It’s the weekend, and you’re tired. Why not skip the cooking tonight and order in something decadent and a little, oily?
There is something terribly poignant about the end of days at Longbridge. Having put its troubled past behind, under new ownership and seemingly looking to the future, it all came crashing down, thanks (in part at least) to the hubris and cynicism of its domestic overlords.
Following the firesale of MG Rover’s assets and intellectual property, the first fruit would be Nanjing Automotive’s Roewe 750, a hastily restyled version of the existing Rover 75 saloon. Also planned was a smaller car based upon the RDX60 programme, which had been in development prior to MG Rover’s demise. Another beneficiary of Longbridge’s assets was fellow-Chinese carmaker, SAIC Motor, who subsequently absorbed Nanjing Auto and quickly brought the Roewe 550 to market, engaging specialists in the UK to speed up the process.
But SAIC had plans to establish a toehold in the European market using the once-storied MG brand. Derived from the Roewe 550 and officially introduced in November 2009 at the Guangzhou motor show, the MG6 was a spacious fastback in the Skoda Octavia mould, although a better balanced three volume saloon, called Magnette would also be offered.
With some residual Rover 75 hardware on board (the front subframe is allegedly similar, as was the N-series engine, which was derived from Rover’s ill-fated K-series), and with a chassis developed on British roads, hopes were high for success in old Blighty.
It would be another two years before the MG6 went on sale in the UK and while the domestic press were keen to give it the benefit of the doubt, they couldn’t quite mask their mild distaste (or snobbery if you prefer). Reviewers were impressed by its chassis and overall package, but just about everyone criticised its powertrain and cited the lacklustre perceived quality of its interior plastics. Good, but not quite good enough being the prevailing judgement.
But there is always one brave iconoclast who refuses to pander to prevailing orthodoxies. Step forward, one Quentin Willson, late of BBC Television’s Top Gear programme, he of the slicked back hair and somewhat contrived, unctuous tones. Channelling another far more successful TV creation, Willson invites us to an exclusive tour of the new MG in characteristic toe-curling fashion. (You can find it on YouTube, should you feel impelled). Indeed, following my initial viewing, not only did the MG clearly require a wash, so did your squirming correspondent here.
It speaks volumes on the part of SAIC UK’s marketers in their choice of brand spokesman, although how many others were likely to have said no before their gaze fell upon Mr. Willson’s name can only be guessed at.
The MG6 wasn’t a particularly bad car, and probably deserved a kinder fate than the one it received in the end, bowing out ignominiously in 2016. But I might kindly suggest that it deserved a better brand champion, even if his unintentional Alan Partridge impression is, it must be said, peerless.