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MG 3


Kia Cerato

Summary

MG 3

My time at CarsGuide started in October 2017, and since then I’ve booked literally thousands of cars across Australia. One car that has eluded me - and the CarsGuide team - over that period is the one you see here: the MG3. Or the MG MG3, or MG 3, if you wish.

Despite asking MG’s Australian arm countless times to loan an MG3 hatchback over that period, the company in charge of the brand’s PR in Australia refused to agree to loan us a vehicle to test.

Our desire to review the MG3 hatch has only gotten stronger because sales have skyrocketed. Back in late 2017 the brand was averaging only a handful of cars per month - indeed, just 52 examples of the MG3 were sold in total in 2017.

At the time of writing, MG is selling more than that in a single week. To the end of May 2020, the company had shifted a staggering 2270 MG3s in Australia - or 474 per month - bettering big-name rivals in the light car segment like the Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and Honda Jazz. It's also well ahead of the Kia Picanto, which is what many people will be shopping this car against if price is a key driver for their decision.

And that's the case in point, really - a lot of its success comes down to the price of the Chinese-built, British-badged city car. It’s cheap - but is it a cheerful experience? We finally got the chance to find out, thanks to a friendly MG dealership in NSW.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Kia Cerato

You need a new small car and have $20-30k to spend, max. What do you do? Easy. You take $24,870 and go straight to our sister site autotrader.com.au and get yourself that sweet-as 2015 white Mazda MX-5 convertible with the manual gearbox and 32,141km on the clock. 

What? You need more than two seats? And a proper boot? For about the same amount of money? Oh… well this is awkward. Okay, have you met the Kia Cerato, then?

I did, I’ve met them all - every Cerato from this new generation model. I’ve driven the sporty one – the GT on some of Australia’s best roads, and I’ve driven the rest, the S and the Sport, on some of the worst roads.
 
My family and I lived with them, too. We drove hundreds of kays, did day care drops off, had supermarket car park meltdowns where nobody was talking to each other, singalongs (that was mainly me, by myself), fell asleep in them and did the daily commute in them.

I feel I know the Cerato so well now, I reckon I could almost build one if you gave me the pieces.

Here’s what I learnt about what could be the best value small car buy out there right now. Or there’s the Mazda MX-5.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

MG 37.1/10

Aside from its safety shortcomings and underwhelming powertrain, it’s easy to see why the MG3 has become a successful part of the brand’s line-up. If you’re driving around a rural centre like I was, it makes a lot of sense.

Whether you choose the Excite model, which has a bit more visual pizzazz, or the Core model, which is our pick of the range, the MG3 is well priced, has the media tech buyers are after, is a charming looking thing that comes in a range of great colours, and is smartly packaged, too. 

Thanks to the team at Orange MG for assisting us with this the loan vehicle for this review. Head to Orange MG for more information.


Kia Cerato8/10

The drive-away pricing and big features list makes the Cerato great value, and then there’s the practicality and warranty. Also, you have choice between something a little hardcore or more comfortable.
 
To me, the Sport Plus is the sweet spot in the range. The leather seats, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, proximity key and heated seats clinch it.
 
The Kia Cerato could be the smartest choice you’ll make this year. Or there’s the Mazda MX-5. 

Do you reckon the Cerato is the best value-for-money small car on the market? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Design

MG 38/10

It’s a fresh looking thing, the MG3. 

From its attractive front-end with “London Eye” LED daytime running lights, its Euro-look angular front bumper and chrome-trimmed grille, and its angular window lines, it really does have a distinct personality.

It looks a lot more modern and enticing than the first version of the MG3 sold here, and I have no doubt that a lot of buyers of the MG3 have been attracted by its sharp styling first and foremost. MG has done a tremendous job of creating a family look - it just happens that the family looks like it has been taking good care of itself, keeping active and trim, too.

The rear end isn’t quite as attractive, with the vertical tail-lights making it seem taller than it is. It’s still a nicely sculpted back-end, though.

