David Knowles brings us his first impressions of the facelifted UK-market 2019 MG3.
The much-anticipated UK press reveal of the facelifted MG3 took place in mid-August. For MG Motor UK’s new Sales & Marketing team led by Daniel Gregorious and Carly Escritt, this was their first MG launch, and so for them quite a lot was at stake in terms of personal credibility. They need not have worried, however: both are seasoned professionals and the modest event was slickly run, while the cars were a credit to the small expert support team on hand, led by Adrian Guyll of SAIC Motor UK. It all ran smoothly – hopefully a sign of good things to come from a company and a team keen to punch above their weight.
I had a chance to drive and be passenger in a smart Ruby Red MG3 Exclusive over more than 100 miles of mixed roads, everything from a winding country lane to a motorway, even taking in a semi-urban stretch with some lethal speed humps. First impressions always count and the new MG3 does not disappoint in this regard; the new cars look classier and more mature than the older model and the slightly boxy lines seem to have aged surprisingly well. The new nose and chrome trimmings added some virtual value to the ownership quotient, although it will be interesting to see if some of the younger customers like the chrome as much as I did. Maybe there will be room for an enterprising optional de-chroming kit?
The fashionable and eye-catching yellow and white colour-schemes of some of the press cars, a few with racing stripes and fashionable black alloys, looked the part for a company chasing a younger clientele. The return of orange to the colour range will be welcomed by many, but perhaps there is still room for a couple more eye-catching colours too?
Inside the car, the quality of the fascia and many of the fixtures and fittings has clearly been ratcheted up a notch, and even if you might question the merits of what might be called ‘aluminium tartan’ on the fascia and the inevitable bits of mock-carbon fibre, the view from the driver’s seat is significantly better. The imperial instrument graphics on the new UK market MG3 are unchanged, whereas other markets have a new design. On the Excite and Exclusive models, there is a smart 8in touch-screen display in the centre of the fascia, complete with Apple CarPlay, although slightly strangely no models come with sat-nav (the argument is that many younger customers use their mobile devices to run sat-navs which they synch with the display – my daughter does this with her Skoda) which meant that for the first time in as long as any of us could remember, the test route relied on the use of good old-fashioned printed paper instructions like an oldschool car rally.
The lack of Android equivalent to the Apple App will be a disappointment to some. However, the Exclusive test car impressed with its reversing camera with dynamic guide lines – something usually seen only on more upmarket cars.
The BMW MINI style steering wheel and circular air vents are virtually the same as those in the ZS and all the better for it, while the comfortable and well-finished steering wheel is adjustable for rake, if not for reach.
Elsewhere inside the spacious and pleasant cockpit, the seats are comfortable and just sufficiently supportive. However, whilst the fit and finish is better, in totality it is not quite on a par with the MG ZS, the latter being far better than many in the motoring media world seem willing to acknowledge. For example, slipping your hands from the wheel to the manual gear lever (there is no automatic option for the UK at present) revealed a slightly incongruous rubber texture on the gear knob which screamed of cost-reduction. Perhaps this is to be expected in a car that sits at the bottom of the growing MG family, but don’t expect quite VW quality levels throughout the whole of the interior.
We will bring you a more in-depth analysis of living on a daily basis with the new MG3 as soon as we can, but I should conclude by saying that while performance from the slightly rev-averse engine is not significantly different to that of the old MG3, the powertrain is nevertheless inoffensive at normal road speeds, the ride and handling is very competent (an SMTC hallmark), and the car is stiff and rattle-free over the worst roads that I encountered.
For many people the rabbit-in-the-hat for the new MG3 will surely be the excellent affordability and the seven-year factory warranty, the latter transferable to subsequent owners.
|1.5 DOHC-VTi-TECH||Explore||5 speed manual||£9,495|
|1.5 DOHC-VTi-TECH||Excite||5 speed manual||£11,395|
|1.5 DOHC-VTi-TECH||Exclusive||5 speed manual||£12,795|
The prices start at £9,495 for the entry-level Explore, with its 14in steel wheels and no 8in display, and whilst MG Motor naturally hope (and expect) that many customers will go for the dearer variants, the fact remains that even the cheapest model comes as standard with many of the features that years ago would have been missing in the so-called poverty-spec entry models. For example, even the Explore comes with electric windows all round, front, side and curtain airbags and other modern safety systems, that tilt-adjustable steering wheel, hill-hold and most of the chrome seen on the dearer models. In addition to that seven year warranty, there is the option of a low-cost finance plan arranged through MG Motor’s GMAC partners (available on a five-year, 0% APR finance package with no deposit required). So if, for example, you are about to go off to university, or to go out into the world of work for the first time, and at the same time you want a safe, smart car with enough room for you, your friends and all their paraphernalia – and perhaps there is the kindly ‘bank of mum and dad’ ready with open wallet hovering in the background – then you could hardly have a better choice of first car than the new MG3.
|Insurance group Emission standard||7E
ABOVE: David Knowles tried the new MG3 on the roads of Warwickshire, taking in everything from country lanes to a section of motorway, and was impressed. ABOVE: The MG3 joins the MG ZS in having a full seven-year warranty, which can be transferred to a new owner if the car is sold. ABOVE: For the UK market, the facelifted MG3 comes in six colours: Hello Yellow, Ruby Red, Arctic White, Laser Blue, Spiced Orange and Aspen Silver. The orange finish is a welcome return to the MG3, having been dropped on the previous model.