Confessions first. I have a soft spot for the MG brand.

once owned an MG – not a classic, two-seat, chrome-splashed sports car from any of half a dozen decades from the 20th century, mind you. Mine was a 1980s MG Maestro. And I loved it.

It didn’t have much to do with the MG marque, apart from the octagonal badge on the bonnet, but it was a thoroughly reliable, spacious and useful family hatchback. And coupled with a fuel-injected 2.0-litre engine, it was also pretty lively.

Those same attributes are firmly embedded in the four-door, five-seater MG6 Magnette.

Of course it is a crying shame that the MG brand was allowed to slip out of British hands and into the ownership of the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, the largest automotive company in China, but you can’t argue with the job that has been done.

British-designed, Chinese-built and finished off in Birmingham, where 300 people are employed, the MG6 Magnette is a surprisingly good car, paying homage to driving enjoyment like its cars of old but underpinned with value.

With prices starting at about £16,000, it’s certainly attractive on a number of fronts.

Exterior design is modern, with a barrel-sided effect last seen on the Rover 75 which helps the strong stance. Inside there is plenty space, a conventional dashboard with clear instruments and a centre stack carrying all major controls.

Crucially, build quality looks and feels sound and on top, standard equipment is impressive.The top-specification TSE test car was loaded with goodies from satellite navigation and climate control to a Bluetooth phone link, reversing camera and electric sunroof.

The 1.8-litre, turbocharged petrol engine might not be the most economical unit on the market, but matched to a five-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels, the 158 horsepower on tap are perfectly in keeping with the sporting edge to the MG brand.

The Magnette fizzes into life on twisting country roads where responsive steering and suspension combine to deliver a poise and accuracy not expected from a four-door saloon.

MG says that car clinics have revealed that the MG6 Magnette will appeal to the executive and company car drivers as well as private buyers who do not need the extra carrying capability of the GT fastback. Spacious, fun to drive and with a high specification, the MG6 has to be worth a look.

You could argue that the earliest MGs were a pretty successful attempt to add a bit of zest to fairly ordinary cars. In that sense the MG tradition lives on.

Auto facts MG6 Magnette TSE

  • Price: £19,995
  • Insurance group: 14E (1-50)
  • Fuel consumption (Combined): 35.6mpg
  • Top speed: 120mph
  • Length: 465cm/183in
  • Width: 200cm/79in
  • Luggage capacity: 17.5 cu ft
  • Fuel tank capacity: 13.6 gallons/62 litres
  • CO2 emissions: 184g/km
  • Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles