MG3 – Review
by Liam Bird
It’s approximately 20-years since one of my most memorable journeys in an MG came to a very abrupt and sudden end. I remember it like it was yesterday – but then, how could I forget?
As I made my way back home one Sunday morning using the multitude of single track roads that litter North Herefordshire, happily humming away to a cassette copy of Rush’s Hold Your Fire, I committed to what the then 20-year-old me thought was the correct line through the near blind S-bend ahead of me. Oh the folly of youth!
What I didn’t know was the driver of the Volvo 340 coming the other way had, just moments before me, thought up the very same idea. Needless to say, the 340 lived up to Volvo’s reputation brick-like build quality impeccably; my MG on the other hand…
I should also probably point out that I wasn’t driving either a B a C or a Midget. My MG badge, at least up until the inevitable point of impact, was firmly attached, centre stage, on the grille of a Metro.
Fast forward to the here-and-now and a lot’s changed – not least my approach to cornering. After what seemed like what could have been the death of one of Britain’s most famous marques, MG, together with the instantly recognisable octagonal badge is back. Finally and mercifully free of the clutches of the Rover Group, the MG of 2014 is Chinese-owned with styling and engineering taking place at their UK base at Longbridge (where else?). And it’s there where the finally assembly of the five-door and (almost) five-seater MG3 takes place.
Despite looking like a combination of nearly every other hatchback’s you can thing of most distinctive bits – rear pillars, previous generation Fiesta; rear lights, previous generation Punto; headlamps, Citroen DS 3; grille, new Clio – in the metal at least the 3 isn’t such a bad looking little thing after all. A little tall perhaps, and maybe slightly narrower than some of the other B-segment super-minis with which it’s set to compete, the 3’s been brought to market with a whole host of ‘personalisation packages’ (read: decals and labels) in a bid to help make it stand out from the crowd. Fortunately though, they’re optional, even the go-faster stripe on the press car was, to my tastes at least, slightly dubious. Although I will admit the standard fit hockey stick-shaped running lights are quite attractive, as is the square exhaust.
Call me old-fashioned if you like but if it was my money being spent I’d use the £225 MG charge for their suspect stickers and instead put it towards a more discreetly turned out and higher specced MG3 in the first place. £9,299 bags you the mid range 3Form complete with iPod connection, DAB radio, aircon, Bluetooth and audio controls on the steering wheel. Or, if your budget allows it, another £700 claims the top-spec 3Style complete with parking sensors, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, and nicer alloys too. When you consider you still haven’t quite hit the £10K mark that’s not bad at all.
You will have to put up with a few downsides of course. As comfortable, and as clearly laid out as the MG3’s interior may be, there’s no hiding the fact that it does looks awfully cheap. Door trims, dashboard tops, you name it – even with the ambitiously titled and optional (£500) part-leather lux pack fitted the MG3’s cabin makes even some so-called budget brands efforts look luxurious. Still, I guess you get what you pay for. At least it’s squeak and rattle free.
What does comes as a surprise though is how good the MG3 to drive. OK, so the 1.5 litre 106 bhp motor may not offer the last word in refinement and with peak torque not arriving until 4750 rpm you will have to work to make such things happen. 0-62 is covered in 10.9 seconds and on the hills you’ll find yourself getting more than familiar with the gearbox’s shift action – which, thankfully, is rather smooth. But overall the MG3 is a grippy little thing and can be hurled around to your heart’s content. The steering might be a touch heavy for some and there’s no getting away from it: the ride is too bouncy, but nevertheless the MG feels taut, remains flat during cornering and is surprisingly composed. Above all, it’s good fun.
After a week’s driving the nearly 41-year-old and altogether more sensible me, returned the MG3 unscathed. Concerned a little about its fuel economy, its band E CO2 emissions, and what it’ll be worth in three years time. The 20-year-old me however wasn’t concerned with such things. Just as MG have predicted; he would have loved it.
MG Motor UK MG3 Style
Engine: 1498cc 4Cyl 16V petrol
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual, Front wheel drive.
Power: 106bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 101 lbft @ 4750rpm
0-60 MPH: 10.4 Sec
Max Speed: 108mph
MPG: 48.7 combined
VED Band: E