Blog : MG3 – Taking another look…

Mike Humble

MG3 (2)

Let’s get this out of the way first, so you know exactly where I stand – I like the MG3. There, I said it. It’s a statement that needs to be made after the recent pasting I gave the revised MG6 because of the large question marks over its viability, quality and long-term residuals. I concluded that it’s a difficult purchase to recommend… So the more positive message about the MG3 should bode well for its chances.

OK, it’s far from perfect but, for the cash, it’s great value. From the side it looks like a blurred Skoda Fabia vRS and from the rear it looks like a Fiat Punto, neither of which are bad things. I’m still impressed with the interior room, the overall comfort, the level of equipment, some of the design cues, and as for those alloy wheels… they look utterly sublime.

So what has MG done to keep the car fresh and competitive in the marketplace in the two years since its launch here? Apart from a few tempting finance offers, little has been altered with the car itself. They do seem better built, though – the one I’ve just driven was really tight and rattle free. There is still an odd power surge in first gear, where the revs give a little surge – it reminds me of the throttle mapping issue of the early 1.8-litre petrol MG6.

Its slightly high CO2 rating could be bettered with the adaption of a stop-start system and the fuel economy is still best described as only average. But what the MG3 really needs is a new heart and soul, the 1.5-litre 16v petrol doesn’t feel like it produces the power which is claimed to produce. The power band is reminiscent of a two-stroke Yamaha – all of about 1000rpm right at the top of the rev range.

As a driving tool, it really makes you smile. Communicative steering, an improved lovely quick gearshift, sharp handling and decent brakes make forget you are driving a sub-£10,000 car – and remember, this was designed and engineered mainly by British workers, it really does spool along rather well.

MG3 (3)

Sure, if you look hard enough there are one or two rough edges, like the parcel shelf for example (above). Where the hinges fit to the shelf, it looks like someone has used a red-hot butter knife to cauterize the plastic – it looks really nasty. Also, the heater buttons are way too small and fiddly on the move at night and the radio, while having a really good sound quality, is difficult to master and pair a phone to without a study period with the Owner’s Handbook.

The traditional hydraulic PAS (none of this modern -angled EPAS here folks) moans and groans like an angry cat when you reach full lock and the suspension thumps and clunks over rough roads in a very vocal manner. Low speed ride is very firm and unsettled but, as velocity increases, the ride becomes agreeable. However, on the whole, it’s a decent car to cruise the miles in, the front seats are fairly soft and seem to provide good comfort if a little lacking in bolster support. Plenty of room, plenty of equipment and good looks – there’s a lot to like with the MG3.

It was certainly a talking point, too. School kids yelled, ‘that looks cool Mister’ at my local newsagents and a few local residents stopped to ask about it. It’s here where MG is really missing the boat. I get a little offended by the way the brand purists seem to be doing the lion’s share of the sales and marketing. Apart from a sprinkling of TV commercials, I have seen little marketing in the press or on billboards.

The MG3 is a really likeable and honest little bundle of fun, and the press car came in a radiant red and, with a superbly-applied Union Jack roof decal, simply yelled style and fun. It’s just a shame the bloody awful marketing seems to be the only thing holding the product back from real feel-good sales success in the showrooms.

As much as I like the car – and I really do, the full package in terms of a solid back up, from head office level makes it tough in my opinion to recommend the MG3 wholeheartedly as a new car purchase. Annoyingly, MG Motor UK is part of a truly massive global corporation and none of the above brickbats would require heaven and earth to put right. Come on, MG! Do it!

MG3 (1)

Mike Humble


  1. Looked at new cars a while back and had pretty much settled on a Suzuki Swift as my main choice. Ended up keeping my ‘temporary’ Rover 25. The thing is while it seems a good all rounder I can’t see anything about the 3 that makes it a better choice than either.

    It’s actually got less power and worse real world fuel consumption than a 1.4 K series and only slightly better emissions, how is that possible 20 years later?

    As far as the original design goes was there really a lot of input from the UK? I only ask as I believe I read on here that MG employ about 200 people at Longbridge in total. Compared to the thousands at JLR that really doesn’t seem many to have much of an input.

  2. Hilton, in the 4 to 5 months I’ve had mine, I’ve only seen two others on the road, one belonging to Clive Goldthorp.

    I’m very pleased with mine which is a Style Lux bought from the Sales Centre at Longbridge. My only real complaints are the tiny heater, ventilation buttons (as Mike commented) and the clock – staring at it long enough to read the time whilst on the move would result in a crash!
    Yes, the suspension is quite noisy at low speeds but so far this hasn’t bother me to any great degree. For my driving routine, style the engine is fine too.