On the Core model you’ll get some lower blacked-out design trim bits, and the wheels fitted are 15-inch alloys. 

The Excite model seen here is a little more, dare we say it, exciting to look at. That’s down to its body kit, consisting of lower chrome elements on the front bumper, a set of black side skirts, and a hatch-mounted rear spoiler. You get 16-inch alloy wheels, too. 

In terms of dimensions, it’s closer in size to the Kia Rio than it is the Picanto. With a length of 4055mm (on a long-for-its-size 2520mm wheelbase), a width of 1729mm and height of 1504mm, it’s a pretty chunky little unit. 

It is rather conventional in the way its interior is designed, however - there’s no sliding second row (like the Suzuki Ignis) or flip-folding seats (a la the Honda Jazz). Check out the interior pictures below to see for yourself.


Kia Cerato7/10

What a time to be alive: small cars have never looked better. Have you seen the new Ford Focus or the Hyundai i30? Even the current Toyota Corolla looks sexy.

But does the same go for the new Cerato? The sedan is certainly attractive, but the hatch looks hot from some angles and not from others. The hatch has whiffs of BMW X4 around the tail-lights, although its side profile is not as pleasing as the sedan’s. 

Both have the same angry Kia face with signature ‘tiger nose’ grille, while all grades in both body styles have the glossy black diffuser and lower bumper with integrated exhaust.

And that’s a bit of a tip for you right there. See, despite there being four grades and a $12K price difference between the entry level and top-of-the-range Cerato, the difference in styling is almost zilch. 

Really, the only way you can tell the difference visually between an S grade and a GT is the wheels and exhaust (the S has hub caps and one tail pipe, not two). 

All Cerato hatches have that same body kit, including the roof top rear spoiler. The Cerato sedans don’t miss out – they have a little boot lid spoiler.

If it came down to it, I’d say the sedan is a better-looking car than the hatch.

The cabins are also almost identical although the cloth seats in the S and Sport aren’t as premium looking or feeling as the leather ones in the Sport + and GT, and there are other similarly luxurious elements on these grades such as the push-button ignition and soft-touch plastics. Have a look at the interior photos, I took them myself.

What colours can you get your Cerato in? There are 10, but one ('Sunset Orange') is exclusive to the GT. 

Only one is a non-cost option, too – it’s 'Clear White'. The rest are premium paint colours and will cost you extra. You can have 'Aurora Black', 'Gravity Blue', 'Horizon Blue' (which was the colour of my S hatch and looks great), there’s also 'Runway Red' (that was the colour of my Sport hatch and it was hard to keep looking clean), 'Steel Grey', 'Snow White' and 'Silky Silver'. No green and no yellow.

The Cerato is a small car, but not the smallest Kia – that’s the Picanto and it’s tiny. Nope, the dimensions show the Cerato hatch to be 4510mm end-to-end, while the sedan is longer at 4640mm. Both are the same height at 1800mm tall, but their widths are different with the hatch being 1445mm across while the sedan is 5.0mm narrower.

Practicality

MG 37/10

If you’ve owned the same old car for years and you’re setting foot in an MG3 for the first time, you’ll probably feel amazed that you can get an interior with interesting finishes, a high-tech screen and decent materials at this price point.

Earlier versions of the MG3 were nowhere near as good inside as the current model, which has been on sale since 2018. It’s not perfect, but there are plenty of things to like.

The seats offer plenty of adjustment, including a huge amount of height adjustment for shorter drivers. The seat is comfortable, though some drivers might find it hard to get the right position: there is no reach adjustment for the steering wheel (only rake adjust), and you can’t adjust the seatbelt height, either. 

I really like the seat trim which is a broad tartan design (with “synthetic leather” bolsters and contrast stitching in the top-spec Excite), mirrored by an etched tartan aluminium trim piece on the dashboard - it looks really smart, even if my OCD radar was set off by the fact the trim wasn’t aligned to match perfectly between the cushion sections. Take a look at the interior pictures to see what I mean.

