Time Well Spent : Revised MG3 3Sport 7/10

Answering calls for a lower emission engine, MG have revised their happy little MG3.

But is it enough to really make an impact at a time where image counts as much as the pennies? Also… is MG doing enough to get this into the public arena?… We think not!

Mike Humble:

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MG3 – A decent little car that’s packed full of fun and equipment for under £10K. Why aren’t they selling more? Ask MG not me!

 

You know, I get really fed up with being asked the question about the possible return of Rover. There’s more chance of bumping into John Wayne in your local Weatherspoon’s than this ever happening – like the great actor of the silver screen – Rover is dead and that’s all folks! But the MG brand soldiers on and the little MG3 seems to be maturing into a worthy little car – its actually really likeable.

MG in its current guise have been with us for a little while now and even though they have not exactly presented themselves in the public eye as the most in your face car company, they have made the right noises now and again. The MG6 is a fairly decent car in terms of value, spoilt by a lack of in depth quality and USP but the MG3 represents something lacking in the small budget car marketplace – a peppy little naughty puppy of a car.

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Despite being with us for a little while, the MG3 still looks snappy…. Especially in more vivid colours.

This current model I have just sampled, like the other two MG3 models before it, seems to be well engineered, good in the chassis department and incredible value for money. In fact, in terms of outright build quality, the “Hello Yellow” test car appeared to be the most rustic in terms of fit an finish. Being the one down from top model, it lacked the leather seats, auto lights and wipers along with cruise control but you still get DAB, Bluetooth and air conditioning.

The cloth trim seemed that little bit firmer in padding compared to the leather option on the top model. It still lacks enough bolster support and thought there wasn’t enough figure hugging when chucking the car around the corners. On the subject of “chuck-a-bility” the MG3 continues to offer a really good little chassis with fairly quick steering. Despite the visual lack of sophistication in the braking system (discs / drums) they anchor up well, don’t fade and have a good bias between being progressive and effective.

They key changes on this latest models will not cause mouth watering salivation or pulse racing adrenaline. The main differences of a tangible nature revolve around just two features – a restyled grille and a discreet silver button to the right of the facia. To be fair the silver button represents a little more than just that, it operates the stop-start function – a current trend and feature the MG3 has lacked. In the ever continuing quest for leaner, greener cars the vehicle now features this as standard equipment and it works just like it should.

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Cloth seats seem to be firmer and more hugging than the top model leather. MG3 easily swallows four passengers and some luggage.

 

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The car came with optional black roof treatment. Good paint finish and looks very stylish – onlookers seemed to find the MG3 cute and snappy.

Under the bonnet the MG3 remains pretty much as before albeit with the odd bit of extra wiring and a heavier duty battery to cope with the extra demand the starter motor will impose. Just like any other car, its a simple system – come to a stop, select neutral and the engine cuts out – dip the clutch and it fires up again. Obviously if you sit there in a jam with your wireless chattering away and headlamps on the car will fire up when voltage drops to a certain output. Press the button and the system is by-passed. Nothing to it really eh?

This has made a difference to the C02 output of the car and adds a slight improvement to the overall fuel consumption. Also, the car drives that little bit cleaner too. Gone is the annoying surge these cars are known for between 1st and 2nd gear changes and it seems that its a bit happier to pull from lower revs in a higher gear. Even though the feeling of a more willing power unit is there, it doesn’t compensate for the fact that what this car really needs is a plant of more efficiency not just in eco stats but in performance as well.

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1.5 now has stop start and better driving characteristics. Still lacks bottom end grunt, more noticeable when you add a couple of passengers.

 

105bhp from a 1.5 litre plant is very average these days. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… this car BEGS for a little more urgency via something like a light pressure turbo. Pop something with an extra 30 horses under the bonnet, fit rear disc brakes and you’ll have something to make you laugh out loud rather than just a put a smile on your face. Its really lacks that all important oomph at lower speeds – throw a few passengers inside and it actually becomes quite frustrating.

The other big worry I have is credibility. There still seems to be a worrying lack of brand presence out there in the real world. Units sold are desperately low compared to most other car manufacturer selling in the UK right now. In a market that’s more competitive than its ever been, there’s no excuse for half hearted advertising NOW is the time to pull your finger out MG – especially considering the compact SUV in the pipeline. This revised MG3 is not a bad little car, but I fear its time, money and opportunity squandered if no one knows.

Being part of a massive parent company means there is little excuse for this “Great Wall of Silence” that seems to emit from MG. In fact its a level of silence which is not only a great shame… its almost deafening!

AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 7/10

The Humble Opinion:

I’ve said it above really… a jolly little car that will sell in droves if someone only realises the lack of public awareness is actually slowly killing any real chance and opportunity to succeed.

The cars themselves – MG3 especially, represent good honest value for money even if a little rough round the edges sometimes. No issue with MG3 or MG6 is beyond redemption, the actual vehicles are not even half of the current problem.

Is this some strange game plan or plain stupidity on the parent companies part to make such a mess of public education and advertising? Either way I struggle to see what current business model MG are building – or even knocking down for that matter.

If you want to sell cars, you need to speculate to accumulate and plant a seed in the customers mind that this is a viable, professional and long term operation. Free media like Facebook and Twitter only provide a platform for people to knock the brand. Paper and other professional advertising are what really matter.

MG may sell the 3 and 6 in tiny numbers to loyal brand followers, but its the mass appeal that matters. The problem hits home with the sorry fact that the masses just don’t know. MG badly needs to prove it has a strategy and that customers money is going to be well spent, but as things stand right now, it just wont happen. Any real success the company deserves seems to be stifled. 

I want the car and the business to do well in the UK but even though it hurts me to admit and write it… MG need to shape up or just ship out.

Model Tested: MG3 3Form Sport

Produced By: MG Motor

Price: £9,899,00 excluding options

Engine: 1.5 16v Fuel Injected petrol with Stop Start

Power: 106Ps

Performance: *0 – 60 in 10.6 seconds Maximum speed 108mph

Economy: *51.5mpg combined (46.4mpg on test)

Co2 / VED: 124G/Km – VED Band D

*Manufacturers or Government claimed figures.

Whats Hot: Still good value for money – Roomy cabin – Better grren credentials and fuel economy – Happy chassis – Quick communicative steering – Looks great in vivid colours – Nice styling – Fun to drive – Large boot – The car has great potential – Well equipped.

Whats Not: Badly needs a gutsy engine or performance orientated model – Rubbish marketing – Lack of mix and match spec or real optional extras – Noisy suspension – Lack of flat boot floor when back seats folded – Too much hard plastic inside – Sadly becoming hard to recommend as a viable new vehicle purchase… but its not the cars fault.

For more information on the MG3 CLICK HERE

 

 


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