    The front seats are great – you seem to be able to drive with your head more often firmly against the heads rest.

    Like Mike says, an enjoyable driving tool.

    • …I’ll have to get a bigger screen – I never spot my spelling mistakes until after I’ve pressed submit!

  3. The clutch gave up on my 2.5 ZT a few weeks ago and as it was also due a cambelt change it brought forward my plan to get an MG3 a couple of years, as it made sense to put the money into a newer smaller car with my son in mind for when he learns to drive. I’ve been an MG and Rover man for as long as I can remember owning an SD1, MG Maestros, Rover 400’s, a 75 and I still have a ZT-T (along with a P5 and a P6)so you could say I was an enthusiast wanting MG and Rover to live on and whilst supportive of the new company and keen on the new models, prepared to be disappointed.
    We’ve had the MG3 for about a month and I just wanted to echo Mike Humbles comments that I’ve been very impressed and that it’s a great little car to drive and fabulous value. It’s well built, does exactly what a fun small car should do and I would recommend one to anyone.
    I live in Lincolnshire and in the last few months see at least one MG3 (not the same one before you ask!)and sometimes the odd 6 every day on my drive to work. So the profile seems to be raising around here.
    By the way, all my sons friends think it’s cool and want one too….so there’s hope for the future!

    • Yes, I do think it is regarded as rather cool by many onlookers.

      I was pleased recently when the young girl behind the counter at the filling station remarked “which of the MGs is that?”. Also, an eight year old lad in the family, not knowing which new car I’d recently bought, said “Oh, it’s an MG3!”.

  4. It appears some of the shortcomings have been addressed. Today I received an email from MG giving details of the 2016 MY spec which now includes stop-start and new colours.

  5. A young lad, 20 or 21 years, said to me last night “Saw you this morning in your red car. (he meant my 3). He thought MG was no more. Wanting to surprise him at its low price I asked him “How much do reckon it cost me?” Now, he is no car nut but not totally clueless either. His answer was, wait for it, £24,000. “Well it does look rather snazzy.” he remarked. Lost for words when I said £10,248 otr

    • No, he isn’t totally clueless car wise. I’ve heard him enthuse about the Corsa he’s just paid £5k for.

  6. A guy who lives nearby stopped me Thursday night – My, it’s a great looking car that MG of yours. Every time I drive by it I think what a good looking car it is.

  7. Having just taken delivery of a new MG3 today I thought I’d pass on our initial thoughts on the 2016 MG3 compared to the 2013 model we bought a few years ago.

    Firstly can we say that our 2013 model performed faultlessly apart from an errant airbag cable on the drivers side seat that took minutes to fix a couple of years ago. Our “Hello Yellow” MG3 performed perfectly over the period of our PCP contract and delivered around 39 MPG over the 36 month term.

    As we approached the end of the contract I offered my dear lady wife of thirty years the chance of moving to another brand and this quickly received the rebuttal I expected. Having driven Rover 25’s for quite a number of years, she viewed the “3” as a natural and cultural replacement and I was told, in no uncertain terms, that another “3” would be residing on our drive for another term.

    So, today, we took delivery of another “3”, this time in “Orange Marmalade” or “Burnt Orange” in my vernacular.

    From the moment the lower CO2 engine sprung into life at MG Cardiff we could see things had changed for the better.

    The engine is smoother and quieter; the fact that it attracts zero car tax is also a plus.

    A major improvement, however, would seem to be the improved suspension and ride experience. Our 2013 model was “rustic” to say the least. Our local country lanes are the ultimate test and our new model passed with flying colours.

    We committed to this new model for the next five years and, if today is anything to go by, it promises to be a fun and more economical ride.

    Well done MG, by the time we’re ready to change again we sincerely hope that the new model on offer will make our choice of car quite simple…. another MG3.

  8. My stepmother has just bought a ‘3’ and so far it has impressed for what is a cheap car, the overall build is ahead of anything Ford or Vauxhall, even the doors close with a high quality clunk. Only her old Mini 1000 was more fun to drive. The only down side is the ride is set in concrete, but then it was a very very cheap car so you cant have it all!, It is the top model with all the toys, would have been nice to have had sat nav, but then the phone can do that!

  9. It would be good to read a road test review with this pitted against the Hyundai I10 and Kia Picanto, which are very close obvious rivals for price/spec and brand value.
    I have not seen a similar road testing so far. AROnline; are you up for that challenge?

  10. At last… I actually saw my first MG3 yesterday. It was a white 66 plate one (supplied by our local Mitsubishi main dealer!!). To me it looked better for real than all the photos I’ve seen.

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