Nifty and nostalgic: Ray Massey takes the MG3 3STYLE for a spin
Price as driven: £11,231
I have a soft spot for the MG marque. The first car I bought was a green MG Midget. I still have it, though in a sorrier state than I care to admit. For many years it was my main runaround.
So it was with a sense of nostalgia that I jumped into the newest MG on the block — the MG3 five-door hatchback, which is designed, engineered and assembled in Britain using parts shipped from China.
There’s a solid back story. MG was founded in 1924 at Abingdon, Oxon by Cecil Kimber, the initials coming from ‘Morris Garages’. The Chinese snapped it up when the British-owned MG-Rover went bust in 2005. But the current owner has kept the rump of the Longbridge factory as MG’s HQ in Birmingham, with a design and technical studio employing 300 engineers and an assembly line.
Not bad for the cash: A nifty little commuter runaround if you’re not too purist
It’s not a bad little car for the cash. It looks smart, fun and perky, is surprisingly spacious and, provided you’re not in the boy-racer league, drives quite nicely. A nifty little commuter runaround if you’re not too purist.
Designed inside and out in Britain by a team led by Tony Williams-Kenny. You can personalise your car with a million permutations — a strong selling point. I like the Cherry Bomb red metallic paint job.
Comes with a good amount of kit as standard, which includes cruise control, electronic air conditioning, remote central locking, an adequate, iPod-compatible radio with MP3, LED daytime running lights and the usual stability and antilock systems.
The basic list price of the car I drove was £1 under £10,000, but a few extras bumped the final tally up to a still-reasonable £11,231. These included part leather trim (£500), metallic paint (£395), piano-black interior trim (£99) and £199 for the Trophy White exterior gofaster stripes. The range starts at £8,399 and there are deals right now, so don’t be shy — haggle hard.
Low insurance group of 4E, CO2 emissions of 136g/km and decent fuel consumption, averaging 48.7mpg. ?NICE-LOOKING and logical dashboard with a roll-top below in which you can put your iPod and other stuff.
Comfortable seats. Lots of headroom.
Acceleration, especially around town in the dash to 30mph, is respectable and doesn’t leave you lagging. The 1.5 litre 106bhp petrol engine linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox will get you from rest to 60 mph in about 10 seconds.
Fair-sized boot with the option to drop the two rear seats in a 60:40 split.
Not many on the road, so an exclusive club.
An exclusive club: There’s not many of these on the road yet
Some cheap plastic lets down the look of the interior.
I’d lose the £199 go-faster stripes on my car. It smacked of trying too hard.
Several of the buttons are fiddly.
MG built a reputation as the affordable ‘people’s sports car.’ It still needs an injection of that sporty oomph. There’s long been talk of a new MG sports car. They should go for it. Never underestimate the determination of the Chinese to succeed.
You have to work the engine, which is something of a chore.
Putting the reverse gear below fifth is risky — early on I almost slammed it into what might have been ‘sixth’. It would have been better to have put it in the more conventional place, to the far left of the gate.