- Once-iconic British brand lands with two Chinese-built models
- Priced from $13,990 (plus on roads)
- Class-leading six-year warranty and free roadside assist
Unless you’re of a certain, er, ‘senior’ vintage, it’s possible the brand MG means very little to you. It was, at its height in the ’50s and ’60s, a British maker of low-volume, two-seater convertible sports cars. Along with similar Brit sports cars of the period, it provided the template which Mazda would parlay into the hugely successful Mazda MX-5.
These days, the recently-ailing brand has been resuscitated by Chinese automotive giant SAIC, and is now attempting to gain an Australian presence with the launch, initially at least, of two models.
The first is the MG3, a competitor in the light-car class dominated by the likes of the Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta, and Toyota Yaris. On paper, it appears to be a (mostly) competitive offering. The pertly-styled five-door body is designed at MG’s UK-based design centre, and has slightly funky echoes of small Citroens. It boasts a minor space advantage over the aforementioned competitor set, and drives the front wheels via a 1.5-litre four-cylinder, non-turbocharged engine producing 78kW and 137Nm, around the same numbers the Mazda 2 manages from the same capacity engine.
The MG3 is around 10 percent heavier than a Mazda 2, which accounts for a claimed 0-100km/h figure of 12.5 seconds, some two seconds slower than the Mazda. Likewise, the MG3’s fuel consumption, at 5.8L/100km, is on the high side for this class.
Surely the biggest concern about the MG3, however, is the lack of an automatic transmission in a segment where this is the default choice for the overwhelming number of buyers. A five-speed manual is the only offering and the company is not saying if or when an automatic will be made available.
On a brighter note ¬- literally - is the vast array of personalisation options offered for the MG3. A veritable rainbow of colour choices is available, from contrasting roofs and graphics, to brightly coloured wheels. MG has clearly seen the success Mini has enjoyed in this area, and is seeking to emulate it at a much lower price point.
Warranty and roadside assist are other MG strengths: six years for both, against three years for the likes of Mazda, Ford and Toyota.
The MG3 Core is the entry model of the three-tier line-up, and it’s fitted with the standard six airbags, mandatory electronic stability control, 14-inch steel wheels and priced from $13,990 plus on-road costs.
MG3 Soul is the mid-range option, priced at $14,990 plus on-roads, and adds remote central locking, Bluetooth and audio streaming, and steering wheel audio controls over the Core.
MG3 Essence tops the range, with 16-inch alloy wheels and a sports body styling pack that includes a rear boot spoiler and side sill extensions. It also adds cruise control, automatic lights and windscreen wipers and reverse parking sensors, for $15,990 plus on-roads.
The second of MG’s two-model range is the MG6 Plus, a five-door hatch that drops straight into the hotly contested segment dominated by the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30. Unlike those cars, the MG6 is turbocharged, and offered only with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Its 1.8-litre turbo makes 118kW/215Nm, providing 0-100km/h acceleration in just under 10 seconds, and combined consumption of 7.8L/100km.
Like the MG3, the MG6 Plus is offered in three specification levels. Core opens the line-up at $21,990 (plus on-roads), while Soul sits in the middle and adds an improved audio system with Bluetooth and audio streaming, rain sensors, video-in and remote central locking above the base Core.
Essence is the top of the range, adding Xeon headlamps, front parking sensors, rear view camera, as well as electrically adjustable seats for both driver and passenger. Price is $25,990 plus on-roads.
Much has been made of the suspension tuning of both cars, all done in the UK, and claimed to offer an engaging blend of agile, fun handling, and absorbent ride. We look forward to finding out when test cars become available in the coming weeks.