MG3 3Style – Back Seat Driver

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When was the last time you sat in the back of a car and I don’t mean a taxi? I think it was 18 months ago when I was a passenger in a Land Rover. Car reviews usually assess a vehicle from the front seat, so it was odd to be a passenger in the back of the MG3 today.

What I found surprising was the amount of leg and headroom on offer. It feels larger than a Ford Fiesta, mainly because the roofline is higher.  The boot is a decent space too and there are plenty of cubbyholes and spaces in the cabin, including extra wide door bins.

There’s no getting away from the fact the MG3 is a budget car though. The quality of the interior trim and fittings is average at best. Most of the plastic surfaces feel cheap and I imagine would mark quickly over the course of time.

As far as I can see, there is no sat nav option on the MG3 but there is a large, flat space on top of the dashboard. Perfect for propping up a TomTom…

MG3 3Style – Fashion Victim

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You can fool a five-year-old girl with pink door mirrors but any child over the age of ten is going to think the graphics on our 3Style model (geddit?) is naff beyond belief. I’ve been trying to get over the silly colour choice but its now proving rather irksome.

Combine this with the ‘weave’ decal on the roof and the MG becomes an automotive fashion victim, the likes of which I haven’t seen since the days of the Fiat Multipla. Any lorry driver looking down on the roof would surely get an instant migraine.

The entire decal range just tries too hard to be cool – with the result that each one makes the MG3 leap out for all the wrong reasons. Mostly that you look a complete prat driving it.

It works with the Mini because the stickers can be quite subtle. However, whacking a ‘hope and glory’ Union flag on the roof of an MG3, or a tyre print flash over the bonnet and roof, is just one step too far. My advice is just but a grey MG3 and try to blend in with the crowd. Not make a spectacle of yourself…

MG3 3Style – New Engine Please

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A 1.5-litre petrol engine in a supermini sounds promising. Ignore the poor emissions (136g/km) and mediocre fuel economy (48.7mpg combined) and you might expect the MG3 to be outperforming other budget runabouts for sheer power and fun.

What’s terrible frustrating about his car is that the chassis and the steering are exceptionally good yet the engine lets the whole car down. It’s simply terrible and feels hopelessly out of date when compared to other cars in this price bracket.

Today I tried to pull out of a busy junction at speed and the 3 does absolutely nothing in first gear. You have to rev the exhaust pipes off it get the car moving, there’s just no pick-up at all from a low speed.

Things are marginally better higher up the gear range but performance doesn’t match the youthful looks of the rest of the car. It’s a real shame because a better engine would give the MG3 a fighting chance. As it is, would you really buy one of these over a Fiesta?

MG 3Style – Harley Vs MG

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Hottest day of the year and I’ve just ridden a Harley-Davidson to Henley and back across a very hectic Oxfordshire. I’m more used to retro Triumph motorbikes but the Harley was a chugging joy – it’s just a shame you have to be a banker wearing a bandana to ride one these days.

The MG and Harley share something in common, a heritage. Both were and still are iconic machines, except Harley has tried to retain some of the spirit of their old bikes in their latest range. MG doesn’t. The only similarity between and MGB and the the MG3 is the bonnet on the boot.

Of course, nobody would really want to drive a modern day version of the MGB but the MG3 isn’t even a sports car. It’s just a cheap runabout that happens to have an MG bonnet on the boot.

Such a shame that the new owners of MG couldn’t have built a desirable car that was affordable and fun. What would the designers of those first MGs make of this current car, I wonder…

MG3 3Style – Pink Ears

 

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If you want to get to know a car fast – drive it across Britain from west to east. We do great motorways north and south but a journey from Gloucestershire to Norfolk is testing, even in a decent car.

The MG3 deserves to be taken seriously for offering so much for so little cash. Even cynical old me thought a sub £10K car with DAB radio, auto lights and wipers, Bluetooth and even cruise control was pretty decent for the money. The 3 has everything you would expect and more for a budget supermini.

What I quickly discovered was the MG would be a whole lot better if it had a decent engine, better steering and proper suspension instead. All three are sadly missing and quite frankly, as much as I dislike Ford, a Fiesta represents much better value for money in the long run.

