MG 3 VS Volkswagen Polo
- Good ride
- Fun to drive
- Great ownership prospects
- Lacking safety tech
- Powertrain not great in demanding situations
- No digital speedo
- Space efficiency
- Needs premium unleaded
- No adjustable rear vents
- No rear centre armrest
This story has been updated in February 2022 to reflect market changes and pricing adjustments for the MG3. It was originally published in the first half of 2020.
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. Now the company has an in-house PR team with a pretty decent fleet of press cars, yet still, no MG3.
Over the years, our desire to review the MG3 hatch - and to help you decide whether it's right for you or not - 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.
Since then, the MG3 has skyrocketed, and it is the best-selling light car in Australia. In 2021, the brand moved more than 13,000 MG3s - meaning it is averaging 250 cars sold per week. Makes the paltry 2017 numbers look a bit meagre. In becoming the number-one seller in the segment, it has beaten big-name rivals including the Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and now defunct Honda Jazz, while also being well clear of the cheaper 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 got the chance to find out in 2020, thanks to a friendly MG dealership in NSW - and this review has been updated with the most current pricing, because nothing else has changed.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The sixth-generation Volkswagen Polo arrived in Australia in 2018, and four years down the track it’s time for an update.
The line-up has been trimmed from four to three grades, and in a conscious decision to better align the car with what Polo buyers are typically opting for, standard specification is up along with cost-of-entry.
Read more about the
- Is the Volkswagen Polo the new Golf? Supply and pricing put Toyota Yaris and Mazda 2 rival ahead of its larger sibling
- Volkswagen leaves bargains behind as it targets key rival Mazda in the 'upper mainstream' segment
- Forget BYD, MG and other Chinese brands: Australia's cheapest EVs could come from Volkswagen as brand announces cut-price electric vehicle roll-out
We’ll get into the details shortly, but to clarify, this review will deal with the entry-level Life and more highly specified Style model, with the GTI hot hatch covered in a separate review.
Volkswagen Australia invited us to the car’s local launch drive which took in a combination of city, suburban, B-road, highway and freeway running. So we were able to get a solid first taste of how the refreshed small hatch measures up in a slowly shrinking, but still hotly contested city car market.
|Engine Type||1.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
The Polo has always been a desirable, high-quality, small car option. Effectively moving it to a more premium positioning by aligning its specification with what the market has been buying is a bold move. But this mid-life upgrade has given the Polo the extra safety tech and digital sophistication it needs to substantiate the shift.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.
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.
It’ll take a sharp eye to spot the external differences between this upgraded Polo and its predecessor.
The car’s compact, tightly wrapped body and finely chiselled lines are unchanged, the only differences being reshaped (body-coloured) bumpers front and rear, a new headlight signature, with LED units now standard across the range, and remodelled LED tail-lights.
And after dark car-spotters should look out for the Style’s standard ‘IQ.LIGHT’ LED matrix headlights adding a continuous LED strip across the nose.
Inside things have shifted further, most notably in the entry-level Life, which now boasts the sleek digital instrument display, previously reserved for higher grades, as well as a neatly integrated 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen above the centre stack.
The rest of the interior is relatively understated in typical VW style (no pun intended), the neatly sculpted seats trimmed with a mix of textured and smooth cloth on both models.
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.
Volkswagen has developed the Polo over six generations (the first appearing in 1975) and its packaging and space-efficiency game has been honed to a fine point.
This car measures just under 4.1 metres end-to-end, yet the wheelbase is close to 2.6m, which isn’t a million miles away from the Golf. Well, actually, it’s 72mm shorter, but still pretty impressive.
And it shows in terms of interior space. The driver and front passenger have plenty of breathing room, and the rear is remarkable.
At 183cm, sitting behind the driver’s seat set to my position, I enjoyed ample legroom, and more than enough headroom.
Width is another story, because while two grown-ups will be fine in the back, there isn’t enough space for three to sit in comfort for any length of time. You need to be realistic about what to expect from a city-sized car.
Storage options in the front include a small lidded box between the seats (which doubles as an adjustable armrest), two cupholders and various oddments spaces in the centre console, as well as the wireless charging bay in front of the gearshift.
There are also pockets in the doors with room for (medium) bottles, a decent glove box, a shallow drawer under the passenger seat, and an overhead drop-down tray for glasses.
Map pockets on the front seat backrests, and small bins in the doors add extra practicality, but there’s no fold-down centre armrest or individual ventilation control for rear seaters.
For connectivity and power, there are two USB-C ports in the front, plus another two in the rear, as well as a 12-volt socket in the front centre console.
Boot space is 351 litres (VDA) with the 60/40 split-folding rear seats upright, which is impressive for a car of this size, that number growing to 1125L with them folded down. You can also change the floor level when you’re making a call between maximum volume and ease of loading.
