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MG6: part Audi, part Korean hire car

The 'new' MG is a car doing its best to be the very model of a modern Sino-British sports saloon

Let's be clear. This is not an MG that many, if any of us, will recognise. The "new" MG6 is a rebadged Roewe 550, a British-engineered car that made its debut at the 2008 Beijing Motor Show. Although styled by a British designer – Tony Williams-Kenny, formerly with the Japanese car maker, Mitsubishi – the Roewe is manufactured by SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation), the state-owned Chinese company that took over the Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation that bought out MG Rover in 2005.

Confused? You will be when you see the MG6, a car doing its best to be the very model of a modern Sino-British sports saloon. Even then, the MG – assembled at Longbridge from body shells, engines and gearboxes shipped from the People's Republic – has something of the look of a new German Audi crossed with a Korean airport rental car. Only the time-honoured octagonal MG badge prominent on the car's nose and in the centre of its steering wheel suggests that this is, somehow, a distant relation of the quintissentially British cars once made at Abingdon and Longbridge. Perhaps, it doesn't matter. The original MG vanished a long time ago, although fans of the marque remain as die-hard as ever. Now spring is here, just look how many MGBs with their crisp Anglo-Italian styling (a bit of Frua, a lot of Don Hayter) and distinctive hollow exhaust note are out on the roads. The rebadged SAIC Roewe 550 with its global looks and hard, drab interior does at least offer engineering jobs in the West Midlands and there will be many there who will back the car to the hilt.

The MG6 brochure says: "In every detail you'll find a fond nod to MG's glory days – Le Mans, Goodwood, land speed records and true British sporting endeavour." You won't, yet if the car succeeds, might worthy successors to fondly remembered sporting machines from Abingdon be on the cards? Who knows, but as the old Chinese proverb says, you must persevere to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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