MG 3

Originally Published: July 2019

The British marque is back, but how does their new hatch fare?

Perhaps to be expected, the Chinese-built MG3 is a relatively cheap car to buy. And with prices starting from £9,495, the MG3 is considerably less than rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Seat Ibiza. But is there any cheerfulness to go with the cheapness?

First off, the MG3 is not a bad looking thing, with a few sporting details such as the roof spoiler and these diamond-cut alloys, which come as standard on the top two trim levels. The burgundy tone it’s dressed in here doesn’t show it off quite as well as other available colours, but there’s a sharpness to its styling that will help it fair well in supermarket car parks.

Going back to the different trims, you have a choice of three: Explore, Excite and Exclusive. We spent a week with the latter, the most lavish example, and even with its extensive equipment levels, including cruise control, Bluetooth, automatic and LED headlights, rear-parking sensors and a reversing camera, the MG3 still works out at just £12,795. That’s over £1,000 less than the entry-level Fiesta.

Weirdly, however, even with all this kit, you only get manual climate settings and although it’s fitted with Apple CarPlay, there’s no Android Auto. Sorry Samsung fans, you bought the wrong phone. At least if you own an iPhone, you can take sanctuary in the CarPlay function, away from MG’s own multimedia system. It’s not terrible, with clean graphics in its favour, but it’s positioned downwards and out of the eye-line of the driver and isn’t the simplest system to navigate.

As for the rest of the cabin, well, it’s a case of some good and a fair amount of bad. The seating has decent levels of adjustment and support, although these half-leather sports seats remind me of the sort of pleather I encountered on my Mom’s old 53 reg MG ZR.

The rest of the cabin feels equally cheap, with scratchy plastics and few quality details to report. There’s only a single cup holder, however, legroom is good for a car this size and the boot can cope with a more than modest shop. It isn’t as large as the Fiesta’s, though, and there’s a lip to haul your purchases over. Plus, with the rear seats down, you’ll encounter a substantial ridge if you’re trying to slide in that Ikea wardrobe.

In terms of engine, there is only one option – a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated 104bhp petrol unit. On paper it’s capable of running the 0-60mph sprint in 10.4 seconds, but it never feels that quick on the road. With no turbo to call upon, there is little torque at low revs to get the MG3 up and running, and even when you get into its peak band, the engine feels breathless and unwilling to be worked. Not ideal when you need to use the rev range to get going.

The five-speed manual ‘box is similarly joyless and sadly the MG3 can’t make up for its lack of performance in economy. An average of 42.6mpg on what were predominantly motorways is nothing to write home about in this sector.

Get onto the open road and the cabin suffers from plenty of outside noise, particularly around the windscreen. Still, the MG3 doesn’t ride too badly, although damping could be better. Its best asset, though, is the handling. It’s pretty good, with a meaningful weight to how the wheel turns, only this is no adaptive system, so the heaviness you experience isn’t so favourable in car parks.

Try as it might, the MG3 just isn’t up to par. There’s room for improvement in most areas and generally a lack of solidity to how the MG3 feels. However, it’s cheap to buy and full of kit, plus with a seven-year warranty you’ll be covered for many miles of trouble-free motoring. Just don’t go and test drive a Fiesta beforehand.

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