MG 3 Range
While an increasing number of Australians flock to the SUV segment for their next car, let’s not forget that the entry-level corner of the market is also one of the most competitive, attracting first car owners, downsizers, as well as value-conscious motorists.
With that, the MG 3 has made a bit of a splash down under over the last few years. Thanks to its sharp pricing, starting at just $18,490 drive-away for the Core, or $19,990 for the Excite, the MG 3 has drawn plenty of interest and goes punch for punch with rivals from Kia, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Hyundai and Toyota. In fact, throughout 2021 the MG 3 topped the charts as the best-selling light car.
What features are included?
If sharp pricing wasn’t enough of a drawcard for new car buyers, then how about an extensive list of features that wouldn’t look out of place on a car twice as much as this?
It all kicks off with the Core variant, which comes with rear parking sensors, reversing camera, cruise control, 15-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, as well as four-speaker sound system and Apple CarPlay functionality.
In the Excite variant, things get even better, with satellite navigation included as standard, leatherette trim adorning various parts of the cabin, a six-speaker sound system, and 16-inch alloys for improved grip and traction.
With just the two variants across the range, the MG 3 makes do with just the one powertrain. This includes a naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre four-pot motor capable of producing 82kW of power and 150Nm of torque. This engine is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission - no manual is available - and combined, the company claims fuel economy runs at 6.7L per 100km, although this is likely to be under ‘ideal’ driving conditions.
Of course, the value doesn’t end there. MG has done a number in offering new car buyers a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, in addition to fixed-price servicing. Costs start at $243 for 12 months or 10,000km, and work all the way up to $330 for 48 months or 40,000km. Across 84 months, the costs are in alignment with those for 12 months.
Practicality, amenity and comfort
As you might expect at this price-point, the MG 3 is not exactly in the upmarket category. That’s not to say it is an uncomfortable car, because it does offer some pleasant surprises. For example, the inclusion of a leather-adorned steering wheel, plus 8.0-inch infotainment system, are nice touches at the entry-level. What's more, the overall tone to the interior is 'soft', so there are fewer abrasive edges as you might find in other models fighting it out in the same segment.
Meanwhile, the seats are relatively comfortable, with good visibility and a decent level of support. Again, this won't win any awards for quality, but there is excellent value at hand thanks to attention on show. Compared with the likes of the Kia Picanto, and the outgoing Mitsubishi Mirage, the MG 3 feels far more spacious, making for a more inviting, comfortable and practical interior. That's boosted by foldable rear seats, which allow the cargo hold to swell more than three times in size to a maximum of 1081L.
We're also delighted to report that the infotainment system is a pretty nice bit of kit, working smoothly and without much in the way of clutter, and supported by a capable sound system. It all operates well hand in hand with Apple CarPlay, although the omission of Android Auto is disappointing.
How does it drive?
The MG 3 is more suited to inner-city driving than hitting the highways, so the pace and dynamics here are kept fairly in check. For most new car buyers interested in this tidy unit, it will likely meet your driving needs. Of course, with only 82kW of power, there are alternatives out there with more inspiring gusto. But for navigating suburban streets, tight laneways and the CBD, the MG 3 stands up to the task.
With that in mind, buyers should be aware acceleration isn’t a strong point for the MG 3, rather, the tight turning circle and light steering are the highlights. Meanwhile, the four-speed auto gearbox is not too shabby at this price-point when MG might have felt compelled to opt for a CVT instead. It isn’t perfect by any means, and it may take some time to adjust to the slight lag between gear shifts, but it does a reasonable job pulling the strings.
Ride quality is found a little wanting in the MG 3, with the suspension a little firm, and cabin vibration an unfortunate feature that is likely to be felt by all occupants. This is most pronounced on poorer quality roads where conditions are less than ideal, so you’re more likely to feel this on some of those older highways, especially while travelling at speed.
All told, these factors make the MG 3 more suited to short-haul driving, as opposed to interstate travels, where you might be inclined to stretch your budget a little more for something with a gentler set-up. But if you stick to the inner city, it’s in keeping with what is reasonable for an entry-level light car.
How safe is it?
While it might be easy to overlook the subdued dynamics of the MG 3 if you’re looking for a practical and efficient inner-city car, unfortunately, this unit does not have an ANCAP safety rating.
For some buyers, again, this might not be a priority, however, the omission of autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist are glaring exclusions that are a big compromise. In many cases, stretching your budget a little further, to the likes of the Hyundai i30 or Kia Cerato, will land you these vital safety aids. And in the meantime, peers like the Kia Picanto and Mitsubishi Mirage have high ANCAP safety ratings.
This is a definite trade-off that buyers will need to consider. Skipping the bells and whistles is one thing, and including slightly premium touches like a leather-adorned steering wheel and 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen system are another. However, you will need to decide whether you are willing to sacrifice the modern safety aids. In terms of inclusions though, you will find dual front and side airbags, anti-lock braking, and electronic stability program, among other basic features.
PROS: Most affordable auto car on the market, good value overall, extensive features and aftercare
CONS: Uninspiring ride dynamics, missing crucial safety aids and no ANCAP safety rating
As new car buyers become increasingly conscious of rising costs, the MG 3 is the sort of car that goes back to basics and represents strong value. While no manual is available, this is the most affordable auto car in the new car market, and unlike other makes and models, there is plenty of stock available today. The features inside the cabin are very attractive at this price-point, including a solid infotainment set-up. On top of that, MG’s aftercare support and fixed-price servicing are nice touches for the budget-conscious motorist.
New car buyers are probably aware the MG 3 is not going to win any awards for its performance traits, but this is one practical, efficient and functional car for inner-city commuting. Perhaps the biggest consideration for buyers is the absence of an ANCAP safety rating and the omission of ‘advanced’ safety aids like AEB and lane-keep assist, which are becoming more standard by the day. Some may be willing to overlook this, in which case, they will still find a solid car well worth its asking price and then some.
MG 3 Core specifications
Body: 5-door, 5-seat light car
Engine: 1498cc 4-cyl, DOHC, 16v
Power: 82kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 150Nm @ 4500rpm
0-100km/h: 12.2sec (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km (combined)
Transmission: Four-speed auto
Suspension: Front - MacPherson strut; Rear - torsion bar
Price: $18,490 (from)