There are some really nice elements to the cabin. Things like the 'lock' and 'unlock' button on the driver’s door, which looks like it has been stolen directly from Audi’s parts catalogue. The same can be said for the speedo instrument font. 

There’s no doubt that it’s built to a price, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as cheap as you might expect. We’ve criticised Audi, VW and Skoda for cutting costs with hard plastic trims on doors and dashboards, and the MG has plenty of hard plastics, too - but it’s expected at this price, not double it.

There’s a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with AM/FM radio and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, plus USB connectivity and smartphone mirroring - meaning you get Apple CarPlay, essentially negating the need for sat nav if you use an iPhone. You can option a GPS navigation system on the Core model, but satellite navigation comes standard on the Excite. There's no Android Auto mirroring available at all, though.

In previous models from the SAIC stable - including the LDV T60, and MG ZS - I had troubles with the media screen, but the version in the MG3 Excite I drove was quick and problem free, even when disconnecting and reconnecting my phone multiple times. 

There are other little things that could be improved, like the fact the trip meter is difficult to navigate, and there’s no digital speedometer. Also, the digital climate control in the Excite model shows up on the media screen, though by way of a graphic rather than a temperature number. In the base model Core there’s a simpler manual a/c system. 

The steering wheel has a part leather trim with perforated edges which makes it look and feel a little bit sporty – and it has a flat bottom as well, which will appeal to the sporty-minded buyer. There are stereo and cruise control buttons on the wheel, but the stalks behind are “back to front”, with the left stalk for indicators and lights, and the right for wipers. 

As for storage, up front there is a single cup holder between the seats, a couple of small storage sections including a trench for a wallet, and another storage section in front of the gear selector - that’s where the MG3’s single USB port is, too.

The front door storage includes bottle holders, and there are soft padded elbow pads on the front doors - which is more than we can say for some of those aforementioned Euro brands.

With the driver’s seat set in my position (I’m 182cm tall), I had enough back seat space to be comfortable. There was enough knee room and toe room, and reasonable headroom if I sat perfectly still - although the slightest tilt of my head to the outer side of the car saw my noggin contact the headlining. Rear seat comfort is okay - the backrest is a firm, but there’s good visibility out the windows. There are dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points, and three top-tether points for baby seats. 

In the back the storage is minimal. There are two map pockets, but no door pockets, and there’s no flip-down centre armrest with cupholders. But there is one large pocket in front of the middle-seat rear passenger which would do for a bottle. The back seat also misses out on soft elbow pads on the doors. 

Boot space is good for a car in this size segment. You’ll only really do better if you buy a Honda Jazz or Suzuki Baleno, as the MG3 offers a deep and boxy cargo zone, with a cargo capacity of 307 litres to the cargo cover. 

Need more luggage capacity? The back seats fold down in a 60:40 split, alleviating 1081L of space - though the load-through is limited as the seats don’t fold completely flat. Or you could fit a roof rack. 


Kia Cerato8/10

You can get the Cerato as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. They’re the same size, but which do you reckon has the biggest boot? The hatch? Nope.

See, the Cerato hatch’s boot has a luggage capacity of 428 litres and the sedan’s boot space is 502 litres.

Thing is, the hatch is the more practical of the two because of its tailgate which opens high and gives you a big aperture and you can fold those rear seats down to open up the cabin as a cargo area.

Another practicality win for the hatch is the segmented storage area under the boot floor. The sedan doesn’t get this which is a shame because it’s like a big bento box for wet clothes or muddy shoes. 

Storage throughout the cabins of both the sedan and hatch is excellent with two cupholders in the fold-down rear armrest and another two up-front, while the centre console bin is deep (there’s a USB charging port in there, too) and the shelves under the dash were a great place to plonk my wallet and phone. Also hiding in there is a USB charging port, a USB media port and a 12-volt outlet. That top shelf under the dash in the GT also doubles as a wireless charging pad.

