pricing? Even better.

        What spec did you drive? I drove a Magnette TSE, so it had the full leather and all the kit. I actually came very close to buying one, apart from I have this strange desire to drive my Vauxhall into the ground first!

        Also, just another thought. It could do with more engine and gearbox choices. I heard a rumour that in China they offer an automatic…a three speed with overdrive!
        No wonder they don’t bother with it here…..

    • 0 avatar
      motek

      Maybe not the last 20 years but there is a 1971 TR6 in my garage that was indeed an electrical horror story. Mostly just smoke (not fire) under the dash, but definitely not what you what to see and smell at 70mph.

    • 0 avatar

      Please do! C/D said it wasn’t so good. Would love to ear your perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      Agree with you about the British Electrics. I run a classic vehicle electrical refurbishment business. There is very little ever wrong with Lucas components even stuff that has been sitting in a shed for 50 years. Lucas stuff is far better built and designed that the contemporary garbage that Delco Remy and Marelli churned out. The problem British vehicles often faced if any was from wiring harnesses which were often not made by lucas and poor chassis grounding.

      • 0 avatar
        SilverHawk

        @iainthornton. I drove an SE spec model. No leather, but a good deal of kit. I thought the shifting was fine, and the clutch action was very good. The owner had the car about 6 months when I drove it, and he was pleased with his purchase.
        New engines & trannys are on the way, including the diesel, so I hope to have the chance to drive one again after the updates.
        Hope you post your test remarks, as I would like to read your full impressions. I only had a short drive in the GT.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “And whoever up there made a flippant comment about British electrics in cars – actually look at most British cars of the last 20 years. Apart from Range Rovers of the ’90s, there aren’t exactly many major horror stories.”

      Ha ha ha! That’s me. Just piling on, as I have heard NO electrical stories about British cars for the last 20 years. Actually I believe they have improved since a friend’s 1974 MGB went up in flames, courtesy of the “Prince” about that long ago…

      For the record, I really likes the old “S” Type. Real sharp car.

      • 0 avatar
        Tosh

        Sterling? (Legend’s evil twin) Or does that fall outside your 20 years statute of limitation?

        Or how about that Jag that C&D (or was it AW?) long term tested several years ago? You know, the one with the white leather seats that got trashed when the dealership stored the rear wheels inside while they fixed the electronic parking brake for the third time? Good times!

  • avatar
    MeaCulpa

    Bland design, thy name is MG.

  • avatar
    Robert Gordon

    “When Rover went bust, it was picked up by SAIC”

    No it wasn’t, Tata own Rover.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      The BBC did that all the time in their reporting too, referring to the whole company as “Rover” even though “MG was just as much a part of the corporate name. Throughout the whole period from 2000-2005, whenever there was a story about MG Rover Group’s ongoing financial troubles, it was always “Rover” and not “MG Rover”, as a result, the Rover brand took the lion’s share of the negative image, while the reputation of the MG brand escaped more or less intact.

      Of course, the whole truth is more complicated than that. Nobody bought MG Rover, the shell of the company was dissolved after the bankruptcy. Nanjing Automobile bought the MG brand name, the lease on the Longbridge factory, and virtually all of MG Rover and Powertrain’s assets and intellectual property. SAIC then bought Nanjing later on to acquire MG for themselves.

      The Rover brand was repossessed by BMW, then resold to Ford, then bundled into the Jaguar Land Rover sale to Tata.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      No, SAIC picked up the actual products, only the Rover name and logo is owned by tata.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    MG by Honda Civic! Or some other generic car of the moment.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I see a LOT of these cars here in China. The picture doesn’t really do it justice. It is a very good looking vehicle in it’s class. Great lines and overall looks very appealing.

    The vehicle is cheap, but doesn’t necessarily look it. On the other hand compared to most vehicles that are sold here in China by Chinese manufacturers, it’s fairly safe. It has to meet Europe’s crash standards.

    You should see them in the burnt orange metallic color they have here. Looks really good in that color.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    It needs more marketing to really take off but this is a good start.

    By the way where does all this Lucas guff come from. It wasn’t Lucas that made the wiring loom in the TR7 was it?

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Poor build quality? Well… sounds like MG’s new proprietors know more about British automotive tradition than we first thought!


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