New MG3 supermini a value package out to impress
Motoring editor Andy Russell, who has fond memories of owning an early MG Metro, says the new MG3 supermini is another boost for the modern-day brand in terms of driving appeal, value and warranty.
Thirty-five years ago I bought one of the first MG Metros which, though based on a British Leyland hatch with antiquated roots, had the right badge.
It wasn’t cheap to buy, nor run once the year’s warranty ran out, and purists said it wasn’t a real MG but that didn’t matter! Nor was it particularly quick, unlike the turbo version, but what it lost on the straights it won back through corners.
Its spiritual successor is the MG3 supermini, with the second generation just launched and it gets a seven-year warranty!
Looks and image
MG has refreshed the look and feel of it, inside and out. The original model was cheap and cheerful, built to a budget with all four models under £10,000.
This new model’s styling is evolutionary and enticing, especially in a bold, bright colours, with the large grille framing a bigger MG badge, body-colour side skirts making it look lower, a longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs and the high-rise tail lights.
Under the bonnet
You’d think a 106PS 1.5-litre petrol-powered supermini would be pretty potent but despite being flexible, it feels flat at low revs with no turbo. Stir it into life with the five-speed manual gearbox and, above 4,500rpm, it’s quite eager, but noisier, and runs out of puff.
Accept this is not a sporty MG, take it easy and it’s a pleasant travelling companion, averaging 40mpg overall.
It’s a shame it hasn’t got a more get up and go, given the MG ZS compact SUV offers a 1.0-litre turbo engine.
How it drives
The ride is firm, particularly poodling along poor, pock-marked surfaces when it feels unsettled with some suspension noise, but it improves with speed.
The saving grace is it’s surprisingly accomplished to drive – agile, accurate and grippy on twisty roads, with little body lean and good steering feel, so it zips round corners. It’s fun but could even more entertaining with a more engaging engine.
Space and comfort
If you’re looking for a roomy cabin, the MG3 boasts class-leading head and legroom so you could seat four six-foot adults comfortably and five for short distances.
Without the optional spare wheel, you’ve got a deep, boxy 285-litre boot with a large underfloor compartment to hide valuables but, with no height-adjustable floor panel, the sill is high. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat but step up from the boot floor.
At the wheel
The new dashboard and steering wheel, part of a much-updated interior, are a big improvement visually, especially the turbine-like outer air vents but all those hard plastics don’t feel so good.
The fascia, more functional than fancy, has simple dials and heating and ventilation controls. An eight-inch touchscreen, on Excite and Exclusive trims, is bright and gaudy and has Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto. It’s straightforward to navigate but can be ponderous to react.
Those top two trims benefit from a height-adjustable driver’s seat but the steering wheel adjusts only for height.
Available in Explore, Excite and Exclusive, the range-topper is expected to be the best-seller with its £12,795 price tag including 16in Diamond cut alloy wheels, LED lights, heated door mirrors, part-leather sports seats, colour touchscreen, reversing sensors and rear camera, DAB radio with six speakers and woofer, remote audio controls, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, cruise control, air-con and a seven-year or 80,000-mile warranty.
MG has followed the success of its ZS compact SUV, which has helped it to record sales, with the new MG3 supermini giving the brand’s growth added momentum.
A spacious supermini for city car money, it’s a big improvement on its predecessor with smart looks, attractive pricing and a comprehensive, transferrable peace-of-mind warranty.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: MG3 Explore £9,495; Excite £11,395; Exclusive £12,795
Engine: 1,498cc, 106PS, four-cylinder petrol with five-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-60mph 10.4 seconds; top speed 108mph
MPG: Urban 38.9; extra urban 53.8; combined 47.1
CO2 emissions: 140g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 29pc
Insurance group: (out of 50) 7/8E
Warranty: Seven years or 80,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,055mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,912mm; H 1,504mm