Room for people is also outstanding. I’m 191cm tall, and mainly all limbs, yet I had no elbow or legroom issues up front and I can even sit behind my driving position in both the sedan and the hatch with about 20mm of space between my knees and the seatback.

The Sport Plus and GT have directional air vents in the second row, but the lower grades don’t get these. That’s something I find pretty frustrating – my four-year-old sat for two weeks in the back of the Cerato S and Sport through the killer summer of 2019 and it was hot back there.

Price and features

MG 38/10

The success of the MG3 in Australia has been largely driven by its price. 

And no wonder, with the price list starting at just $16,490 drive-away for the Core model and topping out at $18,490 drive-away for the top-spec Excite, the cost of buying into the MG brand is pretty darn low. Note: those prices are the RRPs listed on MG’s site, and there are promotional deals happening all the time.

Wondering what features you get when it comes to the models in the range? There are only two - Core vs Excite - so let’s run through what each model gets.

The Core gets 15-inch alloy wheels, cloth tartan finish seat trim, auto on/off halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights, manual air conditioning, electric windows, electric mirrors, and a leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control buttons. There’s a space-saver spare wheel, too.

The media system includes a 8.0-inch touch screen with USB connectivity, Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and AM/FM radio. There’s no CD player, and the Core model gets four speakers. You can option sat nav in the Core, but it’ll set you back $500 more.

Stepping up to the Excite nets you a few extras like 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels and a body kit, body-coloured mirrors, vanity mirrors in the sun-visors, and synthetic leather trim on the seats with contrast stitching. 

The Excite also includes GPS sat nav as standard, and steps up the sound system to be a six-speaker unit with “Full Vehicle Yamaha 3D Sound Field”.

Interested in the safety spec inclusions? Read the safety section below for what’s included, and what’s missing.

Our friendly MG dealer let me know that he can’t get enough of the Tudor Yellow models, and that colour - as well as Dover White and Pebble Black - are no-cost optional hues. You should bare in mind that Regal Blue metallic, Scottish Silver metallic and Bristol Red metallic (as seen here) will set you back an additional $500. Looking for orange, green or gold paint? Sorry, no can do.

As for accessories, beyond floor mats there’s not a lot to speak of. Oh, and those wishing for a sunroof? No chance… unless you’re handy with a Sawzall. Note: do not cut a hole in the roof of your car. 


Kia Cerato9/10

You’ve had a look online and you’re a bit shocked to find that your $20-$30k may not go as far as you originally thought, especially when you include the on-roads costs.

There’s the new Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and the Mazda3. All great, but they can get quite pricey as you step up through the grades. The Hyundai i30, then? Yep, damned fine automobile. 

But, take a look at its ‘cousin’ the Kia Cerato, too, because I reckon it’s the best value-for-money car on the market right now, and one that no doubt keeps its rivals awake at night as it steals buyers away from them.
 
The Kia Cerato sedan and hatch are priced the same and the value-for-money is outstanding. The entry grade S with a manual gearbox lists for $20,990, and at the time we published this review you could have it for $19,990 drive-away.

The same grade with an automatic transmission lists for $23,790 or $23,490 drive-away. Kia’s drive-away deals are long lasting so check to see if it’s still in place.

You’d probably think the ‘S’ stands for ‘Sport’ but it doesn’t because there is an actual grade called the Sport which is the next tier up and lists for $25,790 or $24,190 drive-away. Then there’s the Sport Plus which lists for $28,840 and can be had for $27,740 drive-away. At the top of the range is the GT which lists for $32,990 or $31,990 drive-away. 
 
Standard features on the S include an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, six-speaker stereo, air-conditioning, cloth seats, 3.5-inch LCD instrument screen, electric mirrors, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and 16-inch steel wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres.

Standard features on the Sport are almost identical to the S. The only difference is the Sport’s premium steering wheel and shift knob, sat nav, plus 17-inch alloys wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres.

