MG3 1.5 Excite

MG3 1.5 Excite, side
MG3 1.5 Excite, rear profile
MG3 1.5 Excite, rear
MG3, dashboard
MG3 1.5 Excite, face
MG3 1.5 Excite

"A 95-year reputation built on sporty and distinctive cars, MGs are both affordable and a joy to drive," is the intro to the blurb promoting the MG3 hatchback.

What the product-speak doesn't tell you is that the current MG company has little connection, other than its name, with the original Morris Garages firm that built cherished models like the MGB and Midget.

For the past 14 years MG has been owned by Shanghai-based Chinese outfit SAIC Motor and while its former Longbridge production facility in the Midlands serves as a research and development centre, all cars for sale in the UK are now imported.

That, however, hasn't hampered sales - MG Motor UK is expanding fast, and last year became the fastest growing car manufacturer in Britain with sales increasing by a whopping 104% compared to 2017.

That 12-month period saw 18 new franchised dealers join the network while this year the total has risen to 90, with an intention to reach 120 by the end of 2020.

So the future look bright for a nameplate that was once the envy of a throng of young sports car owners - and two very important factors are having a significant impact.

One is the value for money offered by the MG range, the MG3 starting at £9,495; the other the inclusion of a seven-year manufacturer's warranty.

The MG3 comes in three trim grades - Explore, Excite and Exclusive - and even at entry-level it looks anything but a nine and a half grand car.

Just gazing at the dynamic front end with what they call its ‘star-rider' grille, the flared headlamps and LED daytime running lights make it look a lot more expensive.

And for those who want to sport things up a bit more there's a dozen graphic packs for customisation up for grabs.

Beneath the bonnet there's less choice, just a 1.5-litre petrol engine available, but one capable of returning an average 47 miles per gallon though with urban, city and school run journeys likely to make up the lion's share of usage you're more likely to register around the 37-38mpg mark.

It's a perfectly enjoyable if not very spirited car to drive - smooth, at ease on faster roads, with positive steering and is well insulated against road and engine noise.

Most manufacturers claim some of their products to have ‘one of the most spacious cabins in its class' and MG is no exception, with ample head and legroom for five people in the MG3's case.

The dash, facia and seats aren't the most upmarket around but then you wouldn't expect luxury fittings anyway.

Ambience is pleasant though and when it comes to luggage or stowage capability, the boot space is impressive with 285 litres of capacity which can be boosted to 1,262 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats lowered.

There are some compartments beneath the boot floor, cup holders, a glovebox, door bins and pockets in the backs of the front seats.

The range also includes plenty of tech, including Bluetooth telephone, audio streaming and USB as standard, with an eight-inch touchscreen plus Apple CarPlay available on the Excite and Exclusive versions.

FAST FACTS

MG3 1.5 Excite

Price: £11,395

Mechanical: 106bhp, 1,498cc, 4-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels five-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 108mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.1

Insurance Group: 7

C02 emissions: 140g/km

Bik rating: 32%

Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles

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