Is the supermini able to offer quite as much bang for your buck in all-new hybrid form?

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MG may be making waves with its electric cars – the MG 4 EV in particular – but it isn’t one of those car makers that has already committed to a fully electric range. Mainly, it seems committed to delivering good value cars.

As a result, while some are reassessing whether small cars can be made profitably, MG is introducing a second generation of its MG 3 supermini. The old one had been around, in one form or another, since 2013 and went through two facelifts. By the end, it had become rather dated but still offered undeniable bang for your buck.

This new MG 3 is a clean-sheet design, the firm claiming that it has effectively skipped a generation, such is the progress compared with the old MG 3. It brings a new hybrid drivetrain, plenty of new modern tech and therefore also more cost, because even MG has profit margins to think about. Has it moved away from its USP, or found a way to offer even more for less money than its rivals?

The Range at a Glance

Models Power From
MG 3 tbc tbc
MG 3 Hybrid+ 192bhp £18,495

The MG 3 has been launched with just one powertrain option, the full hybrid tested here. It comes in two trim levels, SE and Trophy. MG has confirmed that a more affordable petrol option with a manual gearbox is on the way but hasn’t released any details yet. MG offers a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre four-cylinder with a five-speed gearbox and a turbocharged 1.0-litre triple with a six-speed gearbox in other models, so the MG 3 is likely to get a variation of one of those powertrains.



mg3 review 2024 dynamic 01

We are seeing quite a few ‘all-new’ cars that are effectively a thorough update of their predecessors’ fundamentals (the new Mini Cooper and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, for example). However, SAIC’s MG is still a relatively young company applying plenty of recent learnings to its new cars. As a result, the new MG 3 shares next to nothing with its predecessor. Some of the boilerplate stuff might sound similar (1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the back), but a lot of that is just standard supermini fare.

First off, it looks nothing like the old MG 3, although most testers reckoned it’s no improvement – the even longer front overhang, underwheeled stance and pinched face looking a bit awkward next to a Renault Clio. It has grown too, and the old MG 3 was already one of the larger cars in the supermini class. At 4113mm in length, it’s 173mm longer than a Toyota Yaris and 5mm longer than a Skoda Fabia. It’s also a bit wider across the mirrors than both of those rivals.

The new MG 3 owes very little of its mechanicals to the old one. MG doesn’t bandy platform names around but says that the new 3 shares this and that with the MG 5 and is quite closely related to the upcoming ZS replacement.

It has been launched exclusively as a full (or self-charging, as Toyota would call it) hybrid, which does put the price up significantly, but in order not to abandon its most budget-conscious clientele, a pure-petrol with a manual is in the works and should arrive in the next six to eight months. MG isn’t releasing any technical details of that just yet, but looking at the rest of the range, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder and a five-speed manual gearbox would be a safe bet.

The hybrid we are testing this week employs a drivetrain concept that is not entirely dissimilar to Toyota’s. The engine is a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre four-cylinder with the same capacity as the old MG 3’s. However, it has a different bore and stroke, and MG quotes a hard-to-believe compression ratio of 16.3:1. It also says the engine was heavily adapted for its hybrid application.

Like with Toyota hybrids, there is a main electric drive motor and a smaller motor-generator. It all drives through a planetary gearset, but whereas Toyota uses the smaller motor to make this arrangement function as a CVT, MG’s transmission has only three fixed ratios, while the electric drive motor uses just a single-speed reduction gear. The drive battery is quite a chunky 1.83kWh lithium ion unit (the Yaris’s has just 0.76kWh) under the rear seat.

Multimedia system

The 10.25in central touchscreen is familiar from other recent MG 3 products despite some detail and font differences. As a result, it’s not the prettiest, the most feature-filled, or the one with the most logical menu structures. The biggest misses are that the climate controls aren’t permanently displayed and that a number of features, such as the climate and the physical shortcut buttons, are disabled when using smartphone mirroring. You learn the system’s quirks and how to work around them, but it’s never a completely smooth experience.

Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto require you to connect your phone via the main USB-A port. There are a further two USB-A ports (one in the interior mirror and one by the rear seats) and a USB-C port, but those only work for power.