And there’s one other thing. I’m a 50-year-old bloke who is in touch with his feminine side. However, our test car has pink door mirrors and a bonkers chequered roof. I feel conspicuous and am wearing sunglasses whenever I pop to the shops.

Do we really need decals on a supermini? It may have an MG badge but really this car has as much to do with MG as I have with Shakespeare.

MG3 3Style – On The Cheap

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The MG6 was this year’s most disappointing car, so far. Low price is only a strong selling point if the product is competent and enjoyable – it wasn’t. So, how will the smaller MG3 city car fair?

It’s certainly cheap to buy and insure, although this is tempered by the fact that the fuel economy is average at best – and it won’t hold its value like a VW Polo, or a Fiat 500 for that matter.

There’s also plenty of room inside for four adults and they are protected by six airbags, stability control and even a tyre pressure monitoring system. Sounds promising.

After the MG6, I can’t help but feel the 3 is going to be a big letdown. If I could just look at it and not drive it, that might be the answer! Today I have to motor 180 miles across country to Norfolk in a heatwave. Find out how I get on tomorrow…

Maserati Ghibli – Definitely Not German

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We said arrivederci to the Ghibli today – and then immediately wondered if driving a German executive saloon would ever feel the same again.

Every motoring writer will tell you how wonderful the BMW 5 Series is as an all-rounder. Others will coo over the biturbo Audi A6, or melt over a Mercedes E Class.

But in some ways that simply isn’t the point here. The Maserati isn’t a better car than any of the others but for people who want to slip out of the driveway of mainstream, it’s something of a gem.

The Ghibli looks different, sounds fantastic and feels wonderfully Italian inside – including annoying off-set pedals, and a black roof lining that’s so oppressive it feels like you are squashed in a coffin.

The boot has a lid that sounds as tinny as a TATA when you slam it, the navigation screen catches reflections in bright sunlight and diesel fuel economy is average at best.

Yet for all this, you have to love the Maserati. Your accountant will hate it of course but I promise, it will set your pulse racing every time you sit in it.

Maserati Ghibli – New Era

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Maserati will launch a new Quattroporte soon, plus an SUV called the Levante. It’s the start of a major push to bring Maserati to the masses – or at least those who pine for an executive saloon with a trident badge of distinction. The new Ghibli is a big part of this and should see them shift 50,000 vehicles in 2015. They sold under 7,000 in 2006.

Our diesel version is certainly the one that will attract most European buyers, helped by that 3.0-litre twin-turbo that sounds sensational and loves to be driven hard. Well, it does if you press the ‘Sport’ button on the transmission.

And when you do, it’s almost possible to see the fuel gauge falling in front of your very eyes. MPG in excess of 40mpg is impossible even in normal driving mode, around 27mpg seems the norm for enthusiastic driving. It kind of makes you wonder what the 404bhp Ferrari-build V6 petrol!

Thankfully, the diesel does return low emissions, which might compensate if you are a company car driver…

 

 

Maserati Ghibli – Old Sport

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There’s a very special moment in the Ghibli. It happens when you press the ‘sport’ button on the automatic gearbox and an executive saloon becomes a sports car.

It’s what Maserati is all about – and probably the main reason why many exec buyers will opt for this car, rather than a Jaguar or something German.

Suddenly, the car wants to pull and there’s a lot more urgency about the response from the throttle response. The four tailpipes grumble and, well, it actually starts to ‘feel’ like an Italian super car. Albeit a diesel one.

Car Couture was meant to be testing the petrol S model but there was a cock up with the paperwork. I can only imagine that will provide the sort of non-stop performance that even diesel buyers lust after…

Maserati Ghibli – The Incredible Bearded Lady

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Why did the incredible, bearded lady win the Eurovision Song Contest for Austria? The song wasn’t that spectacular but the singer turned heads Maybe that’s what the Ghibli has in its arsenal – the ability to stand out from the crowd.

I’ve just been down to pick up the Sunday papers and the bearded one is on most of the front pages. When I stepped outside from the newsagents, there were two guys and a kid on a bike peering inside the Maserati.

Now as bold as the Ghibli is in design, it can’t claim to be any more attractive than other four-door saloons, like the Audi A6, or the Mercedes E-Class.

So, I can only conclude it’s the fact the Ghibli has a Maserati badge on the grille. Like the bearded lady, image is everything these days…