MG3 3Style VTi-Tech

MG3, front static
MG3, side static
MG3, rear static
MG3, dashboard
MG3, boot
MG3, rear seats
MG3, badge

A MODEST revamp of the high value MG3 hatchback means it cuts the engine at the lights and saves an owner some road tax in the process.

Adding stop/start to the car improves the official tailpipe emissions figure and stretches each gallon of petrol a little further - in theory, at any rate.

The road tax savings are for sure; down from £130 annually to £110 and with the first year's use not sending a penny to the Chancellor.

That's thanks to emissions down a grade as the engine (once warmed through) stops itself when you select neutral and the car is stationary. Start us is instant as you dip the clutch and find first gear, having modestly saved the planet.

The improvement in fuel consumption is more theoretical; official figures improve from 48.7mpg to 51.5mpg but my week with the new model showed 39mpg on the trip computer.

An MG3 tried in 'dirtier' form a couple of years ago showed 42mpg after broadly similar use. So it was actually more frugal in the real world than the new version.

None of which ought to stop you taking a look at the MG3 should you be looking for a modestly sized hatch that majors on value and is rather better to drive than you've any right to expect at this price level.

The range starts at £8,399 for a version that drives precisely the same as the range topper at £10,999 but lacks the latter's bells and whistles (and leather upholstery, for that matter).

Whichever MG3 you head for it will have more kit as standard than the competition and cost less too. Head towards the top of the price list and you'll have a 3STYLE model like the car tested here and dripping with kit.

For instance, you'll find air conditioning, cruise control, DAB radio, iPod integration and Bluetooth, reverse parking peepers, remote locking and electrically adjusted door mirrors.

And that's not forgetting the four passenger doors that come with every MG3, enough space in the rear seats for two adults (three at a pinch) and a boot big enough for a sack of coal and weekly shop at the same time.

The car looked smart in £395 worth of grey metallic paint. On a more practical level, there's room under the boot floor for a spare wheel - a £120 option.

The MG3 shows its design age in a good way with steering that uses old fashioned hydraulic assistance in place of electrical help and is all the more positive for it.

Firm springs also make the car more fun than you'd ever imagine so long as the road surface doesn't turn nasty, when rear seat passengers in particular will feel the bumps.

The engine gives nothing away on paper to much dearer rivals with a fresher design pedigree but feels lethargic until it's revved hard - thankfully a lovely gearchange helps a keen driver maintain forward progress with some purpose.

Sit down in the nicely shaped seats and you may be gently surprised at cabin with lots of hard plastic on show but obviously carefully assembled on its limited budget.

FAST FACTS

MG3 3Style VTi-Tech

Price: £10,499

Mechanical: 105bhp, 1,498cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 108mph

0-62mph: 10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 51.5

Insurance Group: 4

C02 emissions: 124g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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