The MG brand is tentatively - very tentatively - re-entering its "home" market by selling a new car in Britain. But that car is built, except for the very final assembly, in China by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), that nation's biggest automaker.
As such, SAIC's all-new MG6 probably represents the state of the art in terms of Chinese-controlled carmaking for the world stage.
Western automakers, commence worrying. The MG6 is neatly styled, and more than sanitary to drive. And unlike some other recent Chinese forays into Western markets, SAIC is confident of a strong result when the MG6 formally meets the EuroNCAP crash-test barriers - the European equivalent of the NHTSA's U.S. testing.
The MG6 is a compact hatchback sedan that slightly defies conventional segments, with a fastback tail that gives it more overall length than a Focus or Golf, with a bigger trunk.
Power comes from a 1.8-liter turbo four good for roughly 158 horsepower. That's slightly more than the heart of market engine options in the Focus/Golf class, at least in Europe. For now, it conspicuously lacks a diesel option, which will likely bar it from mass sales on the continent.
But if the new MG has aspirations of being a sporting brand as it was during the glory days, a 1.8 turbo isn't a bad place to start. Sadly, it has to be this particular 1.8 turbo. In an era of high-tech downsized engines fed by direct injection, this is something from years past. It does have dual VVT, but it lacks smoothness or much get-up-and-go. It's a decent puller in the middle rev ranges, but grows hoarse higher up, and doesn't feel like it makes the stated 8.4 seconds from 0-60 mph.
Fuel economy is way behind what's achievable with other turbocharged mills like the Mini Cooper
Countryman S's engine, or Volkswagen's TFSi units, or the 188 horsepower 1.6-liter in the Nissan
Juke. Nor does the MG field a six-speed transmission.