News : Race-spec MG3 Trophy revealed at MG90

Clive Goldthorp

MG3 Trophy.001

MG Motor UK wowed the crowds celebrating the marque’s 90th Anniversary during the MG Car Club-promoted MG90 event at Silverstone last weekend by revealing the fully race-prepared MG3 Trophy.

The racing version of MG’s B-segment MG3 supermini has been developed at MG Birmingham by a seven-man SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre (SMTC UK) team led by Vehicle Engineering Specialist Adrian Guyll with four primary objectives, namely to provide a current product with which to continue MG’s Club-level racing tradition, to demonstrate SMTC UK’s in-house engineering capabilities, to illustrate the potential of the MG3’s platform and to evaluate possible MG3 product upgrades.

The race-ready MG3 Trophy features a turbocharged version of the production model’s 1.5 VTi-Tech (NSE) engine which develops 201bhp and 192ft lbs of torque. However, the 1.5T NSE engine has a new cylinder block, a free-flowed cylinder head, billet aluminium pistons, a re-profiled camshaft and a re-engineered flywheel. The turbocharger is set to 1.0 bar while other modifications include the addition of a high-flow induction system, a bespoke Janspeed exhaust system, a limited slip differential and a full race-spec clutch.

The MG3 Trophy’s bodyshell has undergone a full lightening programme without compromising structural rigidity while chassis modifications include the adoption of fully-adjustable MacPherson strut front suspension and a bespoke rear anti-roll bar.

The standard MG3’s brakes have been upgraded to an all-disc brake system – the ‘3 Trophy features four piston race calipers and 330mm cross-drilled rotors at the front and two piston race calipers with 280mm solid rotors at the rear together with a front-to-rear proportioning valve. The ‘3 Trophy runs on Team Dynamics Pro Race 17in wheels with 205 620 17 slick or wet tyres.

Aerodynamic modifications include the fitment of an adjustable front splitter and a twin-plane adjustable rear spoiler while safety features include the addition of an MSA-approved roll cage, a race seat with a five-point safety harness, a fully-plumbed Lifeline fire extinguisher and a quick release steering wheel.

The Development Team at SMTC UK reportedly hopes that the MG3 Trophy might be used as the basis of an affordable, entry-level One-Model Saloon Car Championship – something akin to the MINI Challenge or the Renault UK Clio Cup or, perhaps, a step below those two Championships on the ladder to the British Touring Car Championship.

Interestingly, the latest Technical Regulations for the MG Car Club’s flagship MG Trophy Championship already include a Class E MG 3 Invitation Class in addition to the current Class B/MG ZR 190, Class C/MG ZR 170 and Class D/MG ZR 160 structure…

MG3 Trophy.002



Clive Goldthorp


  1. Not sure about the door graphics and tail spoiler but some serious work has gone into this car so let’s hope something good comes of it which will spin over into a modern day ZR to help shift the metal.

  2. Saw it in action at MG90 and had a chat with the ‘builders’.
    Nice write up Clive! Now we need to exert pressure for a road version!

  3. A good upgrade, but those wheels still look too small, which rather betrays its origins as an Asian shopping trolley…

  4. The MG6 has been pretty successful in Touring Cars for the past couple of years, but MG don’t seem to be bothered about using that success to promote the car. As I still haven’t seen an MG3 anywhere, maybe they could use this model to make people aware of its existence.

  5. “The race-ready MG3 Trophy features a turbocharged version of the production model’s 1.5 VTi-Tech (NSE) engine which develops 201bhp and 192ft lbs of torque. However, the 1.5T NSE engine has a new cylinder block, a free-flowed cylinder head, billet aluminium pistons, a re-profiled camshaft and a re-engineered flywheel.”

    So it bears no relation and few common components to the road-going cars engine?

  6. Are they going to do a “Plato” special edition of this? A special button on the dash lets you roll the car on any bend and it spends its time when its not being driven sitting in the corner and wingeing about how everyone else has a bigger turbo/better tyres/less grey hair than it does…

    Manufacturers Note: Vauxhall ‘Muller’ Special Editions should not be kept in the same Garage as the “Plato” editions. This would be… unwise; and expensive.

  7. @ Cookie. Quite alot will actually be common between the two engines if what is said in the article is true. Basically anything that isnt listed as changed will probably be exactly the same, bar possibly the fuel pump (higher pressure if the turbo boost level has been substantially increased, or a turbo has been fitted where there wasnt one before). The valvetrain will probably be the same bar the cam profiles and the ECU will have been reprogrammed. Most of the ancilliary parts will be the same, if only for matters of cost. I guess they might possibly have upgraded the radiator, but that isnt mentioned.
    It’ll probably be possible to wring more performance out of this by shimming (or replacing) the wastegate so it opens at a higher boost level but too much of that and you need further modifications.
    I have to say I like the billet steel engine/turbo cover, better than those huge expanses of pointless plastic that just sit there and retain heat.
    Sadly, you just know that a fair percentage of these will probably be bought by rich parents for their 17 year old offspring – who will promptly wrap them round a tree on a bone dry road because they simply cant cope with 200+ hp in a 900kg shopping trolley…

  8. Blimey, an engine bay with plenty of room around the engine to not only enable you to work on it, but also allow adequate ventilation. In this age of small hot hatches that is impressive.

    The side graphics and black roof all look appealing to me (although ditto the roof-top aerofoil). If it eventually progresses to becoming a road-going showroom model (and I hope it does), it will be interesting to see what colour and trim enhancements might be offered for the interior. I will start the ball rolling by suggesting to MG Motor UK Ltd the idea of red seat belts, sports hugging front seats (although more comfortable and supportive than those in the MG ZR please) trimmed in black quality leather with red accents and stitching, a similar leather treatment for the steering wheel rim and gearbox gaiter, and some tasteful silver trim to break up the expanse of the black surfaces.

    It could be the sort of halo model the MG3 will ultimately aspire to.

    Hopefully the 1.9-litre turbo diesel engine might also follow in due course, too.

  9. I doubt you’d see racing-spec cars coming to market, but it shows what you can do by sticking a turbo in that engine. Isn’t there a 165hp turbo in the works somewhere? That would be properly fun..

  10. I can see why certain aspects of the styling might attract criticism but overall I like it. The graphics and spoiler don’t offend and, perhaps surprisingly, I still think it looks good with the small wheels.

    Great if it leads to a modern day ZR, hopefully with a warm derivative like my current 105.

    There has been much talk of a new MG roadster. Great to see such a car one day. However, would this have been the obvious, easy route to take? Are in fact SAIC doing the right thing, taking on a bigger challenge by trying to establish modern day sporting credentials for MG?

  11. @Dave Dawson – the MG3 thats on sale now has the same performance as your ZR105 – so the entry level version is already in place, now we need the powerful ones!!

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