By Adrian J Clark
As an MG6 owner, I feel that I am somebody that MG should be targeting for future custom.
OK, I didn’t buy new. (so how can they target you as a customer, one asks – Ed) That’s because it was out of my price range when it was new, but is that the case with other MG enthusiasts?
I’m relatively young and broke, however I’d say that most MG fans are older and can afford new cars with relative ease. So why wasn’t the MG6 a success? “Marketing” I here you say. But MG enthusiasts knew about the MG6, and had the cash to buy one. Some did, of course, but not enough. Was it because the car wasn’t special enough? Maybe.
As an owner, and previous MGR customer, I can confirm that the MG6 drives like I’d expect an MG to drive. If I’d have been a ZS 180 or ZT 190 customer I’d feel a bit cheated though I reckon. As it was the 120 flavour of ZS I owned, the extra performance of the MG6 was welcome. Though the MG6 isn’t quite as agile as the ZS is, the handling and grip are still strong. Having said that, a performance car it isn’t. Maybe that hampered sales with enthusiasts? One thing with MGR products was the options too, something lacking with every MG Motor UK product. Automatic transmission is a big thing, and one I’m surprised that wasn’t offered. Especially when you consider you can buy an automatic 3 and 6 in every other market but ours.
So that’s a huge portion of potential buyers alienated. No automatic option, no performance option, and (in the case of the 6) no personalisation options; which as has been covered, a lot of owners like stick on tat.
So what about the younger generation? I was 32 when I bought my
6, and at around the same time as me there were several others
around my age who took the plunge on a used example. The price was finally right and meant it was obtainable for the first time for many. Initial used examples in 2012/early 2013 were still being offered for too much money from the official channels.
When I bought mine in the October of 2013, prices had dropped to a more realistic level. Had the MG6 been cheaper brand new to start with then more enthusiasts would have took the plunge, even with the lack of options previously discussed.
The S model (of which mine is one) really should have had a headline grabbing price. It comes with just enough gadgets to be acceptable (electric Windows all round, air-con) but not enough to get excited over. It didn’t sell well; most buyers went for the SE or top of the range TSE. If they’d have sold the S for a headline figure of, say, £10,995 then it would have generated interest for the whole range. Not just from enthusiasts, but from the general public too. More column inches would have been given to a large car with a British badge and a cheap price. Which is handy, as MG didn’t really shout out about the cars existence. As it was, the fact that MG asked so much for it, coupled with the lack of options and no marketing meant pitiful sales.
So, back to the question of whom MG should market their cars to. The enthusiasts of the new era MGs seem blinded to facts and deaf to any naysayers. They truly believe that their cars are better than anything else out there, and wonder why more people haven’t cottoned on to that fact. Plus most of them are socially awkward. If you want proof of this then go to any major MG/firm show and speak to one. Or alternatively just browse certain forums or Facebook groups. I’m actually embarrassed to be grouped with some of these people thanks to the car I own.
Let me make a confession; I was one of these people. I’d argue with you that my car was better than your Focus. I’d tell you that It’ll “all be better when the diesel/facelift/saloon arrives”. I’d try and convince you that in 5 years time MG would be a major global player. These days I’m more inclined to tell you that in 5 years time there most probably won’t even be an MG badge, particularly in this country anyway. Maybe even globally. Look at the Chinese sales vs Roewe sales.
I still do rate my MG6 highly, and from time to time I will defend the model when it’s criticised, but I’ve come to my senses. You see, there’s only so much bullshit that you can take in before you start to question it. Matthew Cheyne is full of it. I was at a meeting in early 2014 at Longbridge. This was a meeting designed by the new head of marketing (Cheyne) and head of PR (Keith Harris – no Orville with him) to try and silence the growing concerns of the enthusiast community. There was a bright future ahead, we were told. The forthcoming SUV (what became the GS) would have a “simultaneous launch” in China and the U.K. in 2016. U.K production was a possibility, and there was an MG5 coupé in the product plan. Parts back-up and aftersales care were being looked at and improved too.
Let’s cut through the bullshit then, which was basically all of it. The GS came out in China later that year. We still had to wait until 2016 (by which time MG had missed the boat). As ever, it was launched with just one engine whereas in China they get options. At least it comes with a choice of transmissions this time, but only if you pay your monies and go top spec (too much bloody money). So far it’s not doing particularly well. I won’t go into the reasons why that might be, I’ve already covered it. Here’s the big one though, U.K. Production. We all know what happened there. I’m surprised that much of the site is still standing and not a new Asda yet. The MG5 coupé was basically an MG5 saloon with an ugly back end and no chance of getting any sales here, so they made the right decision and didn’t bother. Parts and aftersales care are still apparently dire. I can’t speak from experience as I’ve never had any need for parts yet, and have always had a great experience with the aftersales team at the MG Sales centre. (NOTE – After writing a window regulator was needed and took 2 months)
So, after all of this there are still some hardcore fans who will defend the products and the company to the hilt but It seems that MGUK are no longer targeting the enthusiasts anymore. This is the right thing to do. All MG are good for now is for trying to sell Chinese cars as cheaply as they can, build up dealers and a new fan base. So far they’ve failed at any of it, but it could still be done. MG quickly learned that enthusiasts don’t buy many new cars. Particularly when they are as pricey as the MG6 was at launch. The MG3 was and still is a minor hit. Some enthusiasts took the plunge, but I’d wager most sales are from ordinary punters who were attracted by the price. I know somebody who recently bought an MG3 for its value, and even I who adored the MG6 only have one on my drive thanks to its depreciation making it cheap. It made no sense brand new. The MG3 was a step in the right direction, but with the GS they’re making exactly the same mistakes as they did with the MG6.
Hope rests with the new small SUV, the XS. Cheyne would have you believe that it will be called something different over here, but I can’t see that myself. Price and advertising will be the key. Annoyingly, I think it looks rather good. But I won’t be buying one. I’ve heard enough bullshit and have had enough of MG. there will come a day when there’ll be no enthusiasts left. MG need to hope that by then enough normal people buy their products.
I SHOULD be the ideal target customer. I’m youngish, have a family, I own one of their products already, and am a previous MGR customer. But I won’t succumb to MG ownership again. So, can the public at large be convinced into buying a failed brand who some still don’t know exist? Over to you, Cheyne.
NOTE – After this piece was written, numerous failed attempts to sell his MG 6 have ensued. It remains in his ownership suffering continued book-drops until someone takes it off his hands.