By on April 8, 2011

MG has been building its 1995-era MGF (now MG TF) at its Longbridge, UK plant off and on since 2007, but it’s been a purely knock-down assembly affair, with kits being shipped in from Nanjing, China. But a new British-built MG is about to go into production since the brand was bought by Nanjing Auto in 2005 (Nanjing has since merged with SAIC). Called the MG6, the new compact sedan isn’t completely built at Longbridge (UK workers build and fit the engines, as well as installing the front suspension and subframe, exhaust system and electrics, but bodyshells are shipped from China), but it was designed and engineered at SAIC Motor’s European technical center in the Midlands.

Is that British enough for you?

Assembly starts next Wednesday, and MG’s execs hope the model will be a springboard into other European markets (MGs are currently sold only through 38 UK dealers). But with production limited to only 10,000 units, SAIC is taking a deliberately small-scale approach to rebuilding its battered British brand (the brand’s unofficial motto: “under-promise, over-deliver”). And given the neglect and abuse the MG brand has been subjected to over the years, a slow, steady rebuilding strategy is what a turnaround will take. The MG6 may not fulfill the repressed yearnings of the MG faithful, but it’s a pragmatic start. And with talk of a new roadster, there are still signs that the brand understands its core (not wildly pragmatic) mission. MG fans need only glance at the Saab situation to count themselves lucky.

Reviews of the MG6 have been mixed, typically focusing on the sporty, MG-worthy handling and weak, MG-worthy interior quality. ChinaCarTimes has a good wrap-up of the UK press reaction, concluding that

It’s obvious that MG is getting some good reviews from major automotive outlets (aside from the Express and Star) and should easily reach its first year aim to sell a mere 2,000 units in the UK market. The fact that the car is mostly made in China and assembled from kits does not seem to affect the UK automotive press. The ear and nose hair brigade (aka MG Enthusiasts) do not seem to be pleased by the new MG styling, although their opinion can largely be discounted as they believe anything produced later than the MG Midget is not a real MG, plus they tend to buy their motors once they are antiques and being sold for pennies on Ebay, so not exactly the target audience this time around – although it should be said that enthusiasts do some good for the brand with their mad ranting.

Isn’t globalization grand?

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28 Comments on “Are You Ready For: A Brand-New British MG?...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    So is it FWD, RWD, what?  And honestly at first I thought it was a picture of a refreshed Camry or Corolla, maybe a Jetta.

  • avatar

    It looks like it’s being chased by the alien spawn of a hedgehog and sand worm.

  • avatar

    What is that thing behind the car? It looks like an enormous pin cushion stuffed with enormous pins.

    • 0 avatar

      It is the United Kingdom Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.

      • 0 avatar

        Looks like mold to me. I don’t want to associate the UK with mold and mildew, but if those creative types out there continue presenting bizarre things to the public (like that or the olympic logo and olympic mascot not in a sporting costume), I may start to.

  • avatar

    Also, that interior looks like a knock-off of a 3-series. The colors, shape of the buttons, and general layout are almost identical.

  • avatar

    Whodathunk that the Chinese invasion of Europe would have started in the UK?

    • 0 avatar

      Well it makes sense since it is a “British” brand. Although it will never sell huge numbers – just like the Japanese brands do not (Honda around 1% market share and Toyota around 4% share!).

  • avatar

    Are there Lucas electronics? That would be pretty British.

  • avatar

    Front of Kizashi, back of a Camry and interior of a 3 Series.  Not bad, but not exactly beautiful either.

  • avatar

    That’s one strange photo. I’m guessing that fuzzy thingy in the background is a close-up of the “mouse fur” used in car interiors that many on TTAC rag about!

    Other than that, it kind of looks like a 4-door Tiburon, or a softened and re-shaped Sonata. I’ll pass on this one.

    Someone yesterday or Wednesday complained about how OEM’s shouldn’t be looking to the past for design inspiration. Why not? Many of those designs worked. These new ones? Not so much.

  • avatar

    At least they’re calling it Morris Garages again, instead of “Modern Gentleman” — or was that branding just for Asia?

  • avatar

    Back in the day my friend had an “A” and I a Midge.  The A was remarkable in that you could start it pretty reliably with a hand crank.  This was a benefit since the electrics never worked very well.
    The Midge was the most fun car I’ve ever owned.  And practical, too–a boot large enough for a plastic milk jug filled with coolant; a necessity in the FLA sunshine as the thing would overheat after about an hour of driving.  The tonneau cover was pretty nifty–about 50 snaps (only half of them worked) along with a fairly sturdy zipper.  Snychromesh?  Never heard of that back in England, I guess.  Parts were hard to come by as the factory was always on strike.
    I don’t think this thing is a real MG.

  • avatar

    I don’t get why anyone would want to spend money trying to introduce yet another mundane offering in the already overcrowded auto market. Chinese manufacturers want to go Global, but surely they see how small the chances of survival are. Chinese owned Volvo makes sense, as it has a market and a following but resurrecting MG?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    What does this thing have to do with whatever “brand equity” is left in MG?  Looks like another derivative “sport sedan” that, with luck, has a good stereo because it will spend most of its time stuck in traffic on the way to and from the office.

    And, yes the interior certainly does look ‘generic BMW 3-series.”

  • avatar

    I guess if it’s OK for your Jaguar to look like a Camcord, then why not an MG?

  • avatar

    Why does it have four doors? When I think MG I don’t think sedan that’s for sure. And it looks like the “new” Subaru posted the other day… in other words: so boring nobody will notice.

  • avatar

    Kill it with fire.  Save the MG brand for sports cars…don’t the Chinese have another name from British Leyland’s corpse they can use for hatchbacks.  They own the rights to “Austin” and “Morris.”

    And by the way, when’s BMW going to resurrect Triumph?  A modern Spitfire would be a great compliment to the Mini and Z4.  And it would probably be a better outlet for the 1-Series and front-drive cars BMW wants to develop, rather than ruining the BMW marque.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, but to keep it in the spirit of the old Triumph, it’d have to sell for under $30K.  Which is a line that BMW has absolutely no interest in crossing.

  • avatar

    Haven’t a clue about the  British market so i wonder how is it priced? Aggressively is my guess seeing how they talk about the insurance trick.

  • avatar

    The Rover 75 was nothing special. What’s the price? I’d prefer a used Morgan.
    Chimerica witness the birth of Chigland from the ashes of endless BL tea breaks.

  • avatar

    This is the direction they should have gone with the Saturn Ion. I want one!

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