Much has been made of this in recent years, but it’s fairly evident that new British cars are few and far between. In the world of motoring in the motherland, it has been widely publicised how important the MG3 is for the once beleaguered car manufacturer. Breathing a new lease of life into the Longbridge based firm, MG have revitalised the marque with the MG6 and aimed for a new audience with this smaller, budget MG3. This is MG 2.0 – and they’ve placed themselves slap-bang in the middle of a crowded market with a lot to prove.
Initial inspections appear positive – the MG3 is a very attractive car; with a wide posture, generous wheel arches and an imposing yet pretty profile that undeniably attracts attention. The alloys on the ‘Style’ pictured are also impressive – this is clearly a car looking to make an impact and form a positive and striking first impression. Its attractive lines denote MG’s new ‘fun’ approach – the plethora of optional sticker packs needs to explanation. A lovely touch, but most of them are pretty naff….
Inside the MG3 is a very appealing place to be. Some reviews have derided the slightly plastic-y feel, but for the most part that can be ignored on the MG3 Style – which offers a surprisingly light and comfortable environment. I was impressed by the amount of space in a relatively small car; headroom is substantial as is leg and elbowroom. In fact, nothing really feels too claustrophobic and all dials, instruments and controls are well placed – albeit feeling slightly tinny and liable to break. As a case in point, I felt slightly short-changed by the steering wheel controls; which feel like they’ve been lifted straight from a Game Boy. Having said that, although creative and artistic genius may have been put aside, you get the impression it’s a fair bit of car for the £10,600 asking price of this Style version (which is as of writing top spec.)
In fact, equipment levels on the MG3 are generally good. On the MG3 Style, cruise control, digital radio, Bluetooth, electric all round and iPod connectors come as standard. The DAB Radio is a nice addition, and the sound is crisp and clear in a way that makes it a notable improvement from FM. The cruise control isn’t the most impressive of systems I’ve used – it’s indecisive and lazy – but in a car pitched to the majority of us who live in towns and cities; this is probably not a problem. The equipment levels are complimented by the red stitching, half leather trim and intelligent storage spaces…you get the impression it’s a well thought out inside that wouldn’t be a hassle and would be easy to keep clean and tidy.
I must admit that when I first drove the MG3 I thought it was one of the easiest cars I’ve driven in a while. The clutch is well positioned, the brakes are sharp and visibility is excellent. Parking is not a problem, especially with the parking sensors on the Style, and the large mirrors afford excellent knowledge of what’s lurking behind. What I was disappointed by however was the heavy and really rather cumbersome steering – it just isn’t as sprightly as its peers – and could potentially make navigating the city streets a pain. It does have its upsides however, and the car feels remarkably planted and poised on the motorway…not to mention pretty quiet too. Grip really is excellent – and although the front end does lose its way sometimes, it doesn’t ever feel it can’t cope when properly pushed.
Although the car is enjoyable to drive, the wheezy 1.5 petrol engine can appear to let it down at times. I would have enjoyed a bit of extra power, and the car seems harsh when revved which I found surprising for something small and neat. It just needs a bit more – and fuel economy is also weirdly worse than I expected. It’s 10mpg behind other alternatives, and in a sector where affordability and economy is number one, I found this disappointing. If you’re looking at affordability and what you can get for your money, the fuel economy figures and small range alone might put you off – which is a real shame, because there is a lot of car here.
The MG3 is an undeniably enjoyable car to drive. It is good – and sometimes it feels it could even be great. It feels good to be in, it’s great to look at and it’s fantastic knowing MG are producing cars I actually want to get behind the wheel of. No matter how good it is though, there is however a nagging feeling that MG have slightly missed the mark with the MG3. If you’re looking to spend £10,000 on a car, you are presented with a wide variety of options, and there’s nothing that screamed ‘buy me now’ about the MG3 over other alternatives. That’s not to say it’s a failure in its own right, but savvy buyers will be aware of the potential depreciation issues and relatively poor running costs. Having said that, if I was in the market and they offered me a range of engines, I’d definitely be tempted.