What's it like?
The overall impression is of a car with potential, much of which is currently unfulfilled in this Chinese spec.
The driving position is good, despite the steering wheel not adjusting for reach, and the cabin roomy. The seats are reasonably supportive, and the rear space generous for the class, as is the boot space. The dash and steering wheel do not feel cheap, but nor do they offer up anything beyond a rudimentary sense of workmanlike quality.
On the move the engine is refined at low revs, with disturbance only building up if you thrash it beyond 5000rpm. The performance is perky if not earth shattering, but comes at the cost of only poor economy and emissions figures for this size of car; stories of a new generation of impending three-cylinder Ecoboost-style engines can only be a good thing.
The five-speed gearbox is well-spaced, too, and the shift action decent. The test track’s two turns, both second gear sweepers, suggested that there was plenty of grip and little roll.
Overall stability was decent, and although the worst of the undulations did challenge the MG 3’s suspension, the set-up did allow for adequate control for what were large bumps at high speeds. Less convincing was the steering feel, which is too light and imprecise in this form.
Braking hard from around 70mph to 30mph suggested decent stopping power and good feel – a progression from when we first tested a Chinese-spec MG 3 around 18 months ago.
Should I buy one?
For now, it’s too early to say if you should buy one. In all likelihood the engine and chassis dynamics will look adequate against the opposition, with the key differentiator being how successful those personalisation options are, and how well priced the car is against its rivals.
Early indications suggest prices will start at around £10,000 and rise to £16,000.
MG promises three spec levels (named TS1, TS2 and TS3) with above-average levels of kit for the price.
If it gets that equation right – and its minor sales successes with the MG 6 thus far have largely been off the back of offering a compelling level of pricing - then MG could have a minor success story on its hands.
MG 3 1.5
Price From £10,000 (est); Top speed 113mph; 0-62mph 11.5sec; Economy 45.4mpg (combined); CO2 140g/km; Kerb weight 1165kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1498cc, petrol; Power 107bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 100lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual