MG3 3Style VTi-tech

start-stop

MG3 3Style, static
MG3 3Style, front, action
MG3 3Style, side
MG3 3Style, badge
MG3 3Style, interior
MG3 3Style, VTi engine

THE MG3 has been the driving force behind the rapid growth of MG Motors UK since it hit the road in 2013.

The stylish supermini gave the resurrected brand a real shot in the arm when it arrived as the second all-new model following the marque's shift to Chinese ownership.

That initial popularity proved more than just a flash in the pan and in April this year the 5,000th MG3 was sold.

The model's success has come from shrewdly tapping into the trends that have characterised the small car market in recent years.

It offers a range of personalisation options to rival the likes of the Mini, DS3 or Fiat 500 and similar space and practicality to Skoda's Fabia - but for the same sort of money as a city car.

The 3Style model I drove sits at the top of the range but comes in at just £10,499 and can be had with interest-free finance.

That gets you 16-inch Diamond alloys and a sporty body pack featuring muscular bumpers, a rear boot spoiler and side sill extensions - giving the clean, sharp lines of the MG3 something of a youthful, hot-hatch feel.

It's just a bit of a shame that the the 1.5 litre petrol engine, the only choice available, lacks the punch and pace to quite live up to the expectations its neat design engenders.

Once on the move, the well-balanced chassis, firm suspension, impressive grip levels and responsive steering all offer plenty of engagement - encouraging you to push on in bends safe in the knowledge that the car will remain firmly planted to the road.

But it stops short of being a full-on go-kart experience because of the 106PS power pack's lack of oomph.

Acceleration is no better than average, the 0-62mph sprint coming up in just under 11 seconds, while you'll find yourself dropping down one, perhaps even two, gears to climb hills or for the extra boost needed to overtake.

You really need to push the revs to make rapid progress, which increases engine noise, and the lack of a sixth gear is particularly evident on the motorway.

And although fuel economy improved to a claimed 51.5 miles per gallon when the engine was updated last year, with the addition of a start-stop function, it still lags behind rivals powered by smaller but more efficient turbocharged units.

It does, however, trump much of the competition with its comfortable, roomy cabin, even if the quality of some of the materials - with plenty of hard, scratchy plastics on show - belies its bargain price-point.

There is ample head and legroom in the rear while the fact that the MG3 is only available as a five-door means access to the back seats doesn't require any advanced contortion skills.

The boot, at 256 litres, is also a decent size for a supermini and more than capable of coping with a weekend away or the weekly shop. The 60/40 split rear seats also fold down for extra load space - although doing so does create a step in the low floor.

And there's plenty of kit in this flagship version with air conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and rear parking sensors all included, while six airbags, electronic stability control, corner brake control and traction control all help to take care of safety.

A bewildering choice of paint jobs, roof patterns, decal packages and wing mirror caps as well as optional contrast trim for the interior gives buyers the chance to really stamp their own personality on the car and will appeal to young drivers - as will the low insurance rating.

FAST FACTS

MG3 3Style VTi-tech start-stop

Price: £10,499

Mechanical:106PS,1,498cc petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual transmission

Max Speed: 108mph

0-62mph: 10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 51.5

Insurance Group: 4E

C02 emissions: 124g/km

Bik rating: 21%

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