All-new platform underpins Chinese market car that will become the MG3

Our Verdict

Roewe E50 city car

This small electric Chinese supermini is ready to take on competition from Europe

  • First Drive

    Roewe 350

    All-new platform underpins Chinese market car that will become the MG3
10 April 2010

What is it?

The Roewe 350 won't be formally launched until the Bejing motor show later this month, but already it has been confirmed a hatchback version will be on sale in the UK this time next year, badged as an MG and part assembled at the MG Birmingham plant in Longbridge.

As with the MG6, a development model of which we recently drove and found to be borderline best-in-class to drive, the Roewe 350 is based on an all-new platform. Its set-up has been tuned by the SAIC technical offshoot in the UK.

What's it like?

MG6 first drive - exclusive

There are some similarities in appearance to the 550/MG6, although it's hard to call the 350 stylish. Inside it is a cut above the 550/MG6, although there's still a fairly basic use of leather and silver trim detailing. The switchgear shows some flair and the interior materials are of a high standard.

Visibility is good, particularly up front thanks to small A-pillars that give the cabin an airy appearance. It's spacious too, particularly in the rear.

The 1.5-litre engine, however, is a disappointment. Part of the new NSE family of engines being produced by SAIC, it only meets Euro 4 emissions standards and will need modifications to reach Euro 5, meaning UK buyers won¹t be buying it in this spec. Instead, a 1.5-litre turbocharged unit will be added to the Roewe 350 line-up, with a new 1.3-litre unit expected to feature in the MG range.

With just 107bhp and 100lb ft of torque, the unit in our test car lacked grunt and needed to be worked hard, with power only coming in strongly above a raucous 3000rpm. It¹s not that frugal either, averaging 37.6mpg, although both wind and road noise are well suppressed. Part of that is down to the four-speed auto gearbox which does, at least, make smooth changes.

More positive is the ride and handling. The 350 rides smoothly in town and out on the motorway, but is firm enough to be reasonably fun on twisty roads.

The handling isn't sporty, with a deliberate emphasis on comfort, but the steering offers a reasonable amount of feel. However, it is let down by a very soft brake set up that does nothing to inspire confidence.

Should I buy one?

See the Roewe 350 pictures

In the Chinese market this is a good car, if not class-leading one. In Europe that's unlikely to be enough, but it's worth remembering, though, that there will be significant changes before it goes on sale as an MG - and that's why we're reserving final judgement.

Zhang Zhengchao

Pictures by Yang Kuan

Join the debate

Comments
31

15 April 2010

So the back end is an exact copy of the Kia Forte (N.American model) which itself was a blatant rip off from the Civic Saloon (JDM and N.A). A 1.5 with a 4 speed auto in a car that size sounds painful - I hope they're intelligent enough not to offer any option anything like it when they start selling it in the UK!

15 April 2010

I like this. The dash is neatly designed with some nice features. I dare say they're showing the top model here.

Some of the plastics look a bit shiney but this is the sort of stuff that should get sorted when these sort of cars are built for Yerp.

The badge design looks looks like something you'd find in a pound shop.

Styling looks neat enough. The equal of the Passat, Insignia etc.

15 April 2010

[quote Autocar]The switchgear shows some flair and the interior materials are of a high standard.[/quote]

[quote Autocar]Interior is stylish and shows some flair, but materials are basic[/quote]

Is that a basic high standard or a high standard, basically?

Where has all Japanese design went to?

15 April 2010

I'm confused as to the size of these models - when you drove the 550/MG6 it was pitched against the Focus, I'm assuming a 350/MG3 would be smaller given the name, but this looks to be a similar size to a Focus also. Are the new MG models (and maybe Chinese market norms) different in terms of size to European norms, with this MG3 being slightly less than Focus and the MG6 being slightly above?

15 April 2010

[quote jd28]

I'm confused as to the size of these models - when you drove the 550/MG6 it was pitched against the Focus, I'm assuming a 350/MG3 would be smaller given the name, but this looks to be a similar size to a Focus also. Are the new MG models (and maybe Chinese market norms) different in terms of size to European norms, with this MG3 being slightly less than Focus and the MG6 being slightly above?

[/quote]Not very inspiring and not something I'd like to see in the UK.

15 April 2010

Roewe, a made up name to replace and sound like Rover after Ford bought the Rover name for £15 million to stop the Chinese from using it to get a head start in selling cars in Europe.

Ford then sold Volvo, a more established and useful brand, to the Chinese as they needed the cash....

15 April 2010

[In Europe that's unlikely to be enough, but it's worth remembering, though, that there will be significant changes before it goes on sale as an MG - and that's why we're reserving final judgement]

Difficult to see how this could become an attractive, or even relevant, car, unless the "significant changes" actually involve making it a different car altogether .... maybe someone could launch a facebook-group against calling this car an MG ....

Faustcar

15 April 2010

[quote saintly78]

Roewe, a made up name to replace and sound like Rover after Ford bought the Rover name for £15 million to stop the Chinese from using it to get a head start in selling cars in Europe.

Ford then sold Volvo, a more established and useful brand, to the Chinese as they needed the cash....

[/quote]I thought the Rover name was sold to Tata with Jaguar Land Rover as the point was that it would prevent SUV's being made under the Rover name which would be a confusion with Range and Land Rover.

As far as this new MG3 goes, it is a replacement for the old MG ZR (Rover 200/25) so it rivals fiesta's/cora's etc.. What may throw people off is that the picture is of a saloon which is popular in China and I guess a normal hatch version will come over here.

I do find the Chinese translation for MG very funny. The call it Modern Gentleman.

15 April 2010

Don't you find it funny how every time a car wearing an MG badge is born, it's instantly a class-leader, but then this opinion soon tarnishes as we discover how bad it really is!

15 April 2010

[quote tim1781]

Don't you find it funny how every time a car wearing an MG badge is born, it's instantly a class-leader, but then this opinion soon tarnishes as we discover how bad it really is!

[/quote]how do you know how bad it is?? you haven't even seen it.

in fact the mg version has never been seen. as far as i am aware it's not due until next year.

the old z-series cars were pretty good considering what they had to work with ,having said that the 75 was a good car anyway.

you have to remember this is a completly new company with different priorities of which the uk is not top of thier list. china and the asian market are there main sales area ,as the article says its very good for a chinese built car (albeit like the mg6 british designed.)

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run