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MG 6 20T Trophy: Svelte, stylish standout sports saloon

By Ghaith Madadha - Sep 07,2020 - Last updated at Sep 07,2020

Photo courtesy of MG

An erstwhile British brand that is Chinese owned and operated since 2006, and now under the SAIC Motor umbrella, MG is ever quick to draw attention to its rich “British born” 94-year history. Proving itself with the HS model’s 2020 Middle East Car of the Year victory, it is the mid-size MG 6 liftback saloon that truly captures MG’s sporting heritage.

Perhaps overlooked, but with inspired UK engineering roots carrying over to this second generation version, the MG 6 always left a smile on this driver’s face during a week of intensive test drives including far pricier and more exotic cars.

Probably the most rewarding driver’s car in its segment — and even beyond — the MG 6 20T Trophy owes much to its authentic British engineering knack for designing and fine tuning a rewarding, sporty and engaging steering and chassis set-up. Somewhat related to the defunct Rover 75 and first developed for a 2010 release, the second generation MG 6 circa 2017, has not grown significantly in size. Sitting somewhere between most modern compact and mid-size saloons in size and weight, the MG 6’s comparatively lightweight 1,320kg mass also goes a long way to keeping it keen and nimble.

 

Athletic ability and aesthetic

 

Though smaller than most mid-sized rivals, the MG 6 is, however, a well-packaged car with good in-class cabin room and comfort to rival the bigger cars in its segment. A svelte and flowing car with saloon styling, including a long bonnet, short rear deck and athletic posture on the road, the MG 6’s liftback tailgate delivers much better cargo access than larger traditional saloon rivals, and better versatility with its rear seats folded, as luggage room increases from 424-litres to a voluminous 1,170-litres. Slimmer than most rivals and with a generous glasshouse, the MG 6 also offer excellent manoeuvrability and visibility.

Redesigned in 2017, the MG 6 has a distinctly sporting style that nevertheless avoids the excess and over-styling of many rivals. From profile it has a fluidly arcing roofline, subtle Coke-bottle hips, small built-in spoiler and side vents. Meanwhile from front view it features more dramatic slim headlights, big hungry side intakes and a big elegantly upscale chrome-ringed “Star Rider” style grille reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Best in sportier Trophy trim level and in MG’s rich signature candy red paint, the MG 6 rides on two-tone alloy wheels shod with 225/45R18 tyres that deliver the right compromise of grip and steering feel.

 

Flexible, fun and frugal

 

Driving with the clarity and connectedness of a bygone age before over-wrought, desensitised and disconnected cars became more prevalent, the MG 6 nevertheless features a contemporarily downsized and efficient drive-line. Powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine co-developed with Opel and driving the front wheels, the latest MG 6 20T iteration delivers better output, efficiency and performance than its 1.8-litre turbo predecessor. Developing an advertised 166BHP at 5,500rpm and 184lb/ft throughout a broad and ever-versatile 1,700-4,300rpm band, of which 90 per cent is reportedly available throughout an over-arcing 1,500-5,000rpm range. Meanwhile, the 20T boasts brisk 7-second 0-100km/h acceleration and a 210km/h top speed.

Returning frugal combined cycle 5.8l/100km fuel efficiency, the MG 6, however, proved too addictive and fun to drive at the sort of measured pace required to achieve such economy. Quick spooling and responsive from standstill owing to its turbocharger’s short gasflow path, the 20T is impressively capable given its small displacement. With subtle yet evocative background growls and dump valve hisses, the MG 6 rides a rich, broad and flexible torque band, yet, delivers power in a progressive and eager manner, pulling hard in a strident sweep to its red-line. Best yet, it is in theory available with a three-pedal manual gearbox suited to its sporty sensibility.

 

Eager and agile

 

Entertaining and engagingly agile, the MG 6 is offered in the Middle East with a similarly sporty slick and quick automated dual-clutch gearbox with steering wheel-mounted pedal shifters. An affordable front-drive family liftback sports saloon with the heart and eager, nimble reflexes of a well-sorted hot hatch corner carver, the MG 6 is nevertheless a refined, smooth and comfortable long distance commuter and user-friendly city driver. Settled and reassuring at speed without being disconnected or disengaging, the MG 6 is instead confident and alert, ever eager to switch from highway cruising to sporty off-ramp manoeuvrability.

If not the most powerful or technologically advanced mid-size saloon out there, the MG 6 is certainly one of the most thrilling and rewarding through twists and turns. Lightweight and backed up by an XDS selective braking and stability control based electronic differential, the MG 6 is eager and agile into and through corners. Turning in tidily and on the proverbial dime, with its well-weighted electric-assisted steering providing direct, natural and textured feedback to one’s fingertips, the MG 6 communicates a nuanced feel on the road and the exact limits of road-holding in terms of grip and slip.

 

Clarity and confidence

 

Allowing one to accurately place it on road and fine tune its position with finesse, the MG 6 delivers reassuringly committed road-holding, but is nevertheless eager and adjustable, allowing the driver to shift weight and tighten cornering lines with confidence and clarity when desired. Like a smaller and sportier vehicle with its visceral driving experience, the MG 6 meanwhile well-controls body roll and feels settled, and hunkered down on dips and crests. Driven on largely smooth Dubai roads, the MG 6 takes most imperfections in its stride but can feel somewhat firm over sudden and jagged bumps, lumps and cracks.

Well-spaced and distinctly sporty inside with Trophy spec two-tone leatherette, circular vents, chunky steering wheel and alert, comfortable and supportive driving position, the MG 6 has a user-friendly and intuitive layout and ambiance, employing good materials, if not as plush as the MG HS. However, the Trophy version’s otherwise good 8-inch Apple Carplay-enabled touchscreen infotainment system disappointingly didn’t accommodate Android Auto connectivity or USB drive MP3 playback. Based on the Dubai drive, the MG 6 is an attainable and practical sports saloon highly recommended for driving enthusiasts, but we are awaiting a promised second local test drive to evaluate how it copes with rougher Jordanian roads.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine: 1.5-litre, transverse, turbocharged 4-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 74 x 86.6mm

Compression ratio : 11.5:1

Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC

Gearbox: 7-speed dual clutch automated, front-wheel-drive

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 166 (169) [124] @5,500rpm

Specific power: 111.8BHP/litre

Power-to-weight: 126.2BHP/tonne

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 184 (250) @1,700-4,300rpm

Specific torque: 167.7Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight: 189.3Nm/tonne

0-100km/h: 7-seconds

Top speed: 210km/h

Fuel consumption, combined: 5.8-litres/100km

Fuel capacity: 50-litres

Length: 4,695mm

Width: 1,848mm

Height: 1,462mm

Wheelbase: 2,715mm

Overhang, F/R: 965/1,015mm

Luggage volume, min/max: 424-/1,170-litres

Kerb weight: 1,320kg

Suspension, F/R: MacPherson struts/multi-link, anti-roll bar

Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs/discs

Tyres: 225/45R18

 

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