The original Streetwise was a cheap attempt at making the Rover brand more appealing to young drivers. By adding chunky plastic wheelarches, top brass aimed to tempt buyers of more fashionable SUV alternatives, such as the Toyota RAV4…
Can Chinese firm Nanjing use the same formula to capture sales five years after the original Streetwise hit the UK? We tried the new MG3 SW to find out.
On the outside, the car is virtually unchanged. The wing mirrors feature integrated LED indicators and the tail-lights are updated, plus MG badges have been fitted. But in every other way, it’s identical to the Rover.
Climb inside and it’s quickly apparent the MG3 has inherited the Streetwise’s poor finish. The controls for the lights and windscreen wipers feel cheap and nasty, as do most of the plastics. Worse still, one of our car’s air vents was already broken and the driver’s door rubber seal was coming apart.
Still, standard equipment is reasonable. The rear view mirror incorporates a digital compass and distance read-out for the rear parking sensors, while the six-speaker stereo has an MP3 input. There’s also Bluetooth with steering controls, although you get only two airbags, which raises questions about safety.
Our top-spec Luxury model’s 1.8-litre petrol engine was mated to a CVT box, and on the road it was a lively performer. But it’s very noisy at motorway speeds.
While the raised suspension offers good all-round visibility, it’s too soft, creating lots of roll in corners and a bouncy ride for passengers in the rear. The MG3 SW is on sale now in China, and could be offered in the UK from September. Yet there’s no disguising its age.
* Price: £10,730
* Engine: 1.8-litre petrol, 118bhp
* Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
* 0-62/top spd: 9.7 secs/115mph
* Economy: 46mpg
* Equipment: Two airbags, electric windows and mirrors, air-con, parking sensors, six-speaker CD stereo
* On sale: September