The MG3 is a more heavily stylised than the Chinese version of the car, drawing more extensively on the looks of the critically acclaimed MG Zero concept on which it is based.
"It was important to us that the design shone through," said MG UK sales and marketing boss Guy Jones. "We plan to fight for sales with the likes if the Vauxhall Adam, Citroen DS3 and Mini." As a result of this, buyers will be offered "substantial" interior and exterior customisation options.
Jones declined to give an indication of price for the car, saying it was still being set, but insiders suggest it will start from around £10,000 and rise to £16,000.
It will be sold as a five door, and only with the firm's 104bhp, four cylinder petrol engine and five-speed manual initially. There will be three trim levels: TS1, TS2 and TS3.
"The share of sales for diesels of autos is small, so we see no rush to go there," said Jones, who confirmed the higher two trim levels wil be generously equipped compared to its rivals, as with the MG6.
The car in display in Shanghai does not have a visible interior, however. MG insiders have confirmed it will feature a more upmarket look than the cabin fitted in the Chinese market car.