MG3 review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The MG3 supermini is a smart-looking small car with a very low starting price

For: 
Low price, low insurance group, stylish and spacious
Against: 
Mediocre engine, low-rent cabin, poor economy

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In its sixties heyday, MG was famed for producing fun cars at affordable prices. And that’s exactly what the reborn company is trying to rekindle with the smart-looking and great-value MG3 hatch.

The MG3 will be a big factor in the success of the relaunched MG brand in the UK. The MG6, a larger family car, has seen fairly slow sales since it was introduced, so the MG3 is a make-or-break car for the resurrected British brand that's now owned by Chinese company SAIC.

The smart styling, spacious interior and customisation options (similar to the Fiat 500 and MINI hatch) for new buyers make a great first impression. However it's the low starting price that will attract the most new customers: the entry-level MG3 Time model costs less than £8,500, 3 Form trim is priced at around £9,000 (3 Form Sport is a little higher) and even the range-topping 3 Style costs less than £10,000. That means potential Dacia Sandero buyers might be tempted - it offers the advantages of a new car with the price of a second-hand model.

All MG3 models get the same 105bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine with a five-speed manual gearbox, so speccing your car is all about how it looks - and the wide range of decals will attract lots of young buyers, too.

Our choice: MG3 Form

Styling

3.9

First impressions count, and the neatly designed five-door-only MG3 doesn’t look like a budget car. Attractively styled and well proportioned, it stands out from the less racy city cars like the SEAT Mii and Citroen C1 with its hot hatch-like design.

Neat details include the high-mounted tail-lamps, LED running lights and MINI-style curved A-pillars, while the long wheelbase and short overhangs give it a sporty stance on the road. You can also have fun choosing from a wide range of personalisation options, including bold decals, colourful door mirror covers and lots of wheel choices – although adding options will affect the monthly bills.

Still, the MG3’s generous equipment tally means you get a lot for your money. With a leather multifunction wheel, trip computer, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, DAB radio and electric rear windows, it’s loaded with stuff you don’t always find in a sub-£10,000 car.

Plus, the interior is neatly designed with a youthful and fun look. Sadly, this initial good impression is undone by cheap materials and inconsistent build quality. The plastics are hard and low-rent, the switches feel flimsy and the small buttons on the stereo and air-con are fiddly. So while the MG’s convivial looks and youthful customising are a plus, the day-to-day enjoyment of owning the car will be diminished by the poor quality of the cabin.

Driving

2.8

With suspension tuned specifically for UK roads and a chassis honed by British engineers to ensure it offers the fun factor you’d expect from an MG, the hatch promises much – and it delivers. Find a twisty road and you’ll notice how well the car responds to its well weighted steering, turning in quickly and precisely with very little body roll and lots of grip.

The five-speed gearbox has a slick action, and with a decent amount of seat and steering wheel adjustment it’s relatively easy to find a comfortable driving position. However, it’s not all good news, as the trade-off for this agility and sporty handling is a very firm ride. This results in the MG thumping into potholes. The rigid edge to the suspension set-up also causes the MG3 to hop uncomfortably over bumps, unsettling the excellent handling composure.

Worse still is the dated, outclassed engine. Theoretically, its four-cylinder layout, bigger capacity and extra power should hand the car the advantage over its rivals in this price bracket. But while it delivers enough performance to leave them trailing, any enjoyment derived from the extra urge is ruined as the engine is so thrashy and strained. Plus, with peak torque at a heady 4,750rpm, you need to make lots of use of the accelerator pedal.

With a slack throttle response it feels limp at low revs, too, while the gruff 1.5-litre is a constant background drone on the motorway. As a result, the MG3’s fun factor is limited to the agile handling, which is a shame because the chassis hints at the potential for a good car.

Reliability

3.5

It’s early days for the resurrected MG brand so it’s hard to make a judgement on reliability. However, the company returned to our Driver Power satisfaction survey with an impressive third place in the 2014 manufacturer ranking. 

Of concern will be the three-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, which is unusual in an age when most new models achieve five stars. The fact that the MG3 comes with six airbags, stability control and tyre pressure monitoring does little to offset concern about the car’s crash safety failings. The adult crash protection score was 20 points behind the Skoda Citigo’s, for example.

Practicality

4.2

If you want your cheap, fun car to be spacious, the MG3 is well worth looking at. For starters, the deep 285-litre boot is larger than both rivals’, although if you choose the optional spare wheel, the volume drops to 256 litres. Tumble the standard 60:40 split rear seats and there’s a useful 1,262 litres of luggage space, though.

The cabin is packed with lots of handy storage, including decent-sized door bins, a big glovebox and a lidded cubby on top of the dashboard. The MG has good rear legroom, while the five-door body makes it easier to load kids into the rear seats. You also get electric rear windows and electric mirror adjustment, although only the range-topping Style version features useful parking sensors.

Running Costs

3.1

MG’s CARE3 fixed-price servicing deal gives you three years or 45,000 miles of checks for £550, plus there’s the option to pick from six lengths of extended warranty, ranging from four years/60,000 miles to five years/100,000 miles – the most expensive costs £629. Group four insurance is good news, but elsewhere running costs are poor. Residuals are a concern – our experts predict the MG3 Form Sport will retain just 37.2 per cent of its list price over three years.

However, it’s the engine that will really hurt your wallet. Emissions of 136g/km mean a £130 annual tax disc, we managed only 34.6mpg in mixed driving.

Disqus - noscript

White trim/stripes aside this is a good looking small car.

"Low rent cabin" - much like the AE staff here who bizarrely give 4 stars to VW's reliability, when VW has not even featured at the top of this chart for more than 20 years....or is it 30....I dunno.

Whats clear is this car, like VWs and AE staff is a joke and should be banned - if only because it is bringing about a failed MG badge that no one wants or gives a monkey about.

Oddly enough despite the gratuitous ruderies (a bit less abusive than before) there is something to agree with this post of Homer's (I cannot believe I am saying this)
The kernel is that nobody really does give a monkeys about the M G brand any more, apart from sentimental reasons.

Ahhh Homer, Im beginning to recognise your username as an antagonist and a spreader of negativity. I wont bite this time, as I did last time. I'll just pity you for a moment and then move on.

Not too bad a write up.

A fantastic sporty little car at a bargain basement price. I honestly believe that this is the car that will put MG back on the map.

One thing that I will mention is that there are far more factory options than just metallic paint and leather seats.

Check out the configurator on the MG UK website - its great fun.

I have driven numerous Rover and MG vehicles for over 20 years. Excellent to own and drive and I would have snapped up the MG3 as a second car with no problem. This article shows, however why I will not touch a MG. Cheap, tacky, poor quality and typifies 'made in China'. The thought of owning a car made there mortified me, the apprehension of breakdowns, pieces dropping off, worthless in no time, etc, etc. Such a shame.

My worry is the reliability of the MG3. There are many reports of shocking reliability from owners of the MG6 on the MG-Rover website.

The other thing to look out for with MG is rock bottom residuals after 3 years. This has not been helped by MGUK off-loading batches of unsold MG6s to Motorpoint. They've also lost loads of dealers so not many left.
I wouldn't be interested in these highly polluting Chinese cars with poor engines really. Go for a Ford Fiesta or one of the reliable/durable Japanese brands.

Against: Low rent cabin.... well DUH, it's a low purchase price car, not a Bentley. It's coming to market with one old petrol motor but there are new engines coming.
And as for residuals, well a £20K car can lose in 3 years more value than the new price of this car, so it ain't going to be a big problem or worry for someone looking at one of these.
Good effort from the team at Longbridge (yes, Longbridge).

If it was built at Longbridge it would be a much better car with greater sales. Unfortunately for them they are just assembling Chinese built parts. It might look good but looks can be deceiving.
The trouble with MG is they shipped manufacturing to China. They should have followed Tata and Jaguar/Land Rover, invest but manufacture the cars in Britain.
Longbridge would have required streamlining and modernisation but it wouldn't have taken long to resume as a popular brand.

This will not put MG back on the map because:

1) The competition betters it significantly. The only real selling point is the low price. And where is the 5 year warranty to tempt buyers?

2) Buying one of these is taking a big risk. Everyone knows what happened with Rover, and if MG pulls out of the UK market owners will be hung out to dry. Also dealers are very thinly spread and seem to be struggling. Despite all the hype about "100 dealers by 2015" that was banded about in October 2012 no more have signed up. If dealers begin to lose confidence and re-franchise MG is in deep trouble.
3) The MG brand means very little to the younger generation. MG has a proud history but died in 1980 and should be left to rest in peace rather than being trashed in this way.

I make the same point below. Buying one of these is not worth the risk. The tiny dealer network is going to shrink even further unless things improve dramatically, and if MG ends up throwing in the towel in the UK owners will be stuffed. A Fiesta, Yaris or Fabia makes a far better choice.

I don't think anyone buying this gives a monkeys about the MG brand, they will buy it at face value and its a good package for the price. Most of the criticisms above can be addressed with better engines which are on the way. If Longbridge had no influence on this car it wouldn't drive the way it does so its probably a lot better engineered and built than most people would give them credit for.

There are 30 dealers at the minute but there are new ones opening all of the time. I believe that they are hoping for 100 by the end of 2014, to coincide with the global release of the MG CS SUV.

I think there are still quite a few British individuals with some sort of prejudice against China?! Why is this? They are using all of the same equipment to build the cars that they bought from MG-Rover and shipped to China. In fact, you probably typed your negative response on a piece of equipment that was made in China.

There is no mention of MG throwing in the towel, they have in fact, proposed a 20 year plan for expansion in the UK and mainland Europe. The only rumour of 'MG pulling out of the UK market' are made by people like yourself.

Your comments only serve to deter potential customers that read them, therefore not helping MG at all.

Ask, yourself - why do you feel the need to comment, pretty much the same thing, on every piece of MG media??

Really? I spend a lot of time on there and have only really seen a few 'niggles'mentioned?! No reports of engine failure or similar?! Maybe you can point me in the direction of some of these stories?!

1) The five year warranty is on the configurator.

2) As I mentioned above, there is no mention of MG pulling out of the UK, apart from by people like yourself that seem to want them to fail.

3)I am the younger generation, and since the Zed range I have been waiting for more MGs and a ZR replacement.

Well here we go then.....There was a recent longish thread entitled 'Bye Bye MG6 where the owner is going to get rid of it with a list of faults but was given a knock down residual selling price which is putting him off. Another owner, who has also posted on AR on line has also got rid of his for the same reasons. A car reviewer, James Martin, I think, has problems with the car alarm which wouldn't stop going on. The list of faults include other electrical faults with an exclamation mark light going on and an owner being told just to ignore it, coolant sensor light going on when going around corners,steering wheel juddering at speed etc etc.
This is all worrying when it comes from the few private buyers of the car.
The impression I get from the website is that more dealers have left than those signing up, hence the drop in numbers of dealers. This isn't helped by MGUK throwing in the towel on unsold MG6s and offloading then to Motorpoint, which obviously has the knock-on effect of plummeting residuals and the few private owners losing loads of money.
These are just the facts, sadly.
The one plus though with the MG3 is that will have bargain prices so at least it stands a chance.

So there have been no disastrous faults?! (unlike the ones that BMW have experienced recently). I know the thread that you mean and I know Joe that started it myself. There were no bad faults just a few niggles that he didnt want to put up with. I believe that a manager from MG personally collected the car, provided a courtesy car and took it back for warranty work?!!

Just watched the MG6's - the 3's big brother finish 1st and 2nd in the BTCC at Silverstone. Its good to have the MG marque back to support.

Craig England seems to perform the same role for those underwhelmed by M.G. as Jack Kirby does for those whose opinion of VW is similar! Could they be pseudonyms for the same person? As I have never even clapped eyes on a "new" MG I cannot tell who has the easier time in this but I suspect it may be Mr. Kirby

There are not new ones opening all the time. In October 2012 there were 30 and there are still 30 now.

Their "expansion" plans are pure fantasy, as is the bogus "100 dealers" story. Similar rubbish was being generated by the Rover PR machine 12 months before they folded. If the cars do not sell dealers will ditch them and MG will be forced to withdraw from the market. Fact.
More to the point, why do YOU keep regurgitating the same nonsense over and over again in all the media? Believe what you want but don't expect any of it to come true.

There are so few MG6s on the road that quality and reliability data is meaningless anyway. I wonder why so few have been sold when they are so cheap?

How exciting! I'm sure this will make everyone want to rush out and buy one (not).

1) And is this standard at no extra cost? I can get a 5-year warranty on any new car if I pay extra but MG should be offering this as part of the package.
2) There is no mention of them pulling out but that doesn't mean they won't. Rover managed to hide the true state of affairs for years and then left buyers high and dry.
3) Then you are clearly atypical and have some kind of obsessive tendency. Most younger buyers are not remotely interested in MG and even if they were this thing would put them off for life.

You seem to be a very negative person, happy just to deride everything, just to say how rubbish it is etc?!

I have no idea what that means! I just get riled up when people make ridiculous judgements of a car that they have never seen or driven.

Isn't it sad how we as a country seem to always want to knock things and hold them back from success!
Then sit back and smugly say " I told you so''
Nothing wrong with wanting them to succeed, at the very least it employs people who may otherwise be out of jobs!

So why are you prejudiced against foreign cars in general? If China is OK then why not Japan, Germany, Czech Republic, Korea etc? Your attitude is puzzling.

I love all cars, whatever their country of origin.

What I dont like is people that presume that these cars are rubbish because of the Chinese connection.

What makes you think I am prejudiced against other foreign cars? Because I mention the British connection regularly with MG?

Wrong.
MG3 was developed at SAIC Euro Design Centre at LONGBRIDGE. The European (mostly UK) team led by Brit Tony Williams Kenny and Canadian Martin Uhlarik, with consultancy by Ricardo of Leamington Spa (who help set up the SAIC Euro Design Studio).

It's a Brit designed car with China fabrication, don't hold that against it because it's the only logical way to go for low value vehicles. JLR can ask 40/50/60K for a car they can build in UK. Sub 10K cars can only be economically sound if they are manufactured in low cost territories.

'Murgatroyd/Meister' is a bit like 'Homer J' he enjoys being negative and slating a lot of brands. What is clear about Murgatroyd is he is a Ford lover, so not much in the way of discerning taste then?!

Ahhhh, I think I have met him on a different forum before! Cheers. I need to try to ignore the trolls and stop biting haha.

On one level I agree with you but on another you play the indignant fanboy just a trifle too much I fear.

These cars are O.K. for emerging markets but they are not good enough to compete successfully in Europe.

Craig/Troll is getting desperate!

Talking to yourself on forums is not a good sign. But then neither is liking MGs!

Still fantasizing over Fords are we Murgatroyd?! Craig is in fact not talking to himself because these remarks are from a different poster whose aim is too point out what b0llocks you always talk on AE pages.

Amusing 'Murgatroyd' thinks my posts are from you - see below!

The "old petrol motor" is in fact a totally brand new one, which unfortunately is good for bugger all, it is slow, has no grunt on the motorway and with a five speed box only drinks fuel like no ones business.

they are not pulling out of the UK, they have invested the best part of half a billion in the UK since buying MG.

Where are the five year warranties on all the other big brands, until they all offer 5 years and MG does not then your argument is irrelevant.

Most of the MG3's that have been purchased are from the 18-30 demographic, just ask MG, they will be happy to tell you.

Why all the negativity, the car is ok, not brilliant, but then how many offer the kit for the price, no one, thats where they will get the sales, if it looks sporty, goes ok, and is cheap to buy (it is) and insure (better than everything in its class), then they will have a good seller.

I really like the look of this car.
Being 24 I am probably in the target demographic for the MG3 too.

Unfortunately it is the engine that lets it down for me.

Pop a more economical engine in and I'll be tempted to go for one

I agree, there is no mention of MGUK throwing in the towel. What was reported some years ago when the Nanjing-owned MG was taken over by SAIC, SAIC said that if the Longbridge operation failed then it would be closed. The meaning of that statement remains vague.

I know, I cant help it haha. Must keep my mouth shut.

Not necessarily, it depends upon the efficiency of the plant building them. The Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Fiat Panda, for example, are all built in Europe (including in Germany in the case of the Corsa and Fiesta) and all start at under £10,000. The Corsa 3-door starts at £9,495 so you should be able to get one for well under £9,000 and your car will be made in Germany, not China.

Well I certainly won't be fantasizing over crappy MGs. As for talking garbage, you are the expert here!

Nonsense. If the cars are not successful they will wind up the Longbridge operation and move it lock, stock and barrel to China.

Several major manufacturers such as Hyundai/Kia and Toyota are offering 5-year extended warranties as standard. Even Renault is now offering 4 years. A new entrant to the market should be offering such incentives to encourage sales, particularly as there will be a question mark over the build quality and reliability of these cars.

So most MG3 sales are in the 18-30 demographic? Well how many sales are we talking about here? I suspect very few and certainly not sufficient as to be able to draw any valid conclusions re. appeal to any particular age range.

Why would anyone want to risk buying one of these when there are so many other options from established players with solid reputations? There are plenty of other good low-priced cars under £10,000 which make a far better long-term proposition than this does, which is why the 3 is unlikely to succeed in the UK or Europe.

Rather sad, aren't you?

I think this strange individual probably has several identities and/or gets his equally odd "mates" to back him up on forums with equally vacuous comments.

They are now, but for how long? I don't expect low level low cost vehicle manufacturing to go on much longer in Western Europe. Major components will be increasingly sourced from low cost territories, as Renault are doing with Dacia etc. It's an increasing practice. Peugeot Citreon are tying up with Chang'an, and GM source parts from their Far East operations (the one they call Chevrolet).

Great little car. My wife's just bought on in orange and black and it looks and drive inccredibly well! A real must buy if you're looking for a future banger with style. I hope a turbo version will arrive soon, I also need a new MG!

You are the younger generation maybe, but Murgatroyd appears to be primary school age, and Meister younger still.

I am a Kia Soul man and luv it. For me the MG3 looks good, has a good spec and warranty and price seems to be spot on. Sure it is going to take a while to establish themselves back here. MG could take over from the lower sector models like Dacia (proven in Europe, cheap and nasty interiors and use Renault leftovers across their range) . But they have two good engines with low emissions even tho they are older versions. This is what MG need now and good advertising. The car has been proven in China which is good before coming here for updating/modifying. Maybe they can keep all the different engine options prices low or even not charging more for the diesel option that would be good. Skoda have got more expensive now. Can't touch MG3 for price and kit even the citigo, good car but small and expensive. I don't like ford and would rather this MG3 Style to a basic Fiesta any day. I for one hope they sort it out an do well. What would have happened if SAIC had just come here under another badge!!! Will we get a Triumph or a Riley or Morris!!!! Whatever, I wish them well and will be keeping a close eye on their future development.

Judging by whats going on inside your warped mind - not nearly as sad as you!

Kia have a 7 year warranty and 3 years breakdown cover, but you pay for it. I've done well out of them price wise buying nearly new and fixing warranty problems with my Soul. But I had to fight them and get my local garage on my side too. Mind you I love a fight. Anyway am 59 years young mind thinking 25, can't believe it!!! All I want to say is I would buy the MG3 for sure but the top spec style and can't wait to try the 1.4 Diesel when it gets here. I really hope it works. An important market for all the Chinese Manufacturers in the future coming up behind the Koreans and look what their first models were like!!!! Rebadged something or others. SAIC have a head start on their rivals. They've been making for Ford GM and VW for the Asian market so they must have some idea/know what they are doing. I wish them well and to MG UK Longbridge employees too.

Got me account going now. MG rule OK!!!!!!

I'm 24 as well and I can't help but like its quirky styling - considering the price and how its marketed, early to late 20s seems like the perfect demographic. I could deffinitly see myself getting in and out of a black version with white "Trophy Stripes" for the next few years. Brighten up the interior a little with a gloss black insert on the options list and I'd be more than content.

£10,826 I configured one for on the MG website and it seems like quite a steal.

The only thing I don't like is the economy of the 1.5L engine under the bonnet. The CO2 emissions and speed I'm okay with, its no better than other normally aspirated engines of simmilar size (like the slightly slower 1.6L Nissan Juke, for example), but under 40mpg is simply not good for something not performance oriented.

You know, looking at the size and shape of it. They could go retro and do a new Morris Minor. Give it a cheeky Minor face, and curves, but use the current underpinnings.

That's a great looking little car - and unlike a few others on here I'm not prejudiced against the Chinese - some of the best quality stuff in the world is made in China these days - I'd far rather celebrate a country that seems eager to form business relationships with the UK like the Chinese - at least they seem to value UK design. Something we're actually rather good at. Unlike BMW who took all the design work on the MINI to Berlin, so MINIS are merely bolted together here - nothing more...and yet we seem comfortable sticking a Union flag on the roof of them...weird!

Great "official" restart from MG. The MG3 is a pretty good car everybody must support. This way, Longbridge will hire more workforce and in a near future, more parts will be sourced from the UK!

After 7 years of fantastic MG ZS ownership, I am looking at a new MG3. Car looks great, drives superb and the value is unbeatable. Love it in Cherry Red with white stripes! Have seen a few on the roads in the last couple of weeks and they certainly stand out. The 'niggles' that reviewers seem to pick up on (economy and dash plastics) really aren't at bad. The plastics are on a par with my brothers base spec Fiesta and I would imagine real world economy will be mid 40's. I always got 43-45 mpg from my 1.8 ZS. Great job from the Longbridge guys, the future is looking good!

Have you seen the state of some of the Chinese motorcycles sold over here? Many of them don't make it past first MOT and they are built using the same processes as the cars. All copied!
As has been said, these will depreciate like mad, I wouldn't touch one with a barge pole.

SAIC (who own MG) dont build cheap motorcycles, in fact, they build VWs, Chevrolets and Skoda's in the same plants that they make the new range of MGs.

It makes me wonder why senior management at VW or GM deemed SAIC a worthy partner in manufacturing their vehicles if Dave T off of the internet knows better?! Maybe you should contact the VW groups head and tell him that cheap Chinese motorcycles dont last?!

5 new dealers have opened this month, 2 the month before that and there are several more interested outlets.

I'm somewhat concerned by the emotion some of the commenters put into this. It would be interesting to know how many have actually bought a new car and what their opinions are based upon. The MG3 is a cracking item and ticks most of the boxes in the supermini sector. China remember are now the worlds biggest economic power and only the third country to have a car running on the moon. The fact that UK has some of the best motorcar design and engineering brains in the world explains the logic behind the SAIC MG partnership. Good luck MG3 we need you.

and your wrong as per usual...

and as per usual your wrong, your pathetic comments make you out to be a total FOOL

WRONG, again, they are perfectly suited for Europe, the fact is sales are growing, dealers are opening frequently, at least ten in recent weeks, new cars being developed and a designed here in the UK, for sales in Europe.

why dont you go away and play on the M1

byebye child, go back to your homework

Just look at the co2 outputs from similar cars though. Namely the 1.4 Rio and the Seat Ibiza 1.4's. Suddenly the MG isn't that terrible is it?

Last updated: 18 Aug, 2014
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