Motoring review: MG3 – A Chinese rescue of a British car brand?

 

1.5-litre petrol engine; five doors only
On sale now, priced from £8399

In my book, anyone who gets a new car first time round is thoroughly spoilt. When you can snap up a 60,000-mile Fiat Punto for the price of a family return to Edinburgh, why splurge thousands on a tin can your teenager will, in all likelihood, shunt into a lamp-post within the year? I may be speaking with the bitterness of someone who spent five years grinding the gears of a Morris Minor, but on the other hand, at least I lived to tell the tale.

Now, though, there is a car for the style-conscious little Jonny with a new licence. It’s the MG3, a cute four-door hatchback that looks like it’s screeching round the Nürburgring when standing still, but doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere when your foot’s flat to the floor. This car is all about looks, and there are, according to MG, “millions” of customisation options. There’s only one engine choice, a 1.5 litre unit offering a meagre 101 lb torque. It’s about horseplay, not horsepower. The one I drove was Newton black with cut glass 16” alloys and a red double Sebring stripe going the length of the body work. I know, get me.

The 3 is the second offering from the resuscitated MG brand, which was bought by a Chinese consortium in 2005 and is gradually vrooming back onto the market. Their first offering, the MG6, will go down in history like the unicorn – a powerful large saloon that sold in such small numbers, one day we’ll ask if it ever existed.

The much smarter idea with the 3 was to create a high-spec hatchback with a seriously affordable price tag. In the age of the Dacia Duster, this was a canny move. The range starts at just £8,399. The press car came with all the extras: sexy leather interior, cruise control, hill control, DAB, bluetooth an iPod dock and a fat little sound system, and still only cost £10,836. Admittedly, the engine pulled about as well as my Morris Minor, with as much noise. But who cares when you can drown it out with your own in-car Ministry of Sound?

MG has had a sorry time since the Abingdon factory closed in 1979. Now, the Chinese may have come up with just the formula to rescue this very British marque. They build the parts nice and cheap over there, then assemble them here at Longbridge. This means they can flog the finished product here and abroad as a British product. The Chinese are mad for them: MG3s are selling like rice crackers in Shanghai.

The MG3’s wow factor is not its performance. And for all the optional stripes and alloys, it’s not the aesthetics either - it looks like a chubby kid in a track suit. No, what’s good about the MG3 is that you’re getting a brand new four-door hatchback, which is safe, well-built, and can transport four grown adults in leather-clad comfort, for under ten grand. And best of all, you’re buying British. Sort of.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    LSA (afterschool club) vacancy in Newport

    £40 per day + Travel Scheme : Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: Our client ...

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Geography Teacher

    £85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...

    Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style