The Sport Plus has the Sport’s features and adds leather seats, dual-zone climate control with rear directional air vents, heated front seats, push-button start, proximity key and LED running lights.

The GT has those features and adds wireless phone charging, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster an eight-speaker JBL sound system and 18-inch alloys with 225/40 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber.

Engine & trans

MG 36/10

Keen to know the engine specs for the MG3? Well, it’s pretty simple on the specifications front.

There’s just one motor available: a 1.5-litre four-cylinder non-turbo petrol engine, dubbed NSE Major by MG. 

It has class competitive outputs of 82kW (at 6000rpm) and 150Nm (at 4500rpm). It is only available with a four-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. There’s no manual transmission available anymore - it was available in the earlier MG3s, but no more. 

While some competitors offer higher-powered flagship variants that act as the horsepower hero of the range, there’s no such variant in the MG3 range. Not yet, anyway. For now there’s just one engine size, no turbo, and no diesel or EV models to speak of either.

The tare mass/tare weight for the MG3 hatch is 1170kg, which is a bit heavier than a Mazda 2, but pretty much on par with a Kia Rio. 

Considering a caravan holiday with your new MG3? Maybe think twice - the maximum towing capacity is just 200kg. 

If you’re worried about engine problems, clutch problems, or have questions about the battery, gearbox, or the oil requirements, be sure to stay tuned to our MG problems page. And if you're curious about whether it has a timing chain or timing belt? It's a chain.


Kia Cerato7/10

So, you can get a Cerato S, a Cerato Sport and a Cerato Sport Plus, but only the top-of-the-range Cerato GT is the true sporty one in the family.

The GT has a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol making 150kW/265Nm. It’s a great engine and Kia has given it a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for quick shifts.

The rest of the Cerato line-up shares a 112kW/192Nm four-cylinder petrol engine. If you want a manual gearbox, then you can only have it with the base grade S, otherwise the six-speed automatic, that is standard in the others, does the shifting for you.

Both are good powerplants, the 1.6-litre is smaller but more powerful and responsive and uses less fuel. How much less? Which we’re just about to get to. 

Fuel consumption

MG 37/10

The combined cycle fuel consumption claim - which is what the brand claims the vehicle should use across a mix of driving situations - is the same across the MG3 line-up: 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres.

During my time with the car - which consisted of exactly 100km of mixed driving - I saw an at-the-pump fuel economy return of 7.7L/100km, which is decent.

The fuel tank capacity of the MG3 is 45 litres - meaning a theoretical mileage per tank of about 580km. It runs on regular unleaded (91RON), too.

Just be aware, the filler neck of the fuel tank is a little less angled than some other cars, so you might find it can splash back when it ‘clicks’ the first time.


Kia Cerato8/10

As mentioned above, the GT with its 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder is the most fuel-efficient member of the Cerato family and after a combination of open and urban roads Kia says you should see it using 6.8L/100km in both the sedan and hatch. 

When I tested the GT at its launch in January 2019 the trip computer said I was using 7.6L/100km after driving the hatch on mainly country roads and 8.4L/100km in the sedan on similar open roads.

As for the other grades Kia says the combined fuel consumption for the S, Sport and Sport Plus grades with their 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines and six-speed auto is 7.4L/100km. My own testing in the Sport hatch saw me measure bang-on 7.4L/100km (measured at the petrol pump), while the S hatch did 8.6L/100km (also measured at the bowser).

A manual gearbox is available on the S and Kia says you should see it using 7.4L/100km in the hatch and 7.6L/100km in the sedan. Along with that good mileage it's nice to know both engines are also happy to run on regular unleaded petrol.

Driving

MG 37/10

You might think of MG as a sports car brand - that’s what they built back in history, after all, and those are the reminiscences the company is hoping you’ll have when you see the famed octagonal badge.

And of the current crop of models that MG sells in Australia, the MG3 is undoubtedly the sportiest. 

That comes down to its driving manners, steering and ride - but not the engine and transmission.

The powertrain feels to be lacking enough power and torque to make it feel light and zippy when accelerating. The automatic transmission doesn’t make the greatest use of the engine, and can be indecisive when climbing hills or when you ask more of the car. Oh, don’t even think about a 0-100 performance claim - no such number exists.

In urban driving at lower speeds it’s fine. Between traffic lights and encountering roundabouts, and there’s not much to complain about. It doesn’t have any lag or lurch from a standstill, and is smooth and quick enough to get away from rest, too.

It’s just once you start to ask more of the engine and transmission that you notice that things could be better. There is, at least, a manual shift mode for the transmission to allow you to take control of the shifts, and there’s a sport mode too, which will hang on to gears and quell the indecision of the transmission to a degree.

On the open road it gets along fine, sitting at the speed limit without much fuss - although once you encounter a hill, you will notice the speed drop off a little. And the cruise control seemingly has a bit of a mind of its own, with a set speed displayed at 100km/h, I noticed the speed varying between 90km/h and 110km/h, depending on the terrain.

It’s the road holding, grip, handling and steering that help it live up to the badge, with steering that has a nice hefty weight to it and good directness at pace or around town. It even offers a little bit of feel through the wheel, which is welcome. That grip was surprising given the tyres fitted to the Excite’s 16-inch alloy wheels (Giti GitiComfort 228 tyres in 195/55/16 size).

The ride is tuned with a firmer character to it than you might expect. It’s not to the point of discomfort, and nor is it fidgety or clumsy over potholes or sharp edges. And that tune for the Macpherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension means that it feels plenty grippy in corners. Over my drive loop - incorporating sweeping bends and tighter twists - the MG3 stuck itself to the road commendably, with no noticeable skittishness to speak of. 

Indeed, I kept thinking that the suspension tune reminded me of a VW, Skoda or Audi city car - assured, confident, and ultimately a bit of fun.

The braking performance was good, too - it pulled up true and straight under heavy braking, and offered decent response at city speeds, too.

One minor criticism was some noticeable wind noise from around the windscreen pillar / mirror area, which was evident at speeds from 70km/h up.


Kia Cerato7/10

This is simple. There are only two types of Cerato when it comes to driving. There’s the fast and hard one, or the comfy and easy one.

If you’re looking for a Cerato which is pretty quick and has great handling, then it’s the GT for you. The catch is, the GT’s ride is firm and jarring over potholes and speed bumps.

If you’re looking for something which has a comfortable ride and is fuss-free to drive then the S, the Sport and Sport Plus are for you.

See, Kia set out to make the GT a bit more hardcore – it has a more powerful engine, firmer suspension (the torsion bar set-up in the other grades was swapped for a multi-link system in the rear of the GT), it also sits lower and rides on 18-inch wheels with low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres. The result is a hatch which is knocking on the door of Golf GTI territory.

I drove the GT in hatch form at its launch on twisty country roads and it felt planted, with excellent body control and impressive grip. The only thing lacking was more grunt.

This chassis is now so good it feels like it’s in search of a more powerful engine to match it. The steering also felt a bit ‘lumpy’ in places. Still it’s accurate and not a deal breaker.

That lumpy steering feel is also present in the S, Sport and Sport Plus, too but it becomes irrelevant because these grades don’t have the performance bent of the GT. Instead they have a ride which is composed and comfortable, with an engine that provides plenty of oomph for highway cruising, overtaking and city sprints – especially when you select 'Sport' mode which sharpens throttle response.

And while they don’t have the handling and agility of the GT, I was impressed by how controlled and planted the Sport felt when I tested it over the route I normally take sport cars on.
 
More importantly, the S, Sport, and Sport Plus are easy and enjoyable to drive. I clocked up hundreds of kilometres in the S and Sport and found the seats to be wide at the base and supportive around my back, and they could be adjusted to find a great driving position.

