16 February 2011

Test Drive - MSC MG Metro 6R4 review

Here's the start of a new section for this blog. The first guest for this Test Drive will be a long awaited release of mine: the MSC Competition MG Metro 6R4!

I have to be honest, before I start this... I love Group B cars. And I also love THIS Group B car (although not the only one). The reasons for this are not obvious: the car was not the top performer in the scene. It was also plagued with embarrassing faults. But still, it had the crazy looks most easily associated with the "pocket-rocket" image that Group B cars had. And... no turbo!? What? But relax: both chassis and powerplant have Williams Grand Prix Engineering hand on it!

The MG Metro 6R4 is based on the Austin-Rover Metro... but let's say that "based" is a bit over the top... let's say that "the car looked like the Austin-Rover Metro"! The "6R4" reference is quite straightforward: 6 cylinders, Rally car, 4 wheel drive...

This beast was released in 1985 and managed a 3rd place on its first outing, by the hands of Tony Pond in the Lombard RAC Rally. In 1986 it entered 4 rounds (Monte Carlo, Sweden, Portugal and Corsica) and retired after the Group B ban. Results were not so good, given to poor reliability that prevented the Metros to finish any rally in 1986...

Still, the car had some success in the hands of privateers and also found its place in Autocross events. Plus, most of its spare parts, specially engines, were used by Tom Walkinshaw as base for the Jaguar XJ220, only this time a turbocharger kicked in the 3.0 V6.

MSC Competition already made a name as a parts supplier. More recently, taking the versatile Monte Carlo chassis as base, it decided to launch two Group B cars, the Ford RS 200 (another must-have) and this MG Metro. The external looks are impressive! The car appears to be correctly in-scale and details are plenty. Painting is also 10/10.

Amazing little bugger, isn't it?

Another great aspect of this is the use of real rubber in the bodywork! This is found almost everywhere: under the front spoiler, by the large sidepods and behind wheel arches!

Cracking the nut open, we can see the modular Monte Carlo chassis with the fixed blade support and inline motor. Replacing parts are available, but even the "short" version of the tilting blade support won't fit, so we'll have to stick to the original. Still, it's a Ninco style spring blade, which is not that bad at all for rallying. The MSC motor drives the rear wheels through the typical pinion/crown system, and front traction is achieved by single pulleys on each axle, with a very loose feel. Not an issue for clean track rallies, but for very dirty events, it's better to fit 2 pulleys per axle...

The original interior seems very light, almost as an usual lexan tray, but with great detail.

Although small, it's not a very light car. The scale accused a total weight exceeding 80g, divided as below:

I assure you the paint pot is not adding weight! It was zeroed before weighting the chassis. This is only to prevent any magnetic interference on the scale...

The real fun begins with the track tests. Tested in Ninco environment, this car is surely one of the best ever "out-of-the-box" cars I ever drove lately... and a smile on the face is inevitable as you see that the price you paid gave a nice return! The stock gear ratio is 10/28, may seem loose at first, specially as this motor seems to lack braking power. However, after you get used to it, it's amazing how the car curves so fast, just with a bit of loosening on the body fixing screws! Stock tires may seem hard at first, will need some running-in...

After some laps, I decided to do simple mods: replaced front tires for Slot.Its 17x10 Z0, replaced rear wheels by Slot.It 15.9x8mm aluminium wheels with MSC 18x10 G1 slick tires. The blade guide was sharpened a bit and the paper covering the motor was cut open to allow proper "breathing". I replaced the original screws for the smaller SCX Pro screws, but even so, there's some "clicking" remaining in the body roll. A slight loosening of the rear and front axle chassis screws, oiling up, and here we go again!

I can say the car improved a lot, but even so, some strange roll-overs occur which I could trace back to the rubber underside of the front spoiler. Here's the evidence on the rubber's wear in the corners:

Maybe only varnishing it?

Still, the car is dead fast around corners! Not the smoothest ride, though - I already nicknamed mine as the "atomic ant"!

Here ends the Test Drive, but I can assure you I intend to run this car as much as I can! It's a real treat and now I look forward to get my hands on the Ford RS 200 "cousin" - but will wait for the 1986 Swedish rally livery.


  1. Congratulation Hugo.

    A great test about your "atomic ant". Its an amazing car....
    ...in portuguese, "que bomba"....

  2. Amazing little ant... :)

    Thanks, Mota!

  3. Great review. Many thanks. I've been looking for a classic rally car to add to my collection and this may be it. I need it in white kit form though.