From £8,6956
We test a Chinese-specification MG 3 to find out if it can really rival the likes of the Citroën DS3 and Fiat 500

Our Verdict

MG 3

MG Motor’s first supermini has price on its side, but what else?

  • First Drive

    MG EV concept UK first drive review

    MG’s brave foray into EV territory will be great if the price is right, as it’s a very accomplished vehicle
  • First Drive

    MG 3 UK first drive review

    Sharper and better mannered than you’d expect, and neatly styled. Noisy, dated engine lets it down, but it's good value for money
Jim Holder
30 April 2013

What is it?

The MG 3 supermini goes on sale in the UK this summer, billed by its makers as a Fiat 500 and Citroën DS3 rival off the back of its cute looks and talked up, but thus far unseen, styling packs that will be available for interior and exterior personalisation packages.

In particular, the interior customisations hold the most intrigue, since the car was unveiled at the recent Shanghai motor show without a visible interior in order to build anticipation.

As a result, we tested a Chinese spec car, powered by a version of the 1.5-litre petrol engine that will reach the UK, but in a different state of tune. Likewise, UK cars will get bespoke steering and suspension set-ups, honed during the car’s time under development in the UK.

This short run at MG’s test track in China was very much a familiarisation exercise, therefore, although it’s worth noting that the circuit was far from the billiard smooth venue favoured by some European manufacturers. 

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

Join the debate

Comments
31

30 April 2013

Also,

Autocar wrote:

  ... its minor sales successes with the MG 6...

i don't think the word success means what you think it means.

 

 

 

 

30 April 2013

Autocar wrote:  ... its minor sales successes with the MG 6...

Tuga wrote:

i don't think the word success means what you think it means.

+1

1 May 2013

According to howmanyleft.co.uk, by the end of 2012 only 629 MG6's had been registered. So all that money spent on BTCC is doing a fine job pushing sales.

As a side note there's still 9 6R4's on the road - or more likely on the special stage....

30 April 2013

I have only seen one MG6 and that was a garage owned car with 'MG' written all down the side. If the MG6 is supposed to be a sucess so far, then we won't see any of these MG3 either.

P.S. For 10-16k I would buy a euro box any day, they need to be cost effective like Dacia to have any hope of success.

Keep calm & stay happy Smile

30 April 2013

graingerblaze wrote:

I have only seen one MG6... they need to be cost effective like Dacia to have any hope of success.

I too have seen only one so far. Didn't look too bad though. And I strongly agree that the MG3 will need Dacia's pricing strategy to cut it in this fiercely fought sector where Polo's sales are corroding fast due to competition.

30 April 2013

fadyady wrote:

graingerblaze wrote:

I have only seen one MG6... they need to be cost effective like Dacia to have any hope of success.

I too have seen only one so far. Didn't look too bad though. And I strongly agree that the MG3 will need Dacia's pricing strategy to cut it in this fiercely fought sector where Polo's sales are corroding fast due to competition.

I've seen 1 on the M6, that makes them rarer than a Bugatti!

30 April 2013

@fadyady

Was it a grey lhd four door? I have seen one a few times on the A59, I have also seen it on the internet, whenever I have seen it, I think there is the MG.

1 May 2013

C2_Matt wrote:

fadyady wrote:

graingerblaze wrote:

I have only seen one MG6... they need to be cost effective like Dacia to have any hope of success.

I too have seen only one so far. Didn't look too bad though. And I strongly agree that the MG3 will need Dacia's pricing strategy to cut it in this fiercely fought sector where Polo's sales are corroding fast due to competition.

I've seen 1 on the M6, that makes them rarer than a Bugatti!

I wonder if you've all seen the same MG6! And you've seen one more than me!

Still, the Chinese are not going to go away. Expect to see numerous and better models from them over the coming years.

9 May 2013

Overdrive@

Who is this car aimed at?, Grannies?,Auntie's?,newly passed drivers?,at this end of the car market,giving vast customising options isn't goig to sell them, no,with just one weedy engine and a 5-speed box,three,three engine options,the one mentioned,then a 1.8 or 2.0ltr and an Eco version would have been better in the Western markets.I will be very surprised if it out sellsthe MG6 by much.

Peter Cavellini.

30 April 2013

But with:

  • Poorly resolved rear end styling
  • A clumsy alternate colour roof
  • Bland dash
  • Tiny wheels

I can't see it doing well against any of the established brands. Price and patriotism (even though it's Chinese) might be all it has going for it.

At least the front end looks decent. Hate to be negative about it, but it doesn't seem to stack up. I hope noce the packages are installed and it's been tuned it can at least be the Autocar version of a success.

------------------

Never wrestle with a pig. You'll only get muddy, and the pig will enjoy it.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK