We loved the old MG3, cheap, fun to steer, decent stereo…the only thing that let it down was its old tech polluting engine.
That downside has now been updated, along with an all-around exterior and interior refresh. It’s basically a brand new car.
Sadly only around 5,000 MG3’s have ever been sold, this needs to change.
Even though we have a soft spot for the old MG3, it did seem somewhat goofy with its high googly looking headlamps. This time around a good looking, chiselled front end has been grafted onto the little hatch. A wide grille and large lower vents give it some strong road presence.
At the back the rear lights have also been tweaked in favour of more red and less white, the boot has also had a clean up with a single smart line running across horizontal from right to left.
You can also add additional decals like the funky houndstooth ones found on our 3, they add a nice level of personalisation without going too over the top.
Powered by the same engine as the old model, the 1.5 litre DOHC VTI-Tech produces 104 BHP and 137 Nm of torque, that’s a 0-60 time of 10.4 seconds, .2 quicker than the outgoing model.
Initially, the MG3 had some horrific emissions, which basically killed it dead in the water for potential buyers, they upgraded the 3 to bring those emissions down 124g of CO2 per km, originally it sat at 136.
Now it’s not the sprightliest engine off the mark, if you don’t give it some revs it’s almost like it bogs down off the line. It also takes time to get into the meat of the rev range, no doubt other reviews will slate it for this. But…
Once you’re at around 3,000/4,000 RPM, the MG3 is a blast. Third gear hammering around some B roads is reminiscent of the Suzuki Swift Sport’s abilities. It doesn’t have the poke the old Swift did, but regarding handling the 3 is near as dammit.
You’ll have to ignore the annoying little gear change notification on the dials, keep it in third and it will see you through 40 to near enough 70 MPH, it’s also smack bang in the middle of the usable torque.
Interestingly enough the engine seems to pull just a little bit more in the last 1,000 revs before the red line. Even though it lethargically gets through the rev band, this engine really doesn’t mind being worked hard.
The drive is all about keeping up momentum, working with it and being a central cog in a machine.
Most buyers will pootle around town in the MG3, never peaking more than 3,000 revs. Ever. This makes us sad as there’s a whole different, semi-warm hatch living just above that point.
Ride is firm but not overly so, it masks you well from potholes and is supple enough for every day driving. It keeps body roll to a controlled level, but cornering is by no means flat. Steering is direct and has a healthy amount of feedback which is a surprise in a modern car, weighting is also rather on point and matches the cars abilities well.
Once inside the MG the new dash and centre console look superb. Minimalist enough, but with all the correct tactile buttons a driver desires to make quick changes to the heating and stereo.
A new infotainment system takes pride of place in the centre console, and a new chunky steering wheel puts a plethora of controls at your fingertips. Sadly there’s no Android Auto, just Apple CarPlay, why?!
Nothing feels too cheap, granted the top of the doors are a little hard and ungainly, but there are some nice faux carbon fibre details across the centre console and a smart cross-hatch style printing over the silver dash insert.
You sit a little higher than I’d ideally like, but then again the 3 is a somewhat upright machine, there’s decent leg and headroom in the back, more than you’d get in the current Suzuki Swift.
Boot space measures in at 285 litres, 20 more than the Swift and nearly the same as a Toyota Yaris.
Yes, the 1.5-litre engine is old, you have to work it to get any sort of performance out of it. But therein lies the charm for me, you can be at ten-tenths of the cars abilities and still be in the realm of relative safety hooning along some B lanes.
Handling is really well set up and driven right the MG3 can become an entertaining, loveable motor.
Ideally, the engine needs to be a 1.2 turbocharged lump, but that would increase the cost. £9,495 for a brand new hatchback is amazingly good value. The increase in technology and a 7-year manufacturer warranty mean it’s a no-brainer for motoring on a budget.
Would I own one? Definitely.