Publication date: 4 May 2024
MG 3

MG 3

More to choose from

Review - There are fewer and fewer compact, low-cost cars on offer. This is because the legal requirements for such cars are so high that there is almost no profit to be made on them. Or the price is as high as that of a larger car. MG does not see this as a problem, but rather an opportunity, and introduces the compact, economical "3". A good choice?

MG fell into Chinese hands a few years ago and since then the brand has been reinventing itself. The first models all differed in style and naming. With the "3", it can be seen that the new MG has found itself. After the mid-sized "4" and "5", the compact model is called "3". Moreover, the 3 follows the style first seen on the 4 and 5.

MG 3

The 3 is not an SUV (that is newsworthy these days) and is characterised by a double shoulder line. There is such a distinctive line under the C-pillar (the bar between the rear side windows and the tailgate), as well as from the front wheel to the rear door. MG describes the nose as that of a hunter stalking its prey with sharp eyes. Depending on the angle chosen (towards the viewer or away from it), the 3 looks down bemusedly or indeed determinedly at the target. The exterior mirrors are partly in black, making them appear sleeker. Apart from the standard boring colours (black, white, grey), the 3 is also available in red, yellow and bright blue. Kudos for that!

An economical car often also has an "economical" interior. MG, on the other hand, has struck a balance between build quality, choice of materials and price. Thanks to details such as the seat covers and a nice pattern on the dashboard, this MG may be simple, but it is certainly not shabby.

MG 3
MG 3

The space up front is good and the front seats are sufficiently adjustable. However, the steering wheel is adjustable only in height and not in depth (distance to driver). Thanks to a thin A-pillar, all-round visibility is good. When large adults sit in the front, the space in the back is just enough for another two adults, but only just. The boot is large, the glovebox is not.


The equipment is modern and complete on paper, however in practice it is noticeable where MG economises. A voice button can be found on the steering wheel, but the car has no smart assistant! This requires a smart-phone with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The built-in navigation system should have the latest map material via an internet connection, but in fact it does not know several recent address! The layout of the menus is sometimes a bit awkward. For instance, pressing the audio button can only play music from Bluetooth or USB. The radio can only be activated by repeatedly clicking an arrow from the home screen until the FM/DAB+ tuner appears. Special for a compact car is the 360-degree camera for images around the car during manoeuvring.

The safety features rely solely on camera images and are not assisted by radar or lidar in case of poor visibility. MG is thus following Tesla's lead and is confident that technology is developing so fast that cameras will eventually be able to see through rain and snow.

Of course, the 3 provides all the safety features required by the European Union. Like all new cars, the electronics warn of any error or carelessness, and often this is unjustified because traffic signs for parallel roads or exits are read. In one respect, the 3 is even more critical than other cars: if the MG is passed on a narrow road, a warning will sound even if the driver does not change lanes! Fortunately, the 3's warning sound is modest and the functions can easily be switched off.

MG 3

Hybrid according to MG

Contrary to most of MG's other models, the 3 is not an electric car. However, it is more than a standard hybrid! For the 3, MG has adapted the existing engine from the ZS to operate in the so-called "Atkinson" cycle. This makes an internal combustion engine very economical, but less smooth and powerful. MG has modified the necessary starter motor so that it can assist the petrol engine and make its unwillingness less noticeable (similar to the operation of a mild-hybrid). In addition, a more powerful electric motor is present to take over the drive completely at lower speeds (up to 80 km/h) and/or lower loads (similar to the operation of a full hybrid). The MG 3 has a three-speed automatic transmission, with each gear matching one of the engines or engine combinations.

In addition to this unique set-up, MG offers another technical gimmick: the driver can choose in three steps how much the car decellerates when releasing the throttle and thus how much energy is recovered during coasting and braking. Unlike many competitors, MG does not act childish here: maximum regeneration really does mean maximum, and so releasing the accelerator is often enough to brake (one of the advantages of electric driving). Those who find this unpleasant or can't get used to it can turn the function off. Those who use this functionality well can reduce consumption even further.

MG 3

In practice, MG's unusual setup works extremely well! From standstill, the 3 always has the decisive acceleration of an electric car and that alone is a big plus over the conventionally powered competition! When driven calmly, the hybrid drive provides even more peace of mind. When the pedal is pushed to the metal, the petrol engine can rev a lot and make its presence felt. However, this is rewarded with good performance. For a car like this, the 3 is even surprisingly quick, even at high speeds.

On a route with city traffic, county roads and motorways, consumption with a moderate driving style came to 5.4 litres per 100 km (factory specification: 4.4 litres per 100 km). That is comparable to the consumption of a car that is a size smaller, while the performance is that of a larger car!

MG 3

Driving behaviour

The MG 3 was made with the European market in mind and this is evident in its handling. Still, the test driver was initially shocked: on bad road surfaces, the windscreen creaked in the frame, indicating twisting ("bending") of the bodywork. According to MG, the test car is a so-called "pre-series" and therefore the build quality may be less than during final mass production.

That said, MG has taken a huge step forward from its previous models. MG has struck a good balance between light steering, precise handling and dynamics. Similarly, the brand now knows how to combine comfort and communication. As a result, handling is now as good as that of its European competitors.

MG 3


Is the MG 3 a good choice as more and more brands discontinue compact and economy cars? More than that! Previous MGs were chosen mainly for their competitive price. Chinese handling or other imperfections were  taken for granted given the price. With the 3, MG has taken a huge step forward and offers almost the same qualities as the established brands.

The seats are now made for the European stature. Safety meets European requirements. Handling, apart from worrying twisting of the test car, is similar to that of the European competition. The hybrid drive is even superior to existing offerings. Consumption is not exceptionally low, but the MG 3 acts more like an electric car than other hybrids. That's in the handling ("braking" by releasing the accelerator), the agility and decisiveness.

In short, the MG 3 is not an alternative choice by default, but a conscious choice based on its character and qualities. So there is now more to choose from in the compact segment!

  • Excellent driveability
  • Powerful, smooth hybrid powertrain
  • Safety features based on camera only
  • Bodywork twists on poor road surfaces