Reviewed the Stylish New MG3

In Car Reviews by Chris Lilly

When writing about a new MG, there is always a touch of sadness in the piece. One always remembers the great MG’s of yesteryear and longs for the classic British roadster to return.

So while I am as guilty as anyone else, let’s get all that over with, put it out of the way and face up to the reality of today’s MG.

The badge today sits on vastly different cars to the sleek sportscars of its history, and I have recently put the latest, the MG3, through its paces.

The small hatchback shares similar dimensions to those of a Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio but, to truly analyse the MG, you have to consider its greatest rival as Renault’s stablemate – the budget brand Dacia.

MG is back in business primarily as a cheap and cheerful manufacturer – and there’s no intention of negative connotations with that phrase. Cheap and cheerful is great if done correctly, but with the caveat that it is incredibly difficult to do so.

Stylish New MG3 Reviewed at Drive

So MG has brought out a small hatch with a price to match with the intention of getting a foothold back in the market. The big question is, is the MG3 any good?

To start with, it looks pretty stylish. Ignore badge snobbery for a second, consider the MG3 on its own merits and the design stands on its own two feet – or should that be own four tyres? There is perhaps a small amount of ‘over-styling’ in my opinion but that is a criticism that I can level at many a car such are the current design trends, especially in the small car markets. I have to say that on the whole I rather like it.

When you climb into the cabin, the same strength of design doesn’t continue inside. It’s a clean, simple design with little wrong with it but it doesn’t match the aesthetics of the exterior.

That said you do get a good level of kit, especially considering the price. The top spec 3Style model I tested cost £9,999 and gets some nice alloy wheels, cruise control, parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers – but even the base 3Time model has a CD player with USB/Aux and electric windows and that only starts at £8,399.

The build quality of the trim seems of a decent level but the materials used, as expected for the price you’re paying, aren’t the best around. Then again, if you want a beautifully crafted interior you can pick a VW Polo which starts about £2,500 more. There’s nothing wrong with the cabin and there are some clever storage solutions dotted about the place while the seats are comfy and reasonably supportive.

There’s a good amount of interior space too and the boot competes with any of its rivals for space and access.

All cars come with a 1.5 litre petrol engine which produces 106hp and 101 lb ft of torque. It’s not particularly powerful so you need to work it hard to get a good level of performance out of it, though this is not a unit to offer blistering performance anyway. The 0-62mph dash takes 10.4 seconds, letting the buyer know that this is a motor primarily for town driving.

The economy figures come in at 48.7mpg and it will emit 136g/km of CO2. These aren’t class leading but aren’t bad on the whole. The biggest downside is the refinement of the engine in general. It will need to be driven by an enthusiast to not be frustrated at the peaky powerband (I loved it but then I like that sort of driving anyway) and it can sound harsh in an old-fashioned style.

It’s a shame really because the handling aspect of the driving experience offered by the MG3 is excellent. The suspension keeps the car level in corners but it isn’t too stiff for town driving. The steering is accurate, the chassis stiff and, to put it simply, you can have a huge amount of fun driving the MG3. It just needs a better engine – a more modern and probably smaller, turbocharged one.

On the whole, the MG3 is a good attempt at a supermini, aided by the fact that it’s costs little to buy – offering new car ownership for the price of a secondhand hatch.

The styling’s strong, the interior is up to scratch and the car’s spacious and practical. The engine is a disappointment but it is helped by the fizziness of the experience and the driving dynamics are excellent. It’s a good start, it’s on the up, now let’s see it developed – something we haven’t been able to see from an MG badged car for a long time.

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