Kia tunes most of its cars for Australia roads and the job its local engineering team has performed on these lower grade Ceratos is outstanding – the ride is compliant and comfortable and the car has good body control over bumps and corners.

If I could change anything it would be to improve visibility in the rear corners – those tiny porthole-like windows aren’t big enough.

Safety

MG 36/10

Safety technology is the MG3’s biggest shortfall. There’s no ANCAP crash test safety rating to speak of, and the MG3 doesn’t come with any form of auto emergency braking (AEB), which is disappointing given the tech has been available on affordable city cars since 2013 (the VW up! was an early benchmark). 

Even the facelifted Mitsubishi Mirage has AEB with pedestrian detection, but the MG3 doesn’t. Nor does it come with lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert or rear AEB.

So what do you get? The range comes standard with a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, electronic stability control, and six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain). And that may be enough for you, but we know you can get more safety tech in rival cars, so it can’t score well against this criteria.

Where is the MG3 built? It’s made in China. 


Kia Cerato8/10

The Kia Cerato GT and Sport Plus hatch and sedan scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2019, but the Sport and S were given four stars because while they do have AEB it doesn’t detect pedestrians and cyclists like the version on the top two grades.

You can effectively turn a Sport or an S into a five-star car by optioning the $1500 safety pack which adds that version of the AEB plus blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

The Sport Plus and GT come with all of that advanced safety equipment already. The GT also comes with LED headlights which are much brighter and more intense than the halogen units in the other grades.

As you'd expect all Ceratos come with a suite of airbags, ESP and a reversing camera. There are also three top tether anchor points across the second row – they’re easy to use, I’ve installed my four-year-old’s seat in both the hatches I had. There are also two ISOFIX anchor points.

Under the boot floor is a space saver spare.

Ownership

MG 38/10

I kept thinking about one particular thing over my time in the MG3 - the warranty. It’s such a great peace of mind move from the company to back its cars with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan

If your brain works like mine, you could calculate it out and see the purchase of the MG3 completely differently: what about thinking of it as a $2500-ish-per-year investment, and at the end you get a free car…! The same can be said of the Kia Picanto and Rio, though.

That warranty should put your mind at ease when it comes to reliability, problems, common faults and issues, as any required fixes are set to be covered by the brand over that period. And buyers get seven years of roadside assistance included, too.

Maintenance is required every 12 months/10,000km, whichever comes first. That’s a bit more regular than some rivals (most have 15,000km intervals), but the brand backs its cars with a seven-year fixed service cost plan. Servicing costs averaged out over the first seven years/70,000km of ownership equate to $382 per visit (before GST), which isn't cheap, but nor is it expensive.

Here's a rundown of the recommended service costing (all prices pre-GST): 12 months/10,000km: $231.76; 24 months/20,000km: $385.23; 36 months/30,000km - $379.72; 48 months/40,000km - $680.74; 60 months/50,000km - $231.76; 72 months/60,000km - $533.19; 84 months/70,000km - $231.76.

Keep the service logbook stamps up to date in your owners manual - it’s a ticket to better resale value. 


Kia Cerato10/10

The Cerato is covered by Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty. Most carmakers are only just making the move to five-year warranties, but Kia has had this offering in place for years. The Cerato also comes with seven years of roadside assistance.

There’s also seven years of capped price servicing. Kia recommends you service the Cerato S, Sport, Sport Plus annually or every 15,000km. You can expect to pay $275 at the first service, $469 at the second, $339, $623, $309, then $596 and finally $328 for the seventh.

It’s good to know that after seven years of regular servicing you can expect to pay no more than $2939.

As for the GT Kia recommends servicing it every 10,000km or annually. Servicing is capped at $282 for the first service, $476 for the next, then $346, $630, $317, $604, then $640 for the seventh.

The aftercare Kia offers is outstanding and so the Cerato gets full marks for its cost of ownership.