Tie down anchors are handy for strapping loose loads, while shopping bag hooks help keep smaller bundles under control. And all this efficiency is even more impressive given the spare is a 15-inch steel rim.
Price and features
The success of the MG3 in Australia has been largely driven by its price.
And no wonder - pricing for cars of this size has increased steadily, and plenty of brands have found their light cars in the "too hard" basket as a result.
But the MG3 is still relatively cheap. Prices have jumped over the time since we drove this particular car, but they're still sub-$20K for all models in the range.
For context, the 2020 model started at just $16,490 drive-away for the Core model and topped out at $18,490 drive-away for the top-spec Excite, and those prices were the RRPs listed on MG’s site at the time.
But now the MG3 has become a bit pricier - the current pricing for the range is up, with the base model Core now $18,490 drive-away, while the Core with Nav model costs $18,990 drive-away, and the top-spec Excite grade is a Macca's meal short of twenty grand at $19,990 drive-away.
Wondering what features you get when it comes to the models in the range? It's pretty simple, 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 touchscreen 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. If you're keen on sat nav, you can step up to the Core Nav model, which adds $500 to the bill.
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.
While the prices have gone up since we originally published this review, the MG3 still scores strongly for pricing and specs, because the market has moved up, too, and like-for-like it's still cheaper than almost all of its rivals - Picanto excluded.
Let’s rip the Band-Aid off and get to the bottom of a more than 30 per cent base price increase before we go any further.
Yep, you read that correctly. Previously, a Trendline 70TSI manual gained you Polo club membership for $19,290, before on-road costs. Now, the entry-grade Polo Life, with exactly the same powertrain underneath it, will set you back $25,250.
So, what gives? Instead of getting down and dirty with the likes of the Kia Rio, Mazda2, and Suzuki Baleno, maybe even the poshest MG3, the Polo’s aiming up at its Audi A1 cousin and the Toyota Yaris, the latter undergoing a similar upscaling evolution in 2021.
The answer is standard equipment, and more of it. Volkswagen believes the days of a ‘price leader’ Polo are behind it. That is, pique a buyer’s interest with a keenly priced but relatively sparse base model, and they inevitably move up to a higher grade once engaged in the process.
No, the new Polo cuts right to the chase, specified more in line with the cars ultimately ending up in consumers driveways.
As mentioned, the Polo range now kicks off with the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol Life in manual for $25,250, and auto at $28,250, before on-road costs.
The gap between five-speed manual and seven-speed auto versions is slightly larger this time around ($3000 vs $2500) because the auto now boasts a more powerful (85kW/200Nm) version of the turbo triple than the manual (70kW/175Nm).
On top of the active and passive safety tech detailed in the Safety section (and it’s a pretty big story), the Life picks up new standard features including, LED headlights and tail-lights, 15-inch alloy wheels, the ‘Digital Cockpit’ configurable digital instrument display, front and rear parking sensors, ‘Manoeuvre Braking’ (low-speed rear AEB), wireless phone charging, electrically-folding exterior mirrors, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. That’s the $5960 difference between prior and current Polo entry models in a nutshell.
As well, the Life boasts leather trim on the steering wheel, gearshift and handbrake lever, an 8.0-inch media touchscreen, six-speaker audio, rain-sensing wipers, LED tail-lights and DRLs, and more.
Opt for the auto-only Style ($31,250) and you’ll pick up front fog lights (with static cornering function), ‘Matrix’ LED headlights, ‘Premium’ LED tail-lights (with dynamic indicators), ‘Dynamic Light Assist’ (auto low to main beam switch with light profile adjusted to avoid dazzling cars ahead or oncoming), 16-inch alloys, dual-zone climate-control air con, front and rear carpet mats, ‘Digital Cockpit Pro’ (incorporating nav and phone functions), ambient interior lighting, and sports front seats.
A sharp package in the Polo’s brave new world of $25-$35K small car competition.
Two option packs are available, starting with the ‘Vision & Tech Package’ for the Life (auto only - $1700), incorporating ‘Discover’ nav in the 8.0-inch media set-up, Digital Cockpit Pro, voice control, wireless app connect, ‘Travel Assist’ (Level 2 semi-autonomous driving) and adaptive cruise control.
A ‘Sound & Tech Package’ is available for the Style ($1900) delivering ‘Discover’ nav in the 8.0-inch media set-up, voice control, wireless app connect, keyless entry and start, and a Beats branded premium audio system (digital eight-channel amp, 300 watts).
A Panoramic glass sunroof ($1500) is available for the Style, and metallic paint adds $600 for both models.
Engine & trans
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.
The Polo is powered by Volkswagen’s 1.0-litre (EA211) three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, driving the front wheels through either a five-speed manual gearbox (yep, five-speed) or seven-speed dual-clutch auto in the Life, or auto only in the Style.
Important to note the all-alloy triple is tuned to produce 70kW/175Nm in the Life manual, those numbers jumping to 85kW/200Nm in the Life auto and Style.
No matter the output, maximum torque is available from 2000-3500rpm, with peak power arriving from 5000-5500rpm.
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.
If VW’s aim in turning the wick down on the manual Polo is improved fuel-efficiency it’s a dubious move with both versions of the 1.0L three-cylinder engine returning an official fuel economy figure of 5.4L/100km on the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle.
And the environment is ultimately the (not so big) loser, the 70kW manual producing 124g/km of CO2, while the 85kW auto trims that to 123g/km.
Minimum fuel recommendation is 95 RON premium unleaded, although you’ll need just 40 litres of it to brim the tank. Using the official consumption figure that translates to a range of 740km.
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.
The Polo’s launch drive program covered around 150km of city, suburban and freeway running from inner Sydney, through twisting B-roads to the city’s south, and sprawling semi-rural areas further west.
We sampled the Life and Style, both in 85kW seven-speed auto form, and first impressions are dominated by how refined this little car feels in terms of ride quality and noise suppression.
Typically throaty three-cylinder engine and exhaust noise is there under load, but it’s relatively low-key. And even on coarse secondary roads the Polo remains quiet and composed.
Zero to 100km/h comes up in around 10.5 seconds, which isn’t going to rewrite the class record books, but with seven ratios to play with the engine stays in its 2000-3500rpm sweet spot most of the time.
There’s more than enough pulling power for safe highway overtaking, and cruising at 100-110km/h is easy. You don’t have to mash the accelerator to maintain a comfortable pace.
Suspension is strut front, torsion beam rear, and if you’re inclined towards a cheeky fang through your favourite set of corners, the Polo is heaps of fun. At a fraction over 1.1 tonnes it’s light but feels planted and stable on twisty sections.
The steering’s nicely weighted and road feel is good, plus the front seats are supportive and comfortable over long stints behind the wheel.
Not surprisingly, parking is stress-free thanks to the Polo’s compact dimensions and good visibility.
Braking is progressive and reassuringly firm, but, although we didn’t drive the Life manual at launch, be aware its back brakes are drums, a ‘technology’ largely unknown beyond base utes in 2022.
Nothing wrong with an efficient drum set-up on a light-weight car, but let’s just say it’ll be interesting to drive that variant and see how it pulls up under pressure.
Under the heading of random thoughts, the combination of on-screen touch controls, and physical dials for the multi-media system is welcome. And the connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is wired or wireless which is handy for those who prefer the surety of a wired connection or the flexibility of one less cable in their life.
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.
With a maximum five-star ANCAP score already in the bag for the Polo from a 2018 assessment, the path of least resistance for VW would have been to rest on its laurels. But to its credit the German giant resubmitted this updated version for testing against stricter 2022 criteria.
That’s largely because it’s squeezed in several key active safety features under the umbrella of ‘IQ.Drive’, with all Polos now featuring, AEB (with cyclist and pedestrian detection), lane-keeping assist (with lane departure warning), ‘Multi-Collision Brake’ (automatically slows the car after a collision, reducing the chance of a secondary impact), driver fatigue detection, front and rear parking distance sensors, rear AEB (low-speed), a reversing camera (with static and dynamic guidelines), cruise control (with speed limiter and distance warning display), tyre pressure monitoring, and more.
‘Park Assist’ (perpendicular and parallel) and active cruise and are standard on the Style, with the latter optionally available on the Life auto as part of the Vision & Tech package.
If, despite all that, a crash is unavoidable there are seven airbags on-board - driver and front passenger (front and side), front centre (to minimise head clash injuries) and full-length side curtain.
There are three top tether points across the rear seat for child seats and/or baby capsules, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.
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.
Volkswagen Australia covers the Polo with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is now the volume market standard.
The paint is warranted for three years/unlimited kilometres, “Through Corrosion” is covered for 12 years/unlimited kilometres, and 12 months roadside assistance is included.
Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km, with prices over the first five years for the Life manual (70kW) ranging from a low of $413 to a high of $929, the average per service coming out at $560, bumping up to $580 for the Life auto and Style (85kW).
Capped price servicing is available, however, over five- and three-year plans. Paying up-front for five years results in a $664 saving over pay-as-you-go for the Life manual, and $716 for the Life auto and Style.
A compelling side benefit is the ability to fold servicing costs into the vehicle’s financing at the time of purchase, and the plan is transferable if you decide to sell the car before the five or three years is up.