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Car reviews - MG - MG3


We like
Good performance, decent fuel economy, affordable, generously equipped, city friendly, no plug, long warranty
Room for improvement
Annoying ADAS features, too many menu-driven functions, low headroom with sunroof, generic styling, requires premium unleaded

New MG 3 introduces 155kW petrol-electric hybrid powertrain at a keen price

12 Jun 2024



A NEW generation MG 3 light hatch has lobbed in two 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol and two 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol/electric hybrid variants ushering in a raft of new technology to complement the new sheet metal.


Its arrival brings the number of hybrid offerings in the affordable end of the new car market to three as the MG 3 Hybrid+ joins Suzuki’s new Swift hybrid and Toyota’s established Yaris hybrid.


However, unlike the Suzuki which is a rework of the previous model and the Yaris that’s been around since 2020, the MG 3 is a clean sheet newbie with all that brings in tech terms, features, safety and styling.


Having said that, it looks rather old school from a company capable of conjuring something like the Cyberster.


The non-hybrid MG 3 Excite 1.5 is from $23,990 + ORC rising to the Essence 1.5 from $25,990 + ORC. The new starting price point for MG 3 represents a $5000+ hike over the previous model which started at $18,990 drive away.


Setting the pace in the tiddler size hybrid space, the MG 3 Hybrid+ Excite starts at $27,990 (Essence is an extra $2K) plus on-road costs, the Yaris hybrid starts at $28,500 + ORC and the Swift hybrid’s pricing is from $24,490 drive away.


The Hybrid+ powertrain is the first conventional, non-plug-in hybrid system fitted to an MG model and is designed for efficiency… and performance.


Good for a combined 155kW of power and 250Nm of torque the thermally efficient 75kW 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine is assisted by an integrated 100kW electric motor fed from a 1.83kWh battery and is capable of a claimed 4.3L/100km combined (using premium unleaded petrol) while generating 100g/km CO2.


The combo that includes a generator, results in an extensive electric assisted driving range by significantly boosting efficiency.


MG says the powerful electric motor is installed to facilitate high-load driving – accelerating for example with the petrol engine “seamlessly” supporting or taking over at higher speeds.


The geared hybrid transmission works in conjunction with the electric traction motor and three driving modes: Eco, Standard, and Sport to deliver fuel efficient and smooth driving.


The non-hybrid model’s Otto Cycle 1.5-litre engine is good for 81kW and 142Nm output consuming standard unleaded fuel at the combined rate of a claimed 6.0L/100km. Drive is to the front wheels through a CVT transmission.


All new MG 3s ride on a strut front and rear torsion beam suspension with disc brakes all round.


Aiding dynamics, performance and efficiency, the MG 3 is comparatively light spanning 1199kg to 1308kg model dependent.


Far from being a bare bone model the Excite is well equipped with halogen headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels and connectivity options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among others.


The Essence grade gains a sunroof, LED headlights, 360-degree camera and ability to remotely turn on and off the air conditioner or heater via MG iSmart.


This model marks the introduction to MG of iSmart connected services free of charge for one year from the vehicle’s registration date. One simple action enables drivers to lock or unlock the doors with a smartphone and remotely switch on the air-conditioning or heater.


The new MG 3’s design is easy on the eye with compact dimensions and conventional design cues. While interior room is at a premium for larger adults, occupants of the new MG 3 are treated to a neatly styled space featuring a “high-quality” cockpit, a 10.25-inch infotainment display and comfortable seats.


A 7.0-inch digital driver display sits behind the squared off multi-purpose steering wheel.


Through the MG Pilot system, a focus was placed on safety in the new model that scores enhancements such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, front collision warning, lane keeping assist and blind-spot detection.


From behind the ‘wheel, the new model is oriented around enhancing driver experience with multi coloured graphic read-outs on the large 10.25-inch infotainment display and all controls within easy reach of the driver including the push-button ignition.


A seven colour palette is available of mostly metallic colours that attract a premium.


Driving Impressions


MG Motor gave us a top-of-the-line MG 3 Essence Hybrid + for a spin before the model went on the market so we drove it for 1000km to get a good appreciation of the sharply styled little hatch.


Above all else, we wanted to ascertain real world fuel economy as it’s a new hybrid and we were pleasantly surprised to see the brand spanker recording 4.4 litres per 100km without trying and with bugger all kays on the clock.


That’s just a tenth over the factory claim which is unusual in a space riddled with false claims.


Do the arithmetic and it means the MG 3 Hybrid + may be capable of 900km on a full 36-litre tank.


Of course, the usual ADAS (advanced driver assist system) issue reared its head as soon as we sat in the faux leather driver’s seat which demanded five minutes menu manipulation to deactivate the most intrusive systems like lane keeping assist and emergency collision braking, both of which panic at the drop of a hat.


The driving position is comfortable and as MG said, oriented towards the driver making operating the cutie a snack. And the squared off steering wheel feels good in your hands being smaller than experienced elsewhere.


The transmission dial is a touch tardy to select but if you give it a sec’ and have your foot firmly on the brake it’s all good…


The dash is simple and attractive based around two screens with the driver’s pod particularly easy on the eye and functional. Mostly grey tones dominate inside set-off by contrast fascia and textured surfaces.


The sunroof, standard on the Essence, is a pain as it robs headroom in the front pews. Anyone over 183cm will be touching the roof which becomes problematic on bumpy roads.


The driveline fires up in EV mode which also sees the MG 3 Hybrid + underway. When the petrol engine does start after a short time, it sounds a lot like the Nissan e-Power system where the petrol engine is a generator. This is not the case here as both the electric motor and the ICE engine are directly involved in propulsion.


And they propel the MG 3 Hybrid + well, not surprising given the weight and the combined power and torque … 155kW and 250Nm.


We would qualify that by saying the power readout on the dash never achieved 155kW topping out at “only” 132kW.


And believe it we tried enjoying the rapid acceleration across a broad engine speed range available virtually at will apart from a slight lag from a standstill. That’s where launch control would be handy.


Having 155kW puts the MG3 in hot hatch territory and the car is trending that way though isn’t as sharp as a ridgey-didge hot hatch dynamically or in acceleration.


Dynamics in terms of steering response, braking, ride and grip and are middle of the road comfortable and controlled, even in Sport. It can be pressed relatively hard through turns but is more your nippy little runabout rather than a Polo GTI corner carver.


Creature comforts rate highly like the decent six-speaker audio, easily adjustable manual front seats and efficient climate control.


The boot is OK too capable of taking a couple of medium/large suitcases expandable with the rear pew folded.


We like the look of the new MG3 and are sure the same opinion will be held by current and new owners. It’s a decent little thing, cheap on fuel with plenty of poke, well equipped and with a satisfactory drive feel at an affordable price… and no plug.

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