Stuff that has everyone all agog with excitement
The automotive segment that moves the world is the compact sedan. It is a segment dominated by cars from Japanese powerhouse brands, the South Korean twins and Germany’s ‘people’s mover’. But most of them have become all too expensive for their own good. Put that in perspective with the pain from a taxing economy’s one-two punch i.e., meteoric price rise in real estate, fuel, school fees and groceries, and underwhelming wage hikes… and you end up with a stifled middle class.
But like a ray of hope, we see a new breed of vehicles from Chinese manufacturers pouring in that are offering vehicles that are priced like it is Black Friday all year round. The largest of them all is SAIC, which acquired the rights to the once-British brand MG (Morris Garage) and is now churning out sensible vehicles. Today, we review the top variant of their compact sedan, the 2022 MG 6 Trophy 1.5T DCT G.DEL.
Design & aesthetics
In a segment previously devoid of style, the MG 6 makes a classy statement. And it does so by incorporating carefully curated elements borrowed from stylish and luxury vehicles, making it a looker from any angle. The frontal design, especially the headlamps with its LED projectors, looks like a modified Mazda 6’s luminaires and the large grille with chrome floating points is another great adoption of the style seen in Mercedes-Benz vehicles; the rear lamps also have a C-class sophistication to them. Yet, it maintains a certain degree of distinction, thanks to its fastback roofline which lends it added interior space and better wind-cheating abilities. The faux vents in the front bumper and the faux stainless steel exhaust tips in the rear bumper may give people points to jeer at, but the 18-inch alloy wheels, with their 5-spoke design, fill the wheel wells nicely and add a certain flair to the overall look. The point to be made is that despite its sub-80k price, it doesn’t carry rental car banality or taxi car vibes that plague this segment. There is an element of prestige with the MG 6.
Matching the exterior’s elegance is an interior with a Jaguar-esque layout with an upholstered dash and satin finish trims. Our test vehicle had a dual-tone aesthetic, with sporty red-and-black-combo leather and faux carbon-fibre trims. And there is plenty to like about this cabin, like the neatly integrated central air vents and leatherette-padded door panels. But like most in its class, the texture of the surfaces and feel of the materials aren’t of the highest spec with some hard plastics etc., but nothing to hang your head in shame. It also has a neatly nestled 8-inch touchscreen centre console, but it could use a physical volume and tuner knob — something even big automakers are reverting to.
Even with my 6-foot frame, I found it easy to slide into and get comfortable in the front seat with some help from the 6-way power adjusters. The front passenger gets 4-way power adjustments. And it’s reasonably roomy in the rear as well, with inundations in the roof to accommodate taller folk. But the most comfortable setup would be to have two adults and a child in the centre, not three adults.
The business end also has a 3-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel that has a nice grith to it without being too chunky and a very legible instrument cluster that combines the analogue with the digital, making minute-to-minute driving operations quite relaxed.
Powertrain & performance
The few Chinese-built vehicles I had driven earlier had decent powertrain resumes but their on-road performance was underwhelming. So, I wasn’t expecting much. But then I saw ‘20T’ badge on the boot which I thought implied a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine which got me excited… and then confused. So, to clear things up I browsed through the brochure to find out that under the hood sits a turbocharged 1.5-litre 4-cylinder, much like the Honda Civic. The 169 bhp and 250 Nm it makes puts it on top of its class, pretty much. And all this torque is transferred to the front wheels via a 7-speed DCT, which all sounds well and good. But then the question arose: “How is it to drive?”
So, then I get into the driver’s seat and do my routine of adjusting the mirrors and making sure my visibility is good and it is so in the 6. As I drive through the city and highway, I find the motor willing at moderate speeds. Then when I got to an open stretch, I smashed the throttle and for a moment nothing really happened. After a moment’s hesitation, it thrust forward with a nice little growl at the tailpipe. So, there is power… but with a degree of latency, which is typical of turbo engines. This gives the drive some character. And it certainly feels faster than anything in its segment getting to a 100 km/h in about 7 secs and achieving a 210 km/h top speed. There is an ‘S’ sport mode that holds the lower gears for better torque, makes the steering tighter and turns the instrument cluster red as well. Alternatively, you can choose to pull on paddles for a more engaging effort.
Braking is handled by discs both front and rear. Its calibration shares similarities with the throttle, there is a large degree of play and then it comes on strong. It’s a bit grabby. This irks the ergonomics of driving but the important thing here is that the braking effect is good. The ride leans towards the stiffer side, but it is very acceptable and there is some amount of road noise. While the steering offers decent feedback, and the balance of the chassis is confidence-inspiring to a great extent.
And that brings us to an important factor, especially for buyers in this segment, which is fuel economy. The claimed average is 5.9 l/100km, which means the 50-litre tank should theoretically take you past 800 kilometres, but 600 kilometres seems to be a more realistic number.
Features & practicality
Even at the tail end of a toasty summer, the dual-zone climate control system kept it nice and cool. You’ll like the fact that there are rear vents too. Although I never got to use it, it was good to know that there was a cooled centre cubby for beverages. MG hasn’t skimmed on the safety features either. The brochure will show a long list of acronyms to help you steer you to safety, like ESP, ABS, EBD, TCS, VDC and much more. They’ve also incorporated ISOFIX points for child seats in the rear, keeping in mind those young dads and moms, and a bunch of airbags as well.
The general of act driving is made simpler with the availability of cruise control for highways, a tyre pressure monitoring system which watches out for variations in temperature or punctures, and a rear camera and sensors for ease of parking. You also get Bluetooth to stream your music through six speakers of reasonable clarity and a USB port as well.
With the fastback profile comes the hatchback, which gives access to a sizable boot. The available 424-litre space expands to 1,170 litres by dropping down the 60:40 split rear seats, but they don’t fall flush with the floor.
Style bound. Functional. Affordable. These are the words that come to mind when I reminisce about my driving experience in the MG 6 Trophy. However, this is the 2nd generation and it’s only been 10 years since its first launch, and for that reason, I can’t quite vouch for its reliability and residual value wholeheartedly. But the kicker here is that it does come with a 6-year/200,000 km warranty just in case things aren’t as prim as promised.
Also, I like what Chinese manufacturers like MG are doing — the market needs cars like these.
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