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by Daniel DeGasperi

Iconic British brand, and now Chinese-owned MG has relaunched in Australia with the MG 6 small sedan and liftback.

Priced from $22,990 plus on-road costs, the MG 6 gets a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 118kW of power at 5500rpm and 215Nm of torque from 1750-4500rpm, mated exclusively to a five-speed manual transmission.

The MG 6 is available in three grades, each of which available as an MG 6 GT five-door or MG 6 Magnette four-door sedan.

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The entry-level Standard includes dual front, side and curtain airbags; electronic stability control; 17-inch alloy wheels with space-saver spare tyre; front fog lights; remote central locking with alarm;  trip computer; cloth trim; manually-adjustable driver’s seat; height- and tilt-adjustable steering wheel;  air conditioning; power windows; and an eight-speaker audio with CD player and USB input.

The middle-grade $24,990 Comfort adds a tyre pressure monitor; leather steering wheel; cruise control; reverse parking sensors; and a tilt and slide sunroof.

The flagship $27,990 Luxury, meanwhile, includes leather trim; electrically adjustable front seats (six-way driver/four-way passenger) with heating; dual-zone climate control; automatic lights and wipers; electro-chromatic rear-view mirror; and a rear-view camera.

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Although built in Nanjing, China, MG claims the MG 6 is the “outcome of our research centre in Britain” and designed to “European standards”.

Tagged as a mid-sized car, the 4.65m long sedan stretches 71mm further than a Mazda 3 sedan. At 1.83m it is 72mm wider, but at 1.47m only 2mm taller than the similarly-priced Japanese rival.

MG claims 0-100km/h in 8.4 seconds and 7.5L/100km combined consumption from the MG 6 GT and Magnette, which weigh 1485-1495kg – 193kg more than the Mazda 3.

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The MG 6 launched in Britain in mid-2011, where it is now assembled in Longbridge from parts made in China. It is related to the Roewe 550 not available in Australia, and certain chassis parts trace their roots back to the 2001-2005 MG ZS.

Director of MG Australia, Amanda Han, says the company – owned by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) – has been preparing its local introduction since 2009.

“We will put our best resoureces in this project,” said Han at the MG media preview.

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She also thanked MG Car Club members from around Australia, who were present at the media preview, for their “never-ending love of MG”.

While admitting that with almost 70 brands competing in the marketplace the Australian automotive landscape is one of the fiercest in the world, and acknowledging cut-price Chinese competitors Great Wall and Chery, Han believes the British brand still resonates with Australians.

Unfortunately, the media preview cars – drives will take place from early next week – suffered from similar interior issues as Chery and Great Wall models, with sub-standard plastics quality and fit and finish. The entry-level car also felt more basic than a cheaper Mazda 3 Neo.

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MG Australia will start with a small band of dealers – including a flagship outlet on Parramatta Road in Sydney – and roll out automatic transmission availability and the launch of the MG 3 small car late this year.

A small SUV is also confirmed to join the line-up in 2014.

There was no talk of sales expectations at the media preview. The MG 6 is officially on sale today.




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