site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
MG6 Magnette 1.8 TSE

Click to view picture galleryThe latest car brand to be brought
  back to life is the sporty MG marque.
  Now being
produced at the famous
  Longbridge factory by its Chinese
  owners, the new MG Magnette is both
  head-turning and soul-searching
...”


EARLIER THIS YEAR, MG production restarted at Longbridge with the MG GT6 hatchback the first new MG in 16 years. Two months later another new MG rolled out of the factory doors: the Magnette saloon.

The styling was created in-house by the MG team in Longbridge and sports the generic 'high boot' look of many current executive models along with a very smooth aerodynamic profile and swept-around appearance front and rear. Look at the Magnette from one angle and you'll be reminded of a BMW or Mercedes; from another you'll see elements of Vauxhall in its features.

It's easy to slip into the Magnette's generous four-door body and once inside there's lots of room, particularly in the back. The front seats offer a very good range of adjustment and their shape helps securely locate occupants during sharp manoeuvres. In the back the seat is much less sculptured with small headrests, but it's still comfortable.

“While there’s a slight
ride bias towards
firmness, which helps
handling, the MG6
manages to do a good
job of absorbing most,
if not all, the bumps
although it struggles to
keep quiet about its
achievements — road
noise is probably
its most pronounced
feature
...”
There's good oddments storage throughout although the large compartments are not divided up so anything put into them slides about during acceleration and braking. Boot space is a practical and accommodating 498 litres.

Not only is the Magnette a roomy car but it's also fairly comfortable. While there's a slight bias towards firmness, which helps handling, it manages to do a good job of absorbing most, if not all, the bumps although it struggles to keep quiet about its achievements road noise is probably its most pronounced feature.

Handling is sure-footed (struts at the front end and a multi-link set-up at the rear) and there are no real vices to master grip is good and you know precisely what's happening or about to happen, giving you time to ease off and let everything come back in line if you're pressing on very hard and have over-egged it.

The 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine serves up very good performance, hitting 60mph quickly and without hesitation or noticeable effort and it cruises without complaint at the legal limit on motorways. The five-speed manual gearbox's ratios are chosen for economy rather than performance and it's not as flexible as you might expect. However, make the most of them and it pulls strongly and has safe overtaking ability.

Gearchanges are direct, if notchy, and the clutch's travel is longer than average and this can be disconcerting driving in town. The brakes, too, are a little lacking in feedback but only modest effort is needed to bring about rapid and well controlled deceleration. The handbrake in my test car barely held the Magnette on a slope and the steering is not as communicative as I would prefer but the turning circle is reasonable although not tight and free of vibration or kickback.

The one-touch coded plastic key and secondary controls will be familiar to any driver all are placed near to the wheel or close to hand on the fascia; instruments are simple, clear and dead ahead of the driver, some of whom may initially struggle to understand how the temperature and fuel gauge 'bars' work.

“But there’s a lot to like,
too: it’s stylish, well
equipped, roomy for
passengers, has a good
ride and delivers
reasonable economy
with, despite high CO2
emissions, potentially
low running costs
...”
Although some switches on the steering wheel boss are poorly marked, I did like the on-board computer's multi-mode central display. And given the high boot, which partially obstructs from the driver's view when reversing, the TSE model's rear-view camera proved to be particularly useful.

Electronic climate control is fitted and it's straightforward and works very well with good direction and temperature control. As you would want, all windows are power operated. Apart from the restrictions when reversing, visibility is very good with decent wipers and bright lights.

With the road noise being most obvious, mechanical sources produced little by comparison, and even under load the engine was not intrusive or irritating. Wind noise was low, and mostly from the mirrors.

It's not perfect, this new MG not as refined or of as high a quality as it could be, suffers constant road noise, and the clutch, gearchange and handbrake could all be better. But there's a lot to like, too: it's stylish, well equipped, roomy for passengers, has a good ride and delivers reasonable economy with, despite high CO2 emissions, potentially low running costs.

MG currently has a small dealer base but this will grow along with the model range from the original MG F sports car to the newer hatchbacks and saloons. While British enthusiasts mourned the demise of Rover and MG and many consider the current 'assembly operation' to be a poor substitute the fact that it's taking place at all does give hope for the future where five years ago there was none.

Yes the new Magnette is an MG, but not as we have known the marque in recent years these days it's easy to find brands that have developed from their origins and may now be made thousands of miles from where they started out a long time ago. While it's understandable to look back with nostalgia, it makes even more sense (particularly financially) to look forward and I know some MG enthusiasts who will really enjoy the new MG6 Magnette. Robin Roberts

MG6 Magnette 1.8 TSE | 19,995
Maximum speed: 120mph | 0-60mph: 8.4 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 35.7mpg
Power: 158bhp | Torque: 158lb ft | CO2 184g/km