Motor Mutterings: MG3 – Is the tide about to turn?

MGWords: Mike Humble

Let’s be honest, how many of us have been a little unfair to MG Motor UK over the past few years? Of course I will accept that in some cases the brickbats have been somewhat justified, especially where false starts and belated car launches have been concerned.

But many remarks and sometimes hateful digs about the brand are nothing short of xenophobic or ill informed stemming from some people who simply wish to see the brand fail regardless of the efforts of some genuinely talented UK based designers and engineers – sometimes it borders on racism and pure hatred.

Whatever your opinion on MG maybe, there is now a big chance that it can turn around the current situation of apathy and underwhelming sales with MG6. The prices for MG3 have now been announced and quite frankly, MG has rather cleverly dropped into a unique spot in the marketplace. General banter and initial responses regarding the 3 talk of stealing sales from Pacific Rim brands such as Hyundai and KIA but wait… its more interesting than that. Both the aforementioned cars are priced more in accordance to volume brands and that gives the MG3 a considerable advantage in every sense.

Here we have a UK engineered car with very agreeable styling cues, funky graphic option packs and a sporting heritage on the front grille priced under the all important £10.000 mark – its genius. For this price I am still almost certain than so far as margins matter a healthy figure of profit remains. Of course, most of the raw components will be sourced from the Far East, but the days of Chinese products being similar to a cheap plastic toy in terms of quality are so long gone. It is here where the advantages lay, foreign sourced parts of an agreeable quality for an agreeable price.

No doubt there are a certain percentage of locally sourced components too, but where do you think much of your current mainstream car parts come from? So how will it stack up from a salesman’s point of view? Well speaking as someone who has plied their trade on the showroom carpet, it has every chance of success. My own take on a new car is a fairly unique one, if I would buy and run one I would happily sell them, and for this car at this price where can you go wrong. Quality and reliability is bound to be acceptable – it has to be as there is no tolerance in the marketplace for inferior motor cars these days.

Lessons must be learnt from previous experiences. Let’s use the MG6 diesel for example – a car that so many people said was vital to the 6 range. Where was the advertising or marketing campaign and sales push? The diesel 6 drives really well, feels properly engineered, packs a nice torque punch and is competitive in economy terms and yet judging by the sales figures – no one seems to know. Some might say this is criminal especially after taking into account the hard work put in by some key British based research and engineering teams from MG and affiliated organizations.

Some very talented men and women work at the Longbridge site; some of them I know on a personal level and some of them eat live and sleep MG. As a consequence, it leaves little doubt in my mind this new little car has every chance to go some way towards resurrecting the brands credibility if criticism has been taken on board and lessons learnt with previous sales and marketing activity – or more to the point, the lack of. Some clever cheeky adverts here and there, some television show sponsorship or even a Z list celebrity seen whizzing about in an MG3 can only do good for visual impact.

It’s this ‘impact’ that MG so badly needs to make. Speaking to many people about cars on a daily basis uncovers a worrying fact that many are still blissfully unaware than MG still produce cars. Of course you have to doff the occasional forelock to the heritage and past but the future is tomorrow. Cars such as MG3 and 6 are vital not only to the future of the brand itself but for the future of Longbridge and any further UK investment. Dealers must be chomping at the bit to get some backsides on seats, yet some are growing impatient of what some see as a distinct lack of activity from MG.

This is not the case as Longbridge is a hive of creativity and again, its here that people need educating. Tease the potential customer and keep them informed of projects and ideas rather than throwing up a Great Wall of silence. It should shout from the rooftops about being part of a truly massive parent group in order to forge the minds eye of commitment and long term viability. Without the all important confidence in the customer’s train of thought, the car and brand will fail and it is here that MG needs to pull out the stops and bang that drum – loud and proud.

So what if the car has a slightly higher VED bracket than many other cars of a similar size. Surely if the MG3 has such a distinct cost advantage – which it clearly does to the tune of a four figure sum in most cases, is this going to eclipse the cost advantage even over say three or four years? I think not. Using the VED against the MG3 in most circumstances might just be clutching at straws to pick fault with what it’s obviously a product offering some genuine value for money. When a car like this comes at such a canny price, you do have to compromise somewhere down the line.

The MG3 sits in a place than makes other niche brands seem hopelessly expensive. No Cooper it will ever be in terms of desire but its surely more individual than anything else imaginable pound for pound, more sporting themed than anything Korean and dare I say it British than other volume cars. It’s cute, drives nicely, is well trimmed, priced in a league of its own and cleverly – doesn’t come across as cheap. All that’s required is some noise from MG Motor UK in the marketing department – success can only be the result.

So will it do well? I hope so. Does it need to succeed? Most definitely, but you the potential customer needs to taste the new fruits of a hopefully reborn MG. Forget the rumors and internet mockery often based on no tangible experience whatsoever and try the MG3 to draw your own conclusion rather than a made up guess – I suspect you may be pleasantly surprised!

 


3 thoughts on “Motor Mutterings: MG3 – Is the tide about to turn?

  1. Spot on. Encouraged by the fact that the dealers I have spoken to have taken some orders, in fact have sold more in the first month than the 6 has sold all year. They now need some clever press advertising and get the car out to shopping malls, supermarkets and competitions with radio stations

  2. I saw a pre pro example in August, and the interior quality was shockingly bad, lots of exposed foam on the seating, and mismatched plastics. If they learn to nail them together better, it deserves to do well, but the band E road tax band will hurt sales a bit, esp when you can get Sanderos that cost only £20 a year to tax

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