The new MG3 Supermini is one of two vehicles recently launched into the UK market by the illustrious manufacturer known as MG. This particular vehicle has been sent out to compete for the rather lucrative percentage of the market that prefer a smaller vehicle for day to day use, whether that be a newly passed driver, or a small town car ready to haul the shopping from A to B . The other is the MG GS, Although this review won’t be mentioning the aforementioned, as I feel that the MG3 Supermini deserves review all of its own.
The question automatically generated by the MG3 is ‘Can it promise everything that you would typically expect from a supermini at the lower end of the price scale?’ well… the answer is yes and no. Let me explain why in the MG3 Supermini review.
ON THE ROAD
The vehicle tested by myself was the MG3 3FORM SPORT. A 106ps 1.5 Litre 16-valve chain driven petrol engine ‘the only derivative available in the range’ that’s capable of a 0-60 time of just a touch under 11 seconds. At the time of this review, it was priced at an exceptional £9,899.
Just to go back briefly to explain those figures with a little more detail, the 0-60 of the MG3 Supermini is more than comparable with the same sized non-turbo engine you ’d find in your… well… hmm. I guess that’s my point. There aren’t many vehicles that you can really match it up against in that department. Most manufacturers of late prefer the lower litre engines, such as the 1.0L Ford Fiesta and simply throw in a turbo on for good measure, but we won’t hold that against the MG3 just yet! The MG3 Supermini isn’t what you would call slow, but you do have to work it ‘audibly’ hard to get the best out of it. The engine has its very own vocal chords towards the top end of the rev limiter, not afraid to let themselves be known… unfortunately, you won’t find this vehicle joining a choir near you anytime soon!
Once up to speed, the car performs surprisingly well on any country road you throw it down, with a great sense of purpose. My test drive comprised a trip from Sussex all the way to Cornwall, just incase you were wondering. The first thing that struck me, was the steering felt very light compared to a similar sized vehicle on the move. The second thing I noticed was that the illuminated bar on my dash indicating the fuel tank level fell very quickly once on the motorway. MG boast figures of 38mpg for the urban travel, 58mpg for your suburban travel and a fairly competitive 49mpg combined.
Unfortunately I wasn’t seeing those sort of figures. At the start of the journey I reset the trip computer so that I could find out for myself. After the 5 and a half hour journey, I found the figure closer to 40 that the stated 49. Having said that, no one will expect a vehicle such as this one to perform like a German ECO saloon car on the same journey, but I felt myself wanting a little more from the economy aspect.
The manual 5-speed transmission of the MG3 Supermini delivered plenty of positives, such as the ‘good ole organic’ feel you used to get with cars that aren’t driven primarily by a computer. There’s plenty of feedback given by the modestly sized gear stick to ensure that you slide it into place at just the right time alongside engaging the clutch. the positives are followed by a few minor negatives. Upon shifting from first to second, there’s a disconcerting noise, that would sound very similar to ‘clonk’ if it could be vocalised. Once in second, accelerating to around 4500rpm on the rev clock the gear stick would vibrate against the changers, leaving a sound behind that once noticed, you couldn’t avoid hearing time and time again.
All of the above mentioned and taken into account, I did enjoy the quirky features of its personality. With features such as the ‘Hill stop’ technology automatically engaging itself without me expecting it too. I refrained from researching the MG3 Supermini prior to the test drive, so that I could be entirely impartial towards the review and learn/understand the vehicle for myself. I kept having to remind myself that this vehicle’s on the road price tag was under the £10,000 mark!
The ride offered by the car is of a sporty nature. Not by its top speed, nor its acceleration, but purely from its suspension. I did enjoy the low roll, firm ride of the MG3 in most situations. The seats within are also quite firm, accentuating this feature. Alas, after a long trip that lasted a number of hours, I was reaching for a button, switch, on board select system to turn this off entirely! In the same breath, I again reminded myself that yes, this vehicle is under the 10k mark.
The long drive, with a few pit stops was over. I looked forward to the shorter, more technical trips down country roads that the Cornish countryside had to offer!
I wasn’t let down…
INTERIOR, DESIGN AND BUILD
MG have gone for quite a smart, clean design within. Accented by some well placed red trim around the air vents, stereo and even a touch of red sticking on the seats and floor mats, front and back. Once you’re seated inside the MG3 Supermini, you then understand how much space there is on offer. Although, I’m yet to work out how they’ve accomplished it. A supermini, that’s in fact NOT supermini-sized. That’s what I call clever!
The boot, all 285 litres of it may not be the largest of its class but the legroom benefits for the rear passenger are evident! The 60/40 split-folding rear seats can be laid ALMOST flat should that be necessary. The 14” steering wheel is vertically adjustable to ensure most drivers find a good, comfortable driving position.
The positioning of various ‘techy’ items inside the vehicle would be my only gripe. Namely the USB and the AUX-out connections, hidden above the stereo in a ‘spacious’ slide shut compartment. To really make use of these features in a car like this one would be to put them in more accessible, more ergonomic locations. Yes, charging and playing music from your phone, whilst hiding it away, out of reach of the driver, negated temptation of touching it whist engaging in never-ending slalom corners is probably a well thought out idea, but occasionally I want to be able to stop and not have to take my seatbelt off to change the track!
Visibility inside the vehicle is fairly unencumbered, With thin ‘colour contrast exterior’ A-pillars and similarly designed B,C-pillars allowing for maximum safety whilst searching for traffic in any direction.
The build quality of the MG3 Supermini isn’t quite what I was expecting. I found that there was too much hard plastic on the dash and it was far too scratchy. Heavily textured as to avoid any ‘shine’.
Ultimately, the interior is a well shaped, well thought out design boasting plenty of space for a small family. While the hard plastic isn’t fantastic, it’s still good quality.
I’ve tried exceptionally hard not to talk about any particular equipment provided inside the MG3 until this point of the review, as fortunately it all works how it’s supposed to, thus not giving me much to talk about! Useful, uncomplicated and seamless on the whole. Apart from the stereo, but we’ll get there very soon.
The vehicle came with ‘Hillstop” technology. (Yes, this isn’t typically known as “Equipment”, but it’s fairly techy, and there’s a story coming!)I was entirely unaware of it, right up until I found myself behind a fiat 500 (how apt for a supermini review) trying to climb a hill… slowly… very, very slowly. Being a patient driver, I was happy to follow on sl….. no. I won’t say followed on slowly, as that’s not what I wanted to do. Instead I became frustrated IMMEDIATELY, put my foot on the brake, so I could wait until this extremely unnecessarily slow vehicle was out of my way. I got bored waiting. I slowly took my foot off the brake expecting to float with grace back down the hill I previously just started climbing after being rudely halted. The car didn’t move!! I gave the steering wheel a tap of approval, caught the Fiat quickly and followed with a little grin on my face.
Although the USB and AUX connections are in an odd location for practicality, I found when using the DAB radio the steering wheel controls were responsive enough to easily change radio station or volume. The same cannot be said for the climate control rocker. It seemed the more hasty you were with the rocker, the slower it would change temperature, the slower you turned it, the very opposite.. an odd one I didn’t understand.
The MG3FORM SPORT also comes with Bluetooth as standard. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to work it out, but I feel that these things shouldn’t be a fact of ‘IF you can work it out, you can have the joys of this feature’, I’d like it readily available to me, and obvious.
I was pleasantly surprised by the MG3’s sound. Whilst not being the loudest, best quality of sound I’ve heard from a similarly sized vehicle, It was just enough for a long drive soundtrack playing in the background.
Not every feature of the vehicle pleased me, but that’s not to say I didn’t like it. If it were a person, It would be that guy/girl who does everything they can to be one of the gang, fit in with the trends, be overly happy in every situation and occasionally do enough to make you smile every once in awhile.
I like that it has its own character. I like that it offers things that are a little different. Most of all, I like that the MG3 Supermini drives like a small, nimble terrier tearing through the countryside after a rabbit! This is a market leader for me in truth, the main market I see this vehicle suiting is the new to the road drivers and those who want a small, practical, easily driven car that won’t set you back an extortionate amount on insurance.
Compare it to the VW UP!, it’s bigger and costs less for the same spec. Compare it to the likes of a Dacia Sandero, ok, it’s not as big inside… but then it also doesn’t look like it’s been carved from a single block of hardwood! No, the MG3 can’t promise to deliver everything you should expect from a vehicle that costs around 12-14k within the UK market. That’s because it doesn’t cost 12-14. At its top spec, it’s under 10K. The MG3 Supermini is a great mix between sporty and practical and doesn’t have to shout about it. It’s just the MG3. Great British personality with a twist.
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