Saturday, 4 January 2014

It's time to find out whether the new MG range is any good

BROKEN your New Year’s resolution yet? I haven’t, although for 2014 one of my goals seems to be a bit more ambitious than most.

This isn't about shedding a stone by sweating it out on a treadmill or deciding to raise a few more quid for charity. This year, one of my aims is to actually drive one of the modern day MGs and let you know if they’re any good.

Largely because I want to come to my conclusions about one of 2013’s great motoring mysteries. Why, when you weren't looking, has MG’s market share halved?

As someone who owns an old MG, I was actually quite excited about seeing the octagon badge back on the front of a brand new car, even if it was – whisper it quietly – engineered and designed at the behest of the firm’s Chinese owners. Yes, I know that quite a bit of the development work for the new range of MGs was done in the West Midlands, but the result still – visually at least – feels more Peking Duck than Yorkshire Pudding.

I’d love to be able to let you know definitively if you should cancel that Ford Focus order after all and rush out and get a new MG, but the sales figures suggest that the worthy-but-bland range of hatches and saloons just isn’t doing for us Brits. The most stats reveal that just 384 of you treated yourselves to a new MG, and that’s the figure for the whole of the UK. Compared to this time last year, sales are down 44%.

While the MG6 and MG3 might divide opinion among the motoring press – and I have read lots of favourable reviews, so this isn't just about cheap MG bashing – for whatever reason they just aren't cutting it with the great British public. 

Where, chaps, is the successor to the MG TF? Abingdon’s most famous automotive export – for all the turbocharged Maestros and Metro rally cars – is about keeping it simple, dropping the top and enjoying the sunshine for not much outlay. China, as we know, is the world’s fastest emerging superpower and MG’s owner, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, is state-owned. Surely it has a few quid to chuck at designing a proper MG, which people might actually buy?

While I've no doubt the current range isn't THAT bad, MG deserves to do so much better. A brand that gets just about everyone nostalgic, a world that’s no longer too credit-crunched to buy into it and the state funding of an Asian superpower to make it happen.

A properly marketed, cheap, simple sports car is the MG we all want, but until then I'll have to contend myself with finally blagging my way into an MG6.

Watch this space…

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