MG3 review 2020

The MG3 is a value-packed supermini that’s cheap to buy both new and used, if lacking in quality

£8,001
Average price
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1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Low price
  • Decent to drive
  • Roomy interior

Cons

  • Cheap-feeling interior
  • Thirsty engine
  • Poor ride quality
  • MPG

    47 - 47

  • CO2

    140 - 140 g/km

Model review

Since MG was revived by Chinese automotive giant SAIC Motor, this British brand has become known for delivering affordable cars which get on with the job with the hand in a no-frills fashion. 

That’s true with the MG3 supermini – the brand’s cheapest model, which cost just £8,399 when it arrived in 2013, with even top-spec models costing less than £10,000. 

Alongside the cool design, MG also majored on personalisation – offering a long range of options and accessories for customers to customise their cars. Initially, the MG3 was also assembled at the firm’s Longbridge HQ in Birmingham, though the brand announced that it would fully move production to China in 2016. 

Latest model

Following a number of light tweaks, MG unveiled a revised version of its MG3 supermini in 2018. 

Bringing revised styling with its new grille – making the design more in-line with the brand’s latest ZS crossover – along with a new eight-inch touchscreen that comes equipped with Apple CarPlay. 

Another key change on this update was that MG introduced its seven-year warranty onto the MG3 – mirroring the level of cover offered on other models in the range. 

Value for money

When it comes to delivering value for money, there are few better options in the supermini class than the MG3. While prices may have increased over the years, with prices starting from  £12,195, it still means it’s one of the most affordable cars in this class – only really undercut by the Dacia Sandero. While entry-level Explore models were sparsely kitted out, these have since been discontinued, with the next trim up – Excite – coming well-equipped with rear parking sensors, an eight-inch touchscreen and 16-inch alloy wheels. 

But where you’ll find MG3s make the most sense is on the used market. Prices start from as little as £3,000, which will buy a 2014 car with around 65,000 miles on the clock. If you’d rather a facelifted model, a 2018 car is available from £7,500, and still with low mileage. You can also expect to save around £3,000 by choosing a nearly-new model. 

Looks and image

MG might not be a brand that screams street cred at you, but the MG3 is in fact a rather stylish car in our eyes. Whether you go for the pre- or post-facelift model, it offers youthful looks and a neat overall design – especially when updated with a much more prominent grille. For the most style, you’ll want to stay clear of the entry-level models, which don’t get alloy wheels or a roof spoiler. Another asset for the MG3 is its level of customisation available. If you’re buying a new example. You’re able to choose from a range of colour packs and roof designs. 

MG also gave its supermini a big lift in terms of interior quality in 2018 as part of the facelift – introducing a more modern layout and a better standard of materials. There are a lot of cheap and scratchy plastics in the cabin, though, which make it feel low-rent next to plenty of rivals, though of course, it is substantially cheaper. An eight-inch touchscreen is included on Excite and Exclusive models, too, though while Apple CarPlay is offered, it misses out on Android Auto. 

It’s a really mixed bag behind the wheel of the MG3, as it handles really nicely and the steering offers plenty of weight to it but you get the feeling the chassis could handle quite a lot more power. It’s let down by a firm ride, while the single engine option available feels old-fashioned, and not in a good way – making it feel slower than performance figures would suggest. 

Space and practicality

For what is essentially the price of a city car, the MG3 certainly offers plenty of space. 

It’s only available as a five-door, while wide-opening doors make accessing the rear seats easier. There’s also a surprising amount of space back there for a small car, with adults having enough legroom and plenty of headroom. 

At 285 litres, the boot isn’t huge, but is roomy enough for a car of this size, and it increases to 1,262 litres with the rear seats folded. 

Unfortunately, the MG3 falls short when it comes to safety. Even when tested in Euro NCAP in 2014 it scored just three stars, and if it was tested today, it would likely score even worse. It’s an area where this car is really showing its age – not least due to its complete lack of driver assistance aids, which are now fitted to the majority of new superminis. 

Engines

Throughout the MG3’s lifetime, it’s only been available with a single engine option – a naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre unit that produces 104bhp and 137Nm of torque, with power being delivered to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. No automatic option is available on a model of any age. 

On paper, its 0-60mph time of 10.4 seconds and overall top speed of 108mph doesn’t seem too bad, but with no turbocharger, the engine needs revving hard to get the best results. 

Running costs

Another disappointment of the engine is just how thirsty it is. MG claims it will return just 42.3mpg on the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 152g/km – disappointing figures for such a small car. 

On the plus side, insurance premiums should be low, as it sits in insurance group four (out of 50).

Things to look out for

The MG3 also doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, with the model not being ranked highly in ownership surveys. There are a few issues to look out for, too – including a rough-running engine and faulty parking sensors. The cheap-feeling interior – particularly on earlier cars – is also susceptible to damage. 

On the plus side, all models from the middle of 2018 have come with a seven-year and 80,000-mile warranty – offering additional peace of mind if you’re looking to keep the car for a longer period. 

Rivals 

The MG3 sits in the middle ground between a city car and supermini, with key rivals including the Dacia Sandero, Citroen C3, Skoda Fabia and Suzuki Swift. City cars that are of a similar price include the Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto and Volkswagen Up!

Depreciation

Despite the MG3’s low starting price, it still suffers from noticeable depreciation. And with MG’s long warranty, you’ll certainly benefit by going for a nearly-new model instead of a showroom fresh example. 

Which 3 to pick

Cheapest to buy when new

1.5 VTi-TECH Excite 5dr

Most MPG

1.5 VTi-TECH Excite 5dr

Fastest model (0-60)

1.5 VTi-TECH Excite 5dr

Trims explained

If you’re looking at the facelifted MG3, sold from 2018 onwards, three grades were initially available, though the entry-level model has since been discontinued. Here are the highlights of each.

Explore

Entry-level Explore models don’t get a huge amount of kit, but come with LED daytime running lights, electrically adjustable door mirrors, Bluetooth and a trip computer.

From £7,700 (used)

Excite

We would recommend upgrading to the Excite version, which brings more stylish 16-inch alloy wheels (Explore models get tiny 14-inch steel wheels), along with rear parking sensors, air conditioning, a leather steering wheel and a spoiler. You also get an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring and DAB radio.

From £12,195

Exclusive Nav

At the top of the range sits the Exclusive Nav features a reversing camera, satellite navigation, cruise control and sports seats.

From £13,295

Summary

  1. Affordable to buy both new and run
  2. Seven-year warranty
  3. Plenty of standard equipment
  4. Stylish looks
  5. Engine lacks both performance and efficiency
  6. Roomy interior
  7. Poor safety record
  8. Introduced in 2013, heavily revised in 2019
  9. Good personalisation options
  10. Cheap and largely cheerful, but much better superminis are available

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