Even SE trim gets built-in navigation. It’s a fairly decent system, but not a patch on Google Maps or Waze for ease of use or traffic avoidance. The six-speaker audio system is nothing special but does the job.


mg3 review 2024 05 driving

Despite a nod to style with a tartan insert on the passenger-side dashboard, some diamond-pattern stitching on the seats and a hexagonal steering wheel, the interior of the MG 3 is overall quite plain. That’s fine, of course, for what is still a few-frills kind of car, but it is worth pointing out that other affordable small cars like the Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa and upper-echelon versions of the Dacia Sandero manage to be less forgettable thanks to some contrast fabrics and metal-effect trim and switches.

The latter is something the MG 3 doesn’t have a great deal of anyway, which does little for the design, and also makes the general user experience more annoying than it ought to be.Controls for the temperature and fan speed are displayed on the home screen but disappear when any other function is being used, while the (single-stage) heated seats and steering wheel can only be accessed through the climate control menu.

This can easily be called up with the physical button. However, when using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you first need to press the home button to return to the native interface for it to work. Having the physical buttons makes it all bearable but still needlessly involved.

There’s a digital gauge cluster in front of the driver and, much like the general user interface, it’s a slightly odd design, but one that can be made to work reasonably well. Part of it is permanently dedicated to the assisted driving display, which does the job of telling you that there are cars around you worse than the windows do.

digital speedo is nice and clear, and the right side of the screen can scroll between trip information, a small tacho/power flow graphic, and more. We did miss a power gauge that tells you how much throttle you can use before the engine will kick in, and how much braking you can use before tipping into the friction brakes.

Despite being on the larger end of the supermini class, the MG 3 offers only about average interior space. Rear passengers enjoy more leg room than the very tight Yaris offers but less than in the spacious Fabia. Rear head room is quite poor, however. The head restraints will be of no use to taller occupants, who will hit their heads on the sloping roofliner. Folding down the rear seatback (it’s only one-piece in our early-build test car, but a 60/40-split option is imminent) leaves a step.

Oddment storage in the front is much more generous, with plenty of cupholders, bins and trays of various sizes. They are all hard plastic, though, so objects tend to scratch around in them.


mg3 review 2024 25 engine bay

It’s not unusual for cars to better their quoted acceleration times by a little when we test them, but rarely do they beat them by this margin. MG quotes 8.0sec for the 3’s 0-62mph sprint. That’s already significantly quicker than the hybrid versions of the Renault Clio (9.3sec), Toyota Yaris (9.7sec in basic form), Honda Jazz (9.6sec) or Vauxhall Corsa (10.7sec in basic form). In perfect test conditions, the MG 3 took just 7.1sec, and it didn’t run out of puff after that, either, storming on past its official top speed to 110mph.

However, because it has much more electric power than rivals but only a three-speed gearbox (and a slow-shifting one at that), the way it delivers its power is quite unusual. It gets going fairly gently on its electric motor, but receives a second wind soon after, as the petrol engine enters its powerband in the very long first gear. From about 65mph, acceleration dies off markedly as the gearbox makes its first very slow gearchange and the electric motor has to hold the fort by itself. As a result, 60-70mph takes over a second longer than 50-60mph. 

Acceleration picks up again from 72mph until about 85mph, at which point we presume the electric motor is past its useful rev range and the engine needs to cope with less assistance. The MG 3 keeps accelerating after that, just at a gentler pace. Similarly to the Lexus LBX we tested a few weeks ago, subsequent acceleration runs were slower, particularly during the gearchange phase, as the battery didn’t get much of a chance to recharge.

As with Renault’s E-Tech hybrid system, while it gets a bit ragged and confused on the test track, you notice little of the technical weirdness when you just use the MG 3 in its natural habitat. Because the battery is so large compared with rivals’ and the electric motor is so powerful, it generally feels relaxed, with a good amount of power in reserve. Once the engine is warmed up, it’s also mostly quiet and refined.

When you ask for lots of performance, it produces a slightly strained four-cylinder noise, but that’s par for the course and can usually be avoided quite easily.You do get the feeling that MG has thrown plenty of hardware at the 3, but rivals use their more modest components more cleverly. Given the battery is about twice as big as the Yaris’s, you would expect it to be able to drive on electric power much more, but that isn’t the case.

