Blog : MG3 – seems to have what it takes

Keith Adams

Progress at MG Motor UK seems painfully slow to the casual observer. Joe Public still isn’t aware that MG is selling new cars in the UK and, as a result, the ‘6, despite a sterling performance in BTCC, continues to sell in penny numbers. However, the new models are coming – the first is the diesel powered ‘6, which really should be hitting dealers in the next few weeks.

After that, we’ll get the MG3 and, as you can see from the picture above, it really isn’t a bad-looking thing, even if it’s a little derivative, echoing the Skoda Fabia and Suzuki Swift. Come the summer of 2013, MG re-enters the supermini sector after years away and what many of us will be hoping for is that the new car recaptures some of the Metro spirit which endures to this day. I had a good look over one in Beijing earlier this year – my overall impressions were that the interior is reasonably well screwed together and that, if offered at the right price, the ‘3 should generate more showroom traffic.

In the two-tone paint job in the image above, it certainly looks sporting enough to wear the MG name-plate. I’m still slightly worried, though – in China it’s offered with a single 1.5-litre petrol engine and, for us range-hungry Europeans, that’s not enough. This lack of choice has blighted the MG6 since its UK launch last year, too. You can have it with a 1.8-litre turbo and that’s it…

Compare that with its closest rival, the Skoda Octavia, and you’ll see why this has seriously dented the MG6’s chances. The Czech car comes with a myriad of engines: 1.4 16V, 1.4TFSI, 1.6TDI, 1.8TSI, 2.0TDI and 2.0TFSI. In six months’ time, the MG6 will be available in 1.8T and 1.9TDI form. Choice, they say, is good. Give the buyers what they want.

The MG5 looks to be in the same position. Currently it’s offered with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, identical to the MG3’s. It it enough? What do you think? It could change by the end of next year, of course.

Mind you, it’s also frustrating to see that the MG3 is already on sale across the world.  Just Google MG Egypt, MG Kazakhstan or MG Chile, for example, to see what I mean – as I say, progress at MG Motor UK doesn’t half look slow…

Keith Adams


  1. Keith, we are a right hand drive market, and I think that is one of the major problems as to why MG doesn’t seem to be taking the UK seriously, and a lack of engines, well…..

  2. The thing is if you actually study the Chinese psyche, yes they may seem inward looking but they aren’t stupid when it comes to what’s going on around them and from what I’ve read, the Chinese seem to have a long-termist attitude which can frustrate many Western businesses but it’s how they plan things. This report may give a few clues…

  3. Apart from the vaguely interesting tail lights, this is not a good looking car. It’s too high waisted and too small wheeled to be in any kind of pleasing proportion.

    The low profile tyres appear to be an afterthought too; it looks like it might be happier on the 12 or 13″ steel wheels and high profile tyres that it’s probably specified with in it’s home market in China.

  4. The Octavia seems to be mostly sold in TDi form, especially to fleets. But I’ve seen taxi drivers flock to any bargain diesel, from Chevy Cruzes to Hyundai i30s.
    The 3 needs to be priced keenly, the supermini market is very competitive, especially with more and more derivatives such as premium superminis, citycars, mini-MPVs and mini-SUVs.

  5. I’m afraid that the Chinese are merely keeping their UK operation to give a bit of class and legitimacy to what are essentially Chinese cars. Sure it is nice that they do a bit of design work here, some jobs is better than non.

    However I suspect that they don’t really care if they take a bit of a loss on the UK ‘manufacturing’ (not sure you can call screwing kits from China together manufacturing) operation. I’m afraid that we stupidly let our mass car manufacturer die, and I don’t think the Chinese are going to bring it back.

  6. I am not sure what the MG3 ‘USP’ is. It’s not bad looking but whether it will compete with Fiesta/Ibiza etc is questionable. However whether SAIC are playing a clever long-term game or simply haven’t got ‘it’ is uncertain. Undoubtedly the recession has blown their plans to sell in GB and the EU off course. Given the abysmal level of car sales in Europe and Fiat effectively throwing in the towel with the Fiesta and Golf class cars (no replacement Punto etc) SAIC may have realised they need to have a different product and game plan for EU to that in China or elsewhere. However the delays with launching a diesel ‘6’ is a big inexcusable fail. Sang Yong have got it with their successful re-launch targeting the diesel caravan towing buyer. Look back at where Hyundai/Kia were 20 years ago and look at them now, ditto with Skoda so i am not writing SAIC/MG off, yet……

  7. In the same way as the MG3 SW (aka the Streetwise, by Rover) was embraced by young drivers in its new home market, I can see the new MG3 being very popular amongst young Chinese buyers, who will demand plenty of personalising accessories to make it even more individual; rather like British buyers do with the MINI.

  8. I like it but I agree it apears too high waisted – they need to alter the trim to detract from this effect much like VW have done with the Golf for many years (when they made hald the bumper black at the bottom and it really made an otherwise bulbous rear quite tidy…) Not sure what this thing about USP’s is because if anyone can tell me what particular USP’s other ‘normal’ shaped supermini’s have I’d like to hear them. USP’s a generally dreamt up by marketing people (ok, so MG don’t seem to have any of these) The car simply needs to be properly detailed, priced and marketed when it arrives here. I’d suggest they go for the youth market rather like MGR did with the ZR – they managed to shift a very respectable number of ZR’s in the few years it was with us and given how decrepit it was, this was no small miracle.

  9. I think it looks good,a picture isnt going to do it justice,in the flesh counts,would it look high waisted in one full colour?

  10. Why does the first image of the MG3 put in mind of the Allegro? Inca Yellow, black vinyl hood, steel wheels missing a hub cap.

    Then I read the text and find it comes with a 1.5 OHC engine and a 5-speed box, all designed in Longbridge.

    Is this new driving force from MG the long awaited Series IV Allegro I wonder?

  11. It literally looks like a copy-and-paste job of bits of CAD designs of several other cars morphed together. Rear bumper is Fiesta, tailgate handle treatment is Corsa, rear lights are old FIAT Punto, side swathe is KIA ProCeed and the whole thing has been painted to look like a Citroen DS3.

  12. At the risk of digging up the Petrol/Diesel row yet again, I can’t see a Diesel 6 making a lot of difference. I’m guessing it will be about £1500-2000 more than the petrol, pushing it even more into the territory of (better?) more established rivals, also if the basic design was for petrol, then the diesel had better be something very good if it is to have good NVH. It will also push used petrol prices even lower.

  13. New british only MG’s are needed .I saw a 3 in the flesh it looked like a tarted up car from a third world country.MG should be a british/chinese Mazda sporty but mainstream cars that sell well and are’nt based on cars from the nineties.So take a leaf from Mazda’s book MG build good cars(made in britain) and the showrooms will be full.

  14. SAIC makes deals with everyone else so why not make one with mazda.They should get hold of the tooling for the old 6 saloon,ship it to longbridge and start building a MGised mazda .Bare in mind VW got away with it ,with the MK1 skoda superb/old VW Passat and the current seat Exeo/old audi A4.Think about it,it’s not a bad idea.Oh also make a deal to develop a sport’s car based on the current MX-5.MG will never do this but it is common sense

  15. The wheel arches amd wheels on that MG3 look rather small, were the designers harking back to the 60s Mini, or to the original Metro wheels?

    The small wheel arches make the sides rather awkward looking, and small wheels aren’t good if you’re trying to sell to the (big wheeled) boy racer market…

  16. I hate being nagative regards MG, I so want them to succeed.
    But how many times have we read about an MG6 Diesel to arive “Soon”, the MG3 to arrive “Soon”, the MG5 to arrive “Soon”
    I think we will all have died of boredom by the time MG get a full range of cars in the UK.

  17. The delay is laughable – I’d initially read it was due THIS Summer and I was all fired up to exchange my 2005 diesel Smart Forfour for a new MG3. Then I started to read things about the engine (only 1.5 petrol, low(ish) MPG & high emissions for supermini class etc) that started to put me off. But I was still dead interested in test driving and hopefully falling in love with MG again. Of course, it didn’t matter because it got delayed. So this Summer, I traded in my Forfour for a brand new Smart Fortwo with low emissions, no tax, high spec and 0% finance for £9k. Whatever you may think of Fortwo’s, I doubt I’ll see myself wincing in an MG dealership come a year’s time. Your loss, MG.

  18. I agree with @18 – it is getting silly now. I don’t understand how other companies can go into a full launch with a range of models/engines/trims and MG have dripped this out so long and so quietly as to completely ruing any chances of them getting good press. For those people who say they are new and have loads to do, consider that they are managing to sell the Roewe and MG models across the world. It’s completely ridiculous and add to that the stupid MG website that hardly works, cannot perform basic used car seraches and generally feels like it’s been designed and operated from a £5.99 a month deal with an ISP, this does not bode well. I’m not sure I could bear to hand over £15-£20k and be confident either the car or the company would last the duration of the warranty. I was burned with MG Rover going bust after 6 months of ownership, don’t want that again!

  19. @ Adam, I agree with your sentiment, but I can’t see the logic of your comparison with an as-yet to arrive MG3 and the final choice of a Smart ForTwo. My partner had one of those last year for about a year, was absolutely dreadful, and if you think it fun now, wait until the horrendously slow and wallowy gearchange and rock-hard suspension drains every bit of enthusiasm for driving out of your body like a vampire on a feeding frenzy. Yes, it cost us no Tax a year, but to be honest, by the end we couldn’t care how low the emissions were or how efficient (even though it missed the official figures by at least 30mpg) we just couldn’t wait to be shot of it. And it cost of just over £10k new, which was, frankly, ludicrous. Hope I;m wrong, enjoy! 🙂

  20. Too little too late. Not really the sort of car the British motor industry needs to be bothering with in any case.

  21. I saw one in the metal a couple of weeks ago – it’s not the most attractive small car ever, and reminds me very much of the Kia Picanto from the rear. Must try harder.

  22. “it really isn’t a bad-looking thing, even if it’s a little derivative, echoing the Skoda Fabia and Suzuki Swift…”

    “It literally looks like a copy-and-paste job of bits of CAD designs of several other cars morphed together. Rear bumper is Fiesta, tailgate handle treatment is Corsa, rear lights are old FIAT Punto, side swathe is KIA ProCeed and the whole thing has been painted to look like a Citroen DS3.”

    The above sums it up completely

    It’s a minger. Ugly far Eastern / Korean derivative styling. The sort of thing that will be driven by flat-capped pensioners everywhere at 35mph regardless of the speed limit.

  23. Erm, ooops… looks to be a bit sub-par styling wise.

    Were the side scallops put in as a wink to the Maestro?

    It looks like it was designed by a committee with little understanding of style and marketing, good to see that MG Motor’s British Leyland/BMC/BMH heritage hasn’t gone to waste…

    No doubt it will sell to the sort of people that bought City Rovers.

  24. I can’t see how anyone would hold out for one or even get excited by this, from looks alone itseems to be possibly better than a proton savvy but behind everything else.

  25. Having seen one up close at Longbridge in the summer, I’d say it is far ahead of what the CityRover was 2004. The car in question was LHD, solid red with beige cloth (so probably a China-spec car) – not particular exciting to look at, but pleasing with a friendly rather than agressive style. The interior looked well fitted and not too cheap, and quite roomy. While not up to Polo or Fiesta, it should to be a good competitor for the cheaper end of the sector as represented by the Skoda Fabia or Kia Rio.

  26. An Early Noughty”s Fiat punto more like..Thats why no one”s Buying these cars dated & non interesting designs&mechanicals

  27. “An Early Noughties Fiat Punto more like”.

    Mmm. That gets me thinking. Back then Fiat produced some of the most memorable television adverts which probably helped shift a few more Puntos. Remember the petrol station scene where the lead character with a Brummie accent was talking to his girlfriend using the lyrics from a 1981 Human League track? Or the one where Andy Williams’ song Watching the Girls Go By produced another humourous advert with some great imagery?

    Perhaps the Noughties Fiat Punto is good inspiration after all.

  28. Comment 3 – “It’s too high waisted and too small wheeled to be in any kind of pleasing proportion.”

    See what you mean, but still think it’s rather attractive.

  29. Yes, its styling is derivative but is this such a criticism?
    With a full range of trim and engine options I’m sure it could sell at least reasonably well with the right sales, marketing effort – even if it was only average in most areas.

  30. Have to say the red one looks better and the rear end is certainly better than the awful rear of the MG5.

  31. @31 ” it should to be a good competitor for the cheaper end of the sector as represented by the Skoda Fabia or Kia Rio.”

    The MG is roughly where Kia was 5 years ago and Skoda was 10 to 15 years ago. This car will slot in beneath them, around about where Proton used to be.

    To compete with the, now relatively desirable, likes of Kia and Skoda, this will need to be a price lead purchase. Think £3,000 minimum part exchange deals.

  32. Having driven most of the small cars on the market, and also the MG3, I’d have to say the MG3’s platform is probably class leading.

    If I had to buy a car based on Grins V’s Cost, the MG3 would win that ratio every single time. Fantastic little car.

  33. @ 39,above.

    Encouraging to read an informed opinion rather than one which seems to almost automatically put the MG beneath Kia and Proton. Surely MG is sitting in a better posiition than they were 10 years or so ago. They have UK knowledge, experience at Longbridge, heritage of the MG name plus a well of support from people like myself.

  34. Ash the problem really is that the MSG FLEA will arrive here with a completely wrong engine and emissions which will be on the high side. It’s not going to be a suitable package for Western European markets. I’ve seen a review of the diesel MSG6 and it sounds like a cracking car but even the emissions on that are on the high side still.

  35. What exactly is the reason for the limited engine choice? I can’t see, with the might of SAIC, it being a lack of funds. Surely they’ve had time to develop the facilities, access the knowledge. One engine may be ok in China but surely they’ve researched other markets and realised a RANGE is required not just a model.
    Or, is this all part of the (extremely) long game plan?

  36. Without a shadow of doubt, the next big thing in the UK new car market will be Dacia (and deservedly so by the looks of it).
    What will this mean for MG….?
    Price, Price, Price.

    IMHO, Longbridge will never provide the scaleability to provide correct price positioning.

  37. Drove past Graham Walker Ltd in Chester today – that’s my local MG dealer. Three 6s parked outside so he’s still dealing in MG! Ultimately, however, MG is only a small part of the business. The large totem sign on the front indicates that far greater sales were anticipated initially.

    Also, evidence of Dacia setting up nearby

  38. Talking of Dacia (as some of you have)

    If Renault and it’s a big if, choose to attack the UK market with the Dacia brand they have a big opportunity to hurt the Korean and Skoda brands with their no frills low cost motoring products.

    I often travel in Renault (Dacia) Logon (made at the old Moskvitch factory) being used as Taxes in Moscow. Have to say I have been most impressed, 250K km + on the clock of fighting around Moscow pot holed roads in temperatures between -30 to +40, by drivers who obtained their licence with a small financial inducement to the examiner. Yet still they are running sweet without rattles other than the odd noisy wheel bearing on the higher mileage examples.

    Having said that my mother has just taken delivery of a new Panda (she’s nearly 80 you know). Despite it having the old fashioned 1.2 engine, the car is a joy to drive, sliding it around on its eco tyres (sorry mum) whilst still sipping fuel like a sparrow. Reminding me just how much fun you can have in a well sorted front wheel drive car.

    In these austere times, I would be inclined to enjoy this sort of no frills motoring in the UK so I can spend the money saved on big noisy Italian superbikes or even waste it on something frivolous like the children.

    With Europe set to spend the next few decades paying its debts I can see a big future in more modest cars like the Logon and Panda that are still fun to drive.

  39. The Yellow two tone one looks pretty poor but that Red one looks okay , how much is it going to be , does anyone know?

  40. I think it looks great and hopefully will get more young people interested in the brand , so iv’e read MG are developing a new range of turbo engines that will eventually make there way into the 3 , this will address the lack of engine choice point , i just hpe they get the marketing right this time unlike the MG6.

  41. Saw one of these today (18/11/2012) in Norfolk – all white with camo front and back, VX62 plates. Was hoping some pics might be of value to the auto press so snapped a few, possibly some minor tweaks front and back. Definitely sharpest looking at the back, interior plastics look a little low rent and dashboard styling is about ten years behind the current fashions.

  42. Its a sorry representation of the British mindset that the most negative stuff I have read about the current MG range is on this site.

  43. @50. Interesting.

    Why should we be conspicuously positive about their products, rather than critical? Should we single out SAIC, or any other far eastern manufacturer for that matter, for favourable reviews and comment?

  44. Dont forget that MG is a British brand that is owned by a Chinese company. These cars have a very healthy British input.

    Im not saying that they should be singled out for praise purely for that reason, I just find it disappointing that so many people on here find the far Eastern connection a sole reason to deride the product or offer up such comprehensive reviews as ‘its minging’ or ugly Chinese tat.

  45. Funny how folk knock the chinese,it takes decades of fumbling,’elf and safety dogma and billions to simply lay some train track and call it HS2,while the chinese do thousands of kilometres in a year or two,they should be admired,we dont have much of an industry here to blow off about even Dyson has the brass neck to complain having shipped 600 jobs overseas,compared to Germany we are pathetic minnows in terms of industrial output.
    MG did british ownership….look what happened.

  46. I test drove the MG3 last week and I was seriously impressed by both the build quality of the car and the overall driving experience. I tried the top of the range Style and the handling of the vehicle is excellent, it rides very well over the awful roads that we have in Somerset the suspension soaking up the undulations cracks & potholes that litter the highway. It was an excellent driving position visibilty is good and the seats are very comfortable quality of the interior is pretty good the quality of the plastic while not soft touch seems very durable, the fascia looks a little dated but the instruments can easily be seen. There has been some criticism of the engine being rather noisy but I did not find this to be so, the engine has good torque and revs very freely and delivers power smoothly, power output is 105PS which is class leading in it’s price bracket. Fit and finish is very good no rattles or squeaks the paint is very good some excellent solid colours and metallic/pearlescent options are very keenly priced. To sum up a good first entry into this segment of the market seriously good value for the price and if I were Skoda or Suzuki dealers I’d be very worried indeed!

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