• Apr 14, 2010
This will get some heads turning: after a drive on challenging Welsh roads, Autocar has written "In its poise and agility I'd even say the MG6 is superior" to the Ford Focus Zetec S. There are other compromises: the interior, the gearchange, the NVH, grunt at high revs. But the first bespoke Nanjing-created MG, the MG6, is a certified runner according to the UK mag.

The MG6 hatch was designed at Longbridge, and it benchmarked the Focus for its own handling prowess. The turbocharged 1.8-liter Honda K-series engines isn't new, but the platform is, and this version of the car was tuned for European drivers and roads. As we said, there remain a few niggles, but for a pre-production car to be declared "borderline best-in-class to drive," and by a British pub no less, well, there could be gold in them thar (unlikely) hills.

[Source: Autocar]


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  • 34 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guarantee Nanjing outsourced the suspension tuning of the European version to a firm in Europe. I'm not aware of any Chinese company that has the chassis tuning know how to pull this off.

      That they got the chassis so right but the rest of the car so wrong is also telling. Anybody can hire some really good chassis guys to tune their car and get a turd that handles well. It's the integration of the whole experience (interior, NVH, powertrain, ergonomics, and ride/handling) that makes for a good car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'll give Nanjing credit for having the foresight to hire Lotus. But having a decent chassis tune alone in no way makes this car the equal of a European Ford Focus.

        People with inside knowledge of the automotive industry aren't surprised with some of Toyota's recent problems. People with first hand experience with Chinese manufacturing aren't surprised by all the toy and food recalls.

        Yet the general public has been tricked into thinking these products are as good or better than the alternatives, and are shocked or dismissive when real problems occur.

        Lots of people will skim over this article or others like it and somehow form the perception in their head that the Chinese automakers have caught up to the US and Europeans. The simple fact is that they haven't.

        If you outsource everything that people can see or feel, such as the ride and handling, or interior, or powertrain, it's easy to make it LOOK like you have a good car without having any real engineering expertise. But what about the parts that aren't as obvious, that WEREN'T outsourced? Like the airbags, or the brakes, or the crash structure design?

        What about NHTSA testing? It's easy to build a couple cars that are set up to pass specific tests. But who is making sure that, once production starts, every car that rolls down the line is built to the same standards? Nobody, until it's too late.

        Google "China Quality Fade." Here is one good article:

        http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/2007/07/the-scourge-of-.html

        This is a very real problem, and even if a certain manufacturer claims to have resolved it internally, there is virtually NO WAY to guarantee that their sub-suppliers aren't pulling the same tricks behind their back. This is the sole reason for all the recent Chinese food and toy recalls, and it's nearly universal in China.

        I'm not bashing China for no reason. I have first hand experience with both Chassis development and manufacturing in China. The FACT is that China still behind the curve when it comes to engineering expertise, business ethics, and quality control. A glossy paint job or a Tuned-by-Lotus suspension does not change this.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Man I thought the Autocar article was hilarious enough since it basically suggests that anything bad is because of the Chinese ownership (see the part about the interior) and anything good (the suspension tuning) appears to be creditly almost entirely to the British. I mean I expect it a little bit since it's a British magazine but it was kinda funny how it reads.
        Your comment is pure idiocy though. So they outsourced it and got it tuned to be better than the other companies' vehicles? By that logic then they could have the best car in the world just by "outsourcing" everything. Oh right, no it's not that simple to make a good car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Other J

        You make good points and I'm glad to see you acknowledge that Chinese manufacturers are 'catching up' and will be in the US soon.

        You imply, however, that the shady practices and cost-saving efforts that happen in China don't happen anywhere else -- namely Korea, Japan, the US, and Europe. That's not a fair implication to make.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thanks hmmwv, I knew Lotus was hired by one of the Chinese auto companies.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Of course this type of thing happens in other countries. But the business ethics, governments, and public generally work well to either prevent it, or at least hold the perpetrators accountable when it happens.

        In China, this practice is accepted as the normal way of doing business. When Walmart tells their suppliers that they have to reduce their cost by 10% or else loose their business, how do you think that is done? And when it is discovered to cause major problems, nobody is held accountable, and nothing changes.

        Plus, the cases we hear about are only the ones that:

        A) are discovered in the US and brought to media attention, and
        B) result in MAJOR health or safety hazards

        What we don't hear about are the things that result in a 10% increase in warranty claims, or cause the paint to flake off a suspension part after 6 months. Those are major problems as well, but not media worthy.

        This is one of the major risks of doing business in China. It's real, it's a fact, and it's much worse than other countries.

        This problem is deeply rooted in their culture and business history, and until it is solved (not an easy task), we should not be so ready to accept these products as equal to our own, and we should not be so apologetic for them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @J,

        What you described sounds like pretty much every country that went through industrialization.

        I recall reading a NYTimes article that China actually has one of the lowest *ratio* of defects among *developing* countries that exports to the US. It's because they make so many more stuffs than the others that more defects tend show up more often, thus making them a bigger target.

        (I can't remember the title of that article, if anyone can dig it up it would be great)
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Joe: Stay the eff out of our market.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Okay, so THIS time they outsource the chassis tuning.
        Next time, they do it themselves.

        This gets my attention: a Chinese-designed car that is NOT a copy of something else, and is NOT a total piece of junk. Anyone who isn't taking the Chinese automakers seriously is making a serious mistake.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @apearlman

        On the contrary, I do take them VERY seriously. I know they will be here soon, at a price point that we can't compete with, and it'll be only a matter of time before they are the next Hyundai.

        The problem is that under the skin, their business culture, quality methods, and engineering expertise aren't READY for the US market. Allowing their substandard products (and the ARE substandard) to succeed in our market is of no benefit to us. Why are some people so ready to welcome these products with open arms?

        • 4 Years Ago
        @emperorkoku,

        What does it matter to you if you don't buy or drive one?

        You can boycott all things Chinese if you choose to, but don't fault the companies trying to make decent products and make money.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @J What makes you think that regulations aren't enforced in China? Regulations are indeed enforced but it's not like you hear about the enforcement all the time where you are. Like you read articles about how a local plant somewhere in Xi'an was shut down for violating regulations? About the only time you do hear about it is when some huge bust happens and the regulators catch a huge scam going on. Most Chinese people wouldn't hear about the local crook scamming some random people in the neighborhood either, but they'd hear about stuff like Bernie Madoff and AIG since those are big stories. Doesn't mean that every business in the United States is a huge ponzi scam and/or gambling with idiotic derivatives that can ruin the global economy, nor that every business in China is out to poison you with shoddy goods. Totally absurd to apply the big scandals to every business to China. There's lots of shoddy Chinese goods and there's lots of high quality Chinese goods-but the more quality you want the more money you have to pay (although it'd still be cheaper than elsewhere usually).
        And secondly just how many other 3rd world countries make decent quality goods anyway? You whine about how shoddy the stuff is coming out of China but if you think stuff from China is shoddy that's because the stuff made elsewhere is so utterly unusable that it never even gets exported. If you think that Tata Nano is gonna be safer or more reliable than an SAIC vehicle you're out of your mind.
        Anybody who's a fan of headphone amplifiers would know that some of the nicest units are all coming out of China these days, some really awesome and innovative designs all come from there and they're all top notch in workmanship-but they're not cheap. Quit buying stuff from China that costs 20% of what it would cost elsewhere and expecting it to be equally as good-that's plainly idiotic. It could be equally good if maybe you paid 80% of the price though but manufacturers sometimes just pocket the difference and go for a shoddier quality. Not really the fault of the manufacturers though-raw materials have costs you know and if you give them $5 to build you something they can't use $6 of materials.
      • 4 Years Ago
      God knows why you are highly ranked with such an ill informed comment.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_K_engine

      What's that then?
      • 4 Years Ago
      The turbocharged 1.8-liter Honda K-series engines isn't new.......to the best of my knowledge, the K series engine is not Honda-sourced nor Honda-based. I believe that the K series was a Rover-designed engine from the 1990's.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are correct. It's an ex-Rover engine, also used in the Elise for many years until recently replaced by the Toyota motor. I remember it being a pretty decent engine when it first debuted.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Right, let's get some misconceptions about the MG6 out of the way:

      The MG6 and its platform donor, the Roewe 550, were not designed by the Chinese. They were certainly funded by Chinese money, but all the design, engineering, development and crash testing work was carried out by former MG Rover engineers at Ricardo 2010 in the United Kingdom, and based on unfinished MG Rover RD/X60 prototypes.

      Secondly, the engine used in this car is a reworked Rover K-series, it has nothing to do with Honda's similarly named engine. It was, and probably still is a fairly high tech piece of kit, being all alloy, and having an innovative through bolt construction. It was putting out 103bhp from a displacement of 1.4 litres long before it was the norm.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was pretty confused as to how the heck SAIC convinced Honda to sell them Honda K-series motors and turbo them since that would be pretty idiotic for Honda to do supply someone else's small car with a powerplant that would then likely be better than the ones in their own cars but your explanation certainly clears that up.
        That said I'm a little disappointed that it sounds like SAIC didn't contribute as much as I had hoped towards the new platform since I was hoping to see what they could come up with, but I guess in the big picture it doesn't really matter since they own the platform anyway and can modify it for their other vehicles. Still I was hoping to see how far their own engineering teams have gotten.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sounds like a good car if the could fix a couple of things, the compromise that suprises me though is the gearchange after all if they are using a Honda powerplant are they not using a Honda tranny? Which usually is near the tops for precision. Just makes me scratch my head.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wait, a Chinese company designed this? I have to say, it looks pretty impressive, and not just "impressive for a Chinese car". And if it drives as well as it looks, I can't see this being anything other than a success.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If those tires are asymmetric, why are the not on the same way?
      The high helix angle region is inboard on the passenger side, while it is outboard on the driver side.
      these?
      http://www.tirerack.com/tires/BigPic.jsp?sidewall=Blackwall&tireMake=Goodyear&tireModel=Excellence
        • 4 Years Ago
        Good eye...though I don't have an answer to that question :).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mounted them incorrectly for the unveiling I suppose?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Until you crash and the safety compromises leave you a wadded up pile of mush.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not sure if it would really be a competitor for the Focus, but it certainly doesn't look too shabby.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's a C-segment hatchback - and that makes it an arch rival of the Focus, Golf, Megane, Astra, 308, Bravo, et al.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow. THAT is quite a compliment!
      I foresee the Nanjing-owned MG becoming the next Hyundai!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Who knows what's the truth on this story? Depending on Autocar to make a subjective assessment is risky. Autocar is a rag, an occasionally interesting rag but a rag just the same. The list of Autocar news breaking stories that turn out to "not so much" is long and undistinguished. I subscribed for a year and decided it was best to wait a couple of weeks for Car and Top Gear to get the stories straight.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Bespoke is a British English term employed in a variety of applications to mean an item custom-made to the buyer's specification."

      How is this vehicle custom-made to the buyer's specification? Stop mis-using the word 'bespoke' in every other post. 'Bespoke' would be appropriate on a car like a Rolls Royce, where the customer chooses the upholstery, the trim, the paint, all the details, and then the factory builds the car according to the customer's specifications. Having different sheetmetal on a coupe versus a sedan is not "bespoke". When a Chinese automaker actually designs a unique car that is not a blatant ripoff of another car, that is not "bespoke". The rampant misuse of words makes you look foolish.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "The turbocharged 1.8-liter Honda K-series engines isn't new"

      so are there a bunch of factory turbo civics in europe?
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