MG has enlisted another troop in its battle to garner attention from Australia’s discerning automotive fraternity, with a significantly updated version of its MG3 small hatchback, which is now available for the first time with an automatic transmission.
Two versions lead the update, with an entry-level Core touching down from $15,990 driveway and the more generously equipped Excite, which replaces the outgoing Soul and Essence, from $17,490 - also driveway. For now, there is no third variant to equal the pre-update trio.
The new pricing represents an increase of $2000 over the previous manual-only MG3, but the previous asking price was before on-road costs and did not include the deal-sweetening four-speed automatic transmission that will doubtless appeal more to local tastes.
Beyond the new auto, the refreshed model introduces a significant facelift, which ditches the outdated front end in favour of a more grown up look in line with the company’s ZS mid-sized SUV.
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There’s also new chrome-look exterior embellishments and LED daytime running lights.
The MG3’s 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine carries over to the updated model, but gains a modest power upgrade from 78kW/137Nm to 82kW/150Nm, although fuel consumption has crept up from 5.8L/100km to 6.7L/100km combined with the swap from more efficient manual-only gearboxes.
The MG3 also gets an interior makeover, with a range of new materials including carbon-look dash and centre console finishes, tartan pattern dash trims to match seat cloth, leather upholstery for the steering wheel and gear selector, and a an eight-inch touchscreen as the centrepiece.
With a more youthful target audience, MG has packed the information and entertainment system with connectivity features including sharp graphics, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a host of built in applications, and a Yamaha audio system.
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MG does not yet offer autonomous emergency braking for the MG3, but six airbags, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, cruise control and emergency braking assistance are on the standard safety features list along with the required electronic assistance systems.
Opt for the more kit-packed Excite and equipment highlights include upholstery that combines synthetic leather with cloth. The four-speaker sound system grows to six-speakers with Yamaha 3D Surround Field, and it gains climate control over manual air-con. The exterior gains a boot spoiler, and the 15-inch alloy wheels are upgraded to 16-inch machined rims.
At the back, a 307-litre boot expands to 1018 litres with the 60/40-split rear seats folded down. There’s also a full-sized steel spare wheel.
Both versions are covered by MG’s seven-year unlimited-kilometre warranty and roadside assistance, which is only matched in the mainstream manufacturers by Kia.
Five colours are on offer with two solid shades and three metallic. But as another lure to potentially younger buyers, MG is offering a range of customisation options which include exterior decals created by local artists.
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With the introduction of the updated auto, MG Motor Australia marketing director Danny Lenartic said the company’s smallest model now had the ability to pique more customers’ attention.
“Now with automatic transmission, increased horsepower, great new features, and customisable decals to add that touch of personality, the new MG3 Auto is the perfect urban runaround for our Australian customers,” he said.
It won’t be hard for the MG3 to improve on its sales performance to date, with just 72 registered to the end of July this year, but that meagre performance is hardly surprising in Australia’s auto-centric landscape.
The arrival of the new version gives the small hatchback a fighting chance of catching up to its better performing siblings which, in the case of the ZS, has found nearly 800 local homes in the same period.