A new MG car has rolled off the production line at Longbridge heralding what the company hopes will be a new era of manufacturing, six years after thousands of jobs were shed when the Birmingham factory closed.

The first car off the line - a red MG6 - was driven by the plant's only female factory worker, Lisa Ponter.

Some of the factory's 400 workers gathered to watch the car as it emerged from production amid clouds of dry ice and bursts of coloured foil confetti.

MG, now owned by Chinese car company SAIC, is describing the new vehicle as the first all-new MG for 16 years.

The Longbridge plant closed six years ago to the week, leading to the loss of 6,500 jobs.

Miss Ponter, who was one of those who lost her job, said she did not hesitate to return when production at the site resumed.

She said: "It's very exciting, it is great to see cars coming off the line again. It's been too long and hopefully more people will be employed here.

"We've had our down times when we thought it was never going to happen because we've been here a while but we have just been working hard to get to this day and it has finally arrived.

"I think it's a sign that things are on the up for the car industry."

Speaking about her role driving the car off the production line she added: "It was very nerve wracking. I was shaking to start with, hoping everything went to plan, which it did.

"And there we have it - the car came out on time and in the right place."

It is expected that the 1.8-litre MG6 will compete with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.

Some of the production of the MG6 will be in China, with the engine and electrics, as well as the testing, at Longbridge.

Prices for the four-door car are expected to start at around £15,500, going up to about £19,000.

The MG6 is a welcome boost to the UK car industry after it was badly hit by the recession at the end of the last decade.

Production and sales dipped alarmingly at the beginning of 2009 before rallying on the back of the Labour government's car-scrappage scheme.

Craig Osman, manufacturing manager at the Longbridge plant, said: "This has been a very exciting time. This is the first all-new product out of this plant for 16 years.

"Everybody has been involved in this project from start to finish so to get the first customer car off the line is very exciting.

"The economic climate has been tough in the West Midlands in general over the last couple of years.

"We've got an exciting product, it's fresh to the market and hopefully the public will back us and buy the product.

"So hopefully this is a new start for the Longbridge plant and hopefully the West Midlands."