MG3 3Style – Old Millennium

cropped-mg39.jpgGreat styling, lots of interior space and an impressive list of standard equipment that includes DAB radio, cruise control and rear parking sensors. What’s not to like about the MG3?

Today is our last with the MG. It’s not going to be a wrench to hand back the keys because the car is deeply flawed. Most of the problems stem from a 1.5 petrol engine that is gutless, noisy and lacking in refinement.

The handling and ride are poor too. While it’s fun to push the MG3 around a corner, it struggles on uneven surfaces and the steering is heavy.

And while there’s good space in the cabin, build quality is poor. There are vibrations through the steering column at high speed and trim materials are, at best, average.

Like the bigger MG6 we tested earlier this year, you wonder who on Earth is going to buy an MG3. So many other cars offer a more cost effective package. The 3 is better than the 6 but to us, it feels like you are driving a car designed in the last century. It’s been left behind by the competition and is never going to be a serious contender.

MG3 3Style – Stuffed Cat on Roof


I don’t know if its the pink door mirrors but my cat has taken to lying on top of the MG3. It’s the only car we’ve tested in the last 12 months that Hubble has taken a shine to – does this mean I’m missing something?

I spent 20 minutes looking at the MG3 as I ate my breakfast this morning. Yes, the cat was on the roof but I was more concerned with the styling than the possible affect on the  aerodynamics.

MG offer all manner of ‘personalisation options’ for the MG3, most of which are pretty dreadful. I think it will take a  lot more than that to make the MG3 appeal to young buyers who are more fashion conscious than most grown ups.

Maybe if they offered a ‘stuffed cat lying on the roof’ accessory that would win a few people over? A small puppy might make it the dog’s bollocks too..

MG3 3Style – Back Seat Driver


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


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


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


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



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


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…

Wednesday – Contents of a Cheap Cracker


The original MG Magnette was a stylish saloon that became a common sight on British roads during the 1950s and 60s. With a special two-tone paint job it was rather pretty too.

Today is our last day with the 2014 MG6 Magnette. As you will have gathered by now, it’s not been a happy week. As I walked back to the car park in Stow-on-the-Wold, I eyed it from every angle and tried to conjure up some enthusiasm.

The MG6 isn’t a pretty car. The design has little to recommend it, although the front-end view is probably the most appealing. Otherwise, it’s as charismatic as a old Mitsubishi Carisma. And that might be insulting to a Carisma owner.

Unlike the original Magnette, this isn’t a sport saloon by any stretch of the imagination. It may be loaded with a lot of standard equipment but the basic car is deeply flawed in the way it drives, the cheap interior, poor engines and, need I go on?

Suffice to say, the final straw came when I came to pull the plastic key unit out of the dashboard for the last time. It looks and feels like something you might find in a cheap cracker.

As the engine grumbled to a halt, I suddenly found myself holding just the leather key fob and an empty keyring. The key unit had come apart, with the majority of it staying in the dashboard.

So tomorrow I will console myself in a modest Volkswagen Passat  and feel very pleased for myself – because I can’t get rid of the MG6 fast enough.

Tuesday – The Best & Worst of Times…


I feel like I’m counting down the hours until the next test car arrives at Car Couture. I keep expecting a moment of guilt that I haven’t found an awful lot I like about the MG6 but it hasn’t happened yet.

Three questions people always ask when they find out you are a motoring writer. What’s Clarkson really like (no comment), what’s the best car you have ever driven (Aston Martin Vanquish Volante) and what’s the worst (Rover Metro Vanden Plas – with electric front windows).

After 26 years of testing cars, the luxurious VP version (with electric front windows) of the little Metro was by far the worst. Fitted with an automatic transmission and 63bhp of power, it actually died going up a hill with four people on board and still cost £11k – a lot of money in the 1980s.

The Metro VP (with electric front windows) was an absolute dog of a car. Sadly, and I truly mean this, the MG6 is only a small skip’s length behind in second place. And it costs almost twice as much…