The MG 3 is a compact, wallet-friendly hatchback that has striking style and has been achieving some eye-catching results on the sales charts, too.
There’s a good chance you’ve driven past one and noticed the MG badge on the grille or the boot-lid, and wondered: “What is that little car?”
We know you’ve got other questions about it, now that you know it’s the MG 3 - or should that be the MG3? Or the MG MG3? Hmmm. Well, we don’t have an answer to that, but we’re going by MG3 for the rest of this review.
And in this review we’re addressing some of the most frequently asked questions about the MG3 - all in the hope of helping you find out if this Chinese-made British-badged urban car is the right choice for you.
We love the price, which puts it among the most affordable new cars on the Australian market. We also love that it comes with a stellar warranty - for seven years/unlimited kilometres. Oh, it’s easy on the eye, too. We love that.
That it’s lacking any of the advanced safety tech features you’d expect in 2020. Some of its cut-price rivals - like the Kia Picanto, Kia Rio and Mitsubishi Mirage - offer considerably better safety technology suites at similar (or less!) money.
If you’re looking for a price list for the MG3, we’ve got you covered. Well, if you’re in Australia, that is.
The company runs nationwide drive-away pricing (that’s RRP, with no extra on-road costs) for all of its models, and the MG3’s line-up is no exception.
The MG3 Core opens the range at $16,490 drive-away at the time of publishing, which is strong value considering what comes standard - an automatic transmission, air conditioning, a touch screen media system with Apple CarPlay and a seven-year warranty, among other things. We’ll cover all the specifications details below.
Inside, the MG3 has manual air conditioning.
The MG3 Core doesn’t come with sat nav, but you can add it for $500 (pushing the price to $16,990 drive-away).
The range-topping MG3 Excite adds a few more nice features, and looks a little sportier because of its larger wheels. It costs $18,490 drive-away.
Read more about the standard equipment, safety spec and more below.
Paint colour choices consist of three no-cost options - Tudor Yellow, Dover White and Pebble Black. Then there are three metallic options that add $500 to the asking price, and those are Regal Blue metallic, Scottish Silver metallic and Bristol Red metallic.
The Excite model is exciting to look at.
Wishing for an orange, brown, grey, gold or green MG3? Sorry, no can do.
Here’s a question for you: are you upgrading from an older car? Say a late-noughties hatchback or an older large car? If you answered ‘Yes’, the MG3’s cabin is going to amaze you - because for the money, it’s an interesting and nicely designed interior.
The seats are trimmed in fabric with a tartan design, while the Excite model gets “synthetic leather” bolsters to up the ambience somewhat. There’s also an etched tartan finish on the dash, and it looks very smart alongside the bright and colourful 8.0-inch touchscreen media system.
There’s no doubt the MG3 is built to a price.
There’s a leather steering wheel for you to hang on to, and it has volume and cruise control buttons. The media system, as mentioned, has Apple CarPlay and is available with sat nav (optional on Core, standard on Excite), and when we tested it recently it worked pretty well.
You can tell it's built to a price, but you might be surprised just how nice a cabin it is for the money. But you do miss out on things like Android Auto, a digital speedometer, and you don’t get dual zone climate control in the Excite - just single-zone. Oh, and there’s only one USB port.
The back seat is surprisingly comfy, too. At 182cm (6’0”) I was able to easily sit behind my own driving position, with good knee and toe space, as well as reasonable head room. And if you have young children or grandchildren, there are dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points and three top tether points for baby seats.
The back seat is surprisingly comfy.
We'll cover off cabin storage and boot space below.
This is a difficult question to answer, because there is no ANCAP safety rating for the MG3. And while the car was heavily updated in 2018, it was the recipient of a not-so-great three-star Euro NCAP score back in 2014.
We can’t say if anything has changed structurally or technologically since then, but there is no denying the MG3 lacks some of the safety technology you’d expect in 2020.
If you’re buying an MG3 there’s a good chance you’re not big on things like motor specifications or engine size.
Both the Core and Excite models come with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder non-turbo petrol engine, dubbed NSE Major by MG.
The 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine produces 82kW/150Nm.
It has class competitive outputs of 82kW (at 6000rpm) and 150Nm (at 4500rpm). As mentioned above, it only comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, and it’s front-wheel drive.
Some rivals offer turbocharged models in their ranges for close to this money - so if you really like the thrust of a turbo, you might want to consider a Skoda Fabia, Kia Picanto GT, Kia Rio GT-Line, or VW Polo.
Does the MG3 have any common problems, issues or faults?
If you search “MG3 problems” you will likely find mention of clutch problems with earlier manual models, or manual versions still sold overseas. Not many of those sold in Australia, so it’s unlikely you’ll see too many complaints along those lines locally.
As for the newer, auto-only MG3? We’ve not heard of many issues or problems - nothing big in terms of engine problems, transmission troubles or suspension suspicions. And if you do have concerns or questions, just remember it has a seven-year warranty, so the company is clearly standing by its reliability.
The choice when it comes to official dealer accessories is pretty much limited to floor mats.
But that doesn’t mean you should stop shopping for MG3 accessories: be sure to look at Chinese and Thai aftermarket sales sites if you want to make your MG3 stand out from the pack.
Or if you want to take a more official customisation approach, the MG UK site has a range of decals, mirror caps, bonnet stripes, roof wraps, mud guards, even a boot liner, rubber mats, roof bars and a dog guard cargo barrier for the boot.
Unlike a lot of other manufacturers out there, MG doesn’t have an official “capped price” service plan. That means the maintenance costs could vary between dealers, but we’ve got the brand’s “recommended service pricing” to give you an idea of the service cost per visit (intervals are every 12 months/10,000km).
Cost (plus GST)
Those maintenance visits will see the usual minor service items, such as oil and oil filters, air filter, cabin air filter and spark plugs. You likely won’t get inclusions such as brake pads, brake discs, battery or wiper blades.
If you’re shopping for space on a budget, the MG3 argues a strong case. It’s not quite as spacious as a Skoda Fabia wagon (very close on price, though), and it doesn’t have the smarts of a Honda Jazz. But it is well packaged for its urban-friendly size.
For instance, the boot space is good at 307 litres with the rear seats up, and if you need extra space the back seats fold down in a 60:40 split, allowing 1081L of cargo capacity - though it’s not a flat load-through space, so maybe think carefully about your trips to Ikea.
With the rear seats in place, cargo capacity is rated at 307 litres.
If you need more room fold the back seats down and the space grows to 1081L.
Boot space is good for a car in this size segment.
While MG doesn’t officially offer a roof rack option in Australia, you could easily find an aftermarket solution if you need additional storage.
In the cabin there is one cup holders as well as bottle holders in the front doors, and a couple of loose item storage areas as well. In the back you get map pockets, but there are no door storage sections for bottles and no cup holders either.
There are a couple of loose item storage areas in the cabin.
Standard equipment for the entry-level Core includes 15-inch alloy wheels and a space-saver spare wheel, tartan finish cloth seats, halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights, auto on/off lights, manual air conditioning (not climate control), electric windows and mirrors, a leather steering wheel with audio buttons and cruise control buttons.
The MG3 has LED daytime running lights.
Plus there’s a standard 8.0-inch touch screen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto), USB connectivity, and AM/FM radio. There’s no CD player, and the Core model gets four speakers. You can option GPS sat nav in the Core, but it’ll set you back $500 more.
The more expensive Excite adds 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels, a body kit and body-coloured mirror caps, vanity mirrors in the sun-visors, and added synthetic leather bolster trim on the seats with contrast stitching.
The driver seat is comfortable, though some drivers might find it hard to get the right position.
Plus the Excite has sat nav as standard, and steps up the sound system to be a six-speaker unit with “Full Vehicle Yamaha 3D Sound Field”.
The only upgrade available is the Core being optioned with sat nav… unless you can talk your dealer into putting the Excite’s 16 inch alloy wheels and bigger tyres and the sportier looking body kit on to a Core model… but by that point, you should just buy the Excite.
Stepping up to the Excite sees the adoption of 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels. (Excite variant pictured)
Reliability is a hard question to answer, as we don’t own and haven’t owned an MG3.
And while there have been widespread reports of issues with reliability of the early models - with the manual transmission and seemingly problematic clutch - there’s very little evidence that we’ve heard of issues, concerns or problems with the car longer-term. As always, check our MG problems page for updated info.
Honestly, the MG3’s warranty plan could be enough to get you to “give it a go”, since it is better than plenty of other established players in the market.
With a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, the MG3 offers the potential for long-term trouble-free motoring. I mean - if you think of purchasing an MG3 differently, you could simply be paying a $2500-ish per year warranty fee, and you get a free car at the end of seven years! The only cars equal to it at this price point are the Kia Picanto and Kia Rio, and the occasional promotional warranty pack for a Mitsubishi Mirage or Honda Jazz.
Seriously though, the MG3’s warranty should help keep your mind at ease when it comes to reliability, problems, common faults and issues - any fixes due over the seven-year period should be covered, and buyers get seven years of roadside assistance included, too.
How good is the MG3's sound system & Infotainment set-up?
In earlier reviews of MGs and related Chinese products with the same system (LDVs), we had issues with touch screen glitching and reliability.
That wasn’t the case on our most recent outing with the MG3, which worked a treat the entire time it was in our possession - even when repeatedly getting in and out of the car and disconnecting/reconnecting my Apple phone to CarPlay.
The 8.0-inch touchscreens used to have glitching issues.
I didn’t test the radio reception, and the sound quality - even in the Excite with the six-speaker Yamaha 3D sound - is best described as ‘fine’ rather than ‘amazing’.
Anecdotally, the market suggests the MG3 isn’t depreciating too badly. There aren’t many used examples on sale yet, but existing demo stock of earlier versions can be had at close-to-new prices. So maybe just buy new?
This is an in-demand car - the MG3 has become the country’s best-selling model in its segment - and light cars typically depreciate less than larger, more expensive models.
SAIC Motor not only owns the MG brand and builds all of the cars and SUVs sold with that badge in China for local consumption and for export markets, it also has ties to brands such as LDV, SAIC Volkswagen, SAIC General Motors, SAIC-GM-Wuling and more.
During a recent test of the MG3, I was impressed by its handling and ride, and its steering too. It feels agile in corners and rides nicely on mixed surfaces.
It isn’t a performance hero, and the four-cylinder engine and four-speed auto are hardly inspiring. But for urban driving - taking away from traffic lights, negotiating roundabouts and managing reverse-parallel parking manoeuvres, it’s perfectly fine.
Is it the MG sports car you’ve always wanted? No. But does that matter? If you answered 'Yes', this is not the car for you. Spend your $16-$19k on a vintage MG B Roadster, perhaps?
The MG3 isn’t the best small car on the market - but it is one of the best value offerings available, with a strong pricing structure and enviable ownership program.
Its lack of a current safety rating - and more worrying, a lack of advanced safety technology - could well stop you from buying one. The team at CarsGuide would totally understand if that were the case.
But if you are willing to overlook those shortcomings, you could be rewarded with a nicely sized, well equipped and likeable little urban hatchback.
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication. Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.