From £8,6956
Sharper and better mannered than you’d expect, and neatly styled. Noisy, dated engine lets it down, but it's good value for money

Our Verdict

MG 3

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

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    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
Richard Bremner Autocar
4 September 2013

What is it?

MG Motor hopes that its MG 3 hatchback will change the company's fortunes, despite the fact that the formula underpinning its creation is much the same as the MG6’s.

The MG 6 has admittedly missed by a mile, selling in numbers small enough to shock even MG Rover in its dying days, and its price-to-desirability ratio isn’t remotely strong enough to tempt — despite its roomy cabin and sharp handling. Its impact has been so minor that many buyers have no idea that MG is still alive, but the new MG 3 may change that.

The new hatch is a little bigger than average for the segment, however it's as conceptually and mechanically conventional as a 9-5 job. It presents a mildly sporting overlay with its MG badging and a chassis lightly tuned to suit. And many might be surprised to hear that it has been designed and engineered in Britain for MG’s Chinese owner, and is even part-assembled here.

But there’s one big difference, and it’s a change that might just shift MG’s bruised British fortunes - its price. This five-door, five-seat, five-speed, 1.5 litre supermini starts at £8399.

More impressively, it finishes at £9999 for the top-of-the-range MG 3 Style. Even if you order every option, roof-box included, it’s not possible to spend more than £12,000 on this car. And in three out of its four trim levels it comes pretty decently equipped, and with appealing detail features like a coverable dashtop sat-nav mount.

Apart from competing in the market’s biggest segment, MG Motor is hoping that its MG 3 might divert some buyers from doing their Dacia maths to take an inquiring look. MG is also targeting Skoda Fabia owners, and those who like dressing up Citroën DS3s and Fiat 500s. Which may be a taller order.

What's it like?

What the curious will find is a surprisingly spacious hatch that in the right colours and with the right decal kit – yours for £199-£225 depending on kookiness – can look more modern than its quite basic silhouette would suggest, and with a neatly finished, quietly contemporary interior that’s unexpectedly pleasant.

Yes, the dashboard is hard-feel, but it’s pleasingly grained, the seat trim is subtly imaginative and much of the detail design, such as the stereo and air-conditioning controls, is of modest surprise and delight calibre.

It also moves like an MG should. The ride is taut but well-damped, rarely turning uncomfortable despite over-audible bump-thump. The steering is fairly swift, turn-in obedient, it’s grippy and at moderate-to-ambitious speeds it corners as flat as a flounder.

Push it hard, and throttle lift-off will quell the understeer and usefully move the tail. True, the hydraulically assisted and moderately feelsome steering occasionally feels odd, the ride gets busy over challenging roads and speed turns tyre and wind noise assertive, but this car is quite amusing when pressed.

That’s less true of the of the 105bhp engine, whose unfashionably vertiginous torque peak arrives after some toeboard-thrumming boom to deliver performance as scintillating as a second cup of tea. But it gets about.

The MG’s controls are well-matched, its driving position is good and so is forward visibility. All models get six airbags, a hill-holder and LED running lights, all-bar-one get (impressively hassle-free) Bluetooth, air-con and a DAB radio, and top models are pretty generously kitted.

Should I buy one?

It’s taken MG two years to prepare the MG 3 for Europe, but the polishing has paid off. It's no challenger to the Ford Fiesta, and a few of its rough edges are sharp enough to be instantly off-putting, but there is merit to it.

Consequently this lightly sporting, exceptionally roomy, pleasingly insurable, low-cost supermini is worth more than the sceptically quizzical inspection that its decals might inspire.

MG 3 Form Sport

Price £9549; 0-62mph 10.9sec; Top speed 108mph; Economy 48.7mpg (combined); CO2 136g/km; Kerb weight 1150kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1498cc, petrol; Power 105bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 101lb ft at 4750rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
28

4 September 2013

On a par with the DS3?.......i think not, with a decent engine and say 160bhp it would sell to hot hatchers,even the Mini fraternity would like it's color/decal options,but, with that weedy engine in it just now?, er, nope.

Peter Cavellini.

4 September 2013

So actually its just like the MG6. Decent to drive, with slightly out of date engines, but at a good price.

Really to have an MG badge they should offer something quicker, but its 0-60 is actually the same as was claimed for the MG Metro.

But the low price really should see it sell a decent number

4 September 2013

This thing's seriously good value! For considerably less than an entry-level Fiesta/Corsa/etc, you get a well-equipped five-door hatch with loads of character and a good chassis.

On top of that, you get an engine with almost double the power of the more expensive entry-level mainstream superminis.

I hope MG are onto a winner here, as the MG6 sadly never had much success in the sales department. This car has the potential to be a hit, and despite the engine being a bit dated next to the competition, 48mpg's still pretty good, and the power output for the price is great!

Also, the customisation options should make it very popular with private buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/251403548293889/

4 September 2013

I'm afraid the MG 3 is going to go the same way as the MG 6 ... No amount of keen pricing and fancy stickers is going to disguide its Achille's Heel, which is the engine (it will cost £125 a year in VED, amongst its many woes) ... FFS, even the humble Dacia has more modern and efficient engines!!

4 September 2013
Suzuki QT wrote:

it will cost £125 a year in VED

True, but it will be much cheaper to insure than its rivals. And for a young driver, that could save well over £125 per year. Add to that the fact that it's a few grand cheaper than its mainstream rivals, and that £125 each year seems like a very small price to pay.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/251403548293889/

4 September 2013
Suzuki QT wrote:

it will cost £125 a year in VED, amongst its many woes)

So over cars entire life it will add a bit over £1,000 extra to the ownership costs! Who cares about these small differences when buying a new car. Its cheap enough in the first place.

As for comparing the CO2 with European turbocharged cars, how daft. We all know these modern turbos have amazing test results, but are nothing special in the real world.

4 September 2013
artill wrote:

We all know these modern turbos have amazing test results, but are nothing special in the real world.

Agreed. Outside of an unrealistic test environment, I reckon the MG3 would be considerably closer to a Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost than the official figures would lead you to believe. To be honest, and I know this is a bold claim, I wouldn't be surprised if it may even beat it.

Just look at the 500 TwinAir. Fiat claimed it could do 70mpg. Owners struggle to achieve 40mpg. At least with the MG3's naturally-aspirated unit, the claimed 48mpg will be achievable in the real world if you drive sensibly.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/251403548293889/

4 September 2013

For under 10k would fit many peoples budget so you can,t argue with that if you want a new car but if I were in that market would go for second hand 2 yr old Fiesta /Focus or wait for a two year old MG3 if you want value

4 September 2013

I'm glad this article reads with more transparency than the MG6 comeback.

The price is kind of irrelevant as without mass market prescene of MG makes it difficult for average joe looking for a cheap run around. Lack of delearships, lack of discounts, lack of finance options and lack of brand. Still it's a wild card that may prove to be a seller (well at least in the brummy land)!

4 September 2013

The only thing the Chinese have achieved is to tarnish MG even more than Phoenix did.

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