I intended to find out by test driving the new MG3 which is a new small hatchback and designed to bring the MG back to the masses. The MG3 I had on the test drive was the top of the range Style model with a price tag of £11,695. With any new car in this highly competitive sector first impression count and the MG3 does not fail to disappoint.
All MG3’s come with a meshed front bumper, low slung daytime running lights and a rear diffuser which give the MG3 a sporty appearance. This is further enhanced on the 3 Form Sport and Style models with 16 inch alloys, side skirts square exhaust trim and a rear spoiler. Just like similar cars in its class, such as the Mini or the Fiat 500 owners have a further option of adding sticker kits or changing the colours of the wing mirrors or wheels to add a personal touch to their MG3. The sticker kits start at £89 for the bonnet or £258 for the roof and bonnet whilst painting the wing mirrors an alternative colour will set you back another £70.40
Moving into the cabin and sinking into the supportive bucket seats and gripping the leather-wrapped steering wheel it is clear that the sporting touches have been carried on into the interior. The seats, for example, are covered in a silver coloured fabric, with a red pattern and black side bolsters. Leather seats are standard on the 3 style model but unfortunately, they are not heated. The door handles, vent surrounds, radio surround, climate control surround and steering wheel spokes are painted silver to contrast with the black dash and door cards. The interior is well thought out with plenty of cubby holes and is surprisingly spacious with plenty of leg room for rear passengers, along with ample headroom due to the high roofline. The high roofline helps to cabin to feel light and airy and provides good rear and side visibility. The boot is of a good size too, providing 285 Litres of space and there is room for a space saver spare wheel which is a £120 extra. The materials used in the interior are of reasonable quality but are built to a price which is to be expected of a car costing less than £12,000 new. However, the interior does not feel brittle and is well put together unlike some British cars built in the 1970s and 80s.
The MG3 comes with a good amount of equipment as standard such as electric windows for all four doors, steering wheel controls, a CD player with MP3 compatibility, central locking, Hill hold control, Stability control, cruise control (excluding 3time) and 6 airbags. The top of the range Style model also has air conditioning, climate control, reversing sensors, automatic lights and wipers, DAB radio and smartphone integration.
On pushing the engine start button, the four-cylinder 1.5 litre (1,498cc) petrol engine that produces 105bhp and 101lb ft of torque bursts straight into life. This engine is standard across the whole MG3 range and at this time of writing is the only option. The engine was designed and developed at the Longbridge plant in the new engine testing facility. Approximately £500 million pounds has been invested by MG’s owners SAIC into the Longbridge site. Despite the MG3 lacking in engine options, there is a turbocharged version of the 1.5 litre engine under development and a prototype MG3 currently being tested by MG at Longbridge. However, the engine could be the MG3’s Achilles heel as it is not as fuel efficient or as good for the environment as some of its competitors. The combined fuel economy is 48.7mpg and emits 136g/km of C02. Furthermore, the engine has to be worked hard so in order to progress which as a result makes for a noisy experience.
In comparison to the engine, the handling of the MG3 is superb and was tuned by engineers in the UK. The engine's power is delivered through a 5-speed manual gearbox which in turn powers the front wheels. The wheels are kept firmly on the road by a suspension and chassis set up which keeps the MG3 feeling taut and composed through the corners and provides a great supply of grip. This permits the driver to have confidence in chucking the MG3 into corners and allows them to have good fun when the opportunity arises. The hydraulic power steering further aids the driver with confidence by being exact and giving the driver a good response and feel to the road ahead.
Overall the MG3 is well equipped as well as being competitively priced and seems geared towards younger buyers who will appreciate the sticker kits, sporty looks and low insurance group (group 4). These younger buyers will be able to overlook the engines flaws and appreciate the MG3’s handling and rarity in comparison to the Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa which are commonplace.
Edited by Steve Q