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MG3 Hatch 5Dr 1.5 VTi-TECH 106hp Exclusive

Date: 12 September 2018   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

To say the original MG3 was a bit underwhelming is being generous. So, has this latest model made sufficient progress to overturn that dowdy reputation?
Standard equipment:
Leather seats, part leather steering wheel, alloy wheels
Engines:
Petrol: 1.5
Trims:
Explore, Excite, Exclusive
Transmissions:
Five-speed manual

That old adage 'never mind the quality, feel the width' is perhaps the best way of describing the MG3. 

Offering supermini space and practicality for city car money, with a starting price of £9,495, its nearest credible rival is another bastion of budget motoring, the Dacia Sandero. 

To help persuade you that its motor is the worthier option, MG has ushered in a revamped version of the 3 and is offering a transferable seven-year, 80,000-mile warranty to help sweeten the deal.

Welcome changes

Visually, the front end of the 3 is significantly different from its predecessor - gaining a larger grille similar to the one used on the ZS crossover, flanked by fresh LED headlights perched above a reprofiled bumper. There are also a new set of 16in alloy wheels and some fresh, funky colours including 'Orange Marmalade' and 'Hello Yellow.' 

Of course, spruced-up looks and colours will only get you so far, especially in the hard-nosed fleet segment. 

We drove a top-of-the-range Exclusive trim car and despite its exalted moniker, the interior materials still look and feel extremely cheap. You do get a leather steering wheel and partial-leather sports seats, which raises the bar a little but although the interior looks more up to date than before, it's still not the most palatial space we've ever sat in.

It's fair to say the cabin does the basic stuff well. There's enough head and leg room for four adults, while the boot is a practical, square shape and the rear seats can be folded to help carry longer loads.

The dashboard has been redesigned, including fresh dials, while the 8in touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay is large and sharp. Despite this, it's not the most intuitive to navigate; for example, to go back a menu, you need to prod a big central button, which is a bit counter-intuitive and takes some getting used to.

Heavy steering 

On the road, the steering feels rather heavy at low speeds - perhaps not surprising as MG is still using hydraulics rather than a more up-to-date electrically assisted system - but it's decently weighted as speed builds and offers a pleasant amount of feedback. 

Body control is also pretty good and there's plenty of grip, but the downside to this is the ride is somewhat taxing. The suspension always feels unsettled on craggy town surfaces and remains unyieldingly firm, even on relatively smooth motorway surfaces. 

There's only one engine available, which is an old-school non-turbo 1.5-litre petrol unit. To be honest, it feels well off the pace and you don't half have to rev it to hit its so-called sweet spot - we're talking a dizzy 4,500-rev mark here - and unfortunately, that's where it's at its worst in terms of noise, vibration and harshness. It's not very economical either, returning 47.1mpg while producing 140g/km of CO2 in official tests. 

A disappointing package

While there are certain things to like about the new MG3, such as its competitive pricing, extensive warranty and the sheer amount of metal you get for your money, it remains a disappointing package. 

MG has had five years to improve matters and, in many respects, it has stood still. While the interior refresh is welcome, the materials it's constructed from are still pretty basic, while the ride quality and engine refinement remain disappointing. 


Verdict


6/10
  • Price stays low, nicely weighted steering, good space.
  • Engine is a let down, high emissions.

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