Braking is through a conventional blended hydraulic system, with discs front and rear. Pedal feel is mostly decent and allows smooth stops but does get mushy in an emergency stop. A little over 49m to stop from 70mph is a touch longer than other superminis in the dry, but not problematically so. The MG 3 has quite strong regenerative braking, which can be adjusted in three settings. However, progression leaves something to be desired in the stronger settings, and every time you turn the car off, it resets to the middle setting, which is needlessly annoying. There’s also no coasting mode.


mg3 review 2024 27 front cornering

Whether an MG will have any handling chops seems to be a lottery. We liked the original MG 3 when it was launched, but it became stiff-legged and numb as time went on. The MG 5 EV and ZS are mostly lacklustre, but the MG 4 proved a very pleasant surprise.

The MG 3 sits somewhere in the middle. You would never call it fun to drive, but there’s also nothing especially objectionable about how it goes down the road. It’s very softly sprung and rolls around a fair bit, but not in a way that feels uncontrolled or wallowy.

In its normal mode, the steering is intuitively geared and weighted, with fairly strong self-centring but no feedback to speak of. The Kumho Solus tyres rather lazily translate steering inputs into direction changes, and grip is at a premium in the wet. Given its very nose-heavy weight distribution (64% front, 36% rear), it’s no surprise that the MG 3 readily washes into understeer.

The safe balance, combined with well-tuned stability control that can’t be completely switched off, means that the MG 3 never misbehaves, even with provocation.

Comfort & Isolation

For all its tepid handling, the MG 3 does have a remarkably supple ride for a supermini. It flows over choppy roads with ease, and while its cheap dampers can’t completely smother poorly repaired surfaces, even those are rarely intrusive. Noise isolation is fairly typical for the class, if short of the best. In terms of dynamic comfort, the MG 3 is easily one of the most comfortable small cars you can buy.

Seat comfort will depend more on the individual sitting in them, because the MG 3 is one of very few modern cars to lack reach adjustment on the steering column. As a result, our testers’ assessments of the driving position varied from absolutely fine to quite poor. Most will find it compromised but bearable, with taller drivers generally at a disadvantage.

The saving graces for the long-legged are that there is a good amount of leg room in the front and that the natural angle of the seat cushion is fairly acute, giving decent under-thigh support. The seats further lack lumbar support, even on the more expensive Trophy trim, like our test car.

Finally, visibility could be better. It has the short bonnet and expansive dashboard that used to be typical of superminis, making it a little hard to judge the car’s front extremities. Meanwhile, bulky rear headrests and a strongly sloping roofline conspire to shrink the rear windscreen, creating some moderately obstructive blindspots.



With pricing from £18,495 for the SE and £20,495 for the Trophy (the only options are paint colours), the MG 3 hybrid is more expensive than the old one was. Of course, it’s a much more complete car, and the hybrid system doesn’t come for free. In the grand scheme of modern new cars, this is still very affordable.

MG hopes to steal sales from the likes of the Renault Clio and Toyota Yaris, rather than just the other bargain-basement options. In that respect, it’s cleverly priced. For the same cash as a petrol, manual Clio or Vauxhall Corsa, you get a hybrid, automatic MG 3. MGs tend to hold their value well, so the PCP deals are even more enticing. There’s a seven-year warranty, although it lasts for only 80,000 miles.

So if someone is cross- shopping this hybrid MG 3 with conventional petrol rivals, surely the fuel-efficient powertrain is a major benefit? That’s where the mathematics get trickier, because the MG 3 hybrid is not as economical as you might hope. Over a week with the car, which did include performance testing, it returned 48.2mpg (although the trip computer claimed 52.3mpg). Even during gentler motoring, it never managed 60mpg, which you might well see from a Yaris or Clio hybrid. You will still notice an improvement over petrol-powered rivals around town, however.


mg 3 2024 jh 15

When Renault facelifted the Clio, it planned to offer only the hybrid version in Britain, just like Toyota does with the Yaris and Honda with the Jazz. Of course, that drives up the price, and because of the demand for affordable cars, Renault ultimately decided to row back. With the new 3, MG is saying: why not both?

While it’s not as cheap as the old one, the MG 3 offers the promise of hybrid running costs and convenience at the price of a standard petrol supermini, naturally with plenty of standard equipment.At the same time, it still lacks the sophistication of some rivals, and loses stars for its design compromises, poor tech and fuel economy that doesn’t quite live up to the promises. So to turn the situation on its head: if you don’t need warm-hatch performance and don’t mind shifting your own gears, you could have a Clio or Fabia that’s more polished overall.

It’s still an appealing offer, and the new MG 3 is strong enough in most of the key areas, with no deal-breaking vices, to be well worth considering, particularly if you like your small car comfortable and easygoing rather than sporty.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.