The previous MG3 was on sale from October 2016 but with negligible sales due to a lack of marketing, uncertain build quality and the absence of an automotive transmission.
Things have changed quickly and MG, a subsidiary of the giant Chinese automaker SAIC, now has a factory-based headquarters in Australia that is promoting the brand with print and television advertising.
It also has enough confidence in build quality to introduce a seven year, unlimited kilometres and roadside assistance.
To satisfy Australian driving preferences, the MG3 now only comes with an automatic transmission.
The styling highlights come at the front of the car with a large honeycomb grille with chrome finish and the very recognisable ‘MG’ badge front and centre. The grille then flows into wide, narrow headlamps with daytime running lights above extended lower air vents, also honeycombed.
Two variants are offered, MG3 Core and Excite priced at $15,990 and $17,490, which includes on-road costs. The Core comes with 15-inch alloy wheels while Excite gets 16-inch two-toned machined alloys.
The MG3’s interior has also been updated. The British style design combines stitched leather sports steering wheel, satin chrome finishes and carbon-look centre console. Seats have a tartan fabric and contrast stitching with the Excite getting synthetic leather trim.
Boot capacity is 307 litres expanding to 1081 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded.
There’s just one powertrain, a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol with outputs of 82 kW and 150 Nm mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. There was no drive component to the MG3 automatic transmission launch but we did get behind the same engine during our recent test of the MG ZS compact SUV and found it capable enough. Given the lighter weight of the hatch we’d expect at least the same performance.
Fuel consumption is listed a 5.3 litres per 100 km on the combined urban/highway cycle.
At this stage the MG3 has not been tested by either Euro NCAP or ANCAP.
Safety items include six airbags; ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist; active cornering brake control; stability and traction control; hill launch assist; rear parking sensors; and reversing camera.
MG3 gets the same 8-inch colour touchscreen that impressed us in our recent ZS test. It’s clear, sharp and sensibly structured and so requires a minimum amount of distraction. There’s Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto. Satellite navigation is only available through a linked smartphone.
Core has a four-speaker audio system, Excite gets a higher quality one six speakers.
Until a few weeks back there were 17 MG dealerships in Australia, now another four have been added, including a first one in South Australia.
The new MG3 is a major improvement on its predecessor and with its appealing style, affordable driveaway pricing and long warranty it may become the first Chinese car to make an impact on the Australian market.
We’ll try and get into the new MG3 for our normal week-long road test as soon as possible to provide drive impressions.