The new MG3 is a value-for-money, five-door car that will compete for sales in the highly popular supermini segment. Now under Chinese ownership, MG hopes the model will propel the brand back into the limelight.
- Great value for money
- Smart interior with good levels of equipment
- Spacious with room for five people
- Transmission could do with a sixth gear
- No telescopic adjustment on the steering wheel
At MG the emphasis is all about value for money. They don’t want to be the cheapest car manufacturer as Dacia has already claimed that crown, but they want their cars to offer exceptional value.
MG is now under the ownership of Chinese company SAIC which has invested heavily in the future and the latest MG3 is available in three trim levels called Explore, Excite and Exclusive with prices ranging from £9,495 to £12,795.
New design cues include a dynamic-looking front end with the company’s ‘star-rider’ grille, neat headlights with LED daytime running lights, new bumpers, wings, rear spoiler, bigger MG badging and a choice of bright colours with lots of personalisation options.
The interior is more modern in its layout and there is plenty of onboard technology as standard. The car also comes with an excellent seven-year, 80,000-mile warranty.
On the Road
We tested the range-topping Exclusive version of the MG3 priced at £12,785. All cars are powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine delivering 106PS and 137Nm of torque and this powertrain is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. When it comes to performance, the MG3 can reach 60mph from a standing start in 10.4 seconds and maxes out 108mph.
During testing, the new MG3 was put through its paces at MIRA in the UK to ensure the vehicle could perform on typical British roads, including motorways and winding country lanes. And in fairness, it does perform well. Admittedly, it doesn’t possess blistering pace or particularly dynamic driving capabilities, but it’s a very decent all-rounder.
It accelerated smoothly through the five-speed transmission, but at higher speeds, I was searching for a sixth gear.
Our route included some motorway driving where the car was happy travelling at the national speed limit, but there wasn’t very much instant power out on the country lanes if short bursts of acceleration were needed to overtake slower moving traffic.
That said though, the MG3 was a very capable car that boasted plenty of grip when pushed hard into bends and there was minimal body sway.
The new MG3 is never going to be a big hit with petrol heads who want breakneck pace and exhilarating driving dynamics. For that sort of handling, they will need to fork out a lot more than the less-than-£10k starting price of the MG.
That said though, the MG3 is great fun and quite accomplished. It copes well with most of the road surfaces although bigger ridges will send it slightly off course. The road holding is impressive and the car feels confidently planted when attacking tight bends.
The ride is of a high quality too with MacPherson struts at the front and torsion beams supporting the rear aided by a spring which helps to deliver high-frequency dampening. These systems have been integrated with the hydraulic power-assisted steering to give the car an agile ride quality.
There is plenty of feel to the steering and the car is happy on motorways, country lanes or weaving its way through busy town centres.
The original MG3 was launched back in 2013 and it was facelifted in 2015. The latest model has been vastly transformed with a fresh new look along with six distinctive colours to help the car stand out – these include Hello Yellow, Spiced Orange and Laser Blue.
Personalisation options are very important to supermini customers and the original car offered more than one million design variations and that ethos has been carried forward to the latest car with the chance to choose wing mirror colours, add graphics and a choice of wheel designs being just a few of the options.
The interior has been completely transformed and offers a clutter-free, neat and fresh environment for occupants and there is a good level of kit as standard across the range.
There is a completely new steering wheel and dashboard with a rather snazzy Tartan-looking fascia on our test car along with rippled-effect door panels.
The car is fairly well insulated against the outside world, but you will hear road surface and engine noise when travelling at higher motorway speeds. The lightweight nature of the car (1.2 tonnes) also means it can get a bit buffeted if a 15-tonne truck goes hammering by.
In the car
The completely new interior of the latest MG3 is a pleasant place to be with a bright, modern feel to it. There is ample seat adjustment to get comfy, but there's no telescopic adjustment to the steering wheel which is a bit of a shame.
All the car’s on-board technology is ideally positioned for ease of use and all versions are equipped with Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming and AUX/USB as standard, while the Excite and Exclusive models gain an eight-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, DAB radio, steering wheel audio controls and air conditioning. A reversing camera with dynamic guidelines is included on top-of-the-range Exclusive versions.
The cloth and part leather seats are comfortable and the smart floor mats with bright red piping add a little extra flair to the car.
The MG3 is likely to be used as an everyday car and will be frequently spotted on the school run, so it’s worth noting the excellent all-around driver visibility which is a major plus factor and with the bright paintwork choices along with personalisation options, it will be easy to spot from a mile off (almost!).
The MG3 is deceptively spacious inside and there is ample room for two fully grown adults in the back – three if they don’t mind rubbing shoulders. And when it comes to storage the MG3 can hold its own in the segment. The boot capacity of 285 litres can be increased to 1,262 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there are some extra storage compartments beneath the boot floor.
Elsewhere throughout the cabin, there is a glovebox, door bins, cup holders and pockets in the backs of the front seats.
There are ISOFIX fixtures and gaining access to a child seat would be an easy process thanks to the wide-opening rear doors, which also make the car easily accessible for any older drivers or passengers with mobility issues.
It’s worth mentioning too that the bright interior with lots of light flooding into the cabin helps to create a cheery and welcoming environment.
MG is very quick to point out that it isn’t meant to be the cheapest brand on the market with that title already claimed by Dacia. But it does want to be viewed as delivering excellent value for money. And in many ways, it achieves that goal. Admittedly, it’s not the most dynamic car to drive but the creature comforts have been well thought out and cater for anyone with a sensible budget who wants to see their pounds go a long way.
The three-model line-up is priced at £9,495, £11,395 and £12,795, and MG has introduced some excellent finance deals. There is a launch offer of five years zero per cent APR finance with no minimum deposit required which means it would be possible to get an MG3 Excite for just £149 per month.
When it comes to running costs, under the latest, stricter testing conditions, the car can deliver a combined fuel economy of 47.1mpg and has a carbon emissions figure of 140g/km. This would translate into a first-year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £200 which would be reduced to £140 for each following year.
Insurance ratings are Group 7 for Explore and Excite rising to Group 8 for Exclusive models.
The built quality of the MG3 is good. Like most reasonably priced cars there is a lot of hard plastic inside the cabin which can be prone to scratching. But once again it’s worth reiterating that this car starts at less than £10k and is high-frequency value for a family on a tighter budget.
The seats feel sturdy enough and should survive the test of time and the switchgear and new door handles are of a decent quality.
Clearly, MG is confident about the car’s reliability and durability because the MG3 is offered with a seven-year, 80,000-mile warranty that is fully transferable if the car is sold on.
The MG3 only scored three out of a possible five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and there are no plans to get the latest car re-tested.
All models get anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, stability control, hill-hold control, traction control, ISOFIX child seat anchors, speed sensitive locking and numerous airbags. But some of the more common driver assist features such as blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking are not available.