The new MG3 is a hugely important car for MG. As a company trying to re-establish itself in the UK, it simply couldn’t ignore the supermini sector’s strong and growing sales.
MG has positioned the 3 at the more affordable end of the class, but that still means it faces tough competition from the Dacia Sandero, as well as smaller models, such as the brilliant Volkswagen Up.
What’s the 2013 MG3 like to drive?
Only one engine is available at launch; a 1.5-litre petrol that’s linked to a five-speed manual gearbox. With only 101lb ft of torque on offer, the MG3 has to be worked hard outside of town.
True, most small-engined superminis suffer from limited low-down pull, but even when you assist the MG3 by changing down a couple of gears, its motor takes too long to build to its peak of 4750rpm.
The steering is also disappointing. During parking manoeuvres it’s heavier than it should be, and while the weighting is much better in corners, there’s too much play around the straight-ahead position.
Our test car rode on the 16-inch alloy wheels, which are standard on higher trims, and with these the ride is firmer than you’d ideally like. However, it isn’t harsh, and the set-up does keep body roll to a minimum through bends.
Engine noise is more of an issue, because it’s loud enough to be tiring on the motorway.
What’s the 2013 MG3 like inside?
Inside it’s a better story. There’s more head- and legroom front and back than you get in a Sandero or a Ford Fiesta; four six-footers will be perfectly happy, even on a long journey.
What’s more, the driver’s seat and steering wheel are adjustable enough to let most drivers find a comfortable position, and all-round visibility is good.
The dash, although cheap-feeling, is relatively well laid out and the rotary climate controls are simple to use on the move.
Standard kit on entry-level 3 Time models is only adequate, with 14-inch steel wheels, a USB socket, electric windows, hill hold control and CD player included.
Jump up one grade to 3 Form trim, though, and you also get central locking, a DAB radio, air-con, a smartphone dock, Bluetooth and a leather steering wheel with audio controls.
3 Form Sport models add 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights and a bodykit, while top-spec 3 Style cars get different 16-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, cruise control and auto lights and wipers.
The MG3’s boot, at 285 litres, is smaller in overall size than a Sandero’s, but it’s a good square shape, the opening is usefully wide, and the rear seats fold almost flat should you need them to.
Just bear in mind that if you add a space-saver spare wheel as an option (it costs £105.60) the MG3's boot is only five litres larger than a Volkswagen Up’s.
Should I buy one?
There’s no denying the MG3 is spacious and cheap. It starts at £8399, but even the best equipped and most expensive model is just £9999.
However, the Dacia Sandero offers similar qualities for even less money, while those who don’t need quite as much space will be better off with the Volkswagen Up because it’s a lot quieter, classier and better to drive.
What Car? says…
Engine size 1.5-litre petrol
Price from £8399
Torque 101lb ft
0-62mph 10.4 seconds
Top speed 108mph
Fuel economy 48.7mpg
CO2 